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Google AdWords

6 Simple Steps to Successful Remarketing in Google AdWords

What’s one thing everyday people unanimously hate, but marketers can’t get enough of? No, not ads. TRAFFIC! So much marketing energy goes into getting people to your site, but even if your product or services is THE perfect fit, most website visitors aren’t buying today. Maybe they’re waiting on the next paycheck.

Maybe they spilt coffee on their keyboard. Maybe they’re millennials with the attention span of a goldfish who started to buy, but abandoned cart to go binge Netflix while trying figure out what a Bitcoin is. No matter what the reason, once those visitors you worked so hard to earn leave your site, they could be gone forever. That’s where one of marketer’s most important (and lucrative) tools comes in: remarketing to get people back to your's-retargeting-skills

Moe the bar owner might not have the messaging right, but he has the conviction you’ll need to win those potential customers back. Don’t let them slip through the cracks just because they weren’t ready to buy on their first visit. Instead, use the power of remarketing.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing is an advertising strategy that targets potential customers who have already visited your website. If you want to see remarketing in action, read our post on that time we were hunted by Prana Yoga Company. Now that you’ve had a good laugh at Bobby’s remarketing journey, we’re ready to dive in.

In Google AdWords, there are four types of remarketing.

  1. Standard Remarketing shows your static image ads to people who’ve previously visited your website via the display network.
  2. Dynamic Remarketing shows dynamic image ads for specific products and services that a visitor has previously looked at. For example, if you’re looking at a stainless steel crockpot on Amazon, Jeff Bezos can use dynamic remarketing to create an ad using the exact same model on a display ad on your favorite blog. To use dynamic remarketing you must also have a Google Merchant Center account.
  3. Remarketing lists for Search Ads (RLSA) retargets people who’ve visited your site and left to make a Google search.
  4. Video Remarketing retargets people who have watched your YouTube videos. You can also use YouTube ads to remarket to people who visited your site.


Remarkable Benefits of Remarketing

Let’s start with a nice stat. Based on our research, remarketing campaigns see a 4x lower cost-per-acquisition compared to standard display targeting options. Instead of wasting your budget on identifying and educating new audiences, remarketing captures potential customers who have already shown interest in your company’s products or services.

Whether it’s someone who’s abandoned their cart or someone who searched you up during their exploration stage, these guys are highly qualified and a lot more likely to make a purchase compared to a random guy off the street.

You can even take this a step further by segmenting your site visitors based on their activity on your site. For example, let’s say you sell soccer gear. You can target people who have only visited your “cleats” section and show them a different ad compared to visitors who’ve only checked out the jersey section of your site.

And lastly, remarketing helps with brand recall and may even remind someone to get that last-minute Christmas present they got sidetracked from purchasing!

How Do You Set Up Remarketing in AdWords?

It might sound super complex, but we’ve made a simple 6-step guide for you to get started.

Step 1: Set a Goal

The very first step is to identify what your goal is, so that you can properly identify what audience you want to target. Here are a few our account managers shoot for on a daily basis:

  1. Get abandoned shopping carts to complete purchase
  2. Stay top of mind with leads as they explore other options
  3. Up-sell or cross-sell existing customers
  4. Introduce previous customers to similar products
  5. Educate potential customers about new features or products
  6. Increase brand awareness

Step 2: Identify Your Audience

With your goal in mind, identify the customers that’ll meet that criterion. AdWords provides a ton of flexibility, so there’s a lot of room to get creative. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when identifying this audience:

  1. What page did they visit?
  2. What page did they not visit?
  3. How much time did they spend on the site?
  4. How many pages did they visit?
  5. Have they made a purchase in the past?
  6. Do they fit your customer demographic (i.e. location, age, etc.)

Now that you have a goal and an audience in mind, let’s move on to setting up a remarketing campaign.

Hawkbot Pro Tip: You can combine certain conditions when you create your retargeting list later. Keep reading to find out how!

