15 Tips For Remarketing With Google Analytics and AdWords

15 Tips For Remarketing With Google Analytics and AdWords

30th December 2013

During the holiday weeks we will be showing you the 15 best read posts of 2013. Except for on Christmas and New Years day, each day you can read the best articles again, going from number 15 back to number 1.

Now it’s time for number 6, originally posted on February 26 2013, a post by Sam Noble.

Earlier this month, I presented at SES London looking at Remarketing with Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Part of my presentation looked at top tips that advertisers should consider and pay attention to when they are running a remarketing campaign to help get the best results.

In this post, I am going to talk through 15 tips and recommendations which you should be able to take away and implement within your remarketing strategies and campaigns.

My slides from SES London are available to view on Slideshare if you want to take a look through the entire presentation in more detail.

Let’s get started with the tips….

1)      Only run one piece of code, preferably Google Analytics

When remarketing was launched, the only way to implement it was via Google AdWords. A different piece of code had to be added to various pages of a site in order to build lists.  This was a very time consuming and messy method of adding the code, as such, Google then released a further update which allowed advertisers to make a simple change to their Google Analytics code which goes across every page of a site.

Many advertisers did this but left the AdWords remarketing code in place on the site alongside the Analytics code. It is important to only to run with one type of code and as Google Analytics allows for the most flexibility, I would always recommend that advertisers use the Google Analytics code over the Google AdWords code.

2)      Update Privacy Policy to include cookie information

When commencing a remarketing campaign strategy, advertisers must ensure that they add a section to their Privacy Policy highlighting how cookies will be used. If you are using the Google Analytics remarketing code, it is important to explain to visitors how Google AdWords, Google Analytics and DoubleClick cookies are used.

The screenshot below shows an example of how this should be laid out and communicated.



3)      Select the right profile in Google Analytics

When creating a remarketing list in Google Analytics, the first thing you are asked is to select the profile that you want the remarketing list attributed to. If you don’t have a profile set up in Google Analytics that excludes visits to your site from your internal IP, I would recommend that you do this.  You need to be able to see how much actual traffic your website generates from outside your organisation.

When it comes to building a remarketing list, there is no point following your employees round with adverts as they are:

  • Never going to convert
  • Going to drive wasted impressions

Based on this, when you select the profile to allocate your remarketing list too, it is recommended that you select the profile which does not contain visits from your internal IP.



4)      Get a naming strategy in place

Before you start building remarketing lists, it is important to get a naming strategy in place as once you have created and named a list, this can’t be changed in the future. If you are only creating a few lists, this will not cause you any problems but if you are looking to create multiple targeted lists, you will want to name them in a way that is clear to understand what the list contains for future use.

5)      Set your membership duration to 540 days

The default membership duration for a visitor remaining in a remarketing list is 30 days. This is fine if you have a website that generates thousands of visitors a month but if you don’t drive this much traffic and leave the default membership duration, you will build a list and lose people out of the list every 30 days.

Google Analytics allow you to change the membership duration to set it to a maximum of 540 days. I would recommend that you change the duration to 540 days to allow the list to grow and maintain people to remarket to.

There will be occasions when you want the list number reduced. For example, if you want to record all the people that viewed a certain area of your site during a two week period you could set the membership duration to 14 days and activate the list at the time you want to start collecting data.

6)      Get at least 100 people in your list before you start

In order to commence a remarketing campaign, your list needs to contain at least 100 people. The sooner you get the code on your site, the sooner you will be able to start building your lists. Even if you don’t want to kick start the campaign straight away, lists take time to grow so getting the code implemented will give you a head start.

7)      Build custom combination lists in Google AdWords

Custom combination lists are used by advertisers to de-dupe one list from another. For example, you may have two lists; one that contains all visitors that come into your site and another that contains all the people that have converted. You would use a custom combination list to target all visitors that have not yet converted on your website.

Although you can build these types of lists in Google Analytics, my recommendation is to do this using Google AdWords. They are much easier to create and once running, it is easy to see how many people you have in your list.

8)      Entice visitors back to your site using targeted ads

If you want to pull visitors who have left your site, back into your site, the easiest way to do this is by creating eye catching adverts that are relevant to the visitor.

