Remarketing is a great way to both present your ads to people who have previously visited your website and reconnect with customers (both with those who have and haven’t converted).

It makes sense that people who visited you previously have an interest in what you have to offer, and remarketing can be an effective way to give them a nudge back towards whatever it is you are hoping they will do: purchase, sign up, actually visit your office, etc.

On a simple level, remarketing works like this:
  1. When a visitor lands on your website, AdWords adds them to a specific audience group
  2. You can then target that audience with ads that appear to them when they continue browsing on other websites.
The power of remarketing, however, lies in connecting AdWords to Google Analytics. So if you are tagging your site’s visitors with the remarketing script in AdWords, you should really take a look at how to activate remarketing in Google Analytics too.

The Digital Garage Blog - How to make the most of remarketing through segmentation

Remarketing + Google Analytics: A powerful team

When you activate remarketing in Google Analytics, the system will automatically set up your first audience to remarket to all visitors for a duration of 30 days. At this stage, the first thing to do would be to edit the audience to change the duration to the maximum 540 days - yes, you can keep people on a remarketing list for up to a year and a half!

Then, start to identify what you know about your visitors. Google Analytics already reveals a lot: you can see which pages on your site users have visited and how long they were on your site. You’ll also be able to tell whether they visited on a mobile device or a desktop. You can identify where they are and what language they speak, how they got to your site, and so much more.

Once you identify all these things about your visitors you can start to group them together in segments based on their common attributes.

Let’s consider a real world example: Imagine Max sells music collectables on his site. He has vinyls and cassettes, and even have some old 8 track cartridges. He sells music from all kinds of genres: jazz classics, early rock and roll, prog rock from the early seventies, punk rock from the late seventies, and so on.

People find Max’s site, and some of them make a purchase. Others look around for a while and then move on, while some add an item to their shopping cart but don’t get as far as the checkout. There may also be those that land on his page and immediately click back to the search results.
Now let’s imagine that instead of a virtual online store, this was a physical, bricks and mortar store, and that Max, instead of being the website owner, is actually the store owner.

Clearly, the most valuable customers are the ones who purchase. Max wants to make sure they get all the attention they need, and that they received excellent customer service.

The next most valuable customers are the ones who have put something in their shopping basket- but then put the basket down and leave the store. As a good salesman, Max would probably identify their hesitance, and approach the customers and ask them if there is anything he can assist with. Would they like to hear the music in a sound booth - or perhap take advantage of the 2 for 1 offer with another album from the same artist?

Then there are the people who are just browsing: they are in the country rock section, flipping through the Eagles, Gram Parsons and Crosby, Stills & Nash vinyls. They might be interested in checking out the new boxed set you have of Emmylou Harris. Finally, the people who poked their head in through the door but left immediately probably weren’t looking for what Max’s store has on offer.

In the same way, when visitors come to your website, they give you a whole range of clues and indications as to what their interests are and where they are in the buying cycle.

The Digital Garage Blog - How to make the most of remarketing through segmentation

Identifying your audience

So let’s make a start on how you would segment your audience for retargeting using Max's website as the example.

The first two segments to configure would be:
  • Visitors who completed a purchase. Clearly, you don’t need to remarket to them right now - but they are a great segment to have, as you may want to remarket to them in the future (for example, if you run a future promotion for your loyal customers).
  • Visitors who poked their head through the door and left. In Google Analytics, these are defined as bounces: they are the visitors who landed on the site but then left without visiting another page.

After creating these, go ahead and create segments for the following:
  • Visitors who had put something in their cart but had not completed the checkout process
  • Visitors who were looking at Jazz/Rock'n'Roll/Prog Rock/Punk/Disco (and place them into separate segments)
  • Visitors who had looked at vinyls/cassettes/8 track cartridges - again a segment for each
And so on… there are probably any number of segments that would make sense, but this is plenty to give you an idea of the segmenting process. Once you have these segments configured, you can start to combine them. Through careful combination you’ll be able to ensure that your marketing message is reaching just those people most likely to be receptive.

Let’s think about a campaign designed to promote a recently released punk rock collection. The collection might have tracks from the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Ramones among others. Max would want a strong message on his display ads and an impactful image.

Obviously, the audience who would most be interested in these artists would be the punk rock visitors. Within this segment there are those who have completed a purchase and those who did not. It’s probably safe to assume that those that have purchased previously are more likely to purchase again that those who have not. So Max might leverage this group with a discount code on the ad to give them a small push.
He would probably exclude the visitors who bounced, since it may be that his products were not what this segment were looking for.

The Digital Garage Blog - How to make the most of remarketing through segmentation

Retargeting the right ad to the right segment

So Max now has two reduced audiences made up of people who have shown an interest in punk rock and who didn’t bounce off his site during their previous visit. And these are divided into those who purchased and those who did not.

Based on these segments, his ad can be fairly focused. But he might want to go a little further. His punk rock fans in the UK might respond better to an image of the Sex Pistols, whilst his US visitors might prefer an image of the Ramones - so he might further split his audiences by location.

Clearly, the more we slice and dice - and then combine and exclude - the more audiences we can develop. Depending upon the volume of traffic and the significance of the differences between the resultant audiences, some of the segmentation might be redundant. But in general the more we can segment the better we can speak to our target market.

Max is not going to sell the Sex Pistols to jazz aficionados. Nor is he going to sell Miles Davis to his disco audience. And a one size fits all ad campaign where he simply says - “Hey, I’ve got a bit of everything…” isn’t going to work very well for anyone.

Consider this in a real world setting. If you were a salesperson in a record store and someone walked into the store, how would you engage with them? You might try to figure out what kind of music they prefer by inferring from their hairstyle, or their clothes (the big AC/DC tattoo might help!).

But imagine as they approached the store you suddenly remembered that this person had been in the store last week, and that they had spent half an hour going through the prog rock section - and that they had asked about a vinyl copy of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Tarkus album. Now your approach would be very different.

And, if you got a box of limited edition Emerson, Lake & Palmer Tarkus albums on vinyl, you’d know exactly who to target with your remarketing campaign to sell them.

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