Remarketing vs Retargeting: a complete guide, definition with examples

Remarketing and Retargeting 2remarkable marketing strategie

The terms remarketing and retargeting are two concepts that have emerged and become popular as a result of technological developments. There are logical reasons for this popularity among most businesses across the world. In this article, we are going to illustrate the meaning, what are the benefits, and how to use them.

As an online business owner, you’re well aware of the challenges of converting visitors into customers. You’ve invested time and resources into building a website, creating valuable content, and driving traffic to your site. But even with all of this effort, a significant percentage of your visitors will leave without taking any action.

E-commerce is dominating almost every market resulting in a more competitive field for businesses to compete. In this ever-changing environment, finding new customers or convincing previous customers to buy your products or services again is a real challenge. 

However, the Internet and E-commerce technologies provide opportunities for businesses to implement efficient and cost-effective strategies for their marketing activities like Remarketing and Retargeting which are among the most popular and effective marketing strategies. In this article, you can understand these two strategies and learn how to implement them and you will see some guidelines for best practices in this subject.


Before going into the details of the technical differences between these concepts, in E-commerce Nation, we define remarketing and retargeting as “reconnecting with audiences who have already shown interest in your products or services, or those who already have interacted with your business”. The main goal of this connection is to reengage with your high-potential customers and prospects.

However, the presented definition is a combination of both concepts. Understanding the difference between these two can help your marketing team to plan a more effective marketing strategy. 

Remarketing vs Retargeting

In most resources remarketing definition is somehow connected to retargeting. Even more, many resources identified these two concepts as identical and use them interchangeably. However, there are some major differences between these two in terms of targeted audience and tools. 


Aims to re-engage with customers based on their previous purchase transactions. This strategy is an important part of customer relationship management. Email is the major medium that is used by marketing experts for remarketing activities. For example, when you send an exclusive promotional offer or discount to your customers who did not purchase anything from you in the last 3 months, you are using this strategy to reengage your inactive customers.

Showing remarketing process in an illustration.


When it comes to engaging with potential customers online, retargeting is a vital strategy that no business can afford to ignore. retargeting is a way to interact with potential customers online and is considered one of the most important strategies of digital advertising. Using a technological infrastructure, it’s an efficient way to make the most out of your advertising budget. Retargeter states that the conversion rate during the first visit is only 2%, and businesses need to employ retargeting strategies to reach the remaining 98% of traffic.

Note that retargeting, in contrast with remarketing, aims to bring new customers by targeting high-potential customers. Ads (like CPC banners or Instagram ads) are the principal medium for implementing retargeting. For example when you decide to show your instant coffee product to those who searched for “quitting coffee” or “coffee machine”, or when you show your sneakers to a visitor who already visited your products page while he is reading an article in some other website, you are using Retargeting technique. 

Showing retargeting process in an illustration.

Both marketing strategies are used to deliver more personalized messages to the target audience and achieve a higher conversion rate. By combining both strategies, businesses can create a comprehensive approach to nurturing leads and driving conversions.

Remarketing benefits

These strategies offer numerous benefits to businesses in various aspects. They can affect your brand, customer relationships, revenues, and costs. Here are some of their benefits:

Increase Brand Awareness

Remarketing and retargeting allow businesses to stay top-of-mind with potential customers. By re-engaging with customers who have already shown interest in your products or services, businesses can remind them of their brand and build brand awareness.

Decrease your costs

Remarketing and retargeting are cost-effective strategies compared to other marketing methods. By focusing on re-engaging with existing customers, or high-potential visitors, businesses can avoid spending resources on targeting cold audiences and increase the return on their advertising investment.

Reactive inactive users

Remarketing can help reactivate inactive customers by sending them personalized offers and promotions to encourage them to make a purchase. This strategy can help businesses bring back customers who may have forgotten about their brand or lost interest.

Decrease Cart Abandonment

Retargeting can help decrease cart abandonment rates by reminding potential customers of items they left in their shopping cart. By showing ads or sending emails featuring the products left behind, businesses can entice customers to return to their site and complete the purchase.

Cross Selling Opportunities

Remarketing allows businesses to promote related or complementary products to existing customers, increasing the potential for cross-selling opportunities. By showing ads for related products, businesses can encourage customers to make additional purchases.

You can read more about cross-selling in the “What is cross selling and how to use it to increase your sale” article. 

