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Converting online visitors or leads to a sale can be a very difficult task. Studies have shown that only 2% of visitors successfully convert to customers during the first interaction with an online business, usually through the website or social media business account.

So what about the remaining 98% of the people who visit but never buy or take the intended action? Surely, businesses miss a very huge market.

However, prospects of growth for any online business can be exponentially increased by winning a considerable portion of the remaining 98% of visitors.

Luckily, modern digital marketing has evolved to provide us with a solution to target this potential customer base. The concepts to learn in this regard are called ‘retargeting’ and ‘remarketing’.

Understand the Meaning and Difference Between Remarketing & Retargeting

As the terms may also imply, these marketing techniques are used in cases of prospects that have already experienced some sort of marketing and/or targeting campaign by the business but did not complete the purchase. Both these terms are often used interchangeably; however, a distinct difference lies between the two in spite of both having the same fundamental concept.

If you are anything like me, I often use these two terms interchangeably. Even Google has gotten in the habit of mixing the two and ultimately putting both under a single terminology of “remarketing,” however the concept of the two are very different.

Even others have categorized the two by simply claiming that remarketing is e-mail based, while retargeting is focused on display ads. While the distinction helps to draw a clear line in the sand it doesn’t help explain the fundamental principle behind the two.

Ultimately the understanding and application of retargeting and remarketing strategies can be very handy in converting visitors to customers and multiplying the growth of the business in the long run.

In this article, we are going to understand the meaning and difference between both of these crucial marketing terms as well as some strategies and real-life means of achieving success in this avenue.

What is Retargeting?

Before understanding retargeting, it is important to have a basic understanding of the concept of ‘targeting.’ It is related to narrowing down or segmenting the whole population in order to market products or services to.

Imagine you run a successful marketing or targeting campaign and attracted thousands of people to your website. However, as mentioned in the beginning, hardly 2% (or less in some cases) of visitors are converted into customers. One way is to accept it as fate and always expect only 2% of the visitors to generate a sale in each marketing campaign. But there is another way, a better way!

The remaining 98% surely have some sort of interest in your product or service but they may have failed to complete the purchase due to various reasons: incomplete information about the product/service, pricing restrictions, lack of customer service, or simply considering it for a later down the road.

Retargeting is the approach to target these 98% visitors once again in order to create more opportunities for these interested visitors to complete the purchase.

Retargeting Strategy

The retargeting strategy is widely used across all media of the internet. Simply search for any product on Google, such as food delivery, laptop or a website hosting, visit websites listed on the first page of the search result for a few minutes and close the tabs. You will continue to see similar ads for many weeks in the future and these ads will be everywhere, from Facebook to YouTube and Google. This is a real-life example of retargeting.

How Retargeting Works

Retargeting is possible through a pixel-based retargeting javascript code which can be easily implemented onto any site.  This pixel carries a small packet of data, which attaches itself to the browser of visitors and allows a website to track user movement and actions across the website for future reference. The use of a pixel is central to retargeting as the information stored in these data packets is used to show ads to those users who have already visited the website recently.

Ads are the primary source of this engagement tactic. Retargeting strategy can be formulated according to various variables, the choice of which may entirely be dependent upon individual businesses and campaigns. For example, some businesses may want to retarget only those visitors who have completed some sort of action on the website, ie. cart abandonment. Similarly, other businesses may want to retarget according to a certain threshold of time the visitor was on the website before moving out, i.e. time on-page.

In addition, retargeting may be differentiated or categorized in terms of on-site or off-site. Discussion in the above paragraph is primarily related to on-site retargeting, where a visitor has already interacted with the website and completed some sort of action or spent a certain amount of time. On the other hand, off-site retargeting is based upon user activities outside the business website, such as relevant keyword search on a search engine. In this case, the audience of the retargeted campaign has not yet visited the website.

What is Remarketing?

While remarketing follows a similar basic principle of approaching potential customers who have previously shown interest in certain products or services, there is a slight difference when compared with retargeting strategy. In essence, remarketing is a more personalized approach. It may also use ads similar to retargeting but the ads shown will be precisely tailored with the intended audience, for example, showing only those products in the ad which the intended receiver viewed on the website.

How Remarketing Works

Email is the most frequently used medium of remarketing. Suppose a visitor visited a website and added a certain laptop on his or her cart, but somehow exited the website without making payment and completing the sale. Now ads may be useful but, in such a case, a personalized email will yield better results. The business, in this case, will send a personalized email to the visitor with tailored content of the mail. For example, the email may question why the visitor did not complete email, ask for feedback or even offer a special discount to motivate this particular sale.

Research data has suggested email to be among the most effective marketing tools that are available online. Remarketing includes a higher level of personalization and, therefore, is considered to be very effective as compared to most other means of the closing sale.

Is One Better Than the Other?

Overall it is impossible to term one strategy as better than the other, since it all is based on the original campaign strategy, budget, resources, and overall objective to determine. And as such, the choice of either of them is dependent upon the individual situation.

For example, an online retail store with thousands of offered products may not be aware of the precise choice of visitor and, hence, retargeting might be a better option for such a business.

On the other hand, if a visitor had already put a specific item in the cart, chances of sale may be better with personalized email, which provides more features and special discounts, related to that item.

In reality, a combination of both these strategies is so common it is the reason that both terms are often used interchangeably.

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