You know you need search ads to pull customers to your website, but that’s just half the customer chase. You also should pull them back after they visit your site for a second shot at their business. That’s called “remarketing”.
Google, Bing and many ad agencies and networks offer the service, pushing display (image) or text ads at potential customers wherever they roam on the web. These remarketing ads present messages targeted to the users based on their visit to your site; for instance, a visitor who went to a page about one of your services could be targeted for an ad about that service.
The benefits to you from targeting: lower ad costs and better “conversion” or clicks back to your site compared to other forms of online advertising.
Here’s a high-level look at what it takes to get into remarketing, with Google’s AdWords program as an example.
Set up the technical stuff
To follow users around the web, your site needs to attach “cookies”, small bits of code, to the computers of site visitors. A comprehensive way to do that: Install Google Analytics on your site and link it to your AdWords account.
Set up your target lists
You can broadly go after anyone who visits your site (AKA “standard remarketing”) or go after segments of visitors based on their behavior, as identified and tagged by Google Analytics (“dynamic remarketing”). For instance, visitors who…
- Viewed a page specific to a product or service.
- Returned to your site for a second look or spent a lot of time on site.
- Started to fill out a contact form or make a purchase then quit.
- Previously filled out a form or made a purchase (and might be interested in new offers).
- Came to the site from a specific search-ad campaign.
Create your ads
Messaging in these ads should focus on what you know about the segment: If they visited your page for one type of service, pitch them that type of service. If they viewed an offer on your site, remind them it’s still a great deal.
Display ads (the boxes with the images) get the best response in remarketing—they’re also the best vehicles for highly dynamic ad messaging, such as showing a user a specific product she viewed on site or very specific offers. This is powered by feeds (read more about that here) set up by advertisers to contain images or text that get served into ads on cue when the right customer (based on cookies) downloads a page on the web.
Target your ads by network
Typically, remarketing campaigns go through Google’s Display Network, distributed on a vast number of websites. However, you can also remarket to your ex-website visitors through the Search Network, as they do follow-up searches. You might, for instance, bid higher on search ads to reach searchers who recently came to your site.
Set the rules (and don’t be creepy)
By now, we’ve all been hounded by remarketing ads that just keep coming at us on the web after one casual visit to a site. Set some humane limits on your remarketing campaigns, for instance by capping how long the cookie lasts or how frequently the ads display.
Track your results and adjust accordingly
Keep an eye on what sites perform (or don’t) for your campaigns and adjust your bids. (WordStream collected stats on display ad clicks by industry, for some comparisons). Google Analytics also offers conversion tracking so you can follow through on visitors not only returning to your site but finally filling out those forms or clicking the buy buttons – like they should have the first time around.