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What’s the Difference Between Remarketing and Retargeting?

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Amanda DiSilvestro
Amanda DiSilvestro VIP CONTRIBUTOR
What’s the Difference Between Remarketing and Retargeting?

A mere 2% of people actually convert to becoming a sale the first time they land on your webpage. This number might seem surprisingly low, but the truth is that you really need to win people over long before they make the decision to choose your company over others. You might be getting a lot of new incoming web traffic, which is great, but you may not see those numbers directly translate to sales.

Sometimes, the best people to target are either those who have visited your site more than once or have already digitally interacted with you in the past. Retargeting and remarketing can allow you to reach the customers that are even more likely to purchase with you than first-time visitors, and this can be an extremely important strategy in your marketing efforts.

While remarketing and retargeting have similar goals, there are some important differences in terms of strategy and who you are able to reach effectively. Let’s explore each individually so that the differences become clear.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting can have multiple approaches, but it most often refers to online ad placement or display ads, which target users who have interacted with your site in specific ways. Once a visitor enters your website, clicks on a product, or takes a certain action that you want them to take, a cookie is set in their browser and you can use this information to “retarget” them with ads based on their interactions once they leave your site. These ads are placed by third parties, such as the Google Display Network; allowing your ads to occur on other sites that your visitors use regularly.

Ultimately retargeting can be placed into two categories: “on-site” and “off-site” events. Thus, there are different strategies you can take depending on the kind interactions you want to target. Let’s look at these a little closer.

Targeting “Off-Site” Interactions. This group of individuals has not previously interacted with your site, yet they have similarities with your previous customers and you are looking to add them to your sales funnel and get them on your site. If you choose to target an individual based on their “off-site” interactions, you could be looking at targeting their searches.

In other cases, you might choose to target individuals who search or interact with the web similarly to how previous customers have. You can also target based on interactions with distributed content (i.e, a Facebook page or an app) or with a partner site that is similar to your own.

Targeting “On-Site” Interactions. This is the category most often associated with retargeting because it involves targeting individuals who have already revisited your site and have interacted with your products, services, or have taken some other action but may not have completed the sale. With retargeting to those who have had “on-site interactions” you can increase conversations and retain those who have already expressed interest in your brand. Here are some of the ways you can target to individuals who have partaken in onsite interactions:

  • Target based on a product that they interacted with.
  • Based on how they found your site (social media, a search, or other inbound events)
  • Those on your email list who have expressed interest in your brand but have not yet converted to a purchase

Facebook is a master and spotting retargeting. Recently I have been looking into cabins for the weekend, so it was no surprise I saw the following ad in my Facebook news feed:

retargeting-example

Ultimately retargeting campaigns show higher engagement than non-retargeting campaigns do. Again, this goes back to the fact that it is a lot easier to market and advertise to those who have expressed interest in your brand or industry.

What is Remarketing?

This is where it gets a little confusing and there is some overlap in the industry. Sometimes retargeting is referred to as “remarketing” (even though it actually is remarketing). An example of this is Google’s Remarketing Tools, which are really all retargeting tools in the classic sense. While this may be a little confusing, just remember that remarketing and retargeting do share goals, and that the terminology is not as important as the associated strategy.

That being said, remarketing is often about email campaigns that are able to re-engage customers in their inbox. They use tactics like emailing a customer after they abandon their shopping cart or add an item to their wish list. I haven’t abandoned any shopping carts lately, but Shakeology still managed to remarket to me because they knew that my one-month Shakeology plan was almost up. They decided to “remind” me of that knowing information about my past purchase history, so as you can see remarketing can work in a variety of different ways:

remarketing-example

It could also be an email related to the items that the customer searched for or added as a “favorite” in some way. This kind of approach works well because the potential customer already expressed interest in the product they added; they were just not able to execute at the time they were on your site.

A study conducted by AgilOne called “Marketing Personalization Preferences of Shoppers Worldwide” found that the most effective remarketing emails couple be divided into the following three categories:

  • Products on Sale. 58% of people appreciate emails where products they have liked or viewed in the past go on sale.
  • VIP Treatment. 51% said they appreciated outreach, which treated them like a VIP.
  • Cart Abandonment. 41% of individuals ages 25-34 appreciated cart abandonment emails.

As you’ve gathered, remarking is email campaign focused, and is intended to increase conversions for those who have already interacted with your site in a meaningful way.

The Takeaway

When comparing retargeting and remarketing, the overlap and differences become clear. The shared goal being to increase conversions to those who are most likely buy from your brand, but the difference really being the associated strategy. Retargeting is really focused on paid ads (and can take a variety of forms, and target a broad range of individuals). Remarketing is focused on email campaigns and reaching out to those who have already had interactions on your website that allow for a specific reach out.

The answer is really both/and, rather than one or the other! Both are effective in increasing e-commerce conversion and are worthy of being a part of your marketing strategy.

Have you tried any retargeting or remarketing tactics? Did this article help to clear up some confusion? Let us know in the comments section below, we would love to hear from you!

Image Credits: All screenshots taken by author February 15, 2017

Feature Image Credit: DepositPhotos

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Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility

Amanda DiSilvestro writes digital content that helps businesses grow their website traffice and establish thought leadership. She writes for HigherVisibility, ... [Read full bio]

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