If you are already familiar with the basic concepts of traditional display remarketing (or retargeting) through Google AdWords, it’s time to get a better understanding of the more advanced techniques available on the platform. It seems like every few months new features become available that allow for better targeting, better messaging and of course, better opportunities to drive conversion.
First, it’s important to note that in the last few years, the concept of remarketing has evolved – it’s no longer just those little image ads that follow you around reminding you of a site you recently visited. Nope, now remarketing is much more sophisticated, and while it is most often a tactic used on the Google Display Network (GDN), there are many features that now make remarketing available on Google Search, Google Shopping and other networks as well.
Let’s run through the three most prominent forms of retargeting on Google Adwords plus a bonus advanced strategy to reward those that make it to the end!
Traditional Display Remarketing
Networks Available: Google Display Network (GDN)
How it works: This was explained in our earlier article, How to Create A Google Retargeting Campaign in AdWords. Once you have a Google Remarketing pixel and a Google Conversion pixel live on your website, you can create a series of remarketing lists for targeting, such as “All Visitors”, “All Converters”, “People Who Have Visited but Didn’t Convert” etc. You want to segment these lists into unique buckets that you can then target differently, bid differently or communicate different messaging.
Then you can create a display campaign targeting these users with either text or image ads. Once you’re all set up, your ads are eligible to show on any sites that are part of the Google Display Network – but your ads will only show to users on your targeted list.
When to Use: Almost all the techniques outlined here should be tested if budget is available, however we do recommend you start with this type of remarketing if this is your first try because this is the most basic setup. Also, use this type of remarketing if you’ve got a simple site (i.e. low volume lead generation or only selling 1-2 products).
Networks Available: Google Display Network (GDN)
How it works: For large online retailers with a working product feed, dynamic remarketing is a great option. After uploading your feed to Google Merchant Center and creating a specialized Dynamic Remarketing pixel to place on your site, you’ll be able to create ad templates that will dynamically fill with the product information and image that your site visitor was most recently viewing on your website.
This form of remarketing can be very detailed and is a great tactic for staying top of mind for users and influencing a specific purchase. However, to be successful (and a lot less annoying), you’ll want to make sure you also negate users who have already purchased particular (or similar) items from your site from these campaigns. Nothing is worse than having the same pair of shoes follow you around after you’ve already purchased them.
When to Use: Test out dynamic remarketing if you have a large inventory of products available for purchase on your website. It’s an easy win if you already have a product feed available too, though there are many online resources for easy product feed setup.
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)
Networks Available: Google Search, Google Shopping Networks
How it works: The core of any great paid search strategy is the keywords. Keywords can help us understand a user’s intent and can also be used to understand where a user is in their consumer decision journey. For example, the keyword “red shoes” might indicate someone is interested in red shoes, but the keyword “reviews on jimmy choo red pumps” might show someone is in the comparison phase, whereas a term like “buy jimmy choo red shoes” indicates someone is in the purchase phase.
However, if you’ve ever run a search campaign, you’ve likely noticed that not every search query is as clear cut as the ones listed above. So, Google has given us some more options to better target our audience on Search and Shopping. Instead of just targeting by keywords (or by the feed for Shopping ads), we can now overlay additional targeting factors (or bid adjustments for them), for users that fall into certain buckets based on our remarketing and conversion pixels. This is called Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA).
For example, purchasing a generic keyword like “red shoes” would likely be very expensive, and generate a poor return for our account. So, instead of just bidding on that keyword, we can use RLSA to only bid on that keyword when someone has recently been to our website (All Visitors Tag), or has already made a purchase from the website in the past (All Converters/Purchasers Tag). This means, we are only going to bet (or bid) on the person who has already shown behavioral intent AND search intent, because in this case, bidding on the keyword alone is too expensive.
It is important to note that this tactic MUST overlay a relevant keyword (or a product feed for Shopping), because a search must be executed for an ad to appear. Ads appear directly on the Google Search Results page (SERP), either in text ad format or Shopping ad format, depending on which campaign type is using the remarketing lists.
When to Use: There are many ways to use and test RLSA campaigns. It is a great idea to use this strategy when generic or low-intent, keywords are getting too expensive for your account and dragging down your overall Return-On-Ad-Spend (ROAS). Instead of just targeting only the audience selected (as described above), there is an option to target all people who search the keyword, while increasing bids or decreasing bids if the searcher is identified as part of the audience you selected.
In this case, we may chose to target anyone searching “red shoes” on Google, but would increase bids (say, +10%) and pay a premium for a user who has interacted with our site before. RLSA can also be used to change messages for different users. For example, if we can identify that someone is already a frequent site visitor (using our remarketing pixels) and they are searching for our branded keywords, they would just get our typical search ad. However, if a person is identified as a new visitor (or someone who hasn’t been to our site in the last 30 days based on our remarketing list), and is using a more generic search term, we could serve a search ad offering them 10% off their first purchase.
This is a great way to segment users and serve different messages based on their on-site behaviors (or lack thereof).
BONUS: Customer Match
Networks Available: Google Search, YouTube, Gmail
How it Works: Customer Match is a bit different than the other types of remarketing we’ve outlined here, because it isn’t really a remarketing strategy, but rather a way in which you can generate or set up remarketing lists and integrate into a strategy. So far, we’ve only discussed creating remarketing campaigns based on pixels that fire on webpages and then cookie users.
However, there is another way to find users to remarket to — by uploading user emails into Google (and no, they don’t have to be @gmail.com email addresses). It’s a similar type of strategy as creating custom audiences in Facebook.
To get the most value out of our list, we’ll want to segment all of our customer email addresses into different Excel or CSV files, basically segmenting the same way we would on our pixel-based remarketing lists. For example, we may choose to create a list for Purchasers, a list for Prospects, and so on. Then, we upload the lists into Google (under Shared Library > Audiences > Remarketing List > Customer Match). Google will then process through all the email addresses and match them to Google account holders.
Once processed, Google will clearly indicate how many users they can match from the email list. To give you an idea of what to expect for planning purposes, our current accounts have a match rate range between 60-85%.
When to Use: We like to use Customer Match lists as an extension of our existing remarketing campaigns that are currently running off of webpage-based remarketing pixels. The only caveat is that Customer Match lists will not work for GDN targeting. They will, however, work for targeting on Google Search, Google Shopping, YouTube and Gmail ads.
So, remember those RLSA campaigns? Don’t forget to integrate your Customer Match lists as an additional target! Customer Match Lists are also a great option if the consumer decision journey isn’t wholly through your owned digital properties. For example, do you gather lots of email addresses at tradeshows or in-store? If so, consider creating Customer Match Lists based on those emails as well.
Like with all things “Google,” remarketing on AdWords is going to continue to evolve as new targeting, networks, channels and ad types become available. Continue to do your research and remember that the core of remarketing is to remain top of mind and relevant for your most important customers.
Have you used any (or all) of these tactics on your campaigns? Please share your experience with us in the comments. And if you need help setting up your Google remarketing campaigns contact us to explore our PPC Management services. We love to help great businesses improve their marketing and reach more customers!