The Definitive Guide to Google Ads Remarketing

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The Definitive Guide to Google Ads Remarketing

Last Updated on: 15th February 2024, 05:17 pm

Have you ever found yourself looking at your website analytics, only to see that you had a lot of visitors, but not as many sales?

Unfortunately, only between 2 and 4% of website visits result in transactions.

Some of your visitors may not find your website at the right time. Others may not be sufficiently convinced that you’re the best option for their needs.

But there’s no need to despair, because Google ads remarketing is here!

And today, I’m going to show you how to use Google remarketing to make sure your website visits turn into transactions.


  1. What Is Google Remarketing?
  2. How to Set up Your Google Ads Remarketing Campaign
  3. Google Remarketing Best Practices: Targeting
  4. Google Remarketing Best Practices: Ad Creatives
  5. Google Ads Remarketing Best Practices: 100x Your Conversion Rate
  6. Summary

What Is Google Remarketing?

Google remarketing (also known as retargeting) is a way to reach people who didn’t convert during their first visit to your website, app, or online shop.

Think of remarketing as following up with interested visitors.

With Google ads remarketing, you can reach visitors who weren’t ready during their first visit to provide them with a better offer, or increase their sense of trust in your business so that they convert from lurkers to buyers.

This is normally done through ad campaigns that target people who have already visited your website. Google then displays your ads to them across the Search Network.

It’s quite simple and incredibly efficient!

The Benefits of Google Ads Retargeting

The first benefit of remarketing with Google ads is the fact that you’ll get much higher conversion rates.

With regular ads, you’re reaching people who haven’t heard of your business before. But with remarketing, you’re talking to people who remember your business.

From there, you can create specific ads that address different visitors’ needs.

When you’re launching a regular campaign, you don’t already know what kind of people might click on your ad.

But with remarketing, you have more information.

And as a bonus, you can also retarget visitors with a better offer when they’re searching for products like yours.

The second benefit is personalisation. Google ads retargeting allows you to create different offers for different people.

Some of your visitors may have arrived to the product page without purchasing it. Others may have added it to their cart, but ultimately decided to leave.

With Google ads remarketing, you can create the perfect offer for different people. Visited the product page but left? Maybe they need more testimonials and proof that your product really is all that.

Abandoned their carts? There’s nothing like a good discount or a special perk.

Your ad will feel personal to each customer, and you can bet that will drive sales.

The third benefit is increasing your customers’ lifetime value.

While I mainly talk about remarketing as a way of converting first-time visitors, you can also use remarketing to increase the number of sales you get from each customer. It’s much easier to sell new (or more) products to people who have already bought from you. They trust you already, and you don’t have to convince them as much.

Google remarketing allows you to get in touch with them again, and show them other products or new offers they might be interested in.

The final benefit that I want to touch on is lower CPC.

Google remarketing ads have lower costs per click. And when you compare that to the fact that they have higher conversion rates, you can see why Google remarketing ads are an excellent option.

Is Google Remarketing Complicated?

Not at all!

Here’s how it works:

How to Set Up Your Google Ads Remarketing Campaign

Identify Your Remarketing Goals

Since Google remarketing ads offer plenty of options, know where you want to start:

  • Do you want to retarget visitors who didn’t take action?
  • Do you want to retarget eCommerce visitors who left after adding an item to their cart?
  • Do you want to retarget visitors who lost interest half-way?

Understanding who you want to reach (and why) will help you set up the right ad campaign, and create the perfect offer.

Google Ads Remarketing Tag

If you want to reach visitors who left your website, Google needs to know who visited in the first place.

Your first step should be adding the Google ads retargeting tag to your website’s code.

The Google Ads retargeting tag is a neat piece of code that will track your website visits, and store (anonymised) information about your visitors in the cookies.

Then, when you’re ready to start remarketing, Google will know who to show your ads to while they’re browsing the internet.

There are two ways of going about this:

You can have one, catch-all retargeting tag. Normally, business owners place this tag in their website homepage code. This is a good option if you want to retarget everyone, but it won’t have such a high conversion rate because you’re not grouping your visitors based on their behaviour and interests.

Secondly, you can have different remarketing tags for different events:

  • Tags for landing page visitors
  • Tags for cart abandonment
  • Tags for visitors who made it to the product page

And more!

Add the relevant remarketing tags to the right pages with your goals in mind.

For example, if you’ve opted to retarget visitors who abandoned their carts, you’d place your tag on the cart page, and on the purchase confirmation page.

Then, you can show your ad to people who have visited the cart (signifying that they’ve added an item to it), but haven’t visited the purchase confirmation page (they didn’t buy it).

