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How to Regain Lost Traffic with These Remarketing Strategies

Whether it’s remembering to give your lawyer’s phone number to a co-worker or to pick up your nephew from the bowling alley, we all need reminders to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. Advertising online is no different, which is why it has become absolutely necessary to target lost traffic through remarketing campaigns.

Now’s Not a Good Time, But You Can Try Again in 90 Minutes:

Consumers receive a lot of information, and all it takes is for someone to enjoy a friend’s selfie pic on Facebook for them to lose their train of thought and put off a transaction for a later time, which might not ever come.

These sorts of challenges always will exist in the search marketing space, because we cannot stop a user’s attention from being diverted elsewhere. However, setting up channels to recapture the interest of non-converting visitors will help combat some of these missed opportunities.

It takes a combination of providing a compelling marketing message and delivering it at the right time to convert traffic into sales. There are many other factors that play a role, but the most important is the mindset of your potential customer. Are they just browsing around in research-mode? Maybe they are not actually serious about buying until they get their next paycheck, but will they have forgotten about your site by next week?

Why not bid to re-engage with a user who already has shown some level of interest by coming to your site? Repeat visitors have significantly higher conversion rates than first-time clicks. Additionally, you are able to bid a relatively low price, so the average cost per click is much lower than your regular search campaigns.

If you are worried about annoying users with your remarketing ads and hurting your overall branding efforts, you can easily set parameters for a cap number of impressions per user. For example, if you decide you should stop advertising to a person who has seen your remarketing ad over 25 times and never converted, you can specify this impression limit in the campaign settings.


Setting up a remarketing campaign is quite simple, and there are a couple of different ways to do it. You can implement the remarketing code across your website, which will tag users and put them on a list you can call Non-Converting Visitors. (Make sure you exclude the remarketing code from being on the “Thank you” page once a transaction has been completed since you do not want to target converting visitors. You do not want converting visitors to be on the same remarketing list as those who did not purchase.)

Alternatively, you can set up a rule-based remarketing list by saying you want to target all users whose URL contained (your website). (In conjunction with the first rule, you can make the second condition to exclude users whose URL contained /Thank-you or whatever the URL for your Thank You page is for the same reason as above.)

Now you can segment adgroups by two sets of users. First, you can have one adgroup for targeting those who did not convert, which will bring in the most volume. Second, it never hurts to create another adgroup targeting those who did purchase with a much lower bid. This segmentation helps keep the data from being mixed with two very different types of clicks.

1) Go to your Shared Library and then Audiences section.

Shared Library

2) If you want to use the remarketing code, then you should have a Main List already available, and then you can click on the Tag to the right. Simply copy the code and follow the directions on the insertion guide.

adwords audience

shared library

However, if you’d like to create your list based on rules, then simply click on + Audience and Remarketing List.

shared library

Then create the rule based on what the URL of your users contained. You can insert your website’s homepage to ensure you catch all visitors. (Make sure you create another rule which excludes those whose URL contained a phrase that would be on the page after a transaction has been made. For example, if the URL after a purchase is, then you could exclude those whose URL contained thank-you.)

shared library

3) Now that you have your lists created, you need to create a new campaign and go into the Display Network section. There will be a box underneath called Interests & Remarketing. Once you are there, simply click on + Change Display Targeting.

change display targeting

4) Then go into the middle section called Remarketing Lists and add the appropriate list you have created, and then save the changes.

interrests and remarketing

5) Create the ads and upload them to your adgroups. In order to show up in as many places as possible, use both banner and text ads. Banner ads take up the majority of ad space across the display network and can be crucial to the success of your remarketing campaign.

Dynamic Remarketing: Remember that Shirt You Were Looking at Earlier?

Now this is where remarketing gets fun. If you are an ecommerce marketer, dynamic remarketing is an absolute must. This allows you to show the exact products a user looked at on your site in a template banner ad, which uses information from your product feed.

For example, if someone comes to your site and looks at a specific product page, you can then show them that exact product and direct them back to the same page if they click the ad. These convert extremely well and are as targeted as it gets, since you are able to show the same image URL, product title, and price in the dynamic remarketing ad.

1) First, you want to link your Google Merchant Center account with your AdWords account. Log into Merchant Center, and then go into Settings and AdWords. Simply enter your AdWords Customer ID, and you are done.

adwords settings

2) Create a new Display campaign and select dynamic remarketing.

select campaign settings

set up dynamic remarketing

3) Then enter the email address you would like to receive the implementation guide, which goes over which variables need to be added to the remarketing code.

tag your site

4) Once the code is in place and you have linked your Merchant Center as the ad extension, you can begin creating the template banner ads. There are plenty of templates to choose from and ways to customize your ad. The most important elements will be uploading a company logo and your headline text. You can change the colors of your background and the Shop Now button (which I normally would change to red in order to help it stand out).

Adwords Ad Preview

5) Finally, now that you have the ads created, you can segment adgroups beyond just those who converted and those who did not. You can have an adgroup for those who viewed product pages and another for those who added a product to their shopping cart but did not purchase.

This allows you to have full control over how much you bid for each different type of user. You may want to bid higher for those who had a product in their shopping cart, because you know they were very close to completing the purchase; they just need one last reminder to push them over the hump.

