Remarketing vs. retargeting: what’s the difference?

Remarketing and retargeting - do you really know the difference between these two popular digital marketing activities?  

If you’re not crystal clear on the nuances of these strategies, how would you know when it’s appropriate to use one, the other or both?

On first hearing these similar-sounding terms, it’s all too easy to think of them as interchangeable.

It’s true that, in terms of objectives, retargeting and remarketing work hand-in-hand to increase conversions.

However, despite the inherent similarities, these two services set their sights on two very different groups of prospects.

Remarketing

Remarketing is aimed at the more motivated of your prospects. These are the people who have stepped into the buying funnel, browsed your site and even gone so far as to add a product to their shopping cart. Unfortunately, before they made the purchase, they disappeared, abandoning their cart and heading off to pastures new.

91% of industry experts think remarketing is an effective strategy
— Search Engine Journal Report 2016

Remarketing initiatives are designed to tempt those prospects back to the deal, usually through personalised email reminders offering further assistance or information to complete their purchase.

The purpose of remarketing is to find out what made your prospect abandon their cart and gently steer them back to your site. And if there was any doubt as to whether remarketing is a strategy worth investing in, the Search Engine Journal Report 2016 can soon remedy this with its revelation that 91% of industry experts think remarketing is an effective strategy. There’s no arguing with such an overwhelming majority.

Retargeting

In comparison, retargeting focuses its efforts on those who are less motivated, the prospects who are just moderately interested in your products. Sure, they might have paid your site a visit and had a browse at what’s on offer, but they haven’t made any solid moves to really show they are committed to a purchase.

Retargeting initiatives such as Google AdWords, allow you to track these prospects by tagging them with a cookie when they visit specific pages on your website and help to keep your brand at the forefront of their minds with adverts that appear whilst they are browsing other websites. The idea is that you can remind them of what made them visit your site in the first place and hopefully tempt them back when they are ready to buy.

You can also take this strategy one step further with dynamic behavioural targeting. This allows advertisers to personalise every ad impression by tracing the prospect’s behaviour to create a bespoke ad. Featuring personalised products or content relevant to the user, such as images of products and prices they have previously browsed, are much more likely to strike a chord and encourage click-through rates compared to static ads.

Whether small or large, there are a number of remarketing and retargeting platforms that can work for your business and help to increase conversions. And when you consider the fact that stats from AdRoll show only 2% of shoppers convert on the first visit to an online store, these strategies might be just the thing to work your magic on the other 98%.