Retargeting vs. Remarketing: What’s the Difference?

When designing marketing strategies to bring existing and interested customers back to your business, you may find yourself comparing retargeting vs. remarketing. Both are effective ways to re-engage warm prospects who have already shown interest in your brand. And while there is some overlap in these two strategies, there are also key differences in the specific tactics used to drive customers into your sales funnel.

Let’s compare retargeting vs. remarketing and look at the definitions of both to see what is right for your brand.

Retargeting vs. Remarketing: Similarities and Differences

Retargeting and remarketing are both lead nurturing tactics that help support a complete customer lifecycle marketing plan. They each put your brand back in front of warm audiences and drive leads and customers into your purchase funnel.

Retargeting and remarketing are similar because have the same goals:

  • Target audiences who are already aware of your brand
  • Engage qualified audiences who are most likely to make a purchase
  • Build lasting brand awareness and recognition

The differences between retargeting vs. remarketing are in the tactics used to accomplish these goals.

  • Retargeting primarily uses paid ads to re-engage audiences who have visited your website or social profiles.
  • Remarketing primarily uses email to re-engage past customers who have already done business with your brand.

Let’s look at the complete retargeting and remarketing definitions to dive deeper into the differences between these two types of targeting in marketing.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is the process of identifying people who have taken some action online (ex. visited your website or social profile) and then targeting them with digital ads. Retargeting delivers online or display ads to audiences based on their past behaviors or interactions with your site, such as the pages visited or the time spent on the site.

If you have ever visited a website and then later saw an ad for the brand while visiting another website or scrolling through Facebook, you’ve experienced retargeting.

Retargeting works by adding a pixel to a brand’s website. The pixel captures data about the people who visit the website and what they do on the site. The data is used to create audiences based on those interactions, and the audiences are then targeted through Google display or social media ads.

Here’s an example of a retargeting strategy for a clothing brand:

  1. The brand adds a Facebook and Google pixel to their website.
  2. Customers visit the brand’s “summer dresses” page.
  3. The same customers leave without taking any action.
  4. While browsing other sites, the customers who visited the brand’s “summer dresses” page see retargeting ads featuring new summer dresses.
  5. The brand might also create a Google display ad with a coupon for summer dresses. This ad is only shown to people who have visited the “summer dresses” page on their website.

According to a study by ReTargeter, only 2% of website visitors convert during their first visit to a website. Retargeting solutions  enable advertisers to drive audiences back to a website so that they are more likely to convert. Consumer goods company Kimberly-Clark saw a 50% to 60% conversion rate from website visitors who were retargeted.

Only 2% of website visitors convert during their first visit to a website. Click To Tweet

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing refers to the process of reaching out to current or past customers and re-engaging them based on their previous purchases or actions. Remarketing typically uses email to reconnect with audiences. Having a customer email list is required for remarketing, whereas it is not needed for retargeting.

The definitions of remarketing and retargeting can be a bit confusing because remarketing is sometimes used as a broad term to include both remarketing and retargeting tactics.
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For example, Google refers to its retargeting ad tools as Google Remarketing Tools.

But for the most part, remarketing specifically refers to the tactic of reconnecting with current or past customers through email. Often, remarketing is used as part of a larger retention marketing strategy.

Remarketing examples include sending emails that:

  • Highlight sales or deals on products related to the customer’s past purchases.
  • Promote products and services that are complementary to the customer’s past purchases.
  • Introduce new offerings that are related to the customer’s past purchases.
  • Remind a customer that they have something in their cart.
  • Include a coupon when a customer hasn’t made a purchase in a few weeks or months.

Like retargeting, remarketing is also an effective way to drive conversions from warm audiences. eMarketer reported that 81% of customers were at least somewhat likely to make additional purchases as a result of targeted emails, and Campaign Monitor found that segmented email campaigns could drive a 760% increase in revenue.

Segmented email campaigns have been shown to drive up to a 760% increase in revenue. Click To Tweet

Retargeting vs. Remarketing: What’s Better?

When comparing retargeting vs. remarketing, remember that both have the same goal: Reengage and nurture audiences who have already shown interest in your brand.

The difference is in the marketing strategies they use to re-engage these audiences. Retargeting uses ads to reach people who visit your website or social profiles and take a certain action. Remarketing uses email to reach current or past customers.

The main difference between retargeting and remarketing is the marketing strategies used to re-engage audiences. Click To Tweet

So which one is right for you? It depends on the types of market segmentation you’re using and the goals you have.

Try retargeting if:

  • You want to focus on attracting new customers
  • You’re driving a lot of site traffic but not triggering conversions
  • You don’t have an email list of interested prospects

Try remarketing if:

  • You want to focus on re-engaging current or past customers
  • You don’t have a budget for ads
  • You already have an engaged email list

At the end of the day, when it comes to retargeting vs. remarketing you don’t have to choose. You can use both strategies at the same time to maximize your results and drive even more interested prospects into your sales funnel.

Support Your Customer Lifecycle Marketing with Retargeting, Remarketing, or Both

For more ways to build a holistic, healthy sales funnel that reaches customers at every phase of the buyer’s journey, check out our Customer Journey Mapping Template. Then, sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan to get keyword, audience, and content research tools to help inform and guide your strategies.

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