Neil Patel

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A Simple Yet Effective Guide to Generating Sales From Remarketing


Do you know that the average shopping cart abandonment rate in 2019 is 69.57%? Just look at results of conversion tracking studies conducted on 41 eCommerce carts.

The reasons for abandonment from website visitors are many. But, these two primary reasons might have distracted your custom audience and made them bounce off your website.

  • Your website custom design or display ad was poor and did not offer a smooth buying experience. Maybe your checkout processes were complicated or you limited the payment options or hid prices.
  • Or, your value proposition wasn’t clear and didn’t meet the website visitor’s expectations.

But, that does not mean that the prospective custom audience hates your brand and will never buy from you. Rather, it means that he lost motivation and diverted his attention to something else, maybe a friend’s engagement picture on Facebook.

Can you regain this lost selling opportunity and still convert your custom audience?

Besides optimizing your website custom design both on the big screen and as a mobile app, there’s a marketing strategy that can help you in this situation.

When executed at the right time, it’ll help you close the sale. Indeed, billions of dollars are spent on this strategy every year.

I am talking about remarketing.

If you’ve bought products online, I bet you’ve already been exposed to some sort of remarketing messages yourself.

Haven’t you received an email from Amazon based on your past purchases?

In the remarketing example below, Amazon is suggesting that you explore this week’s best-selling point and shoot camera models.


Or, you might have not checked out after adding items to your cart. Hence, you received an email motivating you to complete your purchase.

Cole Haan, in the email below, is letting the visitor know that checking out is ‘just a click away’.


You might also have been followed by a remarketing ad on social media. Look at the example below, in which a display ad for Cole Haan boots appear on Facebook’s right sidebar, prompting you to ‘Like Page’ and ‘Shop Now’.


Do you appreciate such a personalized follow-up email reminding you to complete your purchase?

A survey conducted on 3,000 shoppers in the US and UK by AgileOne found that 41% of people in the age group of 25-34 appreciate a follow-up cart abandonment email when they have been a website visitor.

In fact, remarketing is probably my favorite form of advertising. I’ve used it to show display ad offers to people who make up my website traffic.

You might already know that it’s always easier to re-engage a user who has shown some level of interest in you rather than trying to acquire more of those first-time clicks.

That’s why remarketing works. It takes, on average, at least 3-4 visits from your website traffic for a new prospect to actually think about buying from you. 95% of first-time website visitors are only there to research on your website and not purchase.

The verdict is clear. It makes sense to bump some of your advertising budget towards remarketing.

It’s simple how remarketing works. As a user interacts with your brand/website, he gets tagged with a cookie that you implemented to track him. Then, he gets reminded of your product/brand with an ad on the platform you choose – Google, visual or text ads on Facebook, Twitter ads, or even on Instagram.

But, the plethora of recommendations and so-called best practices on launching a successful remarketing campaign can overwhelm you. You may be confused about the right platform for your business and timing your campaign.

In this article, I want to share a simple 3-point checklist that will help you in launching effective remarketing campaigns.

The checklist will incorporate elements from the three prominent forms of online remarketing – social media, email and retargeting ads.

Don’t you want to launch a successful remarketing campaign for your business, enjoy more website traffic, and increase your ROI?

I bet you do.

Let’s dive into point number 1. 

Point #1: Have you carefully defined your audience and precisely targeted your campaign to reach the right people?

You can have a perfectly optimized copy and a shining design in your advertisement. But, the most critical element that matters before launching your campaign is whether or not it’s reaching the right target audience.

Most probably, you’ll launch your first remarketing campaign on the Google Display Network (containing 2 million websites) or on Facebook (having close to 2.5 billion users in 2019).

Let’s look at how you’ll reach your target audience on both of them. I’ll also show you the most common mistakes that marketers make when launching remarketing campaigns.

How to define your audience in Google Ads?


Say a visitor jumped off your consultation offer page. And, another visitor jumped off your blog.

The mindset of these two visitors is different and so might be their interests and their level of buying intent.


That’s where creating a remarketing list inside Google comes enters the picture.

But how do you get started?

You just need to place the remarketing tag on your website and Google will take care of installing the cookie on your website visitor. 

Next comes the most important step – defining which website visitors should be included and excluded from your target audience.

