User Acquisition vs Retargeting: Which Approach is Better for your Brand?

As today’s business world grows increasingly competitive, it is critical to have a strong digital customer acquisition plan. Some of the most popular digital customer acquisition campaign strategies are user acquisition and retargeting. This is an age-old debate, with both approaches potentially delivering profitable returns. Which of the two strategies results in better, more qualified leads? Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each and when to utilize them is the key to determining which strategy is most effective for your brand. This blog post will break down the advantages and disadvantages of both tactics and compare their costs to help you decide which is the most cost-effective choice.

Strategies for Business Growth: What is User Acquisition? 

New Customer Acquisition is reaching new potential customers who have never interacted with your business. Earning these customers is a key part of growth for any business. This often involves employing several marketing approaches, such as search engine optimization, social media campaigns, email marketing, and many more. These approaches aim to boost your customer base, heighten revenue, and propel your business into a prosperous future.

Business owners understand the importance of acquiring new customers through various online channels to grow their businesses. Acquisition campaigns involve tactics aimed at gaining new customers, driving new traffic, increasing awareness, and expanding a brand’s customer base. These campaigns can include paid digital advertising, search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media campaigns. For example, running paid Google ads or Paid Social ads can help skyrocket a brand’s new audience reach and generate leads. 

Some user acquisition campaigns you can run to broaden your reach are:

  1. Email marketing: Email campaigns have always been a powerful marketing tool for businesses, allowing them to communicate directly with their target audiences. It is also a very cost-effective tool, as the average ROI is roughly $38 for every $1 spent. Email marketing has proven to be an effective marketing tool, as businesses report a significant increase in new clients referred by their recent email campaigns.
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is one of the industry’s most advantageous digital marketing techniques today. When related search terms are used, it helps boost website visibility on search engine results pages, which generates organic traffic. Companies such as Hootsuite that have effectively executed SEO strategies have reported an upsurge of up to 60% in their organic website visits. All in all, companies that have embraced SEO have noted it contributed over 50% of their overall online traffic, which makes it a great method of getting the attention of new visitors.
  3. Social Media Advertising: By taking advantage of and participating in social media advertising, companies can pinpoint the ideal customer by analyzing interests, behaviors, and characteristics. This approach presents a superb opportunity for businesses to access a wider pool of potential buyers and expand their reach to customers who would not have found the brand otherwise.

user acquisition vs retargeting

However, it is also important to understand that new customer acquisition marketing can be tough on your wallet, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. To analyze and measure the efficiency of your marketing acquisition strategy, you can track data and metrics, such as cost per acquisition (CPA) and return on investment (ROI). These specific numbers will reflect the success of your campaigns directly.

Re-engage Existing Customers: What is Retargeting?

Retargeting, on the other hand, is a key marketing technique that targets existing customers who have already shown interest or have previously interacted with your brand but have yet to make a purchase. Retargeting includes showing targeted ads to these customers on various online platforms, such as social media channels, search engines, or third-party websites or programs, to encourage them to return to your website and complete a purchase. 

There are many ways to implement a retargeting campaign, such as display advertisements, social media advertising, email marketing, and content marketing. For instance, an online user who has visited an online website and left without submitting a lead or making a purchase may see advertisements for the same products they showed interest in, encouraging them to return to your website and finish what they started. 

These kinds of marketing campaigns are important because they allow businesses to reconnect with users who are already familiar with their brand, increasing the likelihood of conversions and leads. 

Another noteworthy factor of retargeting campaigns is the ability to personalize and serve specific ads to an audience more likely to resonate with them. In turn, this leads to higher user engagement and conversion rates. 

By targeting users you know for a fact are interested in your brand, you are saving a lot of money, time, and effort in analyzing your audience. You will have to ensure you are carefully planning out your retargeting campaigns so that they are manageable and consistent, as this can lead to a negative user experience.

Acquisition vs Retargeting: Pros & Cons

When it comes to deciding which is a better method, there is no one answer as it will generally depend on the individual company’s goals and budget. However, there are still positives and negatives to both strategies, and it is important to understand them.

New User Acquisition campaigns have several advantages, such as rapidly increasing brand awareness. This involves casting a wide net and expanding your customer base to reach new audiences. It also provides opportunities to find various potential new customers and appear more often in advertisements. However, this sort of acquisition can be expensive, especially if you’re targeting a highly competitive market, and it may take some time to see a return on your investment. 

