retargeting tips

Tips for Remarketing with Google Adwords

Remarketing (or retargeting as it is called in many circles) involves showing an advertising message to an audience that you would like to invite back to your website. We can create remarketing campaigns with qualified vendors such as AdRoll, FetchBack, mediaFORGE, and many others.

Google also offers remarketing campaigns that can be managed from within the AdWords interface.

How It Works

Here is a conceptual flow that illustrates how a basic retargeting campaign functions.


  1. A potential customer visits your website. Every visitor’s browser is tagged with some special code that will enable your ad to appear to them later.
  2. That visitor leaves your website without completing a purchase.
  3. Your advertisement is displayed to that visitor and encourages them to return to your website.

Why Retargeting?

Win Back Prospects – According to Google, 96% visit a website without completing a desired action. Retargeting campaigns can actually help you encourage those lost conversions to come back.

First Dates Don’t Cut It – According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study, the average visitor accesses 10.4 resources before finally arriving at a purchase decision. In many cases, a potential customer may visit your site more than once. As explained in a previous post on measuring assisted conversions, you can determine just how many times your visitors come to your website before purchasing and the channels they use to get there.

Money Well Spent – Since you are essentially talking to someone who already knows your name, it stands to reason that remarketing campaigns will produce higher click rates, impressive conversion rates, and a lower cost per acquisition.

Remarketing in Google Adwords

The following notes discuss the process for creating a Google Adwords Remarketing campaign. Tips for each step in the process are listed.

Campaign Setup

  • Choose to create a “Display Network only” campaign.
  • Name your campaign. note that you may consider a naming convention if you plan to create multiple campaigns and keep them organized.
  • Click the Remarketing radio button.
  • Choose a daily budget. Remember that your campaign will be limited to impressions for previous site visitors only, so consider how many people might be seeing your ad daily.
  • Google will advise that you do not limit location or language at the time of campaign setup. Know that you can update this setting after the campaign is created. Make this update only if you really need to limit your messaging to specific locations, languages or devices.
  • Configure your campaign flight and determine when you want your ad to run (all day vs. day parts).

Google Remarketing Campaigns

After completing this step you will either be directed to your tracking code (first-time campaigns) or ad group creation (additional campaigns).

Tracking Code & Placement

The code that will allow your remarketing campaign to operate is provided at the time of campaign setup. You will need to place this code on every page of the site. Already created a campaign and need to get your code? Look in the “Shared Library” area and select “Audiences”.

Tip: If you are planning to give the remarketing code to your developer to place, please paste and deliver it in a text file. Simply cutting and pasting it into the body of an email may cause the code to get jumbled along the way.

The Main List

Remarketing campaigns operate by displaying your message to a “list”. Advertisers can create lists, which comprise visitors to the site based on their behavior. The behavior required to land on the default “Main List” is a simple visit to any page of the website. We can also create lists that include visitors who have seen specific pages or website sections as well.

Google Remarketing Main List

Creating Other Lists

Lists are developed based on URLs visited. Advertisers typically want to show specific product-related ads to previous visitors who have browsed those products. Other potential list targets include:

  • visitors to a particular service description page,
  • visitors to the checkout process,
  • visitors to a lead generation form,
  • visitors to a map or directions page,
  • visitors to a special offer page,
  • visitors to sales-oriented content,
  • and so on.

To ensure we are only showing our ad to those who have not completed our desired action, we can develop a list that includes a “URL does not equal” parameter in which the visitor did not reach at “Thank You” or confirmation page. In other words, if we only want to deliver our message to those who have yet to buy/download/contact/submit/etc., our list may be constructed like so…

Remarketing List Creation

Once you have created your lists for each campaign, they can be assigned with the “change display targeting” button in the Display Network tab.

Remarketing List Assignment

Additional Tips

  • Consider creating different ad groups for each list you develop. This will allow you to align ad message with list (i.e. audience) and landing page. Be as consistent as possible with the visitor experience from original visit to ad creative to campaign landing page.
  • Among the various ad types and sizes, you will likely find that the Leaderboard (728×90) garners the most impressions and the square and rectangle ads will provide the best click rate.
  • Update “Frequency Capping” within campaign Settings to ensure you don’t deliver your ads too often to the same people. Encouraging repeat visits can annoy potential customers quickly if overdone.
  • Also within Settings, you can exclude yourself and everyone at your business location with IP exclusions.

Remarketing Resources:

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