Google has different remarketing event tags for different businesses. They’ll help you establish all the relevant parameters. It’s really worth investing your time in setting up the event tag properly so that your remarketing ads do what you want them to do.

Google Ads Remarketing List

If you’re familiar with email marketing, you know how we sort audience members into different groups based on their interests and behaviour. All of this allows us to personalise the content and offers we send them.

Google Ads remarketing lists work similarly, although with a few modifications due to privacy regulations and specific privacy changes like the iOS 14 one.

After installing the remarketing tag, Google will process the data about new visits, and sort your visitors into your remarketing lists.

If you only have one tag, all of your visitors will automatically go into a single list. However, you can choose the type of lists Google will generate:

  • All visitors – everyone who lands on your site goes into the list
  • All converters – everyone who converted on your website (make sure you enable conversion tracking)

You can also have multiple retargeting lists.

For example, you could create different lists for leads who have abandoned their carts, customers who are continuously purchasing one product from your website, and so on.

The possibilities are endless, and the more you personalise, the better will your results be!

Remember: be specific with your remarketing ads. Personalise them as much as possible. Your CPC will be significantly lower and you’ll have a higher conversion rate.

Privacy Policy Page

When you’re storing information about your visitors from the EU or California, you’re going to need a privacy policy page that lets them know how and why you store that information, and who you share it with.

Membership Duration

Make sure you choose the right membership duration. This defines how long cookies are going to be stored on the visitors’ computers.

Choose the length of time you expect your ad to be relevant. Normally, that time corresponds to the length of your sales cycle.

Products with a short sales cycle (e.g. socks) should have short membership durations because you expect retargeted visitors to take action shortly.

But if you have a lengthy sales cycle (say, you’re selling cars), you might go for a membership duration of a few months. Very few people buy them overnight, after all.

Frequency Capping

Even the best ad gets boring if you see it a million times. This is exactly what frequency capping is here for.

This feature limits the number of times you display your ad to a particular visitor.

You can set the number of views per ad per a time frame (e.g. a visitor can see your ad two times per week).

Types of Google Remarketing Ads

Google offers quite a few types of remarketing ads aimed at getting the browser to come back and buy:

Standard remarketing is the garden variety option. You show your new ads to people who have already visited your website across Google’s Display Network. These ads are normally the banner Google Ads displayed in the sidebars of websites, and they’re static.

Dynamic remarketing ads personalise your remarketing campaign. Instead of simply displaying one ad that’s the same across your remarketing list, you can display ads that remind visitors of the specific products they’ve looked at (or considered buying) on your website.

If you have plenty of products, this is definitely a good option.

Remarketing with search ads (RLSA: Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) lets you retarget visitors while they’re using Google Search. You have to select the keywords you want your remarketing ad to show up for. If your visitors search for them, they’ll see your ad.

RLSA is great for adding more context to your remarketing strategy. It’s also quite intuitive.

If your customers have a problem they want to solve and they’re turning to Google to find their answers, why not offer them a solution?

With display ads, you’re showing your ads no matter where on the internet your visitors are.

But with RLSA, you’re giving your ads more context.

Video remarketing shows your ads to people who have interacted with your videos. You can retarget them with new videos, or through Google Display Network.

Finally, customer list remarketing allows you to use the information customers have shared with you so you can retarget them with new offers after they sign into their Google account. This is quite handy for creating an omnichannel campaign for your mailing list subscribers.

The Importance of Google Analytics

Before you start remarketing, make sure you’ve enabled Google Analytics for your website.

Once you sign up for GA, enable demographics and interest reports, and Google will show you what people who have engaged with your website have in common.

This can lead you to some quite stellar findings that will help you retarget visitors with more precision.

You can also add UTM codes to your advertising campaigns to see how well they’re performing.

For example, you might offer a discount in one ad campaign, and free shipping in another (make sure you’re targeting the same audience). Your UTM and Google Analytics data will show you which offer your retargeted visitors respond best to.

Google Remarketing Best Practices: Targeting

With so many options, where do you get started with best practices? The following are great examples of audience targeting that will help you make the most of your remarketing ads:

Understand Your Audience

Before you create your Google ads remarketing campaign, you have to understand your audience. This is especially important if your product satisfies the needs of many different customers.

For example, your product might both be perfect for young professionals and stay-at-home mums. But both have their own reasons for buying, so you have to understand what factors into their decisions.

