Shoppers are flooded with choices.
It’s easy for them to forget why they came to a store in the first place, and for them to quickly get distracted in favor of the newest, shiniest thing. It happens to the best of us. Because of this, ecommerce brands are tasked with winning back shoppers who have shown interest in their products in the past—and remarketing is a successful way to do this.
What is remarketing?
Remarketing is a marketing strategy used to send targeted ads to shoppers who have already visited a website or product page without taking action. For example, if a shopper adds an item to their cart but doesn’t check out, remarketing uses that information to serve them ads on social media, Google, and other sites to encourage them to buy the product.
It’s called remarketing because you’re essentially “re”-marketing to people who have already discovered your brand and interacted with it in some way, whether that’s by browsing a product category, adding an item to their cart, or visiting a landing page without signing up for your newsletter. It’s a second chance to convert and a particularly useful method for re-engaging past customers and reminding them why they chose you in the first place.
How remarketing works
Remarketing tracks user data to understand where shoppers have been on your site and what actions they have taken (or, more importantly, haven’t taken). It’s most commonly used to serve ads to consumers based on their previous browsing history, which can make campaigns incredibly targeted and personalized.
In simpler terms, remarketing works like this:
- Shopper visits your website.
- Shopper leaves your website and is tracked through their cookies (more on that below).
- Shopper sees your remarketing ads on other websites, on social media, and in their inbox.
- Shopper clicks on your ads and returns to your website.
- Shopper takes the action you want them to take.
Website visitors who are retargeted are more likely to convert by 43% and three out of five online users notice (and consider clicking) ads showing products they’ve previously viewed, making remarketing campaigns a powerful tool for online retailers.
Remarketing vs. retargeting: What’s the difference?
You might see the terms remarketing and retargeting used interchangeably. While they are fairly similar in their end goal, there are a couple of key differences.
Retargeting is mostly focused on paid ads. It uses shopper data to automatically serve relevant ads on Google and social media.
Remarketing, on the other hand, collects customer information and uses that to create lists and send targeted emails. Landing directly in shopper inboxes creates a deeper, more personal connection and allows for more specific upselling and messaging.
Linenbundle and Lazy Oaf both use remarketing ads in Gmail to re-engage shoppers who have previously visited their sites.
Using remarketing lists
Remarketing lists are lists of shoppers who have taken (or not taken) a specific action on your site. You can create a list of people who have visited a product category page, the checkout page, or even your homepage over a certain period of time.
When a customer visits each page on your site, they leave a cookie in their wake, which remarketing tools can use to collect their information and map out their customer journey. When customers land on your homepage, a product category page, or the checkout, their cookie is added to the remarketing list associated with the specific action they’ve taken.
You can create as many remarketing lists as you like and get as detailed as you wish, creating lists for highly targeted actions like visiting a specific offers page or product page. You’re then able to send ads and email campaigns to each of these email lists, personalizing the messaging to match their browsing behavior.
Using remarketing pixel tags
Remarketing pixel tags are small pieces of code on a webpage that allow your site to place and track customer cookies (a.k.a. the crumbs left by past visitors—hence their sweet-treat name). This is possible because every visitor has an individual ID that enables their activity to be tracked.
The ad server or remarketing tool you use can access these unique ID codes and add them to the most relevant remarketing lists. If someone has signed up for your newsletter and made it through to the “thank you” page, they’ll be added to one list, and if they add an item to their cart but don’t purchase it, they’ll automatically be added to another list.
4 types of remarketing campaigns
Remarketing is a versatile marketing strategy. The way you use it will depend on what you hope to achieve, the type of customers you want to reach, and how you want to reach them. There are several ways remarketing can help you do this with four different ad types.
1. Standard remarketing
Standard remarketing is the most common form of remarketing. It tracks and targets customers who have visited your website using pixel tags and their cookie data. For example, you can remarket to everyone who has visited your homepage in the past month via a banner or text ad on Google, an email, or a social media ad.
Fanatics showcases a selection of products to shoppers who have previously visited the brand’s website.
2. Dynamic remarketing
Dynamic remarketing is particularly useful for ecommerce businesses. It drills down into the exact products a visitor has viewed on your website or added to their cart and serves them dynamic ads showing that particular product. To run this type of marketing campaign via Google, social media, or email, you need to submit a product feed to the platform you want to serve the ads on.
Lexi’s Treats uses dynamic remarketing ads to serve a relevant product catalog to past website visitors—with a discount for an added incentive.
3. Display remarketing
Display remarketing is a simple way to reach shoppers who have visited your site. It tracks customers who have shown an interest in your brand and products and serves them visual ads of your brand when they visit another website. Display ads can be shown on websites that are part of the Google display network.
Harry’s uses display remarketing to encourage previous website visitors to sign up for a trial.
4. Search remarketing
Search remarketing is a quick way to grab the attention of past website visitors in search engines. It automatically customizes your search ads based on the past browsing behavior of website visitors. For example, if someone has visited a specific product page without purchasing, search remarketing will serve them PPC results that mention the product page.
How to run a remarketing campaign in Google Ads
You can run multiple types of retargeting campaigns at the same time. Consider what you want to achieve and the goals of each campaign before you get started, and then use the steps below to walk through the process.
Create a remarketing list
1. In Google Ads, navigate to your Shared Library and click Audiences.
2. If you haven’t already added the pixel tag to your website, you’ll be notified to do so and directed to a page where you can access your tag. You’ll then need to add it to the relevant pages of your site.