Increase Sales

Both remarketing and retargeting strategies can increase sales by targeting high-potential customers who have already shown interest in a product or service. By delivering personalized and relevant ads to these customers, businesses can increase the chances of converting them into paying customers.

Improve Customer Relationship Quality

By implementing these strategies, businesses can improve their customer relationship quality by showing their customers that they value them. By sending personalized offers and promotions, businesses can build stronger relationships with their customers and encourage them to become loyal brand advocates.

Remarketing best practices

For both remarketing and retargeting, there are some guidelines that you need to follow to have a successful marketing campaign. 

Define your target audience

Before starting any campaign, it is important to define your target audience. You should have a clear understanding of who your ideal customer is, what they are interested in, and how they interact with your brand. Try to be clear about which segments are you exactly targeting. 

Create customized messaging

Personalization is key in remarketing. You need to create customized messaging that speaks directly to your target audience. Use dynamic ads to tailor your message based on the user’s previous interaction with your website, or customized emails that look personal. You need to understand your target before providing valuable offers to them.

Set frequency caps

It is important to set frequency caps to ensure that your ads are not overexposed to the same user. This can lead to ad fatigue and a negative user experience.

Use different ad formats: Experiment with different ad formats such as static images, videos, and carousels. This can help keep your ads fresh and engaging.

Test and optimize

Continuously test and optimize your remarketing campaigns to improve their performance. Analyze your data to identify what’s working and what’s not, and make adjustments accordingly.

Top 5 remarketing tools

Digital marketers can conveniently deliver compelling offers and advertisements to audiences that have previously engaged with their brands online, thanks to retargeting platforms.

Google Ads

is a powerful remarketing tool that enables businesses to create ads that target visitors who have previously interacted with their website or app. Google Ads offers various strategies, including standard remarketing, dynamic remarketing, and remarketing lists for search ads. With Google Ads, businesses can easily track the performance of their ads and adjust their campaigns accordingly to improve conversions.


Is another popular platform for remarketing. With Facebook’s remarketing tool, businesses can retarget audiences who have interacted with their Facebook page, website, or app. Facebook offers various options, including custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and dynamic ads. These options allow businesses to create personalized ad campaigns that drive conversions.


is a popular email marketing platform that also offers remarketing capabilities. With Mailchimp, businesses can send targeted email campaigns to subscribers who have previously interacted with their website or app. Mailchimp offers a range of remarketing features, including automation workflows, segmentation, and A/B testing. These tools enable businesses to create engaging email campaigns that drive conversions.


Criteo is a digital advertising platform that specializes in remarketing. With Criteo, businesses can target audiences who have previously interacted with their website or app using personalized ads. Criteo’s proprietary algorithm uses machine learning to optimize ad delivery, ensuring that businesses reach the right audience at the right time.


Hubspot is a popular inbound marketing and sales platform that also offers remarketing capabilities. With Hubspot, businesses can create personalized campaigns that target audiences who have previously interacted with their website or app. Hubspot’s remarketing tools enable businesses to create engaging content and personalized campaigns that drive conversions.

You can read more about Hubspot and learn some magnificent tricks for using it in the “11 tricks to get the most out of HubSpot for your E-Commerce” article. 

Key Insights

By utilizing these two techniques, enterprises can form enduring connections with their current customers, recapture lost customers, and initiate communication endeavors with the intended audience who may have displayed an interest in the company and its offerings but have not yet made a purchase. Here are some of the major key insights of this article:

  • Remarketing and retargeting are two strategies that can help online businesses to increase advertisement effectiveness.
  • Remarketing aims to re-engage with customers based on their previous purchase transactions while retargeting targets potential customers who have shown interest in a product or service.
  • Both strategies are cost-effective and can help increase brand awareness, decrease cart abandonment, increase sales, and improve customer relationship quality.
  • Remarketing allows businesses to promote related or complementary products to existing customers, increasing the potential for cross-selling opportunities.
  • By combining both strategies, businesses can create a comprehensive approach to nurturing leads and driving conversions.

Image credit: Dannniel


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Seyed Morteza Mortazavi
Hi! I am Seyed Morteza, the content expert of the ECN company. I love to share my knowledge and expertise in the E-commerce field with curious businesses or individuals. Visit my LinkedIn profile to get in touch.