Remarketing is the reason you end up seeing so many relevant ads on random pages after paying a visit to a website landing page or product page.
And it works. Since these campaigns are so targeted due to incredibly advanced data, intelligence, and analytical analysis, you’re bound to head back to the website you “bounced” from.
But before we get too deep into this, let’s actually find out what remarketing is.
What is remarketing?
Remarketing is the process of search engine display networks, like Google Display Network and Microsoft Ads, use tracking cookies to deliver personalized ads to people who have engaged with a certain aspect of a website or landing page.
The point of these campaigns is to remind customers who have already passed the awareness stage to perform a certain action whether it’s to sign up for a subscription or make a purchase.
Remarketing is a marketing strategy focused on using campaigns to reach out to prospects who have interacted with your content in the past. An existing email list is a valuable asset when performing remarketing campaigns as those leads will be the targets you’ll be trying to re-engage.
Remarketing vs. retargeting – what’s the difference?
Remarketing and retargeting can be used interchangeably since they mean pretty much the same thing: campaigning to reel back potential customers who left your site without converting. But they have different ways of going about the process.
The most common display networks include Google Display Network, Facebook Ads, and Microsoft (Bing) Audience Network.
Remarketing, on the other hand, usually refers to re-engaging lost visitors through email campaigns. Whether you’re highlighting deals, promotions, or reminders in your emails, email remarketing is all about telling your list that you exist.
According to Google, remarketing gives you the ability to “show ads to people who’ve visited your website or used your mobile app” and “leave your website without buying anything.” This allows you to have a third party show relevant ads to potential customers and “reconnect with them.”
Retargeting ads and remarketing email campaigns are essentially two sides of the same “remarketing” coin. So how will you take advantage of the power to get visitors back to your site and convert?
How to set up a remarketing campaign
In this section, we’ll discuss how to set up campaigns with Google Display Network, Facebook Ads, and Bing Ads, with an emphasis on Google AdWords. Keep in mind that it’s important to know what goals you have in mind before you invest in a campaign.
Examples of goals could include abandoned cart recovery, promoting other parts of (or content on) your site, or generating leads from landing page visitors that didn’t convert, among others.
Google AdWords Remarketing Campaigns
Since Google is the world’s largest search engine by far, according to Search Engine Journal, it’s bound to give your website and business the furthest reach in terms of audience size and demographics.
What’s more is that Google’s Display Network reaches approximately 90% of the worldwide internet population and over 2 million websites.
How do you get started with Google AdWords remarketing?
- Create an AdWords account if you haven’t already.
- Go to “Shared Library” on the left sidebar.
- Select “Audiences.”
- Click “Set-up Remarketing.”
- If you’ve never set up a campaign before, this will pop up. Just click on “Tag details.”
- Install the tag you receive on every relevant page on your site. Alternatively, you can “Send instructions by email” to your company’s tech savvy guy to have him/her set it up. It may be helpful to know that the tag works on both websites and mobile apps.
- Save and publish your pages.
- Click “Continue.”
And your site’s set up for remarketing! Now, your tagged web pages will start tracking visitors in the “All Visitors” section. Some tips for optimal retargeting include:
- Customizing lists. By default, your remarketing list in Google AdWords includes every single visitor tracked on your tagged pages. Try to create a customized list so the ad display network knows what demographic populations are sorted into what categories with respect to display ads. Another helpful option the network provides is allowing users to set up membership durations, or, how long a visitor remains on your list (default: 30 days).
- A/B testing. What works for one visitor won’t work for everyone. Test out different versions of ad copy, CTA’s, duration-list combos, frequency intervals, and costs for bids. Things you could change on your own site landing pages include the product copy itself, design, and user interface.
Facebook Ads Remarketing Campaigns
Similar to Google AdWords, you’ll need a Facebook Business account to mess with remarketing ads on Facebook.
Here are the steps for setting up a campaign:
- Go to the Facebook Ads Manager.
- Click “Custom Audiences.”
- Select “Website Traffic” since we’re reaching out to previous site visitors.
- Next, choose one or more audience options e.g. all visitors, specific pages, visitor gaps, etc.
- You’ll receive a “Facebook Pixel” to install.
And that’s it!
