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The great thing about PPC advertising is you only pay when a user clicks on your ad, as opposed to traditional advertising models where you pay for people just to see your ads. The downside is you still pay for traffic that doesn’t buy first time around and this is the case with the vast majority of people who come to your site.

Not exactly what you would call an efficient advertising model.

Unless you master remarketing, of course, which allows you to reach out to previous visitors and give them extra incentive to buy. With these advanced remarketing techniques, you’ll not only increase conversions from your PPC traffic but also improve your email marketing results, reduce cart abandonment rates and increase customer retention.

#1: Segment your audiences

Source: Google Support

The first thing you need to know about advanced remarketing is how to segment your audiences. Instead of targeting every visitor with the same ad you’re going to create highly targeted campaigns based on the actions they take on your site and the interests these confirm.

For example, here are four different types of visitors you’ll commonly get:

  • U-turners: People who leave your site within seconds (without viewing a second page).
  • Scrollers: Visitors who spend a good amount of time on our landing page before leaving.
  • Browsers: Users who visit multiple pages, spending minutes on your site.
  • Clickers: People click one of your CTAs but don’t make the final conversion.
  • Quitters: Users who start the conversion process (e.g.: filling out your form) but quit before converting.

Each of these users demonstrates a different level of purchase intent and you’ll want to target them with different ads accordingly. In the case of U-turners, you might choose to ignore this audience altogether or bid low on a generic campaign simply reminding them of the offer in your ad.

Note: If you have a large volume of U-turners, you might need to look at the relevance of your ad and performance of your landing page/website.

In the case of Scrollers, they appear to have shown genuine interest in your product or service while Browsers appear to want to know more about your brand. People who click on one of your CTAs are showing serious interest in one of your offers and Quitters are very close to making the final purchase.

For Clickers and Quitters, your ads should focus specifically on the product or service they demonstrated a clear interest in buying – perhaps with a discount offer or some kind of incentive to take the plunge. For users who have shown less purchase intent, you might need to take a less aggressive approach with your messaging and focus on broader messages (e.g.: ads featuring a range of products or case studies highlighting what you’ve done for your existing customers).

#2: Track beyond the landing page

While you can create a number of basic remarketing audiences based on the action people take on your landing page, there’s a limit to how much you can do. To really make the most of your remarketing efforts, you’re going to need to track users beyond the landing page to determine which pages they visit.

Eg: Landing page > product page > product category page > another product page > checkout page > quit session

This tells you a lot about a visitor’s interests: the product category they’re interested in, specific products they’re interested in and the item they almost bought. When someone shows a clear interest in a product, you don’t want to target them with ads featuring your brand logo. You want to target them with ads featuring the product they’re interested in and make it too tempting to resist.

#3: Create campaigns for cart abandonment

If you’re selling products online, cart abandonment is going to be one of biggest burdens to your marketing efforts. The good news is you can use remarketing to drastically reduce your cart abandonment rates and you can use this same technique to increase conversions even if you’re not an ecommerce brand.

This technique combines tracking page visits, as we mentioned in the previous technique, and tracking events in Google Analytics. By tracking page visits, you can identify users who make it as far as the checkout but never reach the confirmation page.

Better yet, you can use events tracking in Google Analytics to track which products people add to their carts. Which means you can now create remarketing campaigns for people with the specific products they wanted to buy. You can simply remind them their products are still waiting for them or target them with some kind of offer to sweeten the deal.

If you’re not an ecommerce brand, you can still use this technique to reach people who quit halfway through signing up for your webinar, filling out a quote or various other types of conversion.

#4: Create campaigns for existing customers

With so much emphasis put on generating new leads and converting them into customers, it’s easy to forget about the most important people to your brand: your existing customers.

According to Forrester Research, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep your existing ones and you’ve already access to all the data you need to turn them into repeat buyers – so why let it go to waste?

