Remarketing vs Retargeting: What is the Difference?

There are a lot of terms that get thrown around in the marketing sphere. Sometimes, those marketing phrases can blur into one, especially when they sound similar.

That is where we are at with remarketing vs retargeting. They sound the same, but do they mean the same thing?

Retargeting ads are used in the process of getting potential customers to come back to your site; they’ve already seen what you’ve got to offer, and these ads will remind them of that whether it’s on Facebook, Google or elsewhere.

While the words remarketing and retargeting are often used interchangeably, there are some notable differences between the two.

So, where does remarketing come in and what is the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

What is the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

The whole point of remarketing and retargeting is to re-engage customers. It’s about strengthening leads that are already warm, and turning them into sales.

Sometimes people just need a little bit of encouragement or reminding before making a purchase, and the process of remarketing and retargeting does just that. It is an important part of any successful marketing campaign, as it engages with people who have already shown an interest in your business.

But when it comes to remarketing vs retargeting, how do they differ? We’ll delve into this below, but essentially the key difference is in the strategy used.

The terms are very similar and realistically, the aims and outcomes are the same. However, when it comes to the process and what you actually do – they’re a bit different.

remarketing vs retargeting - what is the difference

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is all about ads.

It is an ads-based strategy of enticing users back to your site by putting your name, branding, and message front and centre during previous visitors or customers internet usage.

Retargeting is focused on customer behaviour, and as such ads become personalised based on this behaviour.

For instance, you may want to set up a retargeting audience based on visitors who have browsed the bridesmaid dress section of your website. You can then use this audience group to retarget these visitors with ads showing them bridesmaid dresses from your website.

You can showcase retargeting ads on Facebook and Google, as well as other sites that are part of the Google Display Network (GDN) with display advertising. These include YouTube and Blogger as well as Gmail and Google Finance.

It is worth noting that there are around 2 million sites within the GDN. This means ads delivered through the Google Display Network have a potential opportunity of reaching over 90% of the internet.

Of course, because things are never entirely simple, there is also the contrast between on-site and off-site retargeting to consider. Luckily for us, the clue is in the name…

On-site retargeting

On-site retargeting is how you keep people engaged when they have already visited your website. Tracking on-site user behaviour can allow you to detect when their behavior suggests that they need new content to keep them engaged. This new content can be popups, ads, or anything else that will re-engage your audience and keep them from leaving.

For instance, if your tracking tool detects a user moving their cursor to switch tabs or close the window, you could use this behaviour to trigger an action to show a pop-up that provides them with an exit-intent offer to entice them to complete their purchase.

On-site retargeting is a specific and personalised way to turn leads into sales. You can use on-site retargeting to build your email list, increase leads and generate conversions. Your on-site retargeting activity is also a great way to build brand awareness and lay the foundations for off-site retargeting.

Off-site retargeting

In contrast, off-site retargeting refers to any retargeting efforts that will appear to users elsewhere on the internet – as in, not on your website. This includes on social media, search engines and other websites.

Generally speaking, off-site retargeting ads are designed to bring people back to your website so that they complete a particular conversion action.

Depending on which platform you use to run retargeting ads, you can set up retargeting audiences based on a variety of user behaviours such as on-site activity, audience lists (e.g. newsletter subscribers), previous ad interactions, or interactions with your social media page.

For example, you may run an abandoned cart retargeting ad through Facebook that alludes to customers having forgotten to check out, telling them time is running out or providing a time-limited special offer such as money off their purchase. You can even personalise these ads to ensure they display the products or categories that each particular member of the retargeting audience viewed on your website.

What is remarketing - email remarketing illustration - Common Ground Agency

What is remarketing?

Now that we’ve looked at retargeting, it is important to look at the other side of the coin: remarketing.

Again, we know that the two are very similar. But, whereas retargeting is ads-based, remarketing tends to be about re-engaging customers by email. Much like retargeting, this is personalised to user behaviour and works by enticing users back to your site.

72% of people prefer to receive promotional content by email than any other marketing channel, so email marketing shouldn’t be ignored as an avenue for reaching potential customers.

Remarketing works by tracking user behaviour and creating audience segmentations in your email marketing software based on those user behaviours to make sure they receive emails that are relevant to them.  There are then various types of remarketing emails you can send out.

The types of remarketing campaigns that you will want to consider using include:

  • Abandoned shopping cart campaigns
  • upsell/cross-sell emails
  • Review emails
  • Lifecycle marketing campaigns

Abandonment emails, for example, are sent to customers who have looked at a particular product(s) but did not make a purchase. Meanwhile, a lifecycle marketing campaign is a more sophisticated remarketing method whereby users will receive a series of emails based on interests they have shown.

For instance, if a visitor to your website added your conference last year, you may add them to a lifecycle campaign that is aimed at getting them to attend the conference again next year. During this lifecycle campaign, you will have a series of triggers and actions based on that user’s ongoing interactions until they complete the action of signing up to the next conference. At which point, of course, they will then be added to a new lifecycle marketing campaign for the new conference!

Remarketing can sometimes be used in ads, too. This is when ads are shown to people who have, for example, already made a purchase or joined your email list – meaning the ad content will be slightly different to ads shown to non-customers. Remarketing ads are, again, incredibly personalised!

Remarketing vs retargeting: in conclusion

We understand that the difference between remarketing and retargeting can be confusing. But knowing these subtle differences means that your next marketing campaign is likely to be even more successful, as you are able to target the right people in the right way.

So remember: retargeting is generally ads-based, while remarketing is generally email-based. Both are a great way to increase customer retention and boost conversions – and both are vital to ensuring business success through advertising.

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