Your Ultimate Guide to AdWords Remarketing

Ultimate Guide to AdWords Remarketing

To be an effective marketer in Google AdWords, your restaurant must rely on a collection of static images, animated images, videos, responsive ads, and text ads that are placed on the Google Display and Google Search Network. What makes remarketing different from standard Display and Search advertising is the targeting.

Remarketing consists of using a special tracking code to place cookies on the browsers of people visiting your website and then serving ads to those with that cookie. In particular, serving ads on the Display and Search network. Remarketing ads can be a very powerful component of a PPC campaign.

The main point with remarketing is that you want to reach those people who have shown enough interest in your restaurant to visit your website. These people are more likely to convert than customers who have not been to your site. This guide provides you with a collection of best remarketing practices based on experience and Google recommendations.

AdWords Remarketing Options

  • Standard Remarketing: This AdWords feature allows you to show ads to past visitors as they browse websites and apps on the Display Network.
  • Dynamic Remarketing: This permits you to show ads to past visitors that have products or services they viewed on your site.
  • Remarketing Lists for Search Ads: Also known as RLSA, this enables you to target past visitors on the Search Network. You can target and customize search ads for these past visitors while they search on Google and Google’s Search partner sites.
  • Remarketing for Mobile Apps:  To reach customers who accessed your mobile app or mobile website, AdWords shows ads to them when they use other mobile apps or visit other mobile websites.
  • Video Remarketing: AdWords enables you to serve ads to people who have interacted with your YouTube channel or other videos. They will receive your ads on YouTube or through Display Network videos and websites.
  • Email List Remarketing: Also known as customer match, you can upload a list of customer emails to AdWords. This feature enables you to serve ads to customers with those emails when they are signed in to Google Search, Gmail, or YouTube. 

Targeting Your Audience

The first step in remarketing is to analyze your data and develop a strategy.  You’ll need to decide which visitors to your site you’d like to target. Each group is a separate audience, whether they receive ads or not. Methods to target these audiences can be based on:

  • Product page visited
  • Ignoring a certain product page
  • Visiting a particular page of your checkout process
  • Dwell time on the site
  • Number of pages visited
  • Demographic information provided
  • Geographic information provided

There are also custom combinations that allow you to target people who visited one page without visiting another. For example, you could target users who were interested enough in your product to add an item to their cart but did not complete the purchase process.

You can target any audience based on URLs. If you have a thank you page after people submit their email address for signing up to get more information or register to see a special deal, you could use the URL of that thank you page for a remarketing list. Possible steps include:

  • Make a list in Excel of URLs you want to target and name the audience for reference later.
  • Include custom-combinations ideas you envisioned while creating the sheet.
  • Use Google Analytics' goal funnels to gather and analyze data to find points for remarketing purposes.
  • If you don’t have Google Analytics funnels set up, be sure to do so.

Setting Up Your Desired Remarketing Codes

The first step in building your remarketing campaign is to generate and place the special code you’ll need to place cookies on the computers of your website visitors. This code can be generated within Google Analytics or within AdWords.

It involves the placement of a single code on every page (called a run of site code). This is the same one that Analytics already uses to monitor traffic on your site with a slight modification. Once you generate the code, place it on every page of your site and use URLs to build custom combinations and audiences.

If you have a Google Analytics account, you can find your remarketing code here. If you don’t have one, you should. A remarketing code from Analytics also allows you to set up remarketing lists based on goals instead of just pages visited.

Creating Lists in Analytics for Precise Remarketing 

If you’re using Google Analytics to remarket, here’s how to set up that code. Once you’re in your Google Analytics account, click to the “admin” section.

Click the link labeled “audience definitions”. Once there, click on the “new audience” button.

Your options will include naming your list, choosing an Analytics profile and AdWords account to use with your list. Specify the type of remarketing you want to opt into (all visitors or visitors to certain pages) and the ability to modify the membership duration.

Then, name your list based on your intention. It could be “All Site Visitors,” “Cart Abandoners,” etc. To start collecting the appropriate data, you will need to make a minor adjustment to your current Analytics code that you’ve already placed on your website.

Look for this…

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’;

Replace with this…

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://’ : ‘http://’) + ‘’;

After you’ve made the changes to your Analytics code, you will also need to tweak some additional items:

  • Have at least one active Google AdWords account that is linked to your Analytics account (admin access required).
  • Agree to the Google Analytics Terms of Service.
  • Agree to the Google Analytics for Display Advertisers Policy.
  • Update your privacy policy and include an appropriate description of your use of remarketing in online advertising.