Don’t treat all of your website visitors the same way by only creating one remarketing list targeting everyone who visits.

Instead, you can bid aggressively for the section of your website visitors having higher value based on your analytics data and conversion tracking.

As an example, here is a spreadsheet with a list of website custom pages and their corresponding conversions, visits, and conversion rate.


The key landing pages on your website (like your product page, ebooks/lead magnet page) should be tagged differently. You can serve bounced visitors from these pages with aggressive messages and persuade them to complete the transaction.

Such a remarketing list deserves a higher bid because the ad group targeted on it consists of warmer traffic that is more likely to convert. So, you should use higher ad placements to close more sales with your custom audience.

You can even serve discounts to these visitors and entice them to get back to your websites custom product page and complete the sale.


You can also tag your post-conversion landing page and target your previous custom audience for repeat business. It’s a great strategy to increase your brand loyalty and awareness.

Suppose you’re a fashion retailer and you launched a new spring collection.  Whom should you introduce it to? That’s right, the ones who bought clothes from your winter collection.

Such remarketing to old customers with lower ad frequency and longer membership duration can help you to stay at the top of their minds. It’ll also increase sales during your new product launches.

How can you leverage segmentation as a content marketer? You might have a good stack of posts, classified by categories, on your blog.

Define your custom audience categories in Google Ads, based on these existing blog post classifications.

I hope those targeting options got your creative juices flowing. Now, I want to tell you two common mistakes that plague remarketing campaigns.

Thinking that remarketing ads creep your customers out just like generic display ads – Nope, they don’t. Ad fatigue isn’t as quick in remarketing. Actually, a remarketing ad fatigues at less than half the rate than a generic display ad does.

Here are the results from WordStream’s research on relative CTRs of generic display ads vs. remarketing ads. You can see the display ads are sliding into the red.


As you may notice, the remarketing ad CTR is way higher at the start. And, it continues to stay higher even as ad fatigue creeps in.

A user is still far more likely to engage with a remarketing ad, even after having seen it six times before, than they are with a brand new generic display ad.

So, you can keep targeting your customer aggressively until your messaging is precise and your offer provides value to the customer.

Not excluding the audience that has already made a purchase from you – This is a classic one. You’ve got to exclude an acquired customer from your new acquisition remarketing and lead nurturing funnel.

The campaign exclusions tab can be found by clicking on + Targeting under the Display Network tab.

Then still under the display network, choose Campaign exclusions >> Add campaign exclusions >> Interests & remarketing.


Select the converted customer remarketing list you’ve created from the site category.


As I’ve mentioned before, you can treat these converted customers differently by showing them ads (maybe with discounts) on your new product launches. Maybe you can serve them a loyalty coupon to show your customers that you appreciate them.

You should also exclude your ads from appearing alongside inappropriate content because it’ll hamper your brand image. Category-based exclusions will help you prevent negative associations with your brand when it comes to display networks.


Also, try to exclude your ad from websites unrelated to your product and services. InSkin Media, in its survey of 1,600 UK adults, found that negative sentiments begin to appear after the third ad view.


Note: You don’t need to run your ads 24 x 7. For better profitability and effectiveness, run them following the 5 simple steps in this article.

How to unleash the hidden power of Facebook Ads by creating a custom audience?

Similar to Google, Facebook also offers you remarketing options to create your own custom audience list.

You simply install a conversion pixel (1×1 pixel image) on your website from Facebook’s tools section in Ads Manager.


The tracking code for your website visitors and conversions is a bit different. Jon Loomer discusses the technicalities of the new, upgraded Facebook conversion pixel in this article.


Let’s jump on how to create your own audience now.

From your ad group manager, select Tools >> Audiences >> Create Audience >> Custom Audience (from the drop-down menu).


You’ll get a pop-up with three options.


Let’s explore the targeting options.

You can upload your own email list or phone list. Then, Facebook will create a custom audience for you, based on it.

Or you can target your website traffic down to the people who haven’t visited your website in a certain amount of time.


You can even target audiences who visited your landing page but didn’t convert i.e. visiting your thank you page.


You can also create remarketing ads for your products. For higher relevance, target audiences who have read your blog’s content on subjects related to your product.

The demographic targeting you can achieve in Facebook Ads ecosystem is mind-blowing. There are 1500 data points available on an average user. Just look at the example custom audience detail below.


