Remarketing vs Retargeting

There are two main terms you hear when talking about this approach; Remarketing and Retargeting. Since they pretty much sound the same, let’s explore the differences between the two, the various tools that are available to execute these campaigns, and talk about the use cases in which each tactic is useful.


Retargeting is most often used to describe online ad placements and display ads, served based on a user’s activity on your site. A user comes to your site, a cookie’s set and you can now target ads to them on other sites they visit, hence the term retargeting. What makes retargeting so appealing is that it’s done through third party networks like AdBrite and the Google display network, giving you the opportunity to reach users wherever they are, on millions of sites.

This great infographic from Chango summarizes the 7 different types of effective retargeting available:


While you may hear retargeting tools referred to as remarketing tools (ahem, Google), “remarketing” is typically the term used to describe re-engaging customers with email.

In our world, remarketing is used to describe shopping cart abandonment email campaigns, upsells/cross sell emails (think those very personalized Amazon emails you get after you’ve bought a product) and lifecycle marketing emails.

25% of the Internet Retailer 1000 (the top 1000 retailers in the world by revenue) send shopping cart abandonment email to their customers:

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.

Remarketing Drives Higher Conversion

A study conducted at MIT shows significantly lower engagement rate for outreach that occurs more than one hour after a visitor has left your site. The data indicates that your chances of re-engaging a lead drop by as much as 10x, if you follow up more than an hour after your first interaction with a potential customer:

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.

I hope you found this article useful & informative to you.

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