Retargeting and Remarketing: Understanding the Key Differences and How They Can Boost Your Marketing Strategy

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Mimi Phan

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Retargeting and remarketing are two terms often used interchangeably in digital marketing. However, they are not the same thing, and understanding their differences can be the key to optimizing your marketing strategy.

Retargeting involves serving ads to users who have already interacted with your website or products, while remarketing refers to reconnecting with users who have previously engaged with your brand. We’ll examine the specifics of each strategy in this book and explain how they might complement one another to strengthen your marketing initiatives.

Understanding the distinction between retargeting and remarketing is crucial whether your goal is to boost conversions, raise brand awareness, or foster consumer loyalty.

What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting in content marketing refers to serving ads or content to individuals who have previously engaged with your website or content in some way. It operates by monitoring user activity, such as page views or clicks, and then serving appropriate advertising or content to those users while they surf the internet.

Retargeting can increase the chances of converting users who have shown interest in your brand. Retargeting is particularly helpful in content marketing since it gives viewers of your blog posts, videos, or other content more resources or incentives to continue engaging with your brand.

How Retargeting Campaigns Work

How Retargeting Campaigns Work - iRocket Services

There are two types of retargeting: list-based and pixel-based. Depending on the objectives of your campaign, each operates a little differently and offers a distinct set of benefits.

Pixel-Based Retargeting

Retargeting using pixels lets you show your content to any anonymous site visitor.

This kind of retargeting is most likely the most prevalent. When a visitor comes to your website, a discrete piece of JavaScript (sometimes called a pixel) is added to their browser, “cookie-d,” or making it “cookie-d.” That cookie alerts retargeting platforms to serve particular ads based on the particular pages they visited on your website when they leave it to browse the internet.

Pixel-based retargeting has the advantages of being behavior-based, specific to a particular page on your website, and timely (they can be retargeted very soon after leaving your site). The disadvantage of this approach is that fewer individuals are involved in the campaign at any given time because it depends entirely on how frequently visitors arrive at your website, browse specific pages, and leave. JavaScript implementation can be challenging or time-consuming for numerous website pages.

List-Based Retargeting

List-based retargeting can be used when you already have someone’s contact information in your database.

For some varieties of retargeting ads, you can also use lists of your current contacts. To accomplish this, upload a list of email addresses to a retargeting campaign (often on Facebook or Twitter), and the platform will recognize people on that network who have those email addresses and offer retargeting advertisements specifically to them.

However, list-based retargeting is a little less popular than pixel-based retargeting. It enables you to have highly adjustable criteria for your advertising because it is based on more than just behavior; you get to choose which people get into specific lists.

However, it’s also possible that someone on your list gave you one email address while giving the social network a different one; in that case, they won’t receive your advertisements. Also, remember that list-based retargeting is less automatic and timely than pixel-based retargeting because you are responsible for uploading and maintaining the list.

It’s possible that the first time you heard the phrase “retargeting,” it was about remarketing. Even though the two are frequently confused with one another, they do differ. Let’s discuss when either would be appropriate.

What Is Remarketing?

Remarketing in content marketing is reconnecting with users who have previously engaged with your brand or content. Unlike retargeting, which focuses on serving ads or content based on user behavior, remarketing involves reaching out to users who have interacted with your brand in some way, such as signing up for a newsletter or purchasing.

Remarketing can take many forms, including personalized email campaigns, social media outreach, or exclusive offers for returning customers. The goal of remarketing is to maintain or strengthen the relationship with users who have already shown an interest in your brand, encouraging them to become repeat customers or advocates for your business.

Any marketer’s playbook MUST include remarketing, regardless of how you use it. By using remarketing in your content marketing strategy, you can create a more engaging and personalized experience for your audience, increasing their loyalty and trust in your brand. Remarketing can be done in various methods and with various ad platforms, including Facebook, Google, and Outbrain.

How Do Remarketing Campaigns Work?

How Do Remarketing Campaigns Work - iRocket Services

Setting up a remarketing campaign for your website is simple. It needs the installation of pixels.

A specific ad network will give you a little piece of code (known as a pixel tag) to add to your website when you launch a campaign with them. The code will leave an anonymous browser cookie on the user’s browser each time they visit your website and add them to your retargeting list. The system will offer your ad to this specific user when they visit another website that hosts native or display adverts from your ad network supplier. As long as you are running a campaign, this will happen.

The capacity of advertisers to engage in remarketing will be impacted by Google’s decision to ban the usage of third-party cookies. Because of this, it’s crucial to advertise on websites and apps that employ first-party data for tracking purposes. Start planning the tools and strategies that will enable you to remarket in the cookie-less world.

