strategies for Google Ads Remarketing Campaigns

Strategies for Google Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing is reaching out to users who have visited your site either via organic, direct, social, paid, or other channels in the past. 

In Google Ads reconnecting with past site users is done by creating targeted display, search & shopping campaigns which has messaging specifically crafted for these audiences based on the actions they may have or may not have taken on the site.

When created and implemented correctly, Remarketing campaigns provide a powerful boost to your existing search, shopping & display campaigns by maximizing revenue from users who visit your site. 

Those users who do not convert in the first instance and probably need more time or information to decide are the ideal Remarketing targets. 

Used strategically, these campaigns also perform the role of moving users deeper into the purchase/leads funnel by showing them ads that match their journey on your website. E.g. Downloaded an eBook but did not fill out contact us form.

This article focuses on how to use audience lists to build successful Remarketing campaigns.

These strategies can be employed by B2C or B2B businesses to generate incremental sales or leads depending on the goals that need to be achieved.

Table of Contents

Remarketing basic checklist

Before we deep dive into strategies, here is a quick checklist for you to run through to ensure Remarketing is a success.

  1. Check if Tracking Tags are in place – It is surprising to note how many accounts we come across have no tracking in place or the codes all placed wrong, sites with duplicate codes which means that the client is unable to measure the true impact of their marketing campaigns, then you can forget about creating Remarketing.

    As a rule of thumb, we like to have all our conversion tracking goals in Google Ads coming in from Google Analytics except for call tracking or in cases where we need to have Smart Shopping Campaigns.

    The reason being that Analytics is a canvas where you get to see the bigger picture in terms of who your site users are, where they are coming from, what they are browsing, what they are buying and much more – All good information for you to use in the Remarketing  campaigns that will be built out.

    Use the Google Tag Assistant which is a handy tool to check for tag implementation.

    See our article on implementing Google Tag Manager and tracking conversions for Google Ads and Google Analytics.

  1. Decide on the source of your Audience Lists – Assuming you have your Google Ads and Analytics accounts linked, you have the option of creating Remarketing lists in either the Shared Library, Audience Section of the Google Ads interface or under Audience Definitions in the Analytics Property.

    If you are already importing goals from Analytics, it makes a lot of sense to also create audience lists in Analytics and publish them to your Google Ads account vs creating them in Google Ads due to the detailed & infinite options for list creation available in Analytics.

  1. Deep dive into Analytics – This is to understand your site visitors in as much depth as possible.

    For instance, locations they come from, devices they use, age, gender, recency & frequency, multi channels involved in their journey, path length, time lag reports, etc.

    All this data is important as it forms the basis to inform the kind of Remarketing lists you will need to build out to help reach your goals.

    For e.g. if data shows that your top converters are females from New York aged 25-34, you may want to populate an audience list with females who converted on your site and are from NY aged 25-34 – to be able to use this list to introduce new products or services to them first.

    The possibilities are endless ranging from a simple list like cart abandoners for an e-commerce site to building out user lists based on the content they viewed, or actions taken on the site.

  1. Begin with building out the lists you need – After you have understood the intent behind making the re-connection with your site users, it is now time to build out lists.

    Remember to break down the lists into 2-3 primary categories with category 1 representing the most crucial connections or lower funnel intent like cart abandonment for an e-commerce site or downloaded the “how to” e-book but did not fill out the contact us form on a B2B site & Category 3 representing those lists which will help you generate extra value for your business in the long term like list of All visitors (540 days) which can be used to build awareness/ announce new products or services to past users.

    Category 2 can contain mid funnel action lists like pages browsed on site, products viewed, time spent on site.

    Make sure you have your reasons for building out these lists clearly stated to be able to launch appropriate campaigns and messaging around them later.

  1. Check List Sizes – While formulating Remarketing strategies, a lot of marketers get carried away crafting elaborate targeting & messaging strategies without referring back to check if their audience lists meet the minimum threshold of users to be able to serve ads.

    Building out very granular segments means smaller number of people in that list.

    If you do not have high volume of traffic coming to your site, this means the very granular lists you have built will most likely not reach the level to be able to have enough members needed for ads to serve.

