• Marketing

The Differences Between Remarketing and Retargeting, and How to Implement Them

  • Asher Ismail
  • 4 min read
The Differences Between Remarketing and Retargeting, and How to Implement Them


Statistics have shown that just 2% of customers make a purchase the first time they visit your website.

It’s a pretty glaring stat that demonstrates the need for remarketing.

Or retargeting.

Or both.

Wait, what?

You might be confused about remarketing and retargeting and wondering what the differences are.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to both remarketing and retargeting, and show you exactly how you can implement them in your marketing campaigns to win back customers who got away.

What is Remarketing?

Marketers use remarketing tactics to engage customers who’ve already shown some level of interest in their products or services, and who have opted into an email list.

Perhaps the customers visited a website or even added an item to their cart, before abandoning it.

As such, you as a marketer can use remarketing to send out emails that keep a customer in the sales funnel, reminding them of what they stand to gain if they make a purchase, driving home the benefits, and generally offering reminders that they’re just one click away from finalizing a purchase.

Remarketing typically involves segmented email sequences, such as free shipping offers and other discounts.

How You Can Use Remarketing

You can use email marketing software to identify customers who have abandoned their carts and what items they left there. Then, you can send out emails encouraging them to go through with their purchase (for example, the offer of free shipping).

However, to get the absolute most out of your remarketing strategy, it helps to divide customers into different segments. Segments can be new customers, the amount spent, pages people visited, contacts from a business event such as a career fair, and more.

How You Can Use Remarketing

For instance, you might send a thank you note to a first-time purchaser. Or you can send recommended items to anyone who’s purchased certain products.

What is Retargeting?

Things get a tad confusing when marketers use “remarketing” and “retargeting” interchangeably to refer to the same thing.

But while the two strategies have things in common, there are enough differences to tell them apart.

Essentially, retargeting is when you place an online ad in a specific place, such as Facebook. This ad targets people who have already engaged with your website or brand.

Enough information should be gathered to ensure that these types of ads are highly personalized and based on users' previous actions. This ensures they’re displaying relevant content that relates to the customer’s interest, and which therefore has a higher conversion chance.

The goal is to entice the user back to your website.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting can become expensive. Depending on your business model—you may need to look into acquiring SaaS financing to run your campaign successfully.

How You Can Use Retargeting

Retargeting generally involves two specific strategies:

  • List-based retargeting
  • Pixel-based retargeting

Let’s take a closer look at each strategy:

Pixel-Based Retargeting

Each time a user visits your website and takes a specific course of action (such as adding items to their cart before abandoning it), a cookie registers itself in their browser. This is a piece of code that traces their journey.

Crucially, it also shows you where you can find them online after they’ve left your website.

As a result, you can take this info and display relevant, personalized ads (e.g. video testimonials or unboxing videos) for your items on multiple channels, including Linkedin.

List-Based Retargeting

For this strategy, you will need to have an email list already in place. Moreover, this email list needs to contain subscribers who have already shown interest in your brand.

To make your email list work for list-based retargeting, you need to upload your list to any social platform you intend to use for retargeting purposes. They will then register each subscriber’s profile and display your personalized ads on their channels in front of the right people.

The great thing about this form of retargeting is that you customize it as much as you want. That way, the ads target customers according to their likes, interests, and previous behavior.

What’s Your Best Course of Action?

When it comes to remarketing and retargeting, the difference lies in how you approach them.

What’s the Difference?

Remarketing is mostly limited to emails, while retargeting involves various channels and may therefore stretch your marketing resources a bit further.

Both allow you to personalize your messages and ads, save abandoned carts and otherwise bring customers back into the game.

Remarketing is useful because you’re essentially targeting customers who are already on your email list. And because stats have shown that email conversion rates averaged 15.22% in 2021, it makes sense to take advantage of this strategy.

With retargeting, you get to tweak different types of ad campaigns and improve them. Over time, you can access new markets while at the same time-saving money by understanding your customers much more and learning their preferences.

What Strategy Do You Need?

As a result, the advice is that, provided you have the budget, tools, and marketing team in place, you should look to integrate both strategies into your overall digital marketing campaigns.

What Strategy Do You Need? (Image source: pixabay.com)

How You Can Optimize Your Strategies

As a final point, it’s worth mentioning that there are tools you can use to optimize your campaigns.

Tools like Ranktracker for search retargeting, which is when you retarget users based on the keywords they’ve used.

So if a customer has used the keyword “black shoes,” you can create a customized audience based on this keyword and retarget them with relevant ads.

It’s also a good idea to A/B test ad copies and landing pages with a tool like Leadpages. This will enable you to see which performs the best in your remarketing and retargeting campaigns.

Final Thoughts

Remarketing or retargeting?

The question becomes almost moot if you’re using both strategies, which is exactly what we recommend you do.

Both allow you to (re)target customers who are clearly interested in what you’ve got, and both allow you to shake off the competition and boost your conversions.

Just make sure to work with the right tools that help you make the necessary tweaks to your campaigns, put together a high-quality marketing team, and nail your ads and content with copy that hits the spot.

Try Ranktracker for FREE