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How to Set Up a Google Ads Remarketing Campaign

A very effective way to ensure you stay in the mind of potential buyers is with a Google Ads remarketing campaign. But what is it, and how do you set up one of these campaigns?

You’ve likely seen a remarketing campaign in action before. If you’ve ever been browsing to buy an item online, you might then notice, perhaps a day or so later, that the very product you were looking at is winking at you from an advertising banner. This is Google Ads remarketing in full swing, and you might have noticed, it can be quite a powerful tool. 

Using a remarketing campaign can be a great way to maximise your ROAS (return on ad spend) and boost your PPC campaign.

How to do Google Ads remarketing

In this guide we’re going to take a look at how to set up your own Google Ads remarketing campaign. We’ll take a look at:

  • What is Google Ads remarketing?
  • The different types of remarketing campaigns
  • How to segment your audience
  • How to create a remarketing list
  • How to optimise your remarketing campaign

What is Google Ads remarketing?

As mentioned, remarketing is a clever approach where your product is displayed to someone who has already looked at, or perhaps added it to their basket. Say for example, you’re looking for a new hat and you find one which you particularly like. But before you can check out, you think, hey I’ll see if I can find a similar one in town near me.

Three days later, still hatless, you spot the very same hat on a banner ad while you’re checking your emails. The theory is that you then think, “Oh, yeah… I still need a hat. And that was a really nice one, maybe I’ll just buy it now”.

Put simply, a remarketing campaign targets people who are already interested and are potentially ready to convert to a sale

The different types of remarketing campaigns

Google offers several types of remarketing campaigns. These are:

  • Display Network campaigns
  • Search Network campaigns
  • Video (i.e; YouTube)
  • Shopping (i.e; Google Shopping)

The Display Network relates to Google’s advertising partners including related sites. This can also incorporate a more visual approach,such as responsive image based adverts that look and feel like the website they’re displayed on. Using Display Network means you’ll be able to display your ad on:

  • YouTube
  • Gmail
  • Apps
  • Display Network partners (partner sites looking to host your ad)

The Search Network relates to Google’s own suite of sites and software. For example, if you want your ad to show in the search engine results (SERPs) or on other Google services, including:

  • Google Maps
  • Google Shopping
  • Google Images
  • Apps

If you’re running a video campaign only, of course you can target YouTube and have your video ad play on related sites that host video.

And, of course, you can choose to focus your ad on Google’s own Shopping results.There is another option which allows you to display your ad across all of the above, which is the Universal campaign.

How to segment your audience

Google Ads actually offers tools to segment your audience based on their level of interaction on your site. These are:

Homepage viewers – Your visitor has looked at your site but hasn’t gone much deeper than that. In this case, your remarketing ad will likely show a ‘our best deals’ or other general advertising strategy designed to encourage a repeat visit.

Category page viewers – The visitor may have gone into a specific sub category of your online catalogue. You may wish to showcase other great products in this category to entice visitors.

Product or offer page viewers – On visiting the site, the viewer might have looked at a specific product or products. In this case, an approach could be to offer something like free shipping, or a discount for today only. 

Cart abandoners – Understanding what it is that made people abandon their cart could be the difference that makes the sale. Again, it could be that free shipping, or a discount for a limited period.

Past purchasers – Knowing that a customer is willing to spend money on your site, offering an incentive to come back again is key. Showcasing related products, or products that may be of interest could be the way to bring them back to your store.

Ads also gives you options to remarket based on factors such as time spent on site, geographic location and specific demographics such as age, sex etc.

How to create a remarketing list

To create these remarketing lists you’ll need to login to your Google Ads and go to your ‘Shared Library’, then go to ‘Audience’ and create remarketing lists based on the pages or categories visited. 

Google Ads will ask you to set up a remarketing tag. You can do this by clicking on ‘tag details’ which will then create a piece of code that will need to be added to your website. You’ll receive an email which details how to install the code, and you’ll need to make sure it’s installed on any page that is going to be subject to your remarketing campaign.

