Remarketing vs Retargeting: Are They Different?

At the end of the day, marketing is all about that sweet ROI.

The sad reality is that less than 2% of the people that visited your site for the first time convert into a sale.

What about the rest 98%?

For them, you can use two approaches to reignite the connection. Those are remarketing and retargeting.

Both are practices which are based on reaching out to people that have visited your site before. The goal, of course, is to get them on the right path toward conversion.

Remarketing vs retargeting – what’s the difference?

Both concepts are leading to the same goal. But, the path leading to the said goal is very different.

So, here’s how each works.

Reaching the Target Audience

It’s all about reaching the target audience. This is the general truth for digital marketing, and a prayer each marketer says before sleep. No matter what you do, or which platform you use for your marketing efforts. Reaching the right people is always the final goal of the strategy.

The sad reality is that most of the people that land on one of your pages don’t really convert.

Both retargeting and remarketing approach these customers that deviated from the funnel. But, this isn’t at random, far from it.

Both Concepts Are Reaching the People Most Likely to Convert

You can’t just use these practices to reach all 98% that didn’t convert. With retargeting, theoretically, you can. But, we digress.

We first need to make the difference between the two.

What is Remarketing?

Truth be told, some tend to define remarketing and retargeting as the same thing (looking at you Big G.)

Time to settle the score once and for all – remarketing isn’t the same as retargeting. Retargeting isn’t a part of remarketing. The misunderstanding comes from big marketing platforms merging the two terms together.

Time to settle the score once and for all – remarketing isn’t the same as retargeting. Retargeting isn’t a part of remarketing. The misunderstanding comes from big marketing platforms merging the two terms together.

Say Whaat?

Of course, they would, who wouldn’t want to do both through the coveted Google Ads? Big G said, “let’s name retargeting as remarketing, and let people think they’re doing both.” And, it worked for people that didn’t know the difference. Somewhere in the matrix, Google’s algorithm is bathing in that sweet PPC money. It’s laughing at those directing their whole re-engagement money toward remarketing in Ads. Without actually doing remarketing.

TL;DR – Google named retargeting remarketing and everyone fell for it.

There. We said it. (We love you Google. Please don’t punish us.)

With that out of the way, here’s the real explanation behind remarketing:

Remarketing is the effort to reach that part of the 98% of the people that visited your site via email

So, How to Do Remarketing?

Remarketing is all about creating email campaigns that engage customers in their mailboxes.

That’s putting it sweet and simple.

The fact that emails, as a marketing channel, are still popular speaks volumes. It’s because they are effective.

Emails can be used for many types of remarketing campaigns, like:

Abandoned Carts Reminders

Most of us have received an email just like this.

You go on your favorite shopping site and put a bunch of poop in the basket. Then, you change your mind, and you abandon the cart.

So, your favorite shopping site reminds you in this fact in the most personal and politest way. They have an automated campaign that sends these emails to EVERYONE that abandons a cart.

Give, Give, Give, and then Take

How many newsletters have you opted in for? Lots, are we right?

Newsletters are remarketing 101. For the modest price of your email address, you get quality content. And, they have an automated campaign that starts sending you informational emails. A bargain, isn’t it?

After some point, they know you’re ready. You’ve been fanatically reading the content they’ve been sending. And, you haven’t unsubscribed from the newsletter. So, they’ll start throwing in the odd promotional email.

Eventually, some of the people cave in and make a purchase. Boom, a successful remarketing campaign.

This Doesn’t Apply for Promotions Only

They’ll throw in the odd discount limited time awesome once-in-a-lifetime offer too. People love being treated like they are special. These types of emails do just that – they connect with the audience on a personal level.

This leads us to the following:

A More Personal Approach

A well-optimized email remarketing campaign knows what you like. And, you’ll receive emails based on what you like from the CEO of the company themselves! Wow, time to do a purchase!

What is Retargeting

Retargeting, or what Big G calls “remarketing” (sigh), is displaying targeted ads on the internet. The purpose, of course, is to make as many of that 98 % come back to the website and convert.

