Remarketing vs. Retargeting – Are They the Same Thing?

Remarketing vs Retargeting

The terms remarketing and retargeting are often used interchangeably. But they describe two distinct digital marketing strategies. 

It’s important to know the differences if you’re going to be successful with either strategy. 

In this guide, you’ll learn what each strategy involves, how they are different, and when to use them. 

We’ll also look at some examples of how brands use remarketing and retargeting to attract customers and generate sales. 

Let’s get started. 

What Are Retargeting and Remarketing?

Remarketing and retargeting are marketing strategies that can help you increase brand awareness, increase conversions, and generate more sales. 

The main differences are in the channels used for each strategy and the goals they can help you achieve.

Let’s take a closer look at what each strategy involves.

Retargeting Explained

Retargeting is a technique that uses paid ads to target people that have engaged with your business but are yet to make a purchase. This technique can be categorized into “on-site” and “off-site” retargeting.

On-Site Retargeting

With on-site retargeting, you target people that have visited your website and left without converting.

For example, let’s say that a user visits a product page on your website. A cookie is set in their web browser to track their on-site behavior information. The user adds the product to their cart but leaves before completing the checkout process. 

If you run an E-Commerce business, you know that this scenario happens all the time. In fact, nearly 70% of shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is complete. 

You can encourage the user to come back to your website and complete the purchase using retargeting. 

Advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads allow you to use the information saved in the user’s browser to target your ads based on their browsing history. You can target the user with ads displaying the product they added to their cart. 

Because retargeting ads are hyper-relevant and based on user behavior, they typically generate higher engagement and ROI than other campaigns. 

Off-Site Retargeting

With the phase-out of the third-party cookie and the rise of social media platforms, interest in off-site retargeting has significantly increased over the last few years. 

Off-site retargeting is the process of targeting users based on actions that happen away from your website. 

For example, Facebook Ads allows you to target users based on engagement that takes place across Facebook’s network. You can display ads to people engaged with your business by visiting your page, liking your posts, or following your brand. 

This allows you to retarget people that have shown an interest in your brand. 

Remarketing Explained

Remarketing is a tactic to re-engage existing customers to reduce churn and encourage repeat purchases. 

This is in contrast to Retargeting, which is primarily about advertising to people who have engaged with your business but have yet to become a customer.  

Remarketing is about leveraging your customer data and purchase history to send the right message at the right time to generate a conversion. Generally, email marketing is the best channel for remarketing.

For example, you can send reminder emails to encourage customers to purchase a product they are likely to run out of soon. 

According to Adobe’s Consumer Email Survey, 50% of people state that email is their preferred method of contact by brands:

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Alongside email, you can also leverage pay-per-click (PPC) platforms, push notifications, and offline channels as part of your remarketing efforts. 

Examples of Retargeting and Remarketing

Now you know the difference between the two tactics, let’s look at some examples of how brands have successfully used retargeting and remarketing. 

Retargeting Example: Airbnb

Retargeting is a tactic used by a vast number of B2B and B2C companies. In 2018, companies spent 41% of all paid display budgets on retargeting ads. 

Airbnb is an excellent example of how retargeting can boost conversions and generate business results. In 2017, Airbnb launched a retargeting campaign using dynamic ads on the Facebook Ads platform. 

The retargeting campaign advertised accommodation in locations that people have previously searched for on the Airbnb website. 

For example, a user that searched for places to stay in Ostuni was retargeted with an ad like the one below:

Within a week of launch, the retargeting campaign reached 238 million people worldwide, reduced cost per acquisition by 47%, and achieved a 3x higher ROI than previous campaigns. 

Remarketing Example: Sephora

One of the most common types of remarketing is reminder emails. By sending a timely email, you can stay top of mind and remind customers that they should make a purchase to avoid running out of a consumable product.

The cosmetics brand Sephora is an example of a company that uses remarketing to increase sales and drive customer retention. Using customer purchase history data, Sephora can deliver its remarketing emails at the optimal time to encourage a repeat purchase. 

Most people forget to reorder consumable products until they have run out or are very low. With remarketing emails, you can remind your customer and reduce the risk of losing them to a competitor. 

With a strong and concise value proposition, remarketing can be a great way to increase customer retention and drive sales. The average remarketing email achieves a 57% open rate; almost 3x higher than the 21% open rate for a standard marketing email.

Which One Should You Use?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to retargeting vs. remarketing. The best tactic for you will depend on your circumstances and the results you want to achieve. 

For example, if you sell low purchase frequency products, it doesn’t make sense to focus your strategy on email remarketing. Customer retention is still important, but your focus should be on attracting new customers. 

If you sell fast-moving consumer goods, email remarketing can be a great way to increase customer retention and boost brand loyalty.

For most companies, retargeting and remarketing can both play an important role in your marketing strategy. You can use both tactics to optimize your conversion rate and grow your business through digital marketing. 


Retargeting and remarketing are powerful tactics. But you need to implement them correctly and make continual improvements and optimizations to get the best results and ROI. 

If you’re looking to take your strategy to the next level, contact our team of marketing experts here at Ogno. We can help you scale your campaigns and leverage retargeting and remarketing to get more customers and sales. 

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