Woman filing papers (difference between remarketing, retargeting, PPC)

Remarketing vs. Retargeting vs. PPC: what's the difference?

Posted by Simon Collins Picture of Simon Collins on 4 December 2020
Marketing copywriter specialising in writing about technology, marketing, branding, strategy and thought leadership for Articulate Marketing. Loves old cities and new music.

Don’t get us wrong – we love marketing.


We hate the marketing jargon. One by one, we want to explain those terms that get misused and confused. So, today, we’re going to set the record straight and clarify the differences between remarketing, retargeting and PPC.

Let’s jump in.

What’s PPC?

PPC is an acronym that stands for ‘Pay Per Click’. It refers to digital advertising where you pay the advertising platform to show your ad.

This can be ‘paid search’, which is PPC ads on a search engine platform like Google. For example, when you search ‘plumber in Bristol’, the results you get will be both the organic results that Google deems the best-fit for that keyword and the paid search results on top.

google search plumber bristol (retargeting vs. remarketing)

You can also run ‘paid social’ ads, which are PPC ads on a social media platform. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn. Here, you choose groups of people who you want to see your ad and you share it with that target audience on their social feed. This might be based on the location, age, gender, job role and so on. Here’s more on how PPC works.

What’s retargeting?

Retargeting is a form of PPC that displays ads to people who have visited specific pages of your website.

To retarget, you need to install a ‘tag’ on your website that tracks website visitors. Facebook has the ‘Pixel’ and LinkedIn has the ‘Insight Tag’. To add them to your website, it’s best to use Google Tag Manager – it takes a lot of the leg work out.

Then, when you have your tracking tags added, you can retarget website visitors by creating unique rules. For example, you might use LinkedIn to target everyone who lands on a certain landing page but doesn’t fill it in. So, the next time they’re on LinkedIn, they’ll see your ad, reminding them of the benefits of your offer with a link back to the landing page.

Retargeting is a great way to get more people to become contacts, progressing these leads through the buyers journey and bridging gaps in your marketing funnel. Sounds good, right? Here’s an excellent beginners guide from HubSpot to get you started.

What’s remarketing?

This is where it gets a little complicated. When someone refers to remarketing, they might be talking about retargeting. The terms are somewhat interchangeable. We’re sorry it’s a bit confusing – don't shoot the messenger!

That said – typically – remarketing refers specifically to sending follow-up emails as part of your marketing efforts either to a lead or a customer.

For example, you get a lead’s details because they’ve downloaded an offer from your website. Now, when you send them an email sequence, you are remarketing to them.

Of course, we’ve all written lots of emails before. But writing great emails is an art and writing remarketing emails is a niche of its own. Here are some lessons we’ve learnt on writing emails that convert.

Thank God we cleared that up...

So, PPC is pay-per-click advertising. Retargeting is a form of PPC that targets people who have visited your website. And, remarketing (although sometimes referring to retargeting) usually means email marketing to leads or customers.

For more on how you can use PPC to drive leads to your business, head over to our complete guide now.

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