If you find that you don’t have a great deal of volume when all of your adgroups are split out, then just create one general adgroup that includes all of the visitors you want to show dynamic remarketing ads to.

last one

In a constantly evolving search marketing space, having a comprehensive remarketing strategy for your online business will help you regain lost traffic and sales. It’s the equivalent of following around potential customers with your ad after they have left your store. Timing is a key factor in converting a sale, and many times you need users to visit your site more than once before they purchase.

Ideally, if you are setting up remarketing campaigns, it also would be a perfect time to start looking into attribution modeling. Since you have users who come to your site numerous times through many different traffic sources, you want to identify how they originally came to your site, what happened after that, and what was the last click that led to the sale.

For example, if a user clicks on your PPC ad, and then a few days later remembers your URL and types it in directly but still does not convert, and then even later sees a display ad (part of your remarketing campaign) and purchases, you want to be able to assign credit to each one of those clicks that kept the user coming back and eventually helped close the sale.

If you have a solid attribution model in place, it can help provide actionable insights into which areas of your campaigns are still providing value even though they may not have been the last click that led to the conversion.

About Kissmetrics

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About the Author: Chris Darabi is a Senior SEM Analyst at National Positions, an industry leading Internet Marketing and PPC Company based in Los Angeles, CA. With over 1,000 clients around the world, including Walmart, Land Rover, Samsung, and Club Med, National Positions has been named to Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing, privately held companies from 2009-2012. Darabi specializes in web analytics, PPC, shopping engines, remarketing, and display advertising.

  1. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for compiling this comprehensive article. I have a lost of a lot of traffic on my technology blog as i’ve been inactive for as long as 3 months. I will implement these remarketing strategies and post the results.

  2. I wouldn’t mind taking a look your guide James but the link is broken :/

  3. Thanks for the guide.

    Remarketing’s something I’ve been turning over for a few months now, and this guide has given me the confidence to get started.

    But there were 2 burning questions I was hoping to learn more about from the article
    – how often should the ads appear, so we don’t annoy or creep out our visitors, and
    – hat’s the best ad network to use, in terms of CPC or CPM that also has good coverage for professionals (in Italy in our case).

    Any pointers or advice is appreciated!

    • Hi Alex,

      Unfortunately, we do not have complete control over how often our ads will serve once a user gets added to the remarketing list. However, I usually set a cap limit on impressions around 25-30. Meaning if they see our ads over 30 times and do not click, it is not worth it to continue bidding for them.

      When you set up a remarketing campaign through Adwords, it only serves on websites within the Google Display Network which has a massive amount of coverage across the web. If you’d like to expand beyond Google’s network there are other companies like Adroll and Criteo you can look into. I’ve found that in terms of the best CPC, Google’s dynamic remarketing is very hard to beat since the clicks are so targeted and relatively cheap. Hope this helps!

  4. I like how you have put an overview together and mixed in some great tactical advice which is actionable. Would love to see any musings on “how we figured out our” impression limit.

    • Hi Lloyd,

      Great question, in short, there is no right or wrong answer on choosing a cap limit of impressions per user. One thing to keep in mind is when you’re advertising on the display network, the number of impressions is naturally inflated because there is no guarantee that the user even scrolled to a part of the page where you ad is showing. Many sites a user is reading on like a news article or message board might have multiple pages to continue reading where your ad might show up 10+ times for each page the user reads. This is why I normally set the limit to around 30 just to be sure that they saw the ad at least once. However, it’s always best to test your own impression limit and see if it affects performance.

  5. Nice post and want to bring back lost traffic to my technology blog. You explained awesome strategies so I will implement for my blog..Thanks for sharing

  6. Hi Anthony,

    Here is the link to the remarketing guide–with an unbroken link. The guide offers a complete look at remarketing, gives examples of SaaS and online retailers using the channel to combine direct response and brand advertising, and offers practical steps for creating your first campaign.


  7. Tom Haarlander Sep 19, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I’ve been wanting to try remarking for a while for my site, but haven’t been really comfortable moving forward until now. Feel much more comfortable trying it out on my own now. Thanks for the great resource.

  8. hello Chris, thanks for this post.

    here, you explained about dynamic remarketing campaign setup but I didn’t find any thing about the most important step i.e. dynamic remarketing tag customization.

    I have setup merchant center account, linked that to adwords account but later I got to know that for each product & pages like- add to card, shipping, and payment I have to customize the code. Each product & other pages will have different code (as I think). I guess setting up dynamic remarketing is a time taking process.

    Please suggest me.


  9. I like how you have put an overview together and mixed in some great tactical advice which is actionable. Would love to see any musings on “how we figured out our” impression limit.

  10. Hi Chris,

    First of all, nice article. I know it’s been a while since you wrote it (bump!), but i do have a question which i’ve been trying to figure out for a while. In the article you write the following:

    ”If you are worried about annoying users with your remarketing ads and hurting your overall branding efforts, you can easily set parameters for a cap number of impressions per user. For example, if you decide you should stop advertising to a person who has seen your remarketing ad over 25 times and never converted, you can specify this impression limit in the campaign settings.”

    How can i implement this? I know and use the standard frequency caps but i’d prefer such a strategy since i dont want to annoy my website visitors (besides that; im also a human being and hate the online stalking methods some companies use). I’m also pretty familiar with Google Analytics; i already create my remarketing target groups with Analytics but i can’t find this option.

    Thanks in advance!


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