Remarketing vs Retargeting -What Advertisers Should know

Remarketing vs retargeting
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What is Remarketing vs Retargeting, What comes up to your mind first when you see these two terms Remarketing vs Retargeting? Confused or just surprised? well, you will soon get to know what these two mean and how you can apply these in your marketing and advertising campaigns.

There are brands that have a lot of traffic but actually don’t have many sales or conversions. One of the reasons is that they simply fail in their remarketing and retargeting campaigns.

On average, research shows that only 2% of the people that visit your website end up taking actions that lead to purchase or conversion.

You have many visitors that will spend some time on your pages, add some of your products to the cart, or even click on payment buttons but end up leaving without fully completing the orders.

This is why you need a remarketing or retargeting campaign to get those people to return to your site so they could complete those orders or convert to loyal paying customers.

Does that sound good? If yes… just read till the end to understand how you can get those people back and turn them to buying customers.

The effective use of these two digital marketing strategies depends on your vivid understanding of their meaning and when and how to use them in your campaigns to make the most impact.

That being said, let’s jump into it.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing involves the use of visitor data collected using cookies, Pixel, email funnels, etc to retarget visitors based on their previous activity on a website.

In some cases, customers who already signup and maintain accounts are retargeted based on their actions. For example, adding products to the cart without checkout for a period of time.

Examples of Remarketing

Several digital marketing tools such as emails and messengers are often used for remarketing.

These methods are considered very effective based on data collected from email marketing companies such as Mailchimp.

Emails or messages are sent to customers to remind them about the actions they kept pending or did not complete when they visited the websites to return to the sites and complete those actions.

Facebook Messenger is constantly used nowadays by eCommerce sites to remind customers of their pending actions and also to show them more offers.

Another type of remarketing is when customers are invited through emails, messenger, or text messages to see new offers based on their previous purchases and interest from e-commerce sites.

Another example of remarketing is when customers are sent emails or messages inviting them to check out new deals with discounts.

In some cases, customers are alerted when new products are added to the shop.

These remarketing strategies work effectively for many brands and mostly for eCommerce brands.

Now that you understand what remarketing is, let’s look at retargeting as well.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is a form of digital advertising by which advertisers create display advertising campaigns to specifically target a set of audiences based on their previous activity on their website.

Brands effectively execute retargeting campaigns using the already collected data of their visitors through cookies, Pixel or email collecting channels.

You can put it as a re-engagement strategy using ad campaigns to target audience and get them to return to your website to take actions that will lead to purchases.

effective retargeting works pretty well when the right data is collected and expanded.

It is a pretty effective way of targeting the audience because you already have the data collected based on their interest and behavior. All digital marketing campaigns work better when you have accurate data to use for targeting.

Data is collected based on what they searching for, the pages they visited online, the products or services they interact with online and at what specific time which makes the data and targeting more precise.

Let’s look at a few examples of retargeting

How retargeting works

Let’s say Mr B. visited an e-commerce website and interacted with a digital camera, Mr. B. spends some time looking at cameras but unfortunately did not buy any of those cameras before leaving the website.

After a day, the website or company which sells those cameras decided to create another ad with more attractive images of cameras coupled with a discount of 10%.

The company decides to retarget Mr. B. and many other customers with the same previous behavior on the site and show them those ads so they can be more motivated to visit the website again and buy a camera.

This is how retargeting works and it basically targets people based on their previous behavior on your website.

Even though these terms are used interchangeably, I feel there is a slight difference between Remarketing vs Retargeting.

Retargeting Tips

Here are some tips for more effective retargeting campaigns

  1. Collect enough data: Run test ads for a few days and collect adequate data before you will launch your retargeting campaign.
  2. Expand your audience: Create a look-like audience using your pixel data in case of Facebook and allow Google Ads to expand your audience during your remarketing campaign in case of Google Ads.
  3. monitor your campaign and optimise your audience based on demographics, location, income status and educational status, all these will depend on your priorities
  4. Optimise your devices: Target specific audience based on devices as well if you feel desktop or mobile is bringing more conversions. Again this will depend on your results and priorities.

Now let’s look at some differences between these terms.

How and when to use Remarketing vs Retargeting

One important fact you must know is that these two terms are similar in nature and have one similar goal. They all aim at getting the customer to buy or complete the actions they left pending on the website.

The slight difference between remarketing and retargeting is how they are done and when it’s more effective to use each of them. Let’s explain those variations.

Differences between Remarketing and Retargeting

Since remarketing is mostly done with email marketing campaigns and through messenger, the advertiser has some extended benefits to show more promotions within the same email or message to their targeted audience.

Considering that email marketing is so effective form of marketing because many people to be precise about 98% of internet users use email, it’s likely your campaign will be more effective and may end up increasing your ROI.

Also, because the marketer has all the contacts of the audience, it’s easy to send them updated marketing information such as price updates, and sales promotions at all times which really helps boost sales.

Remarketing provides a lot of advantages for the marketer because of the customer’s data in their hands.

On the other hand, retargeting is kind of limited since the ad campaigns are run through ad networks, and always involve ad budgets.

Retargeting is incredibly powerful as it gives the marketer the advantage to show more attractive offers to targeted customers so they can return to the site and make purchases.


Remarketing and retargeting usually have one common goal which is to get your visitors to return to the website and complete their pending actions or take new actions that lead to sales.

It is right to view these two terms as one but at the same time consider their little differences.

This will help you understand when and how to effectively use these advertising strategies to optimize your ROI on both Remarketing and retargeting campaigns.

Eugene Agoh

Eugene Agoh

Founder at AdsTargets | Online advertising expert | Search engine optimisation expert | Social media marketing expert.Eugene is a Passionate writer on topics relating to online advertising, branding and generally interested in creating digital marketing content. He is curious about the future of digital advertising.Follow Eugene on LinkedIn @ eugeneagoh

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