Google Remarketing… Are You Using It? You Should Be.

Do you like repeat customers and site visitors? If so, you should be testing (and hopefully optimizing and expanding) Remarketing on the Google Display Network in Adwords. Remarketing allows you to target former visitors to your site in many different ways making the likelihood of conversion greater. Here’s some information on how to get started and what to do after that.



First things first, get your Audiences setup and add some page code to your site. It probably makes sense for you to set up a handful of audiences (especially in the ecommerce arena). In general, set up an audience for key pages and/or sections on your site. For instance, you might want one audience for cart viewers, one for those that viewed category pages, one for the testimonials page, and one for the home page. The strategy will depend on your goals but in general, start deeper in your funnel and move outward as the home page audience will be less valuable to you than the cart abandon audience. You’ll be glad you separated them when you are ready to optimize. Also, don’t forget to set up an audience for converting visitors. This audience will be used in a few different ways.


Select Ad Group

When you set up audiences in Google Adwords, you’ll be able to grab a unique remarketing code for each. Add the relevant code to the proper pages on your website. For instance, the ‘Home Page Visitors’ code will be added to the home page and the ‘Cart View’ code will be added to shopping cart page. You can play around with the duration of the cookie but match it up to visitor behavior. If you give up on a home page viewer after 15 days, there is no need to continue serving ads to that audience but you’ll likely have a longer duration on someone who abandoned a full shopping cart. If you really want to get fancy, you can create an audience for each ‘category’ of products on your site. This way, if you are selling, say, clothing and someone viewed the men’s category, your remarketing ad could have an image of men’s pants rather than, you know, hats for toddlers.

Now, you’ll need several hundred visitors tagged with a remarketing cookie before your ads will show so stop here, go create your audiences and add the code to your site so that every new visitor will be tagged starting today. If you haven’t already set up a campaign, you can do this in the ‘Shared Library’ section in Adwords. I’ll still be here when you get back.


Whew, now that that’s done, let’s continue with our setup.


Campaign Structure

You probably know how to setup a campaign so I’ll be brief on that note. If you don’t know how to set up a campaign, stop reading and call our sales department. Just kidding. Sort of. Set the Network to ‘Display Network’ and for now, ‘Broad Reach’. Most other settings are based on your individual strategy and targeting preferences. I will note that I’m a big fan of even ad rotation for any performance-oriented client but I digress.

Ideally, you’ll set up one ad group for each audience and/or custom combination (more on this later). This will allow you to customize the messaging in your ads to the different audiences. For as many messages/images as you want to convey, so should be the number of ad groups. For instance, you might want to show a 10% off ad to a cart abandon where as a category page viewer could be shown a specific product or genre of products.


Custom Combinations

So let’s say in one ad group, you want to target visitors who viewed women’s tops that also viewed a cart but did not complete a transaction. Yes, it can be done.

Set up your ad group and go to the Audiences tab and click ‘Add Audiences’.  Next, click on ‘Custom Combinations’ and select ‘New Custom Combination’.  Name your audience and then select ‘Women’s Tops’ and then click ‘Add Another’ and select ‘Cart Views’. Finally, ‘Add Another’ and this time choose ‘none of these audiences’ and select ‘Converters’. Viola! Your banner ads in this ad group can safely display women’s clothing and an enticing ‘come back to us’ message. The possibilities are truly exciting!



Test, Test, Test and Optimize

Here are some additional testing and optimization that should be considered:

  1. Test different cookie durations for your audiences.
  2. Regularly test ad copy, image ad content and sizes, especially for audiences that are working.
  3. Don’t forget to both point users to the specific sections of the site for which they are being targeted and within that, test different pages and layouts.
  4. Check for site exclusions regularly. Some sites on GDN just won’t work for you. Exclude them.
  5. Consider expanding your Display network budgets and bids to expand your remarketing reach.
  6. Test different custom combinations.
  7. Optimize bids and budgets based on performance.
  8. Create new remarketing campaigns for specific audience types such as geographic location, demographic traits or even time of day. Again, possibilities. Truly exciting.

In summary, I highly suggest you test Remarketing. Not only has it proven to be effective for most of our clients but you’ll also have more friends. Okay, maybe not more friends but certainly more customers.

Point It About the author
  • Is it possible to not target visitors who have used the “contact” form on the site? Also those who have already contacted me some other way? Also to stop targeting someone after a certain number or ads? As you can see, I’m concerned about annoying potential (or existing) clients.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:24 am
    • Jenn

      Hi Malcolm, great questions!

      If a user has submitted a contact form on your site and you have a tag on the page that loads just after their information is submitted, you can create a custom list to eliminate any re-marketing to users who have already submitted a contact form.

      I don’t know of a way to eliminate users that have contacted you via other means (phone, email, etc.).

      As for how many ads they see, you can test using the ‘frequency capping’ setting in the advanced campaign settings in Adwords. This will limit the number of times a unique users sees your ad within a day, week, or month.

      January 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm
  • Hi

    when I add the remarketing code to my clients website – built in Joomla 1.5 – the page will no longer validate (w3c)

    I’ve tried a number of different ways to add the code – no joy!

    anyone found a workaround for this?

    January 10, 2012 at 8:47 am
    • Jenn

      Hi Steve,

      I don’t know of a workaround but if the addition of some Google code is the only thing causing the page not to validate, our understanding is that minor code validation errors like that are common and usually harmless. Let us know if you do find a fix!


      January 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

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