Remarketing vs. Retargeting: Are They Same or Different?

Updated on :February 06, 2024
By :Kevin Brookshire

In the world of digital marketing, retargeting, and remarketing, although they sound different, share the same marketing goals, which are:

To convince the prospect to return and finish the purchase they previously didn't or re-subscribe to the services they abandoned.

This is done by showing relevant ads to the user when they visit another website or sending personalized content and emails to them.

That is not their only purpose! Retargeting and Remarketing also help in brand awareness and recall, as consistent retargeting and remarketing keep your brand at the top of customers' minds.

Both approaches are equally important because 97% of customers leave without purchasing anything. Too many abandoned carts can lead to a loss of sales and a negative return on investment in marketing spending, leading to an overall decline in the brand's revenue.

In essence, both retargeting and remarketing are trying to achieve the same goal.

That is re-engaging the customer, just that the means to do the same are different:

One blasts the customer with relevant ads across the internet, and the other tries to cultivate a long-term relationship with them.

Or you could also say that "One yells through megaphones on your digital journey, the other whispers sweet nothings in your inbox.”

"Whose siren song will win back the customer ?"

Continue reading to find out.

What is the Core Difference Between Remarketing and Retargeting?

While remarketing is a long shot, retargeting focuses on immediacy. Think of retargeting as a persistent salesman following you around the store, trying to convince you to take a specific action immediately. Meanwhile, remarketing involves cultivating a friendly relationship over an extended period. The table below will give you a better understanding of the core differences between retargeting and remarketing in terms of different features.

Remarketing vs. Retageting

Let’s dive further into the differences between retargeting and remarketing.

Retargeting V/S Remarketing:  Same Goal, Different Approaches

While both marketing approaches try to achieve the same goal, they still vary when it comes to their methods. 

How Retargeting Approaches the Customer

Retargeting shows ads to the customers based on their previous interactions with the website. For example, let’s say I visited an online store, and while going through their list of different products, a pair of Nike shoes caught my eye. But then, I decided not to purchase it and left the website.


Now, I decided to forget about those Nike shoes; however, the Internet, which's known to track every online move of yours and mine, didn’t want me to.

This meant that whenever I browsed any site online or social media platforms, the ads showing those exact pairs of shoes I saw at the online store popped out from nowhere. This is how retargeting works in the background in silence.

How Remarketing Approaches the Customer

Remarketing focuses on re-connecting with customers through different channels like sending targeted emails to customers who have previously interacted with the website or purchased something from it.

To further explain how remarketing works, here is a scenario:

I play a lot of games on my console and wanted to buy a couch since it felt more comfortable, and I also won't feel the fear of falling down (I once fell through when one of the legs of the plastic chair broke, and ever since then has a phobia around these chairs)

So, I visited an online furniture store and spent quite a time exploring different couches. One particular couch caught my eye and I added it to my cart. But, my debit card was not working for some reason, so I left the website.

Few days later, I received an email reminding me of the couch that I left saved on the card. There was also an offer of a free pillow and an extended warranty with it. 


This is how remarketing works.

Retargeting whispers "Remember me?" with gentle ad reminders following online browsing. It's like seeing those shoes you admired popping up everywhere you go online.

  • To sum it up:

Remarketing shouts "Welcome back!" with personalized emails to known customers. Imagine receiving a friendly note reminding you about the couch you left in your cart, complete with sweet deals like a cozy throw pillow and peace-of-mind warranty.

Both aim to nudge you towards that final purchase, but retargeting plays the subtle stalker while remarketing offers a warm invitation.

Remarketing V/S Retargeting: Technology Integration

Both retargeting and remarketing utilizes different technologies to reconnect with their audiences. The platforms they use to contact their customers are also varied.


Retargeting uses code snippets, like pixels or cookies on a website, to track customer behavior. They depend on ad platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to serve targeted ads to consumers based on their interactions with the website.


Remarketing goes beyond ad networks and uses multiple platforms. For example, email remarketing relies on email marketing tools; similarly, social media platforms are used for social remarketing. There are other channels, too, like direct mail or phone outreach.

Since remarketing has multiple points of contact, it requires a broad strategy for integration.

  • To sum it up:

Retargeting: Digitally focused, leverages ad platforms to re-engage web visitors.

Remarketing: Multi-channel approach, uses diverse platforms to stay connected and nurture relations with existing customers and website visitors.

Retargeting V/S Remarketing: Goals

Both retargeting and remarketing have different primary objectives.

Goal of Retargeting

Retargeting tries to bring users back to the website that they left without completing the specific action, such as making a purchase. It aims to boost the conversion rates by targeting those customers who have already shown interest but haven’t completed the desired goal.