Once you’re ready to set up your remarketing list, go back to ‘Shared Audiences’ and click on ‘Remarketing list’. Here you’ll be able to choose:

  • Website visitors – people who have visited your site
  • Customer emails – people who have provided their emails (perhaps via lead magnet etc)
  • YouTube viewers – visitors who have viewed or interacted with your YouTube videos
  • Mobile App users – people who have installed your app

If you’re setting up a remarketing campaign for site visitors, you can choose to specify the page they have visited. Remember, if you want to take advantage of all of the remarketing potential offered by this type of campaign you’ll need to put that code on all your pages. If you have a lot of pages, that could take a lot of time, unless you have a team that can do it for you!

Google Ads will automatically make it easy for you and create an ‘all visitors’ rule for you. So anyone who visits your homepage could be a remarketing target.

However, for specific remarketing lists, you might want to specify pages such as product pages, offer pages or other parts of your site that might be relevant.

Specify the remarketing list name, then specify the URL. You can then add a membership duration (cookie) which refers to the amount of time the remarketing will target them. The default is 30 days, but this can be edited. Click save and the list will start to be populated. 

For cart abandoners, in Google Ads you can create a custom combination. Choose ‘any of these audiences’ who have visited your shopping cart page. But then add AND ‘none of these audiences’ who have visited your purchase confirmation page. 

When it comes to remarketing, simply create a list for visitors that have visited your purchase confirmation page.

How to optimise your remarketing campaign

Like all online marketing, there is a learning curve involved as you find out what does and doesn’t work. You’ll likely find yourself optimising your marketing campaign on several occasions due to changes in seasonal demand, your products and other offerings. And, like all marketing and ad campaigns, you’ll probably start to see things that do and don’t work. 

When you’re looking at how to optimise your marketing campaign, consider some of these factors:

Ad content

Factors such as images, text, calls to action and other content all affect the effectiveness of your online ads, especially with regard to remarketing. You might find that a simple image and some text is enough to encourage that final sale, or you might need to word your ad for your target demographic. 

Bid testing

Like any pay per click campaign, optimising your bids is part of the process. Make sure to monitor your bids throughout your campaign so that you can tweak them for the best ROAS and most effective impression share.

Customise your combinations

It might sound like a 30 day cookie is always going to be the best option, but perhaps you don’t make that many sales after five or ten days. Likewise, targeting certain age ranges or geographic locations might appear to make sense, but if you’re not making the sales but you’re still paying out for the ad then you might want to consider tweaking your targeting.

Landing page optimisation 

The first page that people land on when they come back to your site can be a deal maker or breaker. Is the offer obvious? Are there enough (or too many) CTAs? Is it easy to find what people are looking for? Keep an eye on how effective your choice of landing pages are, and experiment with sending customers to other pages on your site.

Frequency capping

You can limit the amount of times someone sees your ad as part of your remarketing, which is called frequency capping. Is it better to have you ad appear once or twice, or do you think the more the merrier? Bear in mind that people can be turned off by overly intrusive ads, so play with your ad display frequency to see what your sweet spot is.

In summary

Setting up a Google Ads remarketing campaign is a great tool to have in your repertoire and can be a great way to pick up those casual browsers or repeat customers. As we’ve seen though, there is a lot to bear in mind, and optimising your campaign is an ongoing process. 

Like all ad campaigns, keep a close eye on your spending, do your research around your target audience and their buying habits and if something isn’t working, change it. 

Remember also that by some estimates, around half of all internet traffic is automated or fraudulent. If you’re running a high value remarketing campaign, using anti-click fraud software could save you a lot of money and ensure that only your potential customers are seeing your ad. You can find out more about ad fraud and click fraud in our blog.

Ilan Missulawin

Ilan is a co-founder and the CMO of ClickCease since 2015.
When he isn't dreaming about click fraud you can find him writing about it.
Two of his favorite things in life are: Peppa Pig and writing about himself in third person.

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