Difference between Retargeting and Remarketing Campaigns

Retargeting and remarketing campaigns are two digital marketing techniques that serve different purposes and target different audiences. The key differences between these campaigns are as follows:

  1. Target audience: Remarketing efforts target people who have previously engaged with your brand in some form, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter, whereas retargeting campaigns target customers who have previously interacted with your website or products.
  2. Method of communication: Retargeting campaigns typically use ads or content to reach users, while remarketing campaigns can take various forms, including personalized email campaigns, social media outreach, or exclusive offers for returning customers.
  3. Goal: Retargeting campaigns’ primary objective is to boost conversions by persuading visitors to revisit your website or do a particular action. On the other hand, remarketing campaigns work to keep or deepen the connection with people who have already interacted with your brand, enticing them to buy from you again or spread the word about it.

In contrast to retargeting, which focuses on recruiting new audiences or consumers through adverts on social media, email, or other platforms, remarketing tends to concentrate on sales or marketing emails sent to customers to re-engage them.

Which Do You Need between Remarketing and Retargeting?

The simple answer is you need both.

Now that you are aware of the distinctions between remarketing and retargeting, you are aware that you shouldn’t pick just one. Both are crucial strategies to engage with current and potential customers and keep your business at the top of their minds, so you must use both in your marketing campaigns.

You must evaluate your retargeting and remarketing efforts like you do with every aspect of your digital marketing plan. It entails figuring out your PPC conversion rates and fine-tuning your campaigns using the information you gather.

Because retargeting and remarketing typically have much higher conversion rates, remember that these campaigns cannot be compared to your other PPC initiatives. Your sales will undoubtedly increase once your retargeting and remarketing efforts are up and running.

When and How to Choose Between Retargeting and Remarketing Strategies

When to Use Retargeting for Display Ads

A display advertising platform like Google Ads or AdRoll can be used to plan and manage a retargeting campaign. Users who have previously connected with your website or brand are the focus of retargeting advertising efforts.

Retargeting can also be utilized to reach people who may not have connected with your brand directly, have recently interacted with similar brands, or conducted searches related to your brand.

Every digital marketer should be able to create a Google Ads remarketing campaign. You ought to think about starting a retargeting display ad campaign when.

Your advertising budget is low.

Consider dedicating that amount to a retargeting campaign if you’re testing out a low daily PPC expenditure. If you can only afford a few clicks per day, you want to ensure they come from the most qualified prospects. According to research by ad platform Criteo, hits from retargeted advertisements convert 43% more frequently than clicks from standard display ads.

You desire greater brand recognition.

Consider yourself to be your customer. They visit your website and look around but don’t buy anything. Then they run upon your adverts. They are more likely to consider you the next time.

You need a more robust platform for engagement marketing.

Retargeted advertisements are one of the most effective ways to increase visitors to your website, as discovered by Wishpond, having a 10X higher click-through rate than standard display ads.

When to Use Email Remarketing

Personalized emails are used in an email remarketing campaign to engage or reengage people based on their on-site actions. Examples of remarketing campaign emails include emails about customer lifecycles, emails about shopping cart abandonment, and emails that cross-sell similar products.

We advise using email marketing only with website visitors who have opted into an email list or have subscribed to receive emails. From there, you’ll have several chances to send these users tailored, contextually relevant, and highly targeted emails.

We would advise employing email remarketing for the following:

Focusing on inactive users.

Customers who buy something from your website typically provide their email as part of the transaction. It’s time for a follow-up remarketing email to remind customers of your fantastic products when they miss your website for 30 or 60 days.

Reducing abandoned shopping carts.

A quick email can be a gentle reminder for users to return to your website and complete their purchase if they leave their shopping cart empty before clicking the “checkout” button.

Cross-Sell Opportunities Creation

If a customer purchases from your online store, sending them a follow-up email with products that go well can boost sales.


In conclusion, retargeting and remarketing are powerful digital marketing techniques that can significantly impact your marketing strategy. While they may seem similar at first glance, understanding the critical differences between these approaches is essential to leverage their potential effectively.

Remarketing can help you keep in touch with customers who have already expressed interest in your products or services while retargeting can help you connect with individuals who have already expressed an interest in your brand. Retargeting and remarketing can help you increase conversions and cultivate brand loyalty while giving your audience a more tailored and exciting experience.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore new tactics; always remember to continually track and analyze your results to refine and optimize your approach.