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Retargeting vs Remarketing, on the surface these two marketing terms seem the same; they both have the purpose of reaching out to existing customers who have shown an interest in your brand or a particular product/service and encourage them to make the purchase.

However, if we delve a little deeper, we can see although retargeting and remarketing have similarities and ultimately the same goal, they have different strategies.

Back to basics

We’ve talked about the lead generation funnel before and how 73% of leads aren’t sales-ready and need nurturing to move them down the funnel. This is where retargeting and remarketing come in. They are both lead nurturing tactics that support the customer lifecycle marketing strategy.


  • Targeting audiences who are already aware of your brand
  • Build lasting brand awareness and recognition
  • Target qualified audiences: those more likely to make a purchase

Key differences

Retargeting primarily uses paid ads to re-engage audiences who have previously visited your website or social profiles.

Remarketing primarily uses email to re-engage past customers who have already done business with your brand.

Remarketing via email

Let’s take a closer look at retargeting

Retargeting can be approached in many ways.

Using cookies, a visitor will be tracked when they enter your website; clicking on a product or visiting a certain page can trigger ‘events’ which can be used to form a retargeting campaign once they have left your website. This can be through targeted campaigns on Google or social media.

By utilising social media tools such as Facebooks Pixel or LinkedIn’s Insight tool, businesses can retarget their customers on the platforms, based on actions taken on their website. These actions could be, completing a purchase, abandoned checkout, or downloading an e-book.

Retargeting is not just limited to those who have taken actions on your website, otherwise known as On-Site interactions, you can also retarget those who have engaged with your social media content or Off-Site interactions.

Examples of off- site retargeting via Facebook could be, retarget audiences who watched over 30seconds of a video, or who opened an instant experience on a previous campaign.


In comparison to retargeting, remarketing usually utilises emails to re-engage customers, reminding the customer to take action. Annual service reminders, product upgrades (upselling), or sales alerts are all examples of remarketing.

The fundamental difference between remarketing and retargeting is that remarketing targets those who have already made a purchase with the business and bases the message on information from their purchase history.

The way we market to consumers is ever changing, and marketers need to be more creative in how they get in front of their target audience.

Email addresses were originally restricted to use on email platforms only, but paid media has added the capability to upload customer lists to platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook & LinkedIn. The uploaded email addresses will be matched to those on the platform via user logins, this matched list can be used to target email users across platforms (Customer list remarketing). This means that remarketing is no longer restricted to emails; companies can target those who have already made a purchase with remarketing messages on other platforms.

Final thoughts

It is clear to see the lines between retargeting & remarketing are blurry but the takeaway from this is it is less important what you want to call it, and more important to define your target audience and tailor the message you are pushing to them.

Timing is important for each. Generally, someone who has just purchased from you would not want to do again straight away, however, if someone has recently visited your site and not made a purchase, targeting them straight away could be imperative.

Consider the life cycle of your product or service. The timing between purchase and making further transactions can vary between product and industry.

Cross-selling or Up-selling is also worth considering.

Cross-selling promotes related products/services that a customer may not have considered in their original search. Cross-sell examples include offering PC protection or Microsoft 365 package when purchasing a laptop or think of items ‘frequently bought together’. If a customer purchases something on your website, you can cross-sell in a targeted email or paid ads on social media.

Upselling is as the name suggests, offering an upgrade of the original product, for example, an additional integration to a software service or leather upholstery in a vehicle over the standard spec. It can also be used to upsell a higher-priced item such as if the customer looks at name-brand clothing, retarget them with products with a higher profit margin.

If you are looking to set up retargeting or remarketing campaign, we are experts in PPC, Paid Social and e-marketing. Get in touch today to grow your business.

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