Everyone knows that customers who are already interested in your products or services and are in the buying cycle are more likely to generate sales and create a high Return on Investment (ROI). However, many consumers may visit a website and spend some time on it, then leave without making a purchase. According to Outbrain, among the customers who visit your website, only 2% will make an actual purchase on their first visit. How do you get them back to your site to complete the transaction? 

This is where remarketing and retargeting come into the picture. Though they have some differences between them, both remarketing and retargeting tactics are aimed at helping you reach visitors who are already interested in your brand by bringing potential customers back to your site to convert or complete a purchase. While the words may sound similar, these words aren’t interchangeable. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between them. 

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting uses cookies to serve ads to audiences who have previously visited your website. The goal is to bring those users back to the original site to complete the purchase or conversion. 

Who a marketer chooses to retarget can vary and be based off of a variety of actions, such as visiting a particular page, viewing on a product, or adding an item to their wish list or shopping cart. Once this predefined action is completed, a cookie is fired in their web browser that enables the advertiser to retarget the customer. 

Consider, for example, a customer who searches for Bluetooth earphones, and after adding them to his or her cart, decides to look at other options. The retailer could then retarget this user with additional ads on other sites to encourage this customer to return to their site and complete the purchase. 

What is Remarketing?

While the two terms sound very similar, remarketing is not exactly the same as retargeting. As with retargeting, remarketing is also a marketing strategy focused on visitors who have previously interacted with your website or products to drive them to complete a particular action, such as completing a purchase, cross-selling, or up-selling products to existing customers. 

One main difference is that remarketing can include email as a channel, which is not generally included in retargeting which relies on cookies. Remarketing campaigns are often focused on re-engaging previous customers by sending them email offers based on their previous search history, items on their wish list, or items in their cart awaiting checkout. 

Retargeting vs Remarketing: What’s the Difference? 

Both retargeting and remarketing aim to convert previous visitors or customers into future sales. However, the major difference between the two is the strategy they use.

  • Remarketing comes in many forms, including marketing emails that are generally focused on a specific stage of the buying cycle.
  • Retargeting relies on placing cookies on a users’ web browser, in the hopes of bringing them back to the site to complete a purchase. 

Both of these digital marketing tactics have the same goal: bringing your best customers back to your site to take a specific action. 

Which Strategy Should I Use? 

Though both retargeting and remarketing are aimed at bringing visitors back to your website, they have different levels of effectiveness. Retargeting is effective for customers who are already in the buying cycle and exhibiting a high amount of interest. If your retargeting is effective, when the customer is ready to buy a product, he or she has already had a certain amount of exposure to your ads to influence the purchase behavior.

Remarketing is effective for customers who are not actively searching for a specific product. Personalizing emails for these customers and offering them coupons or discounts will hopefully have a higher impact on their purchase decision. While they may not have been thinking about the product you were selling, your emailed offer or promotion will ideally be too good to pass up, so they will be inclined to click through to your site and buy something they might not necessarily have known they wanted to purchase. 

Deciding which of these digital marketing tactics to use depends on the intended objectives to be achieved and situations that you want to address. Marketers can pick one or decide to use both simultaneously by building awareness using retargeting and converting them using remarketing. 

The Bottom Line

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to digital marketing strategies or tactics. Both retargeting and remarketing aim to reach visitors who have previously shown a certain amount of interest towards your products or services. Though both of these are great tools to re-engage your audience, it helps to know the differences and how you can effectively use them for optimal results. By focusing your marketing efforts on these consumers who are more likely to convert than an anonymous website visitor, they typically generate a greater amount of conversions to help you grow your business and build your brand. 

Ready to put one of these remarketing or retargeting strategies to the test? Do you have additional questions? Contact us to learn more about how we can help you reach your marketing goals!