Remarketing Tips & Tricks for Noobs

If you aren’t already using remarketing, where have you been? This is a great, cost effective technique, and our guest blogger, Jaime Sikora, is here to share some of her remarketing secrets to help you succeed. Over to you, Jaime:

Remarketing (for anyone not in the know) is a tool that allows you to show ads to users who have already been to your site.  It is a good way to re-engage people who, at some point, presumably had an interest in your offering.

Who Remarketing Is Great For

Any product that might be more expensive or have a longer consideration or purchase cycle (electronics, jewellery, etc.). It is also especially good for retail products – for instance, people might shop around and visit several sites looking for ‘black shoes.’ By using remarketing, you’re keeping yourself visible.

Who Remarketing Is Not Great For

From my experience, when the conversion event is some kind of ‘free signup’ or ‘downloading a whitepaper’ – those who have been to the site and did not convert usually felt the offering was not the right match for them for some reason. When they see the remarketing ads, they will often still click and return to the site, but ultimately will still not convert, thus driving up spend and CPAs. I’m not saying not to try remarketing in these instances, but tread carefully. If your conversion event is rather low-risk, low-cost to begin with, remarketing might not be the best channel to focus on.

sperry remarketing ad

Setting up Remarketing

The steps to setting up remarketing lists for the first time can be found here.

The most basic thing you can do for remarketing is to remarket to everyone who has been to your site.  In the instance you have a product or offering where you want to keep someone coming back to your site indefinitely (in the instance you’re a large retailer with a ton of different offerings), this can be a good first step.

The second step many people take is to create a remarketing list for those who have come your site, but did not convert (so, in other words, what differentiates this from the earlier group is you are excluding the converters). When you have one simple conversion event (such as a signup) or you most likely do not expect someone to buy another product from you in the near future after having made a sale (such as with engagement rings, computers, etc.), this makes the most sense, seeing that you only run the risk of accumulating additional clicks & spend from the previous converters.


Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), a fairly recent AdWords release, can be another great tool. Basically, it gives you the opportunity to pair your typical search keywords with the audience of those who have been to your site already.

How is this beneficial? Let’s say you have a very general top-to-mid-funnel term like ‘wedding invitations’. By pairing it with a list of those who have already been to your site, you can more aggressively target those who have perhaps shown more of an interest and already done some comparison shopping. In this example, specifically, top positioning for this could be very expensive (seeing there’s a lot of competition) and therefore, most likely, could end up being a lot of traffic throughout the day. This term could end up having a lot of spend and a high CPA.

By pairing it with a remarketing list, you have the chance to get more aggressive when there’s a better chance at a conversion. For some more in-depth information on RLSA and how to set it up, check out this post.

Cart Abandonment

When you have an ecommerce client, or something with a lengthier purchase cycle (see the various examples above), it wouldn’t hurt to create a more specific audience of those who have abandoned their shopping cart (basically, those who have gotten to the shopping cart page but have not converted). Kind of like with RLSA, this provides an opportunity to bid more aggressively on someone who has shown more interest. Also, this is a good time to specifically cater your ad copy to concerns that might be holding the potential consumer back.  “Easy Returns” “6 Month Warranty” “Rated #1 in Customer Service by Consumer Reports” – you get the idea.

Free Trial

In the instance your account has multiple kinds of conversion events (signup, sale, free trial) or your account has different kind of users (buyer vs. seller), you will probably want to create separate remarketing lists to bid them and message them separately. That being said – in the instance there’s a free trial, free sample, or something of the like, it might make sense to create some messaging to those who have tried the free offering but have not converted on the paid version.

Again, this is a time to get creative with ad copy that addresses any concerns as to why one hasn’t fully committed, plus bid more aggressively seeing that this is someone who, once again, has shown a higher level of interest.

Set an Impression Cap

It should be noted that, with remarketing, you will want to pay attention to frequency capping, lest you become a nag. This can be found in the settings tab.

set a frequency cap

Typically, best practices recommend around a 5-10 impression cap per day. The main reason for this is to avoid reaching the point of annoyance. However, if you do this, and, after time, you notice on the dimensions tab under the hour of the day view that you are running out of impressions early in the day, you may want to day-part the campaign to optimal performance hours.

Also, it should be noted that once, I worked on an account where, as we continued to increase the impression cap, performance continued to rise. We had optimal performance at a 20 impression-per-day cap, so we threw recommended best practices out the window and went with it.

These are just a few basic things that can be done within remarketing. Do you have any best practices to share?

A little bit about Jaime:

Jaime SikoraJaime Sikora is Search Account Manager at PPC Associates. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Advertising. Prior to joining PPC Associates, she worked in the newspaper industry at the Chicago Sun-Times. In her spare time, Jaime enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, and spending time at the Chicago lakefront. Connect with her on Twitter @JaimeTSikora.

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