It doesn’t matter what line of business you’re in, there are plenty of opportunities to turn first-time buyers into loyal customers:


  • Cross-selling: Related products relevant to a customer’s first purchase.
  • Upselling: Upgrading from the free version to a paid version of your software platform.
  • Renewing: Contractual or subscription-based products/services when the initial contract period is up.
  • Rebuying: Purchasing the same product or service again at the end of its lifecycle – e.g.: a new phone or website redesign.
  • Reinviting: Reaching out to previous customers who have left or stopped buying from you.
  • Loyalty campaigns: Reaching out to customers with rewards to build stronger relationships.


Email marketing is the most obvious strategy to reach out to your existing customers but remarketing is the ideal reinforcement. While people need to open and read your emails, they’ll see your remarketing ads as they browse the web, making this the perfect strategy to compliment your email customer retention efforts.

#5: Remarketing lists for search ads

RLSAs allow you to target people on your remarketing lists with regular search ads.

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) allow you to target previous visitors with regular search ads when they go back to Google and continue searching. Unlike remarketing on the Display Network with visual ads, RLSA ads are regular search ads that only show for people on your remarketing lists when they use Google Search.

There are two basic strategies you can use these for:

  • You can increase your bids on the same ads and keywords to increase the chance of people seeing your ad again.
  • Or you can select new keywords and create new ads to target these users as they continue their search.

This allows you to make sure your ad is seen again by people who go back to Google and type your keywords while you can also use RLSAs to anticipate what searches users will type in next and target them with different ads. Likewise, you can anticipate what your existing customers are going to search for after buying from you and target them with ads for related products, much like we covered in the previous point.

#6: Drive email sign-ups from your remarketing traffic

You can also use remarketing to enhance your content marketing efforts and drive email sign-ups. Promoting your blog content on social media is the ideal place to start this strategy although you can do the same with Google Ads if you choose the right keywords.

Essentially, you’re targeting consumer needs with your blog content, webinar sessions, free downloads and whatever else your content marketing strategy involves. Then you’re going to create remarketing lists for these people to promote related content that addresses their needs in more detail, answers their next questions or provides even more value.

Now your ads aren’t simply generating traffic from users who’ll read one blog and never pay attention to you again. You’re capturing that initial interest and using remarketing to keep addressing their needs and establish your brand as a resource people want to keep in contact with.

#7: Target similar audiences

Source: Facebook Business

Google and Facebook both have some impressive remarketing features to help you reach new audiences. Instead of targeting your previous visitors and customers you can use Google’s Similar Audiences and Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences to reach new users that demonstrate the same kind of online behaviour as people on your remarketing lists.

For example, Google’s Similar Audiences will analyse the search behaviour of people on your remarketing lists to see what they searched for before they were placed on your lists. So let’s say someone bought running shoes from you, Google will show search ads to people displaying a similar purchase intent – e.g.: searching “best exercises for losing weight” > “treadmills vs running outside” > “lightweight shoes for running”.

You also have Customer Match in Google Ads, which allows you to use your data to reach existing customers across Search, YouTube and Gmail – as well as new users who show similar online behaviours to them. This is a powerful feature but it relies on you providing Google with your customers’ email addresses, meaning this is one of the few Google Ads features where GDPR compliance is your responsibility, not Google’s.

Keep this in mind.

#8: Use dynamic remarketing

Dynamic remarketing makes it easier to target users who have looked at specific products or service son your website. Instead of creating visual ads for all of your products and services pages, you can submit a feed to Google and let the search giant create responsive ads for you and deliver them to audiences who have previously shown an interest in the same products/services.

Google also uses machine learning and something called dynamic prospecting to reach new users with these ads – another powerful tool for expanding your reach via remarketing.

#9: Guide users along the buying process

The vast majority of purchases follow a complex journey of interactions with brands and the best advertisers create campaigns that guide users along this journey while keeping their brand in pole position to get the sale.

We’ve looked at various ways you can track user behaviour and target them with different ads, based on their position along the buying process and how their needs change along the way. Now it’s time to combine these techniques into a single remarketing strategy that guides users along the buying process, each step of the way