Remarketing 101

Looked at your conversion statistics lately? Are you scratching your head wondering how to achieve better results? You may want to consider remarketing, sometimes called behavioral remarketing or retargeting. Some of your visitors come to your site and review the content they were looking for. Then, for some reason they decide to move on without converting. They might be early in their buying cycle and just researching, or they might be comparison shopping, etc. The idea behind remarketing is learning how to stay in front of these prospects who have already shown interest in your product or service and follow them and serve up ads for the same content elsewhere on the Web. Cool, huh?

When customers leave your website without converting (joining an e-mail list, purchasing something, filling out a contact form, etc.), they are followed around the Internet as they surf their favorite websites and are displayed ads for your business. The point being that they have already expressed interest in your business by visiting your website the first time.

Here’s the best part. The analytics of these programs are so detailed that you really can get a grasp on the activities of your website visitors. You can see how many saw your ad, how many clicked on your ad, how long it took them to click, and so on.

How Does Remarketing Work?

First of all, your site has a piece of code that has been added to help track user behavior. A user clicks on your ad and comes to your site. The visitor is given a cookie and is added to your user population to be tracked. The cookie stays on the visitor’s computer and identifies them with non-personally identifiable information. They click around your site and review your content, and then they leave without signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form, or completing a transaction.


When they visit another website within your ad network, they’re identified as a previous visitor and served up with your ad. Since they have already visited your site they are familiar with your brand, products, or services and are now excellent candidates for clicking on the ad and coming back to your site. A conversion is now a higher probability since they are a return visitor. You can now continue to track their behavior on your site for further study. To a visitor of a remarketing campaign, you will start seeing ads on other sites from a site that you have previously visited.


As you look at this model you might be concerned about privacy issues. Dan Yomtobian in a recent Search Engine Watch article discusses privacy issues and points out some of the pros and cons of remarketing. He also brings out the point that the “view” or impression of the ad is important in your campaign.

Remarketing Using Google

If you’re doing a paid search campaign using Google AdWords you can set up a remarketing campaign right now. Google provides the tracking tags you need to set up your campaign and you will be using its ad network.

Brad Geddes wrote a recent article outlining the steps to set up a remarketing campaign on AdWords. He points out that “Setting up a remarketing campaign is very simple. It’s the execution of a remarketing campaign that can become quite complex.”

There are essentially three steps to setting up your campaign with Google AdWords:

  1. Define and set up your audience in AdWords
  2. Get the code or tag to put on your website
  3. Set up an ad group and define your audiences

Benefits of Remarketing

As you analyze your campaigns and your conversion rate, you should start thinking about how to reconnect with your visitors. Not only can remarketing help increase your conversion rate but it will also help with your branding efforts. Even if your visitors who leave your site without acting visit other sites in your ad network and still don’t click on your ad, they will be seeing your ad multiple times, which will leave a branding impression. Furthermore, the data you can gather from past users patterns of behavior can give you insights that can help you understand them better and aid in increasing site effectiveness.

If you have already added remarketing to your bag of tricks, please share any insights or tips in the comments below.

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