May 1, 2024 | 8 min read

Retargeting vs. Remarketing: Exploring Differences

Businesses seeking to broaden their scope and increase their profitability have a wide variety of contemporary advertising strategies to choose from. Two of the most popular and potent are retargeting and remarketing.

Both approaches advertise your products or services to consumers who’ve previously expressed interest in your brand—which is likely why the two terms are often used interchangeably. Who they aim to reach and their methods for doing so, however, distinguish both as their own unique strategy.

What are the key differences between retargeting vs. remarketing? Find out more below.

What is retargeting?

Retargeting involves advertising to consumers who’ve previously visited your site but, for one reason or another, declined to make a purchase. There are two primary retargeting ads:

  • Pixel-based retargeting – Once a cookies-enabled user navigates to your webpage, clicks a product, or takes another related action, a pixel is embedded in their browser. As they browse the web, this pixel signals their location to retargeting services to display relevant ads about your products.
  • List-based retargeting – Simply upload a list of your users’ emails to retargeting services. They can then track their matching accounts and present your products in prepaid advertising slots. 

Generally, a retargeted ad will appear in embedded spots or banners on the pages a user browses. Facebook and Google search retargeting ads are two of the most well-known and widely-utilized.  To specifically reach homeowners and purchasing decision-makers, however, you’ll want to utilize a more focused service such as Nextdoor Ads Manager. 

What is remarketing?

Remarketing also targets users who've previously visited your pages and likewise functions via pixels and lists. The main difference between a retargeting vs. remarketing campaign, however, comes down to where the user has interacted with your brand and your advertising techniques. 

While retargeting focuses on delivering online ads to previous website visitors, remarketing combines this strategy with a variety of other mediums, including:

  • Video – If a user engages with your video content, YouTube and TikTok suggestions and prerolls are exceptional spaces for pushing remarketed content.
  • Email – Whether they’re on your mailing list or have interacted with your local business in the past, email remarketing is a proven way to reach a potential customer. It can support retargeting efforts across other mediums via pixel tracking.
  • Social media – If you get more hits on social media than your website, focus your advertising efforts in this space. Embedded, sponsored ads appear at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and naturally in social media feeds and will stick with your fans well after they navigate away from these pages. Investing in such advertising spots can continually remind browsers of your presence and products, and inspire them to return to your platform.

Retargeting vs. remarketing: when to use each

There are no hard and fast rules dictating when to use retargeting vs. remarketing, and both can effectively bolster your bottom line. Ad retargeting, for instance, has been shown to boost customer engagement by 400%. Meanwhile, remarketing strategies can increase conversion rates by up to 161%. While both are effective approaches, what can help you decide between the two is the nature of your local business and the users who interact with it.

If, for instance, your website is your main point of contact for most of your customers and you don’t have a large social media or email presence, consider a retargeting strategy that seeks to loop customers back to that main hub.

Brands such as Virgin Active, for instance, interact with customers within their own app (Virgin Pulse), in person at their many gym locations, across their various social media accounts, on their YouTube pages, and via several other mediums. 

Best practices & strategies for effective retargeting

Now that you’ve decided between retargeting and remarketing, it’s time to put your plan into action. 

Best practices for retargeting campaigns

To get a successful retargeting campaign started, consider these best practices:

  • Limit how many times you target a single user and pick your ads carefully—71% of consumers say they’re less likely to purchase from a brand if they find their ads annoying or intrusive
  • Personalize ads with customer locations and other specifics if possible—90% of leading marketers say it significantly contributes to a local business’s profitability
  • Consider that your audience already knows your products and write your ads in a friendly, approachable manner that reflects this familiarity 

A company like Cath Kidston, for example, can take it for granted that most of its potential customers are in the market for chic home furnishings and apparel. Thus, the company could leverage this knowledge to position itself as the leader in modern decor and fashion design within its targeted ads.

Tips for crafting compelling remarketing campaigns/messages

Remarketing is slightly more complex than retargeting as you have multiple platforms to consider, rather than just your site and external advertising spots. Nevertheless, your videos, emails, and other advertising spots can be optimized by:

  • Collecting demographic information about your potential customers 
  • Segmenting your audience based on their interests, their likelihood to purchase specific products, and the platforms they use to interact with your brand
  • Crafting targeted advertising messages that reflect your different segments and utilize your various platforms to reach engaged consumers with relevant content
  • Tailoring landing pages for different segments that contain the products or services they’re most likely to purchase

Take realtors that operate in multiple localities, such as Melaney and Regal Realtors, as examples. They should collect information about family size, budget, and preferences to segment their audience. Then, when a new property becomes available, they’ll know exactly who to market it to based on its square footage, price, features, and area. 

Measuring success: metrics for retargeting and remarketing

If you’re going to invest in a retargeting or remarketing campaign, you’re going to want to ensure it’s having its intended effect. In order to accurately measure success, you’ll need to keep track of:

  • Conversion rate – Conversions occur when someone interacts with your online ad, then visits your site, calls you, or takes some other action you’ve deemed valuable to your local business. To measure your conversion rate, take your conversions and divide them by the total number of ad interactions over a given period. 
  • Cart abandonment rate – When a customer adds items to their online basket but fails to check out, that purchase is considered abandoned. In general, over 70% of online carts end up abandoned. Track your abandonment rate both before and after implementing a campaign and, like golf, if the number starts falling, it means you’re improving. 
  • Site visits, email opens, and video views – Depending on the medium you use to engage with your customers, there are a variety of metrics you can track to gauge your campaign’s effectiveness. If any of these three rise as a direct result of your remarketing or retargeting campaigns, you’ll know your efforts are panning out.

Enhancing your local business strategy with Nextdoor Ads Manager

Retargeting and remarketing campaigns are essential to pull in a curious customer who is interested in your brand but hasn’t yet decided to pull the trigger on a purchase. There are a variety of approaches and platforms to utilize to convert this vast swathe of consumers, but none outshine Nextdoor Ads Manager.

With Nextdoor Ads Manager, you can easily access key information about your customers’:

  • Income
  • Homeownership status
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Other important characteristics

This information makes it simple to understand your engaged demographics, allowing you to effectively segment your audience and craft digital marketing messages that speak to their sensibilities. Then, you can instantly push these messages to the third of American households that have Nextdoor accounts—90%+ of which are run by the family’s main purchasing decision maker.

Explore Nextdoor Ads Manager for yourself to discover the power of the platform and how engaging with homeowners can boost your bottom line. 



  1. HubSpot. What Is Retargeting? How To Set Up an Ad Retargeting Campaign.
  2. Adobe. Remarketing — what it is, how it works, and more.
  3. Vibe. What is retargeting and how does it work?.
  4. Google. Case study: Tirendo Deutschland GmbH – Remarketing lists for search ads.
  5. The Drum. Brands are wasting budget on ‘annoying’ ads that do more harm than good, new YouGov survey finds.
  6. Think with Google. Marketing personalization statistics.
  7. Google Ads Help. Conversion rate: Definition.
  8. Shopify. How To Reduce Cart Abandonment and Close Sales (2024). 
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Author image Nextdoor Editorial Team At Nextdoor, we love local. The Nextdoor Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of local businesses, providing product education, and sharing marketing best practices to help businesses grow.