Create buyer personas for each audience segment. Compile the following data for each separately:

  • Demographics (age, location, income)
  • Psychographics (spending patterns, interests, goals, pain points)
  • Behavioural data

Only after you’ve understood what makes your customers tick can you create the perfect retargeting ad that addresses their unique challenges and helps them achieve their goals.

This also allows you to personalise your ads even further, and increases your conversion rate.

Website Behaviour

This is the easiest way to get started with remarketing. However, keep the visitors’ intent in mind.

For example, someone may have spent a lot of time on a particular product page, but never clicked through to purchase it. You could research your competitors’ listings to see if you’re missing some information. If not, you could retarget them with a special offer or a discount.

Customer Journey

Instead of simply remarketing to everyone who visited your website, you could also pay attention to traffic sources. Where did your visitors come from, and what does that tell you about their needs?

Every customer goes on a metaphorical journey to find your products.

For example, someone’s first touch point with your business could be seeing your ad on Facebook. Maybe they weren’t even aware they had a problem prior to that. Then, they might click through to find out more, and leave your website because they’re not ready to solve their problem just yet.

This is where a good remarketing Google ad reminding them of their pain points and offering them a solution would really come in handy.

Other customers may be looking for products like yours, and that’s how they land on your website. These are the ones that are actively looking for solutions, so a retargeting ad presenting your business as the best option would be a great idea.

But no matter what, keep your customers’ journeys in your mind. Understanding your traffic sources and their website behaviour can alert you to their specific customer journey stage.

From there, you can create the perfect retargeting ad.

Some visitors may need to be educated on the benefits with ads that display customer testimonials, others might need a discount. Understanding your analytics helps you understand the kinds of ads you need to create.

Past Purchases or Interests

If you have multiple products, make sure you choose the dynamic remarketing Google ad option.

You’ll create a single ad, but every visitor will see the products they’ve looked up on your website when it’s displayed to them.

This makes it quite easy to personalise at scale.

I recommend doing this but with a twist: offer an additional discount, free shipping, or an extra perk.

If you’ve got products that are significantly pricier than your competitors’, you could also consider down-selling to your visitors. Instead of offering the main product, offer similar or complementary products.

This will help them develop trust in your business, and it’ll allow you to introduce them to your sales funnel so you can retarget them with the right offer when they’re ready to see it.

If you want to maximise your customers’ lifetime value, you could offer them products similar to the ones they’ve purchased in the past. Again, incentivising them is always a good idea. Especially if you get something out of it, too.

For example, you could offer them a referral discount. If they refer a friend to your business (or if their friend buys your products), offer both them and their friend a percentage off or a coupon for future purchases.

Similarly, you could use your remarketing ads to retarget customers with an up-sell or an upgrade offer.

It’s a win-win!

Video Views

If video is a part of your marketing strategy, you can also use Google remarketing ads to get in touch with people who have seen your videos already. You can retarget them on YouTube, as well as through display ads (for example we retarget viewers who have already watched videos from our YouTube Channel, plus we target people who visited our website from elsewhere on the YouTube platform so they see ads when watching unrelated videos).

Google Remarketing Best Practices: Ad Creatives

Now that we’ve taken care of the foundations, it’s time to discuss your ad creative – the content and the design of your remarketing ad.

While precise targeting ensures that your ad is seen by the right people, your ad still has to convince them to take action.

Google gives you ample room for remarketing ad design, but your final creative depends on your offer and your ad type.

Customized RLSA Ads

If you choose the RLSA ad type (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads), your remarketing ad should be contextually relevant to the keywords you’re targeting.

To put it simply, the process looks something like this: someone visits your online sock store. They spend some time on it and go back to Google search. They look up “cheap best socks.” You set up a retargeting ad, and they see it as they search for that term. Only this time, you’re not showing them a generic ad. No, you’ve created an ad that both gives them a discount and emphasizes the quality of your socks.

This is RLSA in a nutshell. When you know what keywords visitors are looking up, you can create a super-specific ad for each keyword.

This gives your ads more context, and allows you to immediately show visitors why your product is better than your competitor’s, ultimately increasing your Quality Score.

If you have a lengthy sales cycle, or if you have a B2B business, you might want to add social proof and testimonials to your retargeting ads.

And speaking of testimonials…

Move Prospects off the Fence with Testimonials

If a group of visitors spend a relatively long time on your website but still didn’t convert, that may mean they still have some objections. They need to be convinced that your product is the best option.

The solution? Social proof.

84% of people trust online recommendations as much as recommendations from their friends. So if you think your visitors need to be convinced, leverage your current customers to do it.

Make sure the customer sharing their testimonial fits the same group your visitor is in.

