We’ve all experienced that strange moment: you were shopping online for something, let’s say a pair of pink shoes, and on the next website you visited, as if by magic, there was an advertisement for the very pink shoes you were searching for. By now, you’re likely aware that this is neither a cosmic coincidence nor a psychic intrusion—it’s remarketing. If you’ve never considered using remarketing because it seems too complex, think again. Remarketing is actually simple to set up, and can help you recover some of the 96 percent of users who typically fail to take action on your site.
How Remarketing Differs from Traditional Advertising
Traditional display ads on the web usually involve a static image, a block of text, or a short animated video on a particular site, directing users to your website in the hopes of generating traffic. Remarketing is essentially the same, but with one key difference: specific targeting. By using a simple tracking code, businesses can store data in the form of “cookies” on a visitor’s computer, and then use that data to display ads specifically targeted to that visitor.
It sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. The fundamental idea behind remarketing is to have a second chance at converting interested users who left your site without taking action. They’re already familiar with your products and services—sometimes all it takes is one more little push to get them where you want them. Of course, if you need more initial traffic first, you might find my article, 39 Actionable Ideas for Driving Traffic to Your Website helpful.
The Setup Process
To get started using remarketing, you’ll need a custom tracking code to add to your website, which you can generate in Google Analytics or AdWords. If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account set up, I highly recommend creating one. To set up a remarketing code in Analytics:
- Go to your “Admin” section and click “Remarketing Lists,” which you should see in blue
- In the upper left, click on “New Remarketing List,” which will allow you to name your list and connect your AdWords account (an AdWords account is required for this)
- Choose the type of remarketing you prefer: All site visitors, specific page visitors, all visitors who completed a specific conversion goal, or a custom selection of visitors
Remember, you’ll be able to make multiple lists based on your goals—so start with something basic until you become more familiar with the process.
It’s also possible to set up a remarketing code in Google AdWords, but AdWords requires a completely new code rather than a modification to your existing Analytics tracking code. The Analytics code modification will also allow you to review your visitors’ behavior, giving you more insight into your campaign.
Considering Your Target Audience
The target audience you specify will dictate the outcome of your campaign. Choosing “all visitors” as your target may open you up to a larger overall audience, but if you create multiple specialized lists—such as a dedicated list for each of your individual product pages—you’ll wind up with similar overall numbers, but much higher conversion rates.
Membership duration, another significant option to consider during your list setup, is the length of time you’ll be storing a remarketing cookie in your visitors’ computers. While you might be tempted to select the maximum of 180 days, keep in mind that some users find remarketing annoying if you bombard them constantly for that extended period of time. Instead, consider your sales cycle and the behavior of your typical customer. For example, if you offer a service with a free 30-day trial, you should try a 60-day member duration to encourage your visitor to sign up for the full version up to 30 days after the trial expires.
Another way to control how often you reach your target audience is frequency capping. Rather than limiting your advertising based on a number of days, frequency capping controls how many times your visitors see your ads. For example, you can limit your ads to 10 impressions per week for a specific ad group. Experiment with different frequencies to find the optimal length for each of your lists.
The success of your remarketing campaign largely depends on the quality of your ads. Ideally, you would work with a creative expert to find the best message for your target audience, but if you prefer to take the task on yourself, it’s possible to optimize your ads through trial-and-error.
When creating an ad for your remarketing strategy:
- Include a strong call to action. This should go without saying. Make sure there’s a prominent button and a strong reason for users to click.
- Keep your ad consistent with brand standards. Anything outside of your traditional logo, colors, and voice could make users leery and reduce their likelihood of clicking.
- Use an ad that can work consistently across multiple ad sizes. This way, you can maintain a consistent message and feel while maximizing your potential placement. Not all sites will support every ad format.
- Use multiple formats. If your main ad is an animation, be sure to include a still image version and a text version in each ad group as well. This will ensure some visibility even in sites that do not support animations or image ads.
It’s also a good idea to experiment:
- Create multiple lists with different durations and frequencies. Compare and contrast to find the best combination.
- Test your ads. Use an “A” ad and a “B” ad, each with distinctive features, so you can see which type of ad is more effective.
- Measure your performance. Pay careful attention to the clicks and behavior patterns that emerge from your campaign. As you continue, make gradual tweaks to see if you can boost your metrics.
- Use custom combination lists. These customizations are an advanced remarketing feature, but can help you improve the quality of your target audience.
A Few Tricks to Get You Started
If you’re looking for a handful of advanced tactics to get some immediate momentum into your campaign:
- Upsell your customers. For example, if a visitor purchases a tablet, remarket by offering a tablet cover or accessory. The best way to track this is by creating a custom “thank you” page for individual products or hot sellers, so it may not be practical for large-scale use.
- Pay attention to seasonal cycles. If some of your products or services are seasonal, create specific lists that you can rotate in on an annual basis. This is especially effective because it targets an audience that has had a full year to forget about you.
- Incentives to complete checkout. Abandoned shopping carts are a problem for most e-commerce sites, but remarketing can help you bring visitors back to complete the checkout process with a special offer—like an additional discount.
- Tie in your email marketing campaign. If you create HTML email newsletters with your Google Analytics code embedded, you can create a specific list to cater to users who viewed your email.
Remarketing is only effective for people who have already visited your site, so it’s important to increase your initial site traffic through search engine optimization and social media marketing. Online marketing is an interconnected process of increasing traffic, improving conversions, and increasing your chances of repeat visits, and remarketing is one of the best ways to complete unfinished conversions and keep your customers coming back for more.
Looking for more online marketing strategies and insights? Grab my eBook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online.
This article was written by Jayson DeMers from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.