Behavioral Targeting vs. Retargeting: Is There a Difference?

Looking to optimize your marketing? Find out the difference between behavioral targeting and retargeting and how both can help boost conversions.

Ali Shah - Writer for Fast Simon
By Ali Shah
Kelly Hendrickse - Editor for Fast Simon
Edited by Kelly Hendrickse
Oli Kashti - Writer and Fact-Checker for Fast Simon
Fact-check by Content writer and fact-checker Oli Kashti

Updated May 15, 2024.

Did you know that companies that leverage personalization see 40% more revenue than their average competitor? To be in that bracket, it's useful to understand if there's a difference between behavioral targeting and retargeting. Plus, with 71% of consumers expecting personalized experiences from businesses, using these targeting techniques in your marketing strategy can help boost conversions.

What Is Behavioral Targeting?

Behavioral targeting involves analyzing customer behavior and grouping it according to data such as browsing habits, site searches, other visited sites, and past purchases.

Automated behavior data collection can greatly facilitate this process, and there are tools available to help, such as Klaviyo.

The collected data offers multiple personalization options in the form of:

  • Targeted ads
  • Emails
  • Social media posts

For example, if you've been looking up mattress reviews, the next time you scroll through your social media feeds, you may notice sponsored ads from different mattress brands.

» Want to leverage social media? Learn what social commerce means for your business

What Is Behavioral Retargeting?

Behavioral retargeting, also known as remarketing, is the process of re-engaging with users who have already shown interest in your products or services but did not convert.

This technique uses the same tools as behavioral targeting to track and analyze customer behavior for customized marketing opportunities.

For example, Targus, a computer and accessories brand, displays an array of backpacks and laptop cases after a site visit where we viewed the backpacks on offer. Personalization like this can highlight that you understand shoppers' intent and show attentive consideration of their needs, which can encourage conversion.

Targus suggests backpacks after a previous site visit.


» Compare the differences between customer personalization and segmentation

So, What's the Difference?

Although the two methods seem nearly identical, there are slight differences.

Contributions to Your Overall Marketing Strategy

  • Behavioral targeting is a broader technique that entails creating targeted campaigns for audience segments.
  • Retargeting is smaller-scale and focuses on those already aware of your brand, emphasizing their prior interest creatively.

The goal for both is to increase conversions by leveraging user preferences.

Stages of the Sales Funnel

  • Behavioral targeting is commonly employed at the top of the funnel to acquire new potential customers and raise brand or product awareness.
  • Retargeting is frequently utilized at the middle or bottom of the funnel to re-engage with consumers who haven't converted.

» Find out why personalization for large audiences through anonymous data works

Fast Targeting, Better Marketing

Behavioral targeting and retargeting are connected methods that evaluate customer behavior and utilize the same tools in different ways. By incorporating these into your marketing strategy, you can get your brand in front of consumers who are likely to convert and reduce the number of users who leave your eCommerce store empty-handed. So, why not try it and avoid wasting time and resources reaching out to broader audiences?