Remarketing Vs. Retargeting: How are they Different?

Retargeting and remarketing are often used interchangeably, but there are some trivial yet important differences that every digital marketer should know. 

It’s not surprising if you are confused between remarketing & retargeting. 

In the digital marketing landscape, both terms are used interchangeably. 

But, they are technically not the same concepts. 

We can say that both retargeting & remarketing have similar goals yet there are some important differences you must understand. 

Retargeting & remarketing are different in the kind of strategy and the kind of audience it can bring you. 

Remarketing vs. Retargeting 

The modern user has the habit of browsing the website pages and adding different items to the cart but never purchasing. This abandonment of the cart is because the consumer gets distracted by something else or they feel it’s better to take some more time to make the purchase decision. 

Per the data, a total of only 2% of consumers will make purchases on their first visit. It is where we need a strategy that can bring these customers back. Retargeting & remarketing — both of these concepts will bring back the audiences who have left the cart without making the final purchase. 

However, the goal of these approaches is the same, yet you need to understand the subtle differences that can really make a difference. You need to understand when to incorporate each of these concepts in your digital marketing strategy. 

Let’s understand the difference between retargeting & remarketing — how advertisers can re-engage their audience using the approach. 


Remarketing is about engaging with your audience using email marketing & through email campaigns. These are emails that automatically are sent to your audience based on the action a particular visitor takes on the website. For instance, an e-commerce website will send an email to a visitor who leaves the cart without pressing the purchase button or when he adds something to his wishlist. 


Unlike remarketing, retargeting re-engages audiences using display ads, online ads, or campaigns. While both these techniques aim at the same end-result, yet they are subtly different in the strategy they involve. Both aim to bring back the visitors who have already engaged with your website. 

To put it simply, remarketing uses email marketing to remind and bring back your site visitors while retargeting uses ads that appear on different platforms including social media & search engines. 

We already know that both remarketing & retargeting comes in the picture because of the scenario that requires a need to bring back your site visitors. But, the strategy that is employed within both of these concepts makes the difference. 

Here’s how it goes:

Let’s say there is a user A who visits your company’s website but leaves without making a purchase. You cannot afford to lose this visitor and you desperately want him to come back to your website and make the final purchase. 

It is where remarketing & retargeting comes into the picture:

With remarketing your company will bring back A by the bombardment of an email reminder as and when he abandons the cart without placing an order. 

And, with retargeting, A will be reminded of the pretty items in his cart using display ads that will be shown on different platforms.  

Remarketing vs. Retargeting: When to use each of the two?

Remarketing vs. Retargeting

Similarity: The goal for both the strategies is to enhance the conversion rate by bringing back those customers who have already shown interest in your product. 

Difference: While remarketing uses email to target these customers, retargeting uses display ads on different platforms. 

Now we already know the difference & similarity between remarketing & retargeting — we need to understand when to make use of each of these strategies. 

When to use remarketing? 

It will depend on the kind of message you want to convey. For instance, if you want to convey a message that will more appropriately fit into an email — you must use remarketing, which targets visitors via emails. 

Unlike in the case of retargeting which offers only limited space, you have to say it all in only a few words. If you have more to say, use remarketing emails.  Remarketing is the perfect option when you do not just want to remind your site visitors about the left items in the cart, but you also want to cross-sell or want to promote an additional offer. 

On the other hand, if you want to target consumers in an extended range or want flexibility in the contents’ location then retargeting would be the most ideal option. Retargeting would be a better way of engaging all those customers who could be interested in buying your product or in availing of your services. 

Important Note: It is important to note here that while with remarketing you’ll reach only the previous site visitors, with retargeting there is much scope to reach out to more new customers. 

Both these approaches will help bring back your site visitors and thus enhance the conversion rate. It is only important to consider each of these practices mindfully and incorporate them into your digital marketing strategy. 

Understanding the difference between these two strategies would help out with making use of remarketing & retargeting in bringing back the customers who have shown interest in your products, and services. 

Why does Remarketing work?

For the fact that email marketing has a wider reach — remarketing emails are considered so effective when it comes to bringing back your website visitors. As much as 94% of the young adult population uses emails and that makes it possible to bring back this huge population to your site and make the final orders. A lot of businesses say that customers get extremely influenced by remarketing emails. 

These emails serve as a reminder to your site visitors who came to your site but did not convert. It motivates the lead to return and make the final purchase. And, since this group of customers who have already shown interest in your products is more likely to return and make the final purchase. 

Why does retargeting work?

Like remarketing, when a certain user clicks on a product, adds it to the cart, and goes back without taking any action, the retargeting ad gets triggered. Whenever a user takes any action (visits the site’s pricing page or sees a product), the cookie in the web browser helps the business target the user with retargeting ads based on the action he has taken. 

For retargeting ads, the triggers that can be used include — the online search history, the users who have visited your site, users who interacted with any of your products or digital content, and the email subscribers who have visited your site recently. 

Retargeting also works well with the new users — using the Google Display Network, you can place retargeting ads on any third-party sites. This provides a platform for businesses to target their site visitors on their favorite sites. Showing your retargeting ad content on their favorite websites frequently, the chances of these visitors returning back to your site increases. 

The Takeaway

Online marketers need to understand the fine line of difference between remarketing and retargeting. While in the modern-day scenario, the two terms are often used interchangeably and have a similar marketing goal, but they differ in the kind of strategy they use. 

Both Remarketing and retargeting, share the goal of enhancing the conversion rate by bringing back the customers who visited your website but never converted. While retargeting is based on the paid ads, remarketing is about using email campaigns to bring back these lost customers. 

A mindfully created a digital marketing strategy that includes both remarketing and retargeting would help with enhancing the conversion rate. At AdMedia with our Digital Cross-Channel Remarketing, we reconnect to your audience with strategically positioned ads. We bring back these ‘window shoppers’ for you and convert them with remarketing. 

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