Step 3: Set Up Remarketing

You’re going to have to play with a little bit of code here, so if you don’t have development access, be sure to work with your developer. Have no fear though, if you know how to copy and paste you should be good to go.

Also, make sure that your website has seen at least 100 active visitors in the past 30 days for Display Remarketing Ads and 1,000 visitors for Google Search Remarketing.

Basic: Set Up Your Remarketing Tag on AdWords

  1. Open Google Adwords
  2. Click Campaigns
  3. Click Shared Library on the Left Menu
  4. Click Audiences
  5. Click Set up remarketing
  6. If you want to send this to a developer, just type in your developer’s email address in the “send to” box and the instructions will be forwarded to him or her.
  7. If you want to handle it yourself, click View AdWords tag for websites
    1. Copy the remarketing tag code
    2. Paste this code on the bottom of the body of all your website pages.
  8. Install the Google Tag Assistant Chrome Extension to check if it is properly installed

Advanced: Set Up Your Remarketing Tag on Analytics

In Google AdWords, you can create retargeting lists based on conversion goals and page visits. If you want to dig deeper and target by behavior, demographics, technology, and more, Google Analytics is the way to go. Here’s how to set up remarketing on Google Analytics.

  1. Connect AdWords to Analytics
  2. Open Google Analytics
  3. Click Admin
  4. Click audience definitions
  5. Click audiences
  6. Click on new audience
  7. Name your list based on your goal and audience
  8. Look at your Google Analytics embed code and replace:

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’;


ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://’ : ‘http://’) + ‘’;

Step 4: Build Your Remarketing List

After you’ve properly embedded your tracking code, it’s time to build remarketing lists based around the criteria you’ve defined in step 2. You can create lists based on multiple conditions like targeting someone who has landed on your product page and your pricing page.

You also have the flexibility to create custom parameters, such as targeting people who viewed products worth over $1,000 via the “value” parameter.

  1. Open AdWords
  2. Click Shared Library
  3. Click Audiences
  4. Under Website Visitors, click set up remarketing
  5. Enter a unique list name
  6. Choose a template from the “Who to add to your list” drop-down
  7. Click +Rule
  8. Select a condition that a single webpage needs to match
    1. Optional: add multiple conditions by clicking the “+” next to the condition
  9. Enter membership duration, which indicates how long you want a visitor to live on your list. This only applies to Display Network ads
  10. Click save

Step 5: Create your Remarketing Campaign

  1. Open AdWords
  2. Select All Campaigns
  3. Click + Campaign
  4. Select Display Network Only or Search Network Only
  5. Name your campaign
  6. On the “all features” box on the right, select remarketing
  7. Enter your budget
  8. Click save and continue
  9. Name your Ad Group
  10. Enter your Enhanced CPC budget
  11. Add your remarketing lists
  12. Click save and continue
  13. Optional: Create your ads via Google’s Ad Gallery in minutes or skip this step
  14. Click save ads

Step 6: Test and Optimize Your Campaign

Like with anything else on Google AdWords, we must test and optimize consistently to get the best results! Here are a few things you can do to improve your remarketing campaigns.

  1. Ad Creatives: Make sure that your ads are relevant, have a call-to-action, and are consistent with the design and UX of your website
  2. Set up conversion tracking so you can see how your remarketing campaigns are driving conversions.
  3. Use frequency capping to limit the number of times someone sees your ad per day.
  4. Experiment with language, location, and membership duration settings.
  5. Test remarketing ads with both completely new or similar product categories.

Pro Tip: Offer promotional codes and discounts to customers with multiple visits or abandoned carts. Nothing like a little freebie to push their cart across the finish line.

That’s all, folks!

Congratulations! You’ve made it.

Naturally, remarketing comes with a lot of questions, so if you’re confused or just want to send kudos our way, please let us know in the comments below. We respond to every comment!

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About the Author

Journeyman of the wild wild west of Digital Advertising. Also doubling as an unofficial Taco Bell ambassador. Tweet at me @JonJmPark