Retargeting is a cost-effective customer retention strategy that can help keep existing customers engaged and encourage them to make repeat purchases. These campaigns can be very cost-effective in terms of the smaller budget requirements to run them. Additionally, retargeting is also more targeted and personalized, which can lead to higher conversion rates. These campaigns allow your business to understand better the data associated with your customer’s purchase history and their past behavior on your website. Companies with successful retargeting campaigns can develop a deeper understanding of their audiences to ensure they’re giving their audience what they want when they want it. Retargeting campaigns are more likely to produce faster results on ROI as customers are already familiar with your brand and the products and services you offer.

However, retargeting does not expand or diversify your customer base, so you may need to be able to grow your business more quickly with acquisition.


Retargeting Up to 10x More Cost-Effective: A Cost Comparison

When it comes to cost-effectiveness, retargeting is the clear winner. According to a recent study by AdRoll, retargeting ads are up to 10 times more cost-effective than traditional display ads. The same study found that the click-through rate for retargeted ads is also significantly higher, unsurprisingly, with a 70% higher CTR than your standard display ads.

This proves that retargeting campaigns are an incredibly effective way to drive conversions and revenue, especially compared to new user acquisition campaigns.

With new user acquisition, you are basically starting your marketing campaign from scratch. You are targeting users who have never interacted and probably have never heard of your business before. Therefore, you are spending a huge chunk of budget on building brand awareness, informing people that you are out there, and encouraging them to visit your website. With retargeting, you can skip the expensive and time-consuming part and focus on producing qualified leads.

To put this into perspective, let’s look at an example. Suppose you’re running a retargeting campaign on Facebook. WordStream says the average cost per click (CPC) for a Facebook retargeting ad is around $0.64, whereas the average CPC for a Facebook acquisition ad is around $1.72. You could be paying up to three times more for an acquisition ad than a retargeting ad, making retargeting a much more cost-effective option.

Strike a Balance in Both Campaigns for a Successful Business

While retargeting may be more cost-friendly than new user acquisition, both strategies are critical components for a successful business marketing campaign. New user acquisition is necessary for growing your customer base and reaching new audiences. At the same time, retargeting campaigns are critical for keeping existing customers engaged and encouraging them to make repeat purchases. Which ultimately increases your business’s customer retention rate.

The secret in marketing is to strike a balance between both new user acquisition and customer retention strategies. For example, a business could run new user acquisition and retargeting campaigns simultaneously to maximize overall reach and impact. By utilizing both, you can create a comprehensive marketing campaign that caters to the top and bottom of the marketing funnel, escalating a business’s chances for success. Ultimately, companies that can find that sweet spot between new user acquisition and retargeting campaigns will have a much higher chance of developing brand loyalty, driving revenue, and earning more qualified leads.

Steady leveling out new user acquisition and retargeting marketing campaigns can be challenging, but there are several ways to discover the correct plan for your business. It’s important to analyze your target audience and understand where they’re at in their customer journey. For example, suppose you’re targeting a brand new audience or demographic. In that case, it will most likely be a better idea to focus on new user acquisition campaigns to build awareness and attract new users to your site. However, if your data reflects a large number of engagement from past customers or website visitors, retargeting campaigns can help you maximize conversions and grow revenue. To take this one step further, a company needs to set clear marketing goals for each campaign and actively track its performance to ensure that all resources are being allocated appropriately. 

By continuously conducting tests and then using the data to adjust your marketing approach, you’ll be able to find the right balance between retargeting and new user acquisition campaigns. 

Businesses looking to grow their clientele must include both of these customer acquisition strategies in their marketing campaigns. It would help if you began by defining your goals and target audience to incorporate acquisition and retargeting. Decide which platforms and techniques will be most effective for reaching your target audience and use a combination to get there. When deciding which tailored campaign to use to attract new traffic, it is important to initially pinpoint the desired customer base and understand their behaviors and preferences to create appropriate messages and deals that will impact them. Also, you will want to dedicate some time to measure data analytics to keep track of the results of your campaigns. By uniting these two methods under one marketing plan umbrella, your business can create a complete marketing strategy that will touch base with new and existing customers, producing long-term growth.

To host marketing campaigns that include new user acquisition and retargeting, you can start on search engines, social media platforms, display networks, email marketing, and mobile advertising. If you are still trying to figure out where to start, or need help combining or deciding what plan works best for you, get in touch with us today.


In the end, if you are looking for a more cost-effective method and your business has already established a solid clientele base, the retargeting strategy may be better for you. If you are looking for more qualified leads, the new customer acquisition strategy may be better for you. Testing different approaches and seeing what resonates most with your audience is also wise. Altogether, finding your perfect balance between these campaigns will build a successful digital marketing plan for your brand.

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