Difference between Remarketing and Retargeting

Whether you have just started your marketing journey or been creating ads for a decade, you will always come across someone saying, “What even is the difference between remarketing and retargeting,” or “they’re just cousins; both help you bring back lost customers!”

While it’s somewhat true that these ads help you reach customers who interacted with your brand but did not make a purchase.

So, is remarketing and retargeting same?

Well, there are various debates running on remarketing vs retargeting all over the internet. So, let’s put a full stop to this debate by understanding that both terms are two of a kind; they are similar yet different.

We’ve explained both in detail, so you don’t leave this page with any confusion.

Remarketing Vs. Retargeting: Same or Different?

You will find at least three perspectives on the remarketing vs. retargeting debate on Google.

While one says they are different business advertising tactics with similar goals, the other says they are different techniques with unique advertising goals. Another viewpoint is that these business advertising strategies are similar, so the terms are interchangeable.

All these different prospects will leave you puzzled even more than before. Well, there is a thin line to clarify the difference between remarketing and retargeting.

Remarketing is advertising businesses to existing customers through different strategies, including emails, SMS, and more.

Meanwhile, retargeting refers to advertising businesses through ads to audiences who have at least visited the business’s website.

Moreover, remarketing can sometimes be used as a broader term that covers both remarketing as well as retargeting. However, we are not talking about the “umbrella term, remarketing” for today. So, let’s have a detailed discussion on remarketing vs retargeting.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing is a business advertising technique for re-engaging existing customers through promotional emails, SMS, and push-on notifications. Since these customers have already purchased from your business, you can directly advertise your business to them through any of these methods.

Remarketing tactics include using customized emails for customers based on their previous purchase details and interaction on your business website.

Businesses use remarketing because they have a higher chance of making a business with customers who have purchased their product or service in the past. These emails or paid ads remind them to buy your product or renew the service, which they might have forgotten.

How does it Work?

You can use tools like Pixels and Lists to build a remarketing campaign for your business. These tools analyze the previous website activity of your existing customers to generate and send customized emails to them at once. Here are some of the best remarketing ads examples:

  • Reminders of the expiration of a service subscription so the customers can renew it.
  • Catchy service sale/discount emails for customers who no longer use a service they previously used.
  • Sending sale emails to customers who have saved items in their wish lists.
  • Reminder emails to customers with products in their cart that may go out of stock.
  • Thanking customers through emails and SMS for trusting your business and making a purchase.

Benefits of Remarketing

Builds a Loyal Customer Base

Remarketing emails, including cross-sale, promotional, and reminder emails, help build a loyal customer base. Big brands like Airbnb, Spotify, and Nike use remarketing for the same purpose.

Increased Sales

Remarketing campaign targets increasing sales by re-engaging dormant customers who have already purchased from a business.


SMS and email remarketing costs little to no money, making them more pocket-friendly than other email marketing campaigns

Now that the remarketing part of the remarketing vs. retargeting debate is clear, let’s move on to retargeting.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is a business marketing technique for targeting customers who have interacted with your business but haven’t made a purchase yet.

This happens when a customer knows about a brand, goes to their website or social media profile, and maybe also clicks on a product or two but still doesn’t buy it. There are high chances of these warm leads converting into business only if the right retargeting strategies are applied. And so, the best retargeting ads focuses on these leads to convert them into loyal customers.

At first, retargeting only focused on targeting on-site leads. Now, it also targets audiences who either made searches or activities related to their business on platforms like Meta or purchased from a similar company.

How does it Work?

Retargeting does not target existing customers but rather potential customers. When a lead learns about a business, visits its website, and clicks on a product, the cookies allow the business to read their interaction details. This way, related display ads are sent to these leads on different apps and sites to convert them.

To set up a campaign, you can use Google Ads. The campaign focuses on targeting leads (which can potentially convert into customers) through display ads. Two best retargeting ad ideas include:

  • Promote products that caught their interest in your business.
  • Offer discount codes and sales on the specific product the customers are interested in.

Benefits of Retargeting


Retargeting ads is a budget-friendly option compared to normal digital marketing through display ads.

