Remarketing vs. Retargeting: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Online Business


Every internet-using person has encountered both remarketing and retargeting strategies from many different companies continuously throughout a typical day on the internet. These are the “random” banner ads for that product you were just browsing for that pop up on websites such as Facebook and your favorite news site (retargeting), or the recurring email with information from a home goods store you get every day (remarketing). Though some of these ads appear random to you, there is actually a good amount of strategy behind them. By allowing marketers to be strategic about positioning them in your line of sight, these advertisements increase brand awareness and encourage you to make a purchase.


What Is The Difference Between Retargeting & Remarketing?

Before we can consider the benefits these campaigns can have on your business, let’s first define “remarketing” and “retargeting”, and subsequently outline the difference between them. Google1 defines the method of remarketing as a means of connecting with people that had a previous interaction with your website or mobile app. However, Neil Patel2 reworks this definition by suggesting that using the terms “remarketing” and “retargeting” interchangeably is incorrect. In his blog, “Remarketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide”, Patel explains that retargeting campaigns are actually distinguished from – and sit under – the umbrella term, “remarketing”, which refers more generally to the re-engagement of audiences through various marketing strategies. To better understand his argument, he created a diagram (posted below) that provides a visual representation of how these two terms differ.

In short, “remarketing” refers to any marketing means (both online and offline) of reconnecting with your audience, while “retargeting” is just one of these means, involving the specific use of internet strategies to connect with users that have been on both your sites and competitor sites.

Both of these strategies are significant to the growth of your business, and naturally, operate in tandem. As the internet is used ever-increasingly during daily life, the need for strategic advertising is more relevant than ever.


Why Should You Care About Retargeting?

Because of its frequently misunderstood definition and explicitly internet-oriented nature, let’s delve more specifically into retargeting as it can be used to improve your overall marketing performance.

1. First, it allows you to have a wide reach of a specified audience.

Like other marketing techniques, retargeting strategies are purposeful and are deployed with the potential customer in mind. As a business, you want your visitors to remember you and your products/services, and eventually make repeat purchases with you. So, getting your brand in front of your audience as much as possible should be on your list of priorities – especially if they left your website without responding to a call to action. Statistics show that there is a 2% on average conversion rate3 for first-time visitors on your webpage, regardless of the height of traffic on your site. Meaning, on average only 2% of people who land on your site for the first time become a lead or make a purchase. Therefore, the success behind retargeting is that it allows you to connect with the percentage of users (98%) that show interest without following through, remind them of that interest, and, hopefully, encourage them to take action.

Using a retargeting pixel (or, cookie), a fragment of code that saves user information to your list for later web, mobile, and email4 advertising purposes, you can directly advertise to users after they’ve left your website by connecting with them on any of their devices as they browse over two million websites and mobile apps1 – widely extending your reach to a specific group. This is fantastic because, rather than advertising to everyone even if they’re disinterested, retargeting gives you the benefit of advertising only to those who have engaged with your website and are interested in what you offer.


2. Additionally, retargeting allows you to focus your spending.

As a business in the digital age, there is a myriad of things that require focused energy and capital in order to maintain a solid online marketing presence, heightening the necessity for the best value for your budget – and your time. Utilizing a retargeting campaign enables you to focus your advertisement spending on an audience that is more likely to make a purchase. This ultimately keeps your attention on other areas of essence to your business by saving you the extra money spent on advertising to an uninterested group. An interesting feat of modern retargeting is that we can even target people based on how long ago they visited our website, which allows us to spend less money on those that visited a while back than on folks who came to our website within the last few days. At STORY, we advertise on two main outlets: Facebook/Instagram and Google Ads, because we believe these areas have the most potential for conversions. By focusing on these networks, we are able to gear energy, money, and time to producing efficient ads we’re certain our audience will see.

Because social media is an area of overlap for remarketing and retargeting, it’s important to outline the differences here. Remarketing takes an interactive advertising approach that is specific to the social outlet, while retargeting will typically appear as a banner ad across the top or side of a user’s screen. Understanding these differences will help you to more efficiently recognize and advertise with these strategies.


3. Finally, these campaigns increase overall ROI.

If strategized and executed correctly, retargeting advertisements can positively influence your overall return on investment (ROI).  Because this marketing technique allows you to focus your time, energy, and money on an already interested audience, the opportunity for purchase increases dramatically, saving you some valuable cash while increasing the likelihood of profit. As you seek to recapture these visitors, it’s crucial to find a happy medium between keeping your ads in front of their faces and over-advertising to them. To avoid ad oversaturation, you should consider placing frequency caps on your retargeting ads. We suggest setting a frequency cap of two to three impressions per 24 hours or create a custom list that targets users for a certain window of time. Essentially, the goal of retargeting is to gain the trust of your audience so that they make a purchase, and too many advertisements at one time can drive potential customers away by making you appear overeager and spammy.

Here’s a simple graphic we created to briefly overview the process of retargeting:

When planned and used correctly, retargeting strategies offer major growth potential for your company as well as your online advertising presence. With an understanding of how these campaigns connect and differ from remarketing campaigns, you can take some tangible next steps to efficiently recapture your wandering audience.


Contact Us

If you’re interested in developing a retargeting campaign for your business, we would love to help. Contact STORY today!

Ben Pettit

Meet Ben Pettit, the friendly face behind STORY. As Founder and CEO, Ben brings his passion for entrepreneurship, creative strategy, and business development to every project he works on. He's helped hundreds of companies across the US and the world, working with clients as far away as Honduras, Italy, Germany, Poland, England, Ireland, Wales, and Romania. You might recognize Ben from his TV appearances, where he shares his marketing expertise with local audiences. He's also a prolific writer, with his thought leadership pieces read by audiences far and wide. And when he's not working with clients or writing, Ben loves sharing his marketing insights with college and university students as a guest speaker. So if you're looking for a marketing expert who's approachable, knowledgeable, and passionate, Ben Pettit is your guy and STORY your agency!