Create Remarketing Lists Directly In AdWords

To do this, go to the “Shared Library” in your AdWords account. Click “Audiences."

Next, you must decide how long you'd like to store a cookie in someone’s browser. There are many different strategies to selecting membership duration. You want to think about your business and your goals when selecting a membership duration. They can last up to 540 days, although more common increments include 30, 60 or 90-day memberships.

A significant consideration is that you are always at risk of annoying people if you show them your ad too much. That is where Frequency Capping enters the picture. With Frequency Capping, you decide how often each individual user see your ad during a specified period. 

Understand that if you show your ad too often to users, there is a possibility they will become annoyed and tune out your message ... and your restaurant. 

You don’t want this to happen with your ads and your remarketing audiences, so pick a frequency cap that seems appropriate for your goals. If your customers have a long average time between conversions, you’ll need fewer impressions to gently remind them of your brand again from time to time.

If your business is built for repeat customers, you may want to focus on impressing as much as possible. For instance, restaurants like Jimmy John’s ideally want people to order their sandwiches every single day. They’re not going to care about burning someone out, as it’s feasible that someone could order from them multiple times in a week. Repeat business is important to them, so they show ads to users constantly.

Whatever you do, pick something that makes sense for your business goals.

Creating Custom Combinations to Pinpoint Customers

For an extremely specific audience, you can set up custom combinations in the “Shared Library” tab in your AdWords account in the exact same place where you set up your AdWords-based remarketing.

Create a new audience, but this time it will be a custom combination. If you want to target users who hit the first page of your checkout process without reaching your order confirmation page, then you would want to set up a custom combination.

Select the remarketing audience you’ve set up for people who hit the first page of your checkout process. You can do this by creating a new remarketing audience and using the URL of that page. Then, select “none of this audience” and select the remarketing audience you set up for people who have hit the thank you page. You can also select anyone who has converted. Save this, and then select this custom combination as your audience in the ad group you’ve created for this audience.

The main takeaway is to think about what could work for your website and test all viable options.

When Custom Combinations & Membership Duration Meet

One strategy that usually works well for advertisers is "Delayed Targeting." By using this tactic, a client that offers a subscription-based service would allow some members to pay on a month-to-month basis.

So, we decided to make an audience that targets people who have converted with a member duration of 30 days. We made another identical audience, but for 90 days. We then made a custom combination by making the 90-day member duration our target and excluded the audience for 30 days. This means we’re targeting people who have converted, 30-90 days after converting.

Membership duration will also intersect with the messaging in your ads. If you have offers that give users a seven-day free trial, you could target converters starting seven days after their initial conversion.

Ways to Optimize Remarketing Campaigns

Optimization in remarketing comes in several different forms. Among them:

  • Ad testing: Strong branding may work well in your ads. Start here as a control, but experiment with other messages. Treat remarketing ads similarly to how you would treat other ads, just keep your audience in mind. These users are already familiar with your brand, so you may need to go a bit further to win them back to your site. Experiment with different offers, calls to action, images and everything else you can think of.
  • Custom combination testing: We mentioned earlier that you may find different results when combining interest categories with previous site visitors. Keep testing and find what works best for your account. Experiment with different combinations of cookie lengths. Messaging for visitors that visited between 7 and 30 days ago may very well end up not working for users who visited between 30 and 60 days ago.
  • Frequency cap testing: You don’t want to be too annoying, but you also want to maximize the number of interested visitors to your site. Monitor your audience size in combination with the number of impressions your remarketing ad groups get. Maybe your cap is too high and you aren’t limiting anything at all. Maybe you’re setting it way too low and you’re severely limiting your ads’ exposure.
  • Bid testing: Impression share is something worth monitoring in a remarketing campaign. You’re following users and not sites, so if you get to 100% IS you may be annoying some of those users. Monitor your bids both for cost-effectiveness and return on investment, but also for impression share.
  • Landing page testing: The user that you’re bringing back to your site already has a certain level of familiarity. You should experiment landing them on the same page and somewhere completely new. Is your messaging catered to someone who’s been there before? Are you asking questions on the landing page that a previous site visitor would already know the answer to? Test to find out which type of content connects most strongly to previous visitors.

Remarketing is a powerful targeting method on the Google Display Network. By tailoring your ad copy and bids to the highly specific audience you’re going after, it can show a tremendous return in your accounts.