For example, if you’re an accountant targeting small business owners, your testimonial should come from a small business owner.

Address Objections with Your Remarketing Ads

If you want to do something simpler than leveraging social proof for your remarketing ads, you could always address objections yourself.

First, I recommend installing a heatmap software like HotJar to your website. It will show you where your visitors pause on your pages, and that could help you understand why they don’t convert.

Once you understand what might be stopping visitors from buying your product, it’s time to address that with your remarketing ad!

For example, if they’re worried about expensive prices, you could state all the reasons why it’s a good investment.

Urgency and Other Tricks

Insinuating urgency in your ad creative copy works exceedingly well! It plays into your visitors’ FOMO (fear of missing out).

For example, you could offer visitors a special offer that only lasts for a certain period of time. This encourages them to click through so they don’t miss out on a good discount.

Similarly, you could use scarcity in your ad copy. For example: “10 products left!” might make them click through to secure their product. Again, loss aversion is to be blamed (or thanked, really).

(This works particularly well for retargeting visitors who abandoned their carts.)

And while we’re on the topic of psychology that will make your remarketing ads perform better, don’t forget about numbers.

Prove that your product is the best by highlighting numbers whenever possible.

For example, the number of happy customers who’ve bought your products. Quantify success they’ve experienced as a result of using your product. The options are endless, and this is especially important for the B2B sector.

Cart Abandonment Ads

Sometimes, it’s enough to jog your visitors’ memory.

Create simple ads that remind them of products they’ve left in their cart. If you also use dynamic ads for this purpose, you can truly personalise at scale. This will also work much better than if you simply said: “You’ve left some items in your cart.”

You might also offer them a discount or a perk like free shipping.

Remarket by Downselling, Upselling, or Cross-Selling

Instead of offering the main product, offer other complementary products that might be more affordable. This is a great option for converting first-time visitors.

If you want to maximise the value of each customer, consider offering them a product that’s even better than the one they were considering. This is great for first-time visitors who are in the higher income brackets, as well as for current customers.

Finally, remind your loyal customers of your incredible business by cross-selling different products to them. You already understand what they’re interested in and what their goals are, so why not offer them an extra product?

For example, if you sell electronics, and you’ve sold someone an XBox, they’ll likely want to buy new games after 30 or 60 days. You can retarget them by offering them new video games they might be interested in buying.

Design Tips

Make sure your remarketing ad stands out. You can easily do it by using interesting stock photography and phrasing your offer right.

Don’t just repeat product specifics.

Instead, focus on the benefits to your visitors, and show them how your products can help them achieve their goals.

Google Ads Remarketing Best Practices: 100x Your Conversion Rate

In addition to targeting the right people with the right offer, there are other things you could do to improve your conversion rate:

Identify Your High-Converting Pages

Instead of casting a wide net, dive into your Google Analytics dashboard to find pages that were responsible for the majority of conversions.

And I don’t just mean your product pages.

Then, retarget people who have visited those pages without converting, and identify what makes these pages so convincing and reuse them in the future.

Identifying your high-converting pages will also help you understand which remarketing lists are most likely to convert.

For example, people who visited your homepage may have done so for a variety of reasons. But people who visited specific pages and perhaps even added items to their carts have needs that your product can solve, and they’ll be more likely to convert.

If you bid on the latter category, your ROAS (return on ad spend) will be much higher.

Consider Different Bidding Strategies

You can manually set your CPC bid, or you can use one of Google’s automatic bidding strategies:

  • Enhanced CPC – Google adjusts your bid based on conversion probability
  • Target CPA – Google optimizes your bids in real time based on each impression to get the optimal cost per action
  • Target ROAS – Identify your ROAS (return on ad spend) goal, and then optimize your bids to reach it
  • Maximize conversions – Google uses AI to optimize bids so you get as many conversions as possible

Bidding strategies are complex, and if you set them up right, you can really get plenty of conversions on a budget. This is definitely the part where you should bring a professional in.

Target Similar Audiences

You can also choose to target similar audiences – people who have things in common with those who are already in your remarketing lists. This is a good way to get new customers and expand your lead pool.

Google Ads Remarketing: Cost-Effective and Efficient

There is no doubt about it: Google Ads remarketing allows you to reach a warm audience that just needs a little push to buy your products.

And with customisation and targeting, you can get incredible results that will grow your business in no time.

If you’re ready to increase sales, get in touch with me.

Let’s grow your business!

(P.S. Ready to take the reins? Achieve rapid Google Ads success in 7 easy steps with your copy of my best-selling Google Ads book!)

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