The main actor here is the infamous “cookies” the GDRP hates so much.

Don’t get us wrong. We love cookies. They are delicious. Yea, not that type of cookies. We’re talking about website cookies, or “magical cookies” as their real name is.

What are Website Cookies?

When was the last time you’ve read a privacy policy on a website before accepting it? Never?

By clicking on that “I Accept” button, you agree for the website to put cookies on your browser. Cookies are text files that track your behavior on the website. There’s nothing wrong here. Cookies are actually required for a website to function properly.

To give an example, every online shopping store uses cookies. They use these to keep track of your purchase as you move through the site. If cookies weren’t placed in your browser, your cart would’ve reset each time you click on a link in the page.

The Fun Part Starts with Third-Party Cookies

Each website that advertises on search engines embeds tracking codes in their website’s code. These codes enable the owner of the site to keep track of the numbers (duh.)

But, said analytics tools place third-party cookies in the browser of each user too. Again, nothing wrong here either. They’ve agreed to this because they accepted the privacy policy.

What these cookies do is build a profile of everyone based on every search they do across the web.

On social media, first-party cookies work the same as third-party cookies!

Retargeting vs Remarketing Explained

Enter Retargeting Campaigns

With the help of these cookies, Facebook, Google, Bing, Twitter, Instagram, and every other marketing platform have a ginormous database of users.

They know their interests, their habits, what they’re planning to do. They know everything.

To some, this is some conspiracy-theory-level scary stuff.

Anyhow, this is how retargeting works:

Direct Retargeting

Direct retargeting uses the first-party cookies. Each time a user goes on your page, they get your cookies in their browser.

In the case they don’t convert, the cookie is still in the browser. Now, you have those tracking codes we mentioned before embedded in your page. Google, for example, knows who left your page. It combines their third-party cookies with your first-party cookies. This gives the algorithm the exact profile of any user on your site.

And, you can use Google Ads to show your ads to these users across the web.

Indirect Retargeting

What Google does with your website happens with every page that allows third-party cookies.

So, these advertising platforms know who went where and what they liked. And, you can target people that are interested in a product or service that you have but haven’t visited your website.

Let’s put Google Remarketing to Work

If you’re already using Google Ads, it’s very simple to start using remarketing. All you have to do is add a piece of code known as a tag (or pixel) to your website. That way, when a new user comes to your website it will immediately get added to your remarketing audience lists. If you need to do some advanced remarketing, keep in mind that you can customize your code for different pages to correspond to more defined categories. What do I mean?

Let’s say you’re an owner of a big eCommerce website that sells vegetables. If you have a separate page for potatoes, then you want to create a “potato” remarketing audience based on people who visit the pages where you sell different types of potatoes. The tricky part is that you need to have a minimum number of people who previously clicked on your ads and landed on your website. The required minimum for serving your remarketing list ads is based on the network you choose to advertise on.

If you are running ads on Google Display Network, wait until you get 100 visitors (clicks) in the last 30 days.Google Search Network needs a minimum of 1000 active visitors or users within the last 30 days. Youtube must have a minimum of 1000 active users within the last 30 days. AND, Gmail also needs 100 active users in the last 30 days in the Display Network.

Once you’re able to use remarketing audiences, then you can show these specific potential customers, highly targeted display ads that will surely increase the sales of your potatoes.

What’s Better?

Now that we know what remarketing and retargeting is, the question is:

What’s better?

It’s simple, do both. Although they have the same goal, they’re completely different. As we said before, the goal isn’t to target all 98% percent that didn’t initially convert. That’s not possible.

But, these two practices do enable you to target people that are most likely to.

To Sum Things Up

When you compare both approaches, the differences are more than clear. Even though they lead to the same goals, the paths are where it counts. And, when it comes to increasing the number of conversions, you should use every possible way.

Remarketing will help you reach the audience that has already visited your site via email campaigns.

Retargeting will help you reach the audience that has already visited your site or has shown interest in a product like yours. This is done through paid advertising.