Understand the difference between remarketing & retargeting 

Ellie Burns Written by Ellie Burns

4 min read   -  28th June, 2023

Understand the difference between remarketing & retargeting 

Chances are you’ve come across the words “remarketing” and “retargeting” being used interchangeably. While these are similar terms, understanding the key differences between them can help you evolve your digital marketing strategies and stop you from making the mistake of confusing these two important terms.

We’ve broken it down for you below, with examples of when and how to use remarketing and retargeting. 

  1. The key differences between remarketing and retargeting
  2. Remarketing explained
  3. Retargeting explained 
  4. Top tips for remarketing and retargeting
  5. Common mistakes with remarketing and retargeting

The key differences between remarketing and retargeting

Similar, yet different, these terms have become increasingly difficult to differentiate as digital marketing has developed and the overlaps between them have increased. 

Remarketing - refers to follow-ups that are sent out to users who have already interacted or purchased.

For example: sending personalised emails to a mailing list, generated from users who have already purchased from your brand. This is a very personal mode of communication, as you’re nurturing a previous customer. 

Retargeting - users who have previously been ‘targeted’ using paid ads, or visited your website, app or social channels.

This system uses paid ads, in “retargeting campaigns”. This is a huge area to cover, but in brief, it encompasses any PPC campaign that specifically targets previously converting or interacting users.

Remarketing explained

When to use remarketing

  • Warm leads: remarketing is effective when targeted at users who have interacted with your brand through social media, signed up to a mailing list, or downloaded an offer code via your website or app. 
  • Previous customers: you can use remarketing with previous customers, creating targeted campaigns for highly engaged users who’re already familiar with your brand and ready for more. 

What we recommend

We’d recommend focusing on funnels of emails to soft sell to your fan base, or provide offers to returning customers to create a loyal foundation of customers.

Benefits of remarketing

If you want returning customers, re-engage with users who’re already interested in your brand. They’re more likely to convert over time, and many appreciate a softer approach to marketing, where they can take their time viewing your products at their convenience.

Retargeting explained

When to use retargeting

  • Interactions with specific pages or products: target users who have interacted with specific pages or products for your brand via your existing PPC campaigns. If you have an ecommerce store, you can create retargeting campaigns that showcase those specific items. So regardless of what they’re searching for, they’ll be reminded of your brand and products.
  • Promote special offers: a useful way to entice users to return to your site. They can also be highly visual, so you can use the Display network to your advantage with eye-catching ads that stand out from your existing Search campaigns.
  • Specific ad copy for returning users: to increase your brand awareness over time. Perhaps you’d like to create a Google Shopping retargeting campaign, that showcases the exact product that a user was previously looking at? You could even create a Display retargeting campaign of pre-roll ads on YouTube to showcase your brand in a highly visual way. 

Top tip: there are many possibilities available for you to personalise along the way.

Benefits of retargeting

This is a highly effective way to stay on your potential customer’s minds, across the internet. You can build brand awareness over time as your users aren’t limited to the time they spend directly interacting with your site.

Your retargeting ads will appear when users are enjoying everything the internet has to offer, and not just when they're shopping or searching for a specific product or service.

You’re staying on people’s minds, without every interaction being a hard sell.

Top Tips for remarketing and retargeting

1. Have specific goals with separate campaigns

Rather than combining your ads into one huge campaign, we’d recommend splitting it into multiple campaigns, each with a specific goal in mind. That way you can focus the message and targeting accordingly.

2. Use audience segmentation

With audience segmentation, you can tailor your ad copy and any creative assets with specific audiences in mind, you’ll be able to reach customers on a more individual level.

3. Frequency cap to ensure you don’t go overboard

This is a really important one. No-one likes being bored by ads and overexposure can eat up your budget. Set your frequency cap to something realistic and manageable, to prevent this.

Common Mistakes with remarketing and retargeting

1. Including converted users in a new user campaign

Make sure you're specific with your audience lists, so you don’t end up spending money to advertise to converted users as if they'd never come across your brand before. 

2. Poor landing pages

If your landing page doesn't match your ad campaigns you could be losing conversions. Take the time to create bespoke landing pages. This will improve the SEO of the site, and increase the likelihood of a user making a purchase on the page.

3. Overexposure

Continuously bombarding users with the same ads can lead to ad fatigue and frustration for users. Maintain a balanced ad frequency to avoid this.

Summary of remarketing and retargeting 

Remarketing and retargeting are powerful strategies that enable businesses to engage with leads, nurture existing customers, and increase conversions. 

We believe understanding and strategising around these key differences will be the most effective way to bring customers and engaged users back to your brand, making your campaigns stronger than ever.  

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Speak to us today and let’s start growing your business.