Attracts New Customers

Dynamic retargeting attracts new customers through warm leads by showing them what they liked initially.

High CTR

The click-through rate of retargeting ads is quite impressive; they increase website traffic and conversion rates.

Differences between Remarketing and Retargeting





Remarketing focuses on re-engaging existing/dormant customers

Retargeting focuses on targeting warm leads to convert them into sales

Means to Reach Audience

A remarketing campaign targets customers through emails or SMS

A retargeting campaign targets leads through display ads


It targets customers who have previously purchased from a business

It focuses on customers with on-site or off-site interaction (on different platforms) related to that business; it also targets customers who have recently searched or interacted with a similar business

Data Collection

It uses customer data from their previous purchase and their interaction on the website

It uses data through website cookies to learn user behavior on their website and user activity on social media platforms


Remarketing emails are very effective when sent immediately after a customer abandons a cart. And if you offer a discount code through SMS, the conversion chances are even higher

Retargeting ads do not show any special results if they reach prospects within the next hour of their website interaction


The biggest challenge of remarketing is that the open rate and click-to-open rate of emails are pretty low, and customers usually don’t pay much heed to promotional emails, and you might end up in the spam folder

The biggest challenge of retargeting is that the audience will consider it spam if the ads are repetitive; if the customers repeatedly see the same ad, which does not attract them, they might also report it

Ideal for

Ideal for both small (new) and big businesses as the emails can reengage their existing customer base to convert into sales

Ideal for both small businesses and big brands. However, retargeting can ideally help new and local businesses find new customers and build a loyal customer base


Remarketing vs Retargeting: When to Use?

When Should I Use a Remarketing Campaign for My Business?

You can use remarketing emails for different purposes. For instance, thanking emails, cross-selling follow-up emails, discount offer emails, reminders to avoid cart abandonments and more. However, the most important reasons for when you should prioritize remarketing emails are:

Lessen Cart Abandonment Ratio: When you notice a high cart abandonment rate, you should start remarketing; remind your customers about their abandoned carts through their emails.

Reengage Dormant Customers: Remarketing emails are a great way to turn dormant customers into active ones. To entice them to make a purchase, give them a peek at the hot sellers and any current discount offers (especially on delivery charges).

Low Marketing Budget: When you have a low budget to start an email marketing campaign, remarketing is the best option. It’s because remarketing emails and SMS are almost free.

Cross-Selling Products: When a customer has already purchased a product from your business. Send them remarketing emails of any related product that further complements their previous purchase, leading to increased sales.

When Should I Use a Retargeting Campaign for My Business?

You can use behavioral retargeting for customers who have previously visited your business website or social media page but have yet to make a purchase.

You can also target audiences who have recently made related searches or have interacted with a similar business. Here’s when you should prioritize retargeting ads for your business:

Low Budget: When you are on a low budget and can’t afford a full-scale ad campaign, utilizing the best retargeting ads can be your savior.

Increased Brand Exposure to New Customers: When a customer leaves your site without purchasing, it doesn’t mean they will not buy anything in the future. When you target them with specific product ads from time to time, they are most likely to remember the brand name. And by the time they decide to purchase that product, they will probably buy from you.

Increased Traffic and More Conversions: Retargeting ads are one of the most fruitful ads as they target potential customers. The click-through rates of retargeting ads are ten times more than standard marketing display ads. And so, the increased traffic results in a higher conversion rate.


The difference between remarketing and retargeting is that remarketing aims to reengage existing customers through emails and SMS to increase sales. In contrast, retargeting focuses on attracting new customers (who may or may not know about the brand’s existence) through display ads. To summarize the remarketing vs retargeting debate, remarketing focuses on promoting business to dormant customers through personalized emails, while retargeting converts warm leads into customers through display ads.

The best remarketing ads emails are customized for each customer and can include thanking emails, reminders, and discount offers. The same is the case with the best retargeting ads, including ads for a product that initially caught the customer’s interest. Both digital marketing techniques show excellent results for small and big companies.

Contact our remarketing and retargeting experts at Kubico for the best strategies according to your needs.  

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