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Remarketing vs. Retargeting: What’s the Difference?

Ashley Stander
By Ashley Stander
BeProfit logo - a white letter "b" on a purple background
Edited by Staff Editor

Published June 23, 2022.

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Many Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertisers think that remarketing and retargeting are the same concept. This is simply not true. They do have some similarities but use different strategies, different channels, and also have different goals. As an e-commerce business owner, you need to understand the difference and use a combination of the two to boost sales and, at the same time, the success of your business.

The Different Types of Remarketing

The aim of remarketing is to re-engage customers from the past. You’d primarily use email as the channel to reignite business with these customers because they already know your brand and may have purchased from you before. There are various types of remarketing, namely:

  • Standard remarketing Shows past visitors display adverts as they journey through various web pages. These are people who have visited your webpage but exited without buying anything.
  • Dynamic remarketing Displays specific products that the visitor has previously put in their cart but left before finalizing the purchase.
  • Video remarketing Instead of displaying adverts, you’d use videos for remarketing.
  • Remarketing lists for search adverts With Google AdWords, you can customize your search ad campaigns so that they are directed at visitors who have already visited your webpage.

The Benefits of Remarketing

The main benefits of remarketing include:

  • You stay connected to people who visit your site.
  • Remarketing with effective e-commerce ads, if done correctly, can give you more conversions and prevent cart abandonment. You can also do a cart abandonment analysis to keep track of this metric.
  • You enjoy a lower cost per conversion, which results in a higher return on investment. You can use Google ads conversion tracking to monitor your conversions.
  • Remarketing is an excellent strategy to promote a new product or service to a new audience.
  • Displaying a call-to-action can also help to bring in business.

The Different Types of Retargeting

Retargeting is different from remarketing because it mainly uses paid adverts to re-engage audiences who have visited your social profiles or your website. Let’s look at the different types of retargeting that you can use:

  • Cross-channel retargeting ads This allows you to deliver channel-specific ad content to multiple platforms. Don't forget to use ad trackers to monitor interactions.
  • Email retargeting This refers to retargeting ads to customers who have responded to your email marketing strategy.
  • Pixel-based retargeting Your ads will pop up as soon as the visitor leaves your webpage, luring them back using a stored browser cookie.
  • Search-based retargeting Your ads only pop up for users who have searched for a specific phrase or keyword, which can be an effective way to increase organic traffic.
  • Social retargeting Display pop-up ads when visitors leave your website or interact on your social media channels through likes, comments, and shares.

The Benefits of Retargeting

The main benefits of retargeting include:

  • You build brand recognition and consistency.
  • Repeated interactions build brand trust over time.
  • Retargeting can be used in any stage of the sales funnel and complements your email campaigns.
  • You can personalize your messages.
  • Customers are pushed through the sales funnel faster.

The Difference Between Remarketing and Retargeting

So, the essential difference between remarketing and retargeting is that remarketing focuses on email campaigns that reach out to users who have already interacted with your website, which opens the doors for more targeted messaging and upselling. Retargeting, on the other hand, focuses on paid ads. These ads can take a multitude of different forms and targets a much wider audience.

Which One Should You Use?

There is a time and a place for both strategies because, in the end, they do complement each other well. You would use remarketing to recapture an audience that has already interacted with you, which means you can personalize their messaging—and we all know that personalized messaging is more effective than the “spray and pray” strategy. Then, you would use retargeting to further establish your brand presence on multiple channels, catching the eye of new and prospective customers.

It's really about creating more touchpoints, or widening your net so that you can catch more fish.