For basic optimization capabilities, just refer to the listing customization and split testing tips above. We’ll discuss this in more detail in our ‘Optimization’ section.
Bing Ads Remarketing Campaigns
Microsoft Advertising uses a tool called Universal Event Tracking (UET) to track your website visitors as they land on your pages and go elsewhere.
But how do you get the UET?
- In your Microsoft Advertising dashboard, on the left navigation pane, click ‘Conversion Tracking.’
- Then select ‘UET tags.’
- Click ‘Create UET tag’ and enter a name.
- Enter an optional description to help identify the tag.
- Click ‘Save.’
- In ‘View UET tag tracking code,’ click ‘Copy,’ ‘Download,’ or ‘Email.’
- Click ‘Done.’
Now, to add the UET to your website, you’re going to need to edit the site’s code. Microsoft recommends that you add the code to “every page of your website in the head or body section” to provide optimal tracking.
You can also modify your tag to track custom events, target specific audiences, use dynamic marketing, or to add on other features. To do that, simply navigate to ‘Create goal’ and fill in the required information to create a new tag pertaining to the customizations.
All in all, these three major remarketing platforms are incredibly similar in their set up processes, data analytics, and customization options. It’s just that Google AdWords’ reach is far better than its competitors.
What assets are used to build a remarketing list?
While retargeting campaigns only rely on your website visits and audience, remarketing includes implementation of email marketing campaigns through the provision of email lists.
This not only makes remarketing easier and more feasible due to lower customer acquisition costs for brands with established audiences, but it also increases brand loyalty among your existing audience and customers.
To add a list into your remarketing platform, here are the steps (each platform words it a bit differently, but it’s essentially the same):
- Click the Tools icon.
- Go to ‘Shared library’ and click ‘Audience manager.’
- Click ‘Audience lists’ from the left hand page menu.
- Click the ‘plus’ button to create a list.
- Choose the right ‘Customer list.’
- Pick how you want to upload the file.
- Choose the new file.
- Set a membership time limit.
- Go to the Ads Manager.
- Go to ‘Audiences.’
- Click ‘Create Audience.’
- Click ‘Custom Audience.’
- Then click ‘Customer list.’
- Select the identifiers you’d like to include and add the list you want to use.
- Give the list a name and confirm.
- Select ‘Upload and Create.’
- You might need to integrate Microsoft’s Custom Audience APIs into your Data Management Platform.
- Make Microsoft Bing the destination for the DMP mentioned above.
- Select the audience you want to include (you can select ‘subscribers’ here)
- Customize the ad groups the audiences are targeted with.
Google Ads and Facebook Ads allow for simple email list uploading via CSV or TXT files, among other options, but Microsoft Ads is a bit more complex.
6 types of remarketing campaigns
After you’ve got your remarketing platform set up, it’s time to start implementing strategies to make the campaigns work for you.
Based on your audience and targets, different types of remarketing campaigns will work better than others. It all comes down to your customer acquisition-retention retention process, how you’d like to promote awareness, and the type of leads you want to gain.
Here are the five main types of remarketing explained.
This is the typical campaign where Google Display Network, Facebook Ads, and Microsoft Ads will use the data you’ve inserted in the “Setup” step to show your audience or list(s) display banners based on their site visits.
Here’s an example of a display ad on SearchEngineJournal:
Here’s the context:
- A visitor is searching for project management software to improve team collaboration.
- That person clicks on a few results to reap some info.
- That visitor just happens to like SEO so he goes to SearchEngineJournal (apparently a site in the Google Display Network).
- Asana’s display ad pops up.
As you can see, even the simplest form of remarketing is incredibly effective with regards to relevance and timing.
These campaigns work the same way on Facebook Ads, Bing searches, and Microsoft Ads networks, among others.
The only glaring issue is that these remarketing platforms’ search intent-backed data aren’t exactly the strongest. Though it’s likely to be improved by leap and bounds in the near future as technology and analytics options get upgraded.
Dynamic remarketing targets visitors that behave a certain way on your site. This could mean they clicked a certain link, viewed a particular section, or interacted with your product and sales pages.