You can layer your custom audience with these targeting options. But, don’t get so specific that your ads reach gets thrown out. Strike a balance between your budget and custom audience size.


You can further expand the reach of your custom audience by creating a lookalike audience. It’s a great strategy that allows you to mirror your current Facebook fans or website visitors.

You get the option to display your ads to the top 1 percent of users with similar traits in your target country, or to 10 percent of the users in your target country who are most like your target audience.


Rather than running your Ads 24 x 7, you can also schedule them on specific days of the week, at your peak engagement levels.


Pro Tip: You shouldn’t stop at creating an ad for your various segmented remarketing lists. Expand your efforts to create a website custom landing page that incorporates your retargeting message for every segment of your list.

For maintaining scent, keep the headline, photo and the color of your website custom landing page the same as your ad. Also, pay special attention to the copy on your ad and the specific keywords that you use. If you create a smooth experience for the user, you can improve your conversions tremendously.


Point #2: Have you experimented with various ad formats? And, are you actually creating compelling ads that grab the attention of your prospects?

Do you know what can make a user click on a link?

It’s when you appeal to them emotionally.

As an example, look at the ‘Big Data Solutions’ ads below.


They are all almost the same, right?

And, they don’t get you excited to click.

Now, look at the cute puppy ad below, from WordStream.


See how it grabs your attention? I’m not surprised that it’s a top-performing ad for WordStream.

That confirms the need to ditch the plain informational advertisements sans any personality (like the big data ones you saw). Try to incorporate the emotions and benefits for your custom audience in your ad.

As an example, look at the locksmith ads below. Do you think that you’re going to care whether the business is family-owned (first ad) when you’re locked out of your house?  Or, are you going to go to another website and enter your zip code to find locksmiths (third ad) that are close to you?


Another example is this attention-grabbing ad.


Doesn’t it catch your eye immediately?

A brilliant Facebook retargeting ad example is the one below.


It has an enticing value proposition (40% off on luxury hotels) along with a stunning image and a clear call-to-action (Exclusive Deals Start Today!).

If you’re planning a vacation to Santorini island (which the user was), then you’ll be enticed to click on this ad.

As the click-through rate (CTR) of your ad increases, the quality score of your ads will also increase. And, eventually, you’re going to lower your CPC.

WordStream found that for every 0.1% increase or decrease in the CTRs of your ads, your click costs will go up or down by 21%.


So, does a particular kind of ad get more clicks?


On the Google Display Network, image ads get a higher CTR.


Which means the CPC on them is notably different.


I would suggest that you hire a good designer to create those fancy image ads. And no, plain text ads reformatted into images don’t count.


This brings me to the next point on testing your ad format to find the best message and ad placement that appeals to your target audience.

Do you know that there are 14 different types of display ad formats available on the Google Display Network?


Look at the table below with the share of impressions based on format from the display networks.


Do you want your ad to appear in prominent locations?  Of course, you do.

By diversifying your ad formats, you can increase your chances of ad placements in positions with more impressions. It’ll also help you in lowering your competition in ad auctions and in fighting ad fatigue by giving advertising networks options to rotate your ads.


On Facebook, you also need to keep changing your ads to maintain your ad performance. Monitor the response graph and keep an eye out for your peaks and troughs.


If you have different products, then you need to create different ads for them and start rotating them.

But, even for the same product, you need to create multiple variations of the same ad, by playing around with your title, ad copy, CTA and, most importantly, your image.

Look how Shopify does this in the examples below to maintain a high CTR.


You can also rotate your target audiences on Facebook to keep your ad campaigns fresh.

By writing more ads, you get the opportunity to dive deeper into what’s working. A brilliant example of this strategy is Annalise.

She spent a tiny $100 on Facebook Ads to rake in $14,790 in revenue for her client in the hospitality industry.


She confesses that she does not just write one ad and sit back hoping her website traffic will grow. Rather, she puts in the hard work to write 30+ ads in different ad formations for a single landing page. By watching the click-through-rate (CTR) she keeps fine-tuning her ads and weeds out the non-performing ones.

Point #3: Fiddle with the unlimited impressions cap on AdWords. And, send your first follow-up email immediately, but without a discount

This validation point on impressions is for AdWords. But, the following up immediately part is valid for all email remarketing campaigns.

