How to Rock your Retargeting with AdWords


You’ve done it, I’ve done it, heck I think it’s fair to say that anyone who’s ever shopped online has done it. At one time or another, we’ve all abandoned what us marketers like to call the “sales funnel.”

Perhaps we didn’t have our credit card handy. Maybe we were just browsing. Or maybe we were only comparison shopping.

Marketers hate to lose potential customers to the void that is the internet, so retargeting* was invented (*also referred to as remarketing).

Here are a few simple definitions of retargeting:

  • Retargeting allows you to show ads directly to visitors after they’ve left a site or landing page, providing multiple shots at the conversion (Marketing Land).
  • Retargeting works by keeping track of people who visit your site and displaying your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online. Generally only two percent of shoppers convert on the first visit to an online store. Retargeting brings back the other ninety-eight percent. (AdRoll).
  • A form of online advertising by which an ad is targeted to consumers based on their previous Internet actions, in situations where these actions did not result in a sale or conversion (Wikipedia).

I’ll use my online shopping experience as an example. I recently got hitched and, as a bride-to-be is known to do, I was looking at everything from wedding rings and wedding dresses to guest gifts and honeymoon destinations. Most of my searches didn’t result in me buying anything, but ads for those products followed me around from site to site in the hopes of getting me to transition from “window shopper” to customer.

Some sites did a great job with their retargeting. Others were downright obnoxious and, in my opinion, harmed their brand.

When done well, there are many benefits to adding retargeting to your marketing mix, including:

  • More opportunities to re-attract previous visitors to your site.
  • Helping your brand gain traction and more recognition.
  • High click-through rates and increased conversions.

To deliver a positive customer experience as opposed to just being annoying, there are definite best practices you should follow. These best practices can differ for Google ads and Facebook ads, but there are also those that apply to multiple PPC platforms. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on retargeting with Google AdWords.

Best Practices for Google (AdWords) Retargeting

Google AdWords allows you to remarket through their platform by creating remarketing lists based on a set of rules. For instance, you can target all website visitors or you can target visitors who came to a specific page on your website or completed a specific action. Based on your targeting preferences, Google will trigger your ads to display to the same visitors on websites across the Google Display Network. When retargeting through Google AdWords, there are two key things you want to do:

1.  Segment your visitors based on what pages they visited and the actions they took while on your site. This can help you target and personalize your remarketing efforts to the customer’s specific interests. For example, someone who visited your wedding dress page is going to be more likely to buy than someone who just went to your home page.

For ecommerce retargeting, the three main page visits you want to look at are:

  • Home page visits – These retargeting ads should be general with the primary objective of keeping your brand top of mind and/or guiding prospective customers to an optimized landing page.
  • Product page visits – These ads should be customized around the specific products or product categories that the visitor was looking at. For example, if they were looking at a specific wedding ring, then your retargeting ads should include that ring and perhaps a few others that are similar. To create even more interest, combine it with a great offer that will entice them back to your site.
  • Registration page visits – If they’ve registered for something on your site or downloaded content, create retargeting ads that will nurture them and convey the benefits of your products.

2.  Use image ads that have a similar look and feel of your site. When consumers click on a retargeting ad, they’re engaging with it because it resonates with them. Maintaining a look and feel that is similar to your website will help potential customers get more comfortable and familiar with your site and product offerings.

Best Practices that Apply to All Retargeting:

  • Don’t remarket to visitors who have already purchased. Consumers who have purchased from your site do not want to see a reminder ad for the product they just purchased! Make sure to negate consumers who have purchased already, or retarget them with a promotion or loyalty offer in order to entice them to shop again.
  • Limit the frequency of your ad. The amount of times a consumer sees your ad could have a significant impact on the performance of your campaign. If the ad isn’t shown enough, it may not capture the consumer’s attention or resonate with them. Conversely, if you show your ad too many times, it may turn the consumer off to your product/services and brand. On average, the best practice is to cap how often your remarketing ad is displayed to 1-3 times per day. With that said, it’s always important to test this so you can determine what performs best with your audience.
  • Frequently refresh your creative. If a consumer does not convert on your ad after the first 10 days, they most likely won’t convert on the 30th day either. This is why it is essential to continue testing your ads and keep fresh creative in front of your audience. Some things to consider changing are:
    • The benefit of the service/product
      • What a consumer perceives to be beneficial/valuable may differ over time. Provide copy that conveys how your product/service can help ease their pain or meet their goal and they’ll be more enticed to click on your ad.
    • The offer
      • For example, test “Free Shipping” against “20% off” to see which offer your consumers prefer.

Following these best practices will get you on best path to ensuring that your retargeting efforts are putting the right offer in front of the right visitor at the right time.

To learn more about how to make the best use of the traffic that gets to your website, contact our Paid Marketing team. We can also provide a complimentary evaluation of your display advertising strategy.


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