The screenshot below shows different types of adverts, each with a call to action or offer. I particularly like the example from Virgin Experience Days, where I visited their site and left and within a couple of minutes the advert below was following me enticing me back into the site to purchase with an offer.



9)      Create multiple campaigns for each desired goal

One of the common mistakes people make when commencing remarketing is to only create one campaign in Google AdWords that contains multiple ad groups.

Best practice is to create multiple campaigns, one campaign for each of your desired goals. By doing this, you will find your campaigns a lot easier to manage and have a clearer understanding of what is working and what is not.

10)      Expect to see a low CTR but high Conversion Rate

Typically with remarketing and display campaigns, advertisers see a very low Click through Rate (CTR) as ads are shown on websites where people aren’t necessarily searching for a product or service. When people are searching on Google, they are actively looking for answers to questions or are looking to buy so the CTR is often much higher.

With your remarketing campaign, don’t be alarmed if you do have a low CTR.

When you are looking at the conversions and Conversion Rate from your remarketing campaign, the number of conversions reported can sometimes look low. If this is the case, switch on the column that shows you how many View-through conversions you have had as this gives you a accurate reflection of how many people have seen your ad prior to converting.

View Through Conversions


11)      Send ads to dedicated and well optimised landing pages

As with any PPC campaign, sending the traffic to the most relevant landing page on your site is going to help your conversions. Depending on how much traffic your campaign generates and how targeted the list is, it may also be worth considering creating dedicated landing pages to help boost the conversion rate further.

One example of this would be if you were running a Valentine’s Day remarketing campaign. Rather than driving traffic to a generic landing page, creating one specifically mentioning Valentine’s Day and referencing your campaign should help to improve the performance and results of the campaign.

12)      Continuously refine sites showing your ads

One of the benefits of remarketing with Google AdWords is you can see the sites that your ads are being shown on. You can use this data to continuously refine where Google are placing your ads as you will find that some sites work much better than others.

In order to see this data, navigate to the Display Network tab within your campaign in Google AdWords and then select the sub-tab for Placements. You will then be able to expand on your Managed Placements and Automatic Placements.


If you have not set up a Managed Placement campaign yet, Google will be determining which sites to show your ads on. You should use the Automatic Placement list to find sites that work well for you and add them into a Managed Placement campaign but also find the sites that don’t work for you and add them to your site exclusion list.

By continuously refining the sites and moving good sites into a Managed Placement campaign, you will:

  • Find the management of your account much easier
  • Get better results from your campaign
  • Limit wasted spend as you will be showing ads on sites that work for you

13)      Update Frequency Capping in Google AdWords

Frequency Capping is often forgotten as it is hidden away within the AdWords settings but it is very important to remember this when you are running a remarketing campaign. You need to set this so that people don’t see your ads continuously throughout the day. How often you want them to see your ads is up to you and this will vary from industry to industry.

A safe bet for me is to limit the frequency to three times per day.

Frequency Capping

14)      Watch any traffic drops if using the default GA code

Some industries have reported up to a 50% drop in reported traffic in Google Analytics after they make the change to the Google Analytics code to start remarketing. The reason for this is that the Google Analytics remarketing code uses the DoubleClick javascript. People that use that have ad blocking software installed on their computers will automatically not trigger the code so the traffic will not be recorded in Google Analytics.

Andre Scholten has written an excellent blog post on this which looks at two solutions for this so I am not going to re-hash this information. He recommends Solution 2 as the best option but Solution 1 is also worth reviewing.

15)      Get the code added to your site today

Finally, if you haven’t got the remarketing code on your site yet, get it on there today! Making the change to the code (using one of the options listed in point 14) is not time consuming and you can get it implemented very quickly.

Implementing the code doesn’t mean you need to start creating remarketing campaigns but the sooner you have the code on the site, the sooner you can start building lists so they can grow in size.

Remember what I said in point six? You need at least 100 people in a list before you can even begin remarketing so the sooner you get the code on and get some lists built, the sooner they can start gathering data!

Happy remarketing! If you have any questions or any other tips you want to share, please leave a comment in the section below.


Written By
Samantha Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and a former editor and contributor to State of Digital.
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