Being more direct in the remarketing approach, this type of campaign typically performs well since ads are relevant to a visitor’s searches and actions. From a customer’s perspective, a dynamic remarketing campaign could be in the form of a reminder of shopping cart items, a promo, a free trial, or even an invitation to join a webinar.
Here’s an example of a dynamic remarketing ad from RingCentral:
They’re scare-accurate, but how can you tell it was part of a dynamic remarketing campaign? The ‘Free Trial’ featured on the ad gives it away – here’s a little context to it:
- Someone was looking through a site to find display ads, and they saw a RingCentral ad (standard remarketing).
- They click the ad and are taken to a landing page offering a free demo.
- The visitor fills in the form and clicks ‘View Demo.’
- They exit the page and return to the site the ad originated from.
- Voilà! An enticing ‘Free Trial’ and ‘Save up to 33%’ deal.
Remarketing campaigns don’t just apply to search engines though. In the next two sections, we’ll see how they can apply to social channels like Facebook and YouTube.
Cross-channel remarketing is a term that covers Google’s Search Ads 360 program. It helps your business build lists of customers who click your search or social ads using both search and social engines.
All you need to do is create a remarketing list and select the search or social ads you want a specific audience to be added to, i.e. listing customers by which bait they took.
Here’s an example of cross-channel remarketing that Google itself lays out:
- You have search ads for ‘car safety features’ and ‘car performance.’
- People who click on those ads are placed in the ‘Safety-conscious’ list.
- Others like ‘car performance’ would be placed in the ‘Performance’ list.
Before you implement this type of campaign, be sure to add Search Ads 360’s ‘ds_rl’ to your targeted landing pages so their intelligence can identify the right lists.
The solution explained above on “search and social ads” is integrated with Google’s “display and video ads” (Display & Video 360), but you’ll need to sign in to the latter channel to use those lists. After that, you can share lists amongst channels to target a larger audience.
- Some areas won’t be added to search, social, and display remarketing lists due to privacy and compliance issues.
- A remarketing list is also required to have at least 1,000 users on Google Ads and Facebook (counted separately).
- The Display & Video 360 network requires at least 100 in the list before you can perform a campaign with it.
Cross-channel remarketing is using an intelligent sorter tool to sift users through multiple mediums for re-engagement.
Video remarketing ads that are shown to millions of viewers after browsing through a specific YouTube video or watching a video on a certain website. The mindset behind this form of remarketing is the same as others: your audience has interacted with you before. Therefore, they might like your brand more if they see you again.
These campaigns usually involve displaying video ads before videos and embedded longer videos at predetermined intervals. Display video ads are located on the right hand side of the screen above the other recommended videos or playlists.
To start, link your Google Ads account with your YouTube channel. Then you should be able to create remarketing lists based on a series of customizations.
When you’re creating a new list, you’re only able to add users from the last 30 days of activity on your YouTube channel or you can simply start with none.
Best practices for racking up the best ROI include testing out different ad formats (a/b testing), catering to mobile users, organizing your lists, and using customization options to your advantage.
There are three ways to look at email remarketing:
- Adding your email list to Google Display Network.
- Manual email remarketing
- Discover campaigns
For the first type, you’ll simply add your existing list to target with display ads. Refer to the “Google Ads” setup section for instructions.
The second type of email remarketing is manually setting up email marketing campaigns to re-engage customers and audiences. This falls into the category of ‘email marketing’ but the goals are the same as those of standard remarketing campaigns: gaining back potentially lost leads.
Here’s an example of an abandoned cart recovery email from Nordstrom:
The third type of email remarketing uses a feature called Discovery campaigns. “Gmail remarketing” used to be the campaign to use for Gmail ads, but starting July 1, 2020, advertisers were unable to create new Gmail ads or edit existing ones.
Instead, Google brought up Discovery campaigns to help businesses reach YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds, Google’s Discover pages, Gmail Promotions, Social Tabs – all in one place.
Here are the steps for setting up a Discovery campaign:
- Sign in to your Google Ads account.
- On the left hand menu, click ‘Campaigns.’
- Click the plus button and choose ‘New Campaign.’
- Choose your marketing goal (sales, leads, website traffic, or no goal).
- Pick the type of ‘Discover’ campaign you want to use.
