PUBLISHED: Oct 5, 2012 6 min read

How to Recapture Lost Prospects with Google AdWords Remarketing

If you want to increase conversions from users who have already been to your site, a no-brainer strategy is Remarketing!

Search campaigns are designed to help you increase relevant traffic to your site. However, once you get these valuable users onto your site, they may not always complete your desired action.  This is when a Remarketing program would be very helpful!

What is Remarketing?

Most people that add something to their shopping cart leave without actually placing the order. This is not necessarily because they don’t want to make the purchase; they might just get distracted and forget, or decide to do a little research on competitors’ sites prior to purchasing. Sometimes these users will come back on their own, but other times they need a reminder.  By using remarketing you have the ability to reach these valuable users, bring them back to your website, and most likely complete your desired action (i.e. complete a purchase).

Remarketing is a highly efficient online marketing tool; a powerful tactic used to reconnect and stay engaged with your target audience.

How does it work?

A pixel must first be embedded across all your site pages; this will tell Google when to save visitors! As people surf the internet, a cookie is dropped in their browser to document the sites they visit. A web browser on a specific computer has now been tagged. When setting up the remarketing rules, you have the ability to define all sort of lists (i.e. cookie pools)… for different categories of your site, or for different stages in the buying cycle. Through remarketing campaigns you can target users whose cookies are on specific lists. With this, you can now follow users around with relevant messaging when they are browsing the Internet!

“I want to get started with Remarketing”

Start out by deciding upon and creating your audiences in Google AdWords. Start tagging visitors as soon as possible in order to have a decent size audience in place allowing you to make an impact. Additionally, please note you need to have at least 100 people on your list in order for your ads to trigger. If you are having a hard time getting 100 people on your list, you might want to consider expanding the audience.

In the past, Google required advertisers to place a separate pixel for each list you wanted to create. That means if you wanted to create four different audiences, you needed to place four separate pixels on your site. Annoying, no? Now things have become a lot easier! This is what I call sophistication: With the new Remarketing Tag, you can place one tag across all pages! Then, define which categories to target by entering rules. Create lists based on your URLs, or even (complex) combination of pages visited (i.e. Remarketing Combination Lists); you can also exclude lists from one another so they don’t overlap.

Long story short…. You can reach potential customers that have previously visited your site, and target them with specific messaging, depending on the content they viewed, or even by their stage in the buying cycle.  For example, target visitors who are interested in dresses (i.e. anyone who reached the dresses category), or target user who have recently abandoned the shopping cart (i.e. anyone who reached the shopping cart but did not place an order). You can get as granular as you would like!

The image below illustrates a remarketing strategy example I created for a clothing site ( Their top selling items are dresses. Note: there are Audiences and Lists. Audiences are used to create Combination Lists. There are four audiences: All Pages, Dresses, Shopping Cart, and Placed an Order.  There are then three combination lists created off of those audiences. Utilizing these audiences and lists, we will be setting up four remarketing campaigns. As Dresses is their top category, we are able to treat these visitors separately from other users. I would recommend testing dress-specific banners, including images of dresses and dress specific ad copy. This will drive better results than if you were to display generic clothing images. In addition, people who abandon the Shopping Cart are your most valuable users and you definitely want to target them again (with a special offer – if possible)! This is why we would create a separate campaign, excluding anyone who placed an order.

To create your Remarketing Lists go to the Shared Library in Google AdWords and click on Audiences. Then proceed to add an audience (Remarketing List). First, define a list of site visitors by placing a new pixel on your site. You will be generating the universal remarketing pixel, which will be placed across all pages. Now you can create additional Remarketing Lists setting up URL rules.

To create your Remarketing Campaigns, go to the Campaigns tab in Google AdWords and add a ‘Display Network only’ campaign, ‘Remarketing’ type, then continue to set up your campaign settings as if you would a Search campaign (i.e. Budget, Devices, Locations, etc.) You will then be prompted to create an Ad Group and identify Remarketing Lists or Custom Combinations you want to target. Here is the point where you pick from the lists you initially created (off of the cookie pools). Now it is time to add ads. First be sure to select the most appropriate landing page for each list. Then customize your ads for optimal performance.  Multiple formats are available, such as text or images. It is highly recommended to include image banners for best performance; I would pick dynamic versus static. Make sure to describe your product explicitly so it is relevant to each audience. Also, do not forget to include a call to action. Use promotions to tempt users to come back to the site. All it takes is Free Shipping or an additional discount and the user is back!

Dynamic ads (i.e. Dynamic Remarketing) are also available in Google AdWords –this is a feature that allows you to show personalized creatives to your users, based upon the products they saw on your site. Images and pricing will be pulled straight from your product feed (Merchant Center).

Now it’s time to launch your Remarketing program! Remember, optimization is an ongoing process! Be sure to take advantage of Site Exclusion and Site Category; exclude or bid down on poorly performing placements. Test different cookie time frames; align your membership duration with the length of your product/service sales cycle. Use all ad formats (i.e. banners sizes) to maximize your reach. And lastly, manage frequency!  You do not want to over-saturate your audience; use Google Frequency reports to analyze your data and determine the optimal number of ad views that lead to a conversion.

Remarketing works! Reaching back to previous site visitors through the right messaging and exclusive offers can be a great way to increase ROI.

Happy Remarketing!

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