Social Media Marketing

Remarketing vs Retargeting: Key Differences that Matter to Marketers

ICUC Content Writer

December 9, 2020

google analytics display on laptop

To target, or to remarket? While the textbook definitions of “remarketing” and “retargeting” are the same, the two terms’ practical application to your marketing strategy will result in entirely different tactics.

Savvy digital marketers need to be familiar with both strategies and understand the critical differences between them. This will allow you to make an informed decision regarding your campaign, allowing you to analyze your results more accurately and pivot your strategy if necessary.

Retargeting and Remarketing: Main Differences

We won’t waste your time. Here are the key differences:

  1. Retargeting typically refers to third-party online advertisers’ ability to retarget an ad via paid media, while remarketing typically refers to re-engaging customers with email campaigns.
  2. The two terms are becoming increasingly interchangeable, as third-party online advertisers offer the capability to retarget through email lists.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting is the method by which advertisers “target” someone who shows interest in their product or service but doesn’t make a purchase.

All interactions a visitor takes on your website (whether that’s clicking on the navigation, making a purchase, watching a video, etc.) can be tracked by a snippet of code in their browser called cookies. When visitors leave your website, their browser cookie will follow them to other websites and search engines, monitor their other actions, and gather data.

Third-party advertising platforms like Google Display Network and Facebook Ads capitalize on the data gathered from these browser cookies. If someone shows interest in your website but doesn’t make a purchase, a retargeting ad campaign will trigger your ad on their other internet visits. Therefore you have “retargeted” them in your advertising based on their previous interactions with your website.

Benefits of Retargeting

Retargeting is a powerful marketing tool for several reasons. Here are some key benefits:

  1. Expands your ability to advertise across the entire internet and reach website visitors where they’re most engaged. 
  2. The only advertising method that explicitly reaches people who have already shown interest in your brand. This is marketing gold.
  3. It gives you a second chance to offer an additional discount, choose a more compelling ad copy, or otherwise change your approach to make the sale.
  4. Retargeting allows you to stay top of mind for your leads. Sometimes, people showing interest in a product aren’t ready to make a purchase (but might be a week or two later!)

What is remarketing?

Remarketing is a method of re-engaging potential customers through email campaigns. This can take the form of a wide variety of tactics, from shopping cart abandonment email campaigns to upselling marketing emails, etc. The goal of remarketing is to bring someone further along your sales funnel.

Benefits of Remarketing

  1. Higher conversion rates are the highest payoff for email retargeting campaigns. According to Moz, the conversion rates from remarketing emails can be as high as 41%. This is astronomical compared to the average eCommerce conversion rate of 1-2%.
  2. Recycle and repackage your content marketing material, saving marketing, and product costs across the board.
  3. Remarketing emails generate nearly four times greater revenue than non-targeted campaigns (Forrester Research).

Use Caution: Potential Pitfalls

While the benefits of using these marketing strategies can be game-changing for your business, take caution. There are some potential hazards to be aware of when choosing to retarget or remarket your consumer base. These possible challenges with remarketing and retargeting can include:

  1. Some online users find retargeting to be intrusive, creepy, or an invasion of privacy. This is typically found in older generations, while younger audiences, who grew up in a digital world, are more likely to appreciate advertising directly related to their interest.
  2. Similarly, too many remarketing emails can annoy, and in the worst cases, push your email contact to unsubscribe from your mailing list.
  3. Measuring the impact of a display ad can be difficult if users don’t engage with the ad. Was something off-putting in the graphic, or was the text simply too hard to read? Improving your ads will require lots of educated guessing, small tweaks, and plenty of testing and retesting. 

When executed correctly, a remarketing or retargeting campaign should bring you higher conversion rates, improved ROI, and an overall better understanding of your target audiences’ wants and needs.

Not confident in your marketing strategy?

Retargeting and remarketing campaigns require strategic expertise, the ability to pivot on unsuccessful campaigns quickly, and constant testing and re-testing. Is your current in-house team overwhelmed, or existing agency partnership not working out?

If you’re looking for marketing expertise for your company, consider a partnership with ICUC.Social. We are a leading social media management agency providing community management, social listening services, review management, etc. 

We currently have 200+ global and national brands within our portfolio, and we’ve been providing full service 24/7 solutions for our clients for over 16 years. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.