Imagine this: You’ve set up an eCommerce business boasting a killer website that offers prospective consumers with a streamlined user experience (UX). You’ve spent a fortune on a custom user interface (UI) keyword bidding as well as crafting ads to promote and sell your products. However, despite these efforts, the analytics show a constant increase in bounce rate and cart abandonment.

You look at your online ad campaigns, and you find the click-through-rate has continued to spiral downwards over the last six months. These two metrics should lead you to one conclusion: your ads are losing relevance and value. There are likely numerous reasons why this is happening, but we’re not going to sugar coat it; it’s a problem that needs to be fixed if you want to hit your sales goals. The good news is that there are tools available: remarketing and retargeting.

What’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

Like ‘copywriting’ and ‘content development, many people use the terms ‘remarketing’ and ‘retargeting’ interchangeably; don’t. While they may sometimes overlap, they technically serve different purposes and goals.



Retargeting typically refers to the placement of online ads or display ads targeting users who have visited and performed some interaction with your site without purchasing a product; basically, they have entered the sales cycle but haven’t made a purchase (converted). Their information can be captured by setting up a cookie in their browser. Once complete, you can retarget your ads to them based on the interaction they previously performed. The ads are placed by third parties such as the Google Display Network or Facebook and, on other sites, the prospect visits.

There are two categories of retargeting: on-site and off-site.


 Search Engine Journal explains “some of the ways you can target individuals who have had onsite interactions:

  • Target based on a product that they interacted with but didn’t buy.
  • Target based on how they found your site (social media, a search, or other inbound events).
  • Those on your email list who have expressed interest in your brand but have not yet converted to a sale.”

They further explain that onsite retargeting parameters can be set within platforms, including but not limited to Google Ads, Google Analytics and Facebook ads.


The increased social media usage opened a new avenue called off-site retargeting; brand messaging and promotion of products and/or services could be spread across numerous platforms. Facebook realised the potential to capitalise on this need and offer engagement retargeting. Essentially, “brands could make retargeting pushes based on what a user did on the platform as it related to their Page, Events, and other Facebook-controlled items that a brand participates in,” says Search Engine Journal.



Remarketing is often attributed to businesses re-engaging with converted customers via emails. An example of this could be a retail store emailing a customer to inform them about another product they may want to buy based on their purchase history. It’s a characteristic facet of email marketing.


What are the benefits of remarketing?

Audience targeting through segmentation

Audience segmentation is a marketing instrument used to divide users into groups based on the sales funnel stage. Businesses can track each segment’s demographics and psychographics to determine who, when, and why they exited at particular points. Based on these results, ads can be created to target those specific demographics by providing them with compelling information and CTAs to continue their journey to conversion.

According to an article published on Forbes’ website, ‘Consider creating multiple lists that are concentrated on certain categories, products or specific product pages. This can give you the same market reach but bring about higher conversion rates by offering specific products or services to specific customers.’ This serves as a means for businesses to strategically guide users closer to conversion as they travel down the lead funnel.

Reclaim quality traffic

Remarketing’s ability to reclaim traffic loss is one of its most prominent features. It gives your brand another chance to reach out to a customer and bring them back onto your website. Effective SEO tactics and referrals via targeted social media campaigns are a powerful combo to recapture prospects with a higher probability of converting.

Cross-selling and upselling products for MQLs

You’ve probably heard of leads, but what about marketing qualified leads? In a nutshell, an MQL is a lead that has been identified as one which has a higher probability of converting based on their level of engagement with your website.

Remarketing subsequently serves as an ideal marketing method for a brand to cross-sell and upsell its products and/or services. A targeted lead may have not converted for a specific product and/or service, but they may convert for a related offering. For example, if you find that an ad for a particular pair of running shoes is generating traffic and marketing qualified leads (MQLs), perhaps change the ad’s content or tone slightly. If the shoe is available in a variety of colours, try running ads for each colour? These minor but valuable tweaks can likely bring them closer to the purchasing stage.

In conclusion, retargeting and remarketing are potent tools in a marketer’s inventory; however, the differences between the two methods need to be understood to be implemented correctly.