- Click ‘Continue.’
- Select your target demographics and audiences.
- Choose your bidding strategy (daily budget).
- Click ‘Save.’
The following limits apply when setting up your audience lists:
- Google Search Network: 1,000+ visitors within the last 30 days.
- YouTube: 1,000+ visitors within the last 30 days.
- Gmail: 100+ visitors within the last 30 days in Display Network.
After your initial setup, you’ll start creating your ads (single-image or multi-image carousels).
Here are the steps to get your ads set up:
- Go to your Discovery campaign.
- On the left hand menu, select ‘Ads & Extensions.’
- Click the plus button and choose ‘Discover Ad’ or ‘Discovery Carousel Ad.’
- Enter the required information.
This is the chart Google provides regarding your assets and information:
The only difference between the Discover Ads is the required image count.
After you’re done setting up your campaign, just give it some time to run up impressions and conversions. Google recommends setting a good budget that’ll last for at least two weeks and 10 times your CPA bid.
Another feature Discovery Ads offers is automatic targeting, but all it does is expand your reach to help more people to see your ads. You can change these setting is your Discovery campaigns panel:
- Choose the right campaign.
- Select the ad group you’re adjusting.
- Click ‘Audiences’ in the navigation menu.
- Select ‘Edit ad group targeting.’
- Drag the control to wherever you want.
How to gather data for remarketing campaigns
Now know how to set up customer re-engagement campaigns, but how are you supposed to get the data needed to set them loose? Though we’ve hinted at bits and pieces of this process throughout the article (pixels, cookies, email lists, etc), here the points are in more detail.
Cookies are little trackers that go into effect once a visitor lands on a specific page or performs a certain action. They can come in different forms and names including Pixels (Facebook Ads) and UET (Microsoft Ads).
This is most commonly used in standard remarketing campaigns as they’re typically not very specific or focused but still leverage the aspect of repeated brand awareness campaigns implemented with “passive” display ads.
Lists are exactly what they sound like. You can either upload an existing email list or use an existing audience on Gmail or YouTube to remarket to current users.
List-based data is used when performing cross-channel, email, and Discovery remarketing campaigns. They could be extremely helpful when performing a dynamic remarketing campaign given the fact your list is neatly split into sections relative to the customer’s stage in the funnel.
An example of that could be creating a list of all website visitors that signed up for a free demo but didn’t convert into a sale. In that case, you’d create a campaign to reach out to those prospects through your medium of choice and offer a promotion or trial of some sort.
Nearly all major advertising and display networks allow you to toggle users and audiences based on their demographics, membership duration, and navigation properties.
An example of segmentation based on user navigation could include separate Audience Lists for website visitors who spent X seconds to X seconds. For demographics and membership duration (usually referring to YouTube video remarketing and Discovery remarketing), the same process applies.
By customizing lists and audiences, you’ll be able to make sure your campaigns are reaching the right people and receive more accurate conversion analytics.
How to optimize ads for remarketing campaigns
Conversions for visuals and display ads are all about design, copy, structure, and your offer. After all, there’s no point in getting hundreds of thousands of impressions with no conversions.
On design for your remarketing ads, be sure to have an enticing visual whether it’s an image taken from your tool itself or an image highlighting the nature of your service. Here is an example of a good ad featuring RingCentral once again:
Using your brand colors is crucial when creating visuals. It not only generates trust from potential customers, but also helps different campaigns flow smoothly.
For others, a simple design with straight-to-the-point copy can work just fine like this example from Bluehost. Though it lacks an image, the simplicity and “punch” the headlines and CTA provide are enough to catch a potential e-commerce entrepreneur’s attention.
For the most part, it boils down to including a relevant headline, a call-to-action (CTA) that’s something other than “Click Here,” and actionable copy.
Remarketing campaigns are a great asset to include in your marketing budget once you have a stable user base. Whether you decide to go with Google Display Network, Facebooks Ads, Microsoft Ads, or some other remarketing platform, the same strategies apply.
Just make sure you optimize your campaigns, audiences, and ads to re-engage website visitors that haven’t converted. Use different types of display ads or copy to test which ones perform the best and optimize accordingly.
Are you ready to get started with generating more brand awareness and leads?
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