    This is also another reason to clearly identify and categorize upper funnel, mid-funnel, lower funnel actions on your site and build lists accordingly so you have enough people on your lists to serve ads.

When all these elements are in place, it becomes easy to decide on and launch different Remarketing campaigns depending on the browsing stage your user is in and the size of your lists.

FYI, to launch Search and YouTube Remarketing campaigns, the lists should have at least 1000 active users in the last 30 days and Display & Gmail need at least 100 users in the last 30 days for ads to serve.

Which Remarketing campaign should you launch first - Search, Display, Gmail?

Assuming your site is new and you have begun to gradually build out Remarketing  lists – the very first Retargeting campaign should be a Display or Gmail campaign due to the list threshold being the lowest at 100+ and then gradually move on to building out the Search & YouTube campaigns when you have more users added to the lists.

Launching the Display Remarketing campaign gives you an opportunity to re-connect with site visitors quickly and generate incremental conversions without having to wait for Search lists to populate.

The strategy to follow here is to have each of your lists in a separate ad group for ease of targeting and understanding where to optimize in terms of messaging and other settings.

Campaign Settings and Goals

A campaign should be tailored towards the ad groups/lists you plan to have within the campaign.

For example, if you have lists that fall under targeting lower funnel intent like completing a purchase, then select goal as Sales or Leads.

Similarly, if you are going to use lists which consist of upper funnel actions taken on your site like browsing 1-2 pages on the site and then leaving, then select campaign goal as Product & Brand Consideration.

Remember to always select audience setting at “targeting” vs “observation” for these campaigns to serve ads only to the intended audiences.

Targeting And Observation In Google Ads Display Ads

Messaging & Images

This needs to be specific & focussed on the list category in your ad group to make a meaningful impact when you reconnect with previous site visitors.

Being generic would mean you are letting go an opportunity to move users deeper into the funnel & not making effective use of your lists.

Eventually, as your lists populate & you have more visitors to the site, you will be able to launch a Search or Shopping Remarketing campaign.

Select campaign goals & settings to closely match the outcome you desire from this campaign & the list type you will be using.

Audience setting needs to be at “targeting” once again to serve ads to your selected audience only.

For the Shopping campaign, also select the feed associated with your account to show personalized ads to users based on their browsing history.


You will be able to view metrics related to conversions as you do for all your other campaigns & measure the incremental value Remarketing gives your business.

For Video and Display campaigns, you should also look at view through conversions column which will give you the number of conversions the campaign brought in from users who viewed your ad, did not click on it, but converted by going on to your site later.

This will help you calculate the true value of these campaigns.

Adding audience Lists to current campaigns

Some marketers may at times prefer to add their Remarketing lists to the existing search, shopping or display campaigns under “observation” settings and bid higher on these audiences’ vs having them in a separate campaign.

They may use these lists in an existing search campaign and then use the “IF” function to trigger a targeted message to users if they are from that list.

This may be done to observe how Remarketing audiences convert vs other audiences added to the campaign or maybe done by someone looking for a quick way to just use Remarketing lists without using the “IF” function.

Though this is an easy/lazy solution to use your audience lists – you are essentially diluting all the efforts which went into creating lists which when used with targeted messaging in its own campaign could have worked wonders to convert visitors at a higher rate.

Targeted campaigns are also easier to optimize in terms of keyword match types, messaging, bidding, and the use of strategies varied from what you would have applied to the regular campaigns.

The case is stronger for a separate Remarketing campaign if you really want to make a positive impact on your business.


Final Comments

Finally, it is important to first always zero in on the primary, secondary & tertiary needs the Remarketing campaigns will be fulfilling for your business.

You need to be able to clearly identify & define each stage your potential customers usually go through before they convert and then map these to the lists which will work to reconnect with them when they don’t complete the conversion actions you meant them to in the first place.

No one type of Remarketing  campaign is better than the others – it is always going be based on your ability to find that right combination of Search, Display, Gmail and YouTube campaigns which work in harmony to maximize conversion rates across the account.


Its over to you and we would love your comments and feedback.  

Do you have any questions, concerns, issues that we should address?

Add your comments in the section below.

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