Goal of Remarketing

Remarketing aims to re-engage customers through different channels. It seeks to go beyond just website interactions and pursues goals like customer retention, fostering brand loyalty, and nurturing ongoing relationships with the consumer. All this is done through email campaigns, personalized content, etc.

  • To sum it up

Retargeting is more transactional, focusing on the completion of specific actions, whereas remarketing tries to build a long-term relation with customers.

Remarketing V/S Remarketing: Strategy

When it comes to strategy, the main difference between retargeting and remarketing lies in their approach to engaging and re-engaging with customers.

Retargeting Strategy

Retargeting focuses on optimizing the ad content, placements, and frequency to bring users back to the site and encourage conversions. It relies on analyzing user behavior for precise ad targeting.

Remarketing Strategy

Remarketing concentrates on email, social media, and content marketing. It aims to build a deeper customer relationship by providing them value through different points of contact.

  • To sum it up:

Retargeting: Like casting a laser-guided spear at fish already circling the boat, retargeting uses precise targeting to hook close-to-conversion shoppers.

Remarketing: Like patiently crafting bait and casting a wide net in a fertile pool, remarketing builds relationships and entices new bites from across the customer pool.

Retargeting V/S Remarketing: Timing

In terms of timing, the difference between retargeting and remarketing is when they engage with users.

Retargeting Timing

Retargeting focuses on near-immediate re-engagement. The Ads are displayed quickly after the customer has interacted with the website. It focuses on capturing their attention and tries to bring them back to complete a specific action quickly.

Remarketing Timing

Remarketing takes an extended time as engagements happen through channels like email, social media, and content marketing. This allows the marketers to strategically nurture their ongoing relationships with the customers on a long-term basis instead of focusing on short-term actions.

Long story short, retargeting and remarketing are mutually exclusive strategies. Let’s delve into case studies of two famous companies that racked in a fortune using remarketing and retargeting tactics.

  • To sum it up

Retargeting: Think of retargeting as a sprinter, blazing a fast track to capture attention while the momentum of website interaction is fresh.

Remarketing: Remarketing is the marathon runner, pacing themselves for a long-term journey, strategically building relationships and loyalty over an extended course.

Case Study #1 How Dollar Shave Club Generated 400% Return on Investment and Increased Their Conversion Rate by 20% Using Remarketing

Let’s dive into how Dollar Shave Club mastered the art of remarketing.

Their approach begins with keen observation. First, they meticulously analyzed website visitors, abandoned cart users, and social media followers to identify potential customers who were interested in their products but still hadn’t decided to purchase them.  Once the target audience was zeroed down, they reached out to them through multiple channels such as ads, social media ads, and push notifications.

No, they didn’t stop with just reaching out. They further refined their campaigns based on real-time insights, yielding impressive results.

This helped them generate a whopping 400%  ROI and boosted the conversion rate by almost 20%.

Case Study #2 How Warby Parker Increased Their Conversions by 80% Through Retargeting

Warby Parker, an online retailer of prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, was facing  a high cart abandonment rate. The customers were adding the products to the cart but were not completing the purchase.

So, the company started looking for ways to increase conversion rates. To bring  customers back, Warby Parker implemented dynamic product ads. It showcased specific products that the customers had abandoned in their carts along with personalized messages like “Don’t forget new shaders” and “Still thinking about those glasses.”

This worked, and Warby Parker boosted their conversions by 80%.

When Should a Company Consider Remarketing vs Retargeting?

The answer to this question depends on your marketing goals, and at what stage of the journey the customer is with your brand. But here is a general idea.


Remarketing is ideal for nurturing an existing relationship with the customer. For example, you can send emails to repeat customers with limited time offers and coupons, which is a perfect way to bring them back. Also, returning customers spend 67% more money than new ones.

That’s not all! Based on their purchase history, you can notify customers with new offerings that match their interests.


Companies should consider retargeting when they want to recover abandoned carts.

Retargeting ads can remind customers of items they left in their shopping cart and encourage them to complete their purchase.

Furthermore, retargeting effectiveness lies in its ability to promote new or popular products... This is achieved by showing relevant items to those consumers who have shown interest in those categories.


Both retargeting and remarketing have one common goal, which is to convert those customers who are most likely to purchase from your brand, just that they leverage different approaches to achieve the same objective.

Retargeting focuses on those users who have interacted with your brand but have not yet purchased via paid ads.

Remarketing focuses on re-engaging existing customers, primarily through email campaigns and reaching out to those who have already had previous interactions, thus allowing for more specific upselling.

That’s all folks!

Kevin Brookshire
Kevin Brookshire

Kevin Brookshire is a Senior content writer with GoodFirms. He has 3+ years of experience in content writing and marketing. Kevin loves to write about cutting-edge technologies and emerging trends in the IT industry. 

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