3. Next, click the option to add a remarketing list. When you click the red button, it will open a drop-down menu where you can choose what kind of list you’d like to create. Some options include website visitors, mobile app users, and customer emails.
4. If you’re setting up a remarketing campaign to target website visitors, name your list and fill out the information in the form provided.
There are five types of “visitors of a page” you can target using this type of campaign:
- Visitors of a page: Use this to target shoppers who have visited a product page but didn’t add the product to their shopping cart.
- Visitors of a page who didn’t visit another page: Use this to target people who added an item to their cart but didn’t click through to checkout.
- Visitors of a page who also visited another page: Use this to target people who have visited multiple product pages.
- Visitors of a page who also visited during specific dates: Use this to target shoppers who browsed your site during notable events like Valentine’s Day or Christmas.
- Visitors of a page with a specific tag: Use this to target shoppers who have been part of previous remarketing campaigns and are part of several remarketing lists or who have different remarketing tags.
5. Once you’ve chosen the type of list you want to create, add the URL for the page that the remarketing campaign will apply to (i.e., your checkout page, a particular product page, or a landing page).
Set up your Google Ads remarketing campaign
If thinking about setting up a Google remarketing campaign feels overwhelming, here’s how you can do it in simple steps.
Step 1: Create a new campaign
Start your Google remarketing campaign the same way you would any other campaign—click “+ Campaign” in your Google Ads account.
Step 2: Choose your campaign type
You’ll be prompted to choose the type of campaign you want to run. The easiest option here is to choose display remarketing, but you can also select search remarketing or shopping ads.
Step 3: Choose your remarketing list
You’ll be directed to a page where you will create your ad group and ad. Choose remarketing lists from the drop-down menu and the list you want to target. You can also use this opportunity to serve Gmail ads to shoppers who have given your business their email address.
Step 4: Create your ad and publish it
Once you’ve selected your remarketing list, you can continue to create the visuals and copy for your ad campaign, as well as budget and timeframe. Do this as you would for any other type of ad campaign and hit Publish when you’re ready for it to go live.
If you want to run a search remarketing campaign, follow these steps:
- Set up a Google Search campaign: Choose the Search option when creating your ad campaign.
- Choose your keywords: Decide which keywords you want to target with the campaign (for example, if you want to target shoppers who have browsed your leather handbags, you can use that as a keyword in the campaign).
- Choose your remarketing list: Select the list of shoppers you want to remarket to (i.e., shoppers who have visited any page containing the word “leather handbag”).
- Create your ad: Write the copy for your ad and publish it when you’re ready for it to go live.
Use Google Analytics to monitor the success of your campaign
Chances are you’re already using Google Analytics to track visitors and sessions on your store. But it’s a crucial tool in monitoring and measuring the success of your remarketing campaigns.
Here are some key ways you can use Google Analytics to track your campaigns:
- Check for increased page views: At its most basic level, Google Analytics will show you whether there has been an increase in visitors to specific pages on your site. If you’re running an ad on a specific product page, you’ll be able to see if the number of visitors has increased since running your campaign and where they’re coming from.
- Create events: If your goal is to get shoppers to take certain actions when they land on your site, you can set up events in Google Analytics to identify whether there is an increase in the number of actions taken once your remarketing campaign is running.
- Test remarketing ads: You can create multiple ad campaigns and serve them to identical remarketing audiences to see which ones are most successful. You can use Google Analytics to create separate audiences that share the same attributes and send them different versions of your remarketing campaign. This guide shows you how to create different audiences in Google Analytics.
Watchfinder serves different variations of the same Google ad example to see which one performs best with its audience.
Stay on top of your campaigns by regularly checking their success, tweaking elements that aren’t performing so well, and testing each campaign until it’s getting the results you want.
Canadian cyclewear brand Myfix used remarketing to increase its ROAS (return on ad spend) by 1,529%. It sent ads to three types of audiences:
- Shoppers who had visited their site in the past two weeks
- Shoppers that had added a product to their cart in the past two weeks
- Shoppers who had made a purchase in the past 180 days
The ads emphasized the brand’s free shipping policy and highlighted the products with stunning photographs. Bicycles aren’t usually an impulse purchase, and the brand noticed that it usually took buyers five to seven viewings of the ads before they eventually made a purchase.
Boost your conversion rates with a remarketing campaign
Remarketing is a great way to re-engage distracted shoppers. They’re hot leads because they’ve already shown interest in your brand and products, but maybe they just need you to jog their memory. Instead of losing potential customers into the ether as soon as they leave your site, you can bring them back with a well-thought-out remarketing strategy and ad campaigns that are highly targeted and relevant to their interests and previous browsing behavior.
What is meant by remarketing?
Remarketing is a digital marketing strategy used to send personalized ads to shoppers who have already visited a website or product page without taking action. It uses visitor cookies to track what pages shoppers have visited and retargets them with relevant ads.
What is a remarketing campaign?
Remarketing campaigns let you retarget users who have previously visited your website with relevant ads. Remarketing uses visitor cookies to track what pages someone has visited and uses this information to customize display and search ads accordingly.
What are the types of remarketing?
- Standard remarketing
- Dynamic remarketing
- Display remarketing
- Search remarketing
What is retargeting vs. remarketing?
Retargeting is the act of using paid ads to target users who have already visited your website. While it has a similar goal, remarketing is a strategy used to serve highly targeted email campaigns based on the pages a user has visited on your website.
What is a cookie?
Cookies are files that contain pieces of data about a website visitor that can be used to identify information like location and browsing behavior. Web servers can track cookies to understand the customer journey.