Let’s look at them one-by-one, starting with Adwords first.

Remember that I told you that ad fatigue creeps in really late for remarketing ads?

You might feel that repetitively showing your ads will intrude on and annoy a user. You might prefer to set a frequency cap under 3 or 2 (which controls the maximum number of times a user will see your ad).

But, you shouldn’t start with low impression caps for your campaigns.

A typical remarketing campaign does not deliver more than two ads per day to your users.

So, the best way to ensure that your ads get an ample number of impressions is by starting with unlimited impressions.

Because, as I noted earlier, remarketing ads decay at half the rate of generic ads.


Moreover, conversion rates for remarketing ads can increase with more impressions (up to a certain threshold).


Now as you know, drawing generalizations is far from a good marketing strategy, especially when your money is at stake.  You need to make data-oriented decisions.

So, while it’s okay to start with unlimited impressions, you should tweak your frequency, based on your own data.

Where will you find the data?

In your Reach and Frequency report, located inside the Campaigns tab.

Click on the “Reach Metrics” option from the customized column drop-down menu.

Put simply, reach is the number of unique users who saw your ad and frequency is the number of times they saw it.

Do you know your top priority as an advertiser?

It’s to ensure that you’ve created a variety of appealing ads so that your prospective customers don’t get accustomed to seeing just one message from your brand and ignoring it subconsciously (remember banner blindness?).

If you appeal to your audience’s emotions by creating compelling ads (like we discussed in point #2), then you can play with a higher frequency cap.

If you’re keen on testing your frequency cap, then Brenda at Martin Software has developed a 4-step process that you can use.


She also shows you how to analyze the performance by exporting the ad frequency data using pivot tables in this article.

If you aren’t familiar, here is a basic video tutorial on how to use pivot tables.

You just need to set up frequency as a row label and other data parameters under values.


You should have fields, including CTR, Conversion Rate and Cost Per Conversion calculated in your pivot table. It should finally look like the dummy example below.


The data from the above table clearly shows a major drop in CTR after a frequency cap of 2. But, the conversion rate is maxing out at 2 (the cost per conversion is also low). So, you know the optimal frequency that you should be using.

Next up, I want to talk about email remarketing.

Here is a 5-step breakdown of how it works.


You might already know that email is an effective marketing channel, but what are the best practices that you can follow when executing email remarketing?

Here are 3 things you need to consider for your campaign.

Minimum friction will result in higher sales – Get the basics right. Personalization of the mail addressing your prospect by his name and offering help is important.

Next, obviously, you need to show a picture of the product your customer abandoned. You also want to link directly to the saved shopping cart from your CTA button (which also must look prominent and instantly garner attention).

Re-engage with your lost leads as fast as possible – One hour. That’s the amount of time that you’ve got to remain at the top of the mind of your custom audience.

You’ll experience a tremendous drop in conversions if you engage after the first hour.

Send a general comeback email first and the one with the coupon later – Peak design used this strategy to recover 12% of their abandoned carts.

Within 30 minutes of cart abandonment, they first sent an email. It was focused on driving prospects to their customer support so that they could get their objections cleared.


And, after 30 hours, they offered a 5% discount to close more customers who were on the fence.


So, how much revenue did these emails drive individually in the 12% recovery rate?


The first one got a 14% CTR and contributed 59% in retargeting revenue.

The second email got a higher CTR of 18% and the revenue derived was 41%.

Additionally, here are Peak Design’s top 3 tips for conducting remarketing campaigns.


Don’t consider remarketing a magical pill that will completely cure your loss of sales and drive up your website traffic. Your products, website design, conversion funneland blog content might also need further optimization.

But, remarketing can help you lift your conversion tracking and help in fighting visitor abandonment when you’re providing relevant, value-adding products to your target audience.


With the help of remarketing, WordStream increased their repeat visitors by 50%, tripled their average time on site and saw a huge increase in direct visits to their website. 

Do you want to achieve similar results by getting in front of the right people with high intent at the right time?

Then get started with your first remarketing campaign on your choice of advertising network. The 3-point checklist I’ve shared should help you land safely. 

Have you launched a paid remarketing campaign and achieved a great ROI? I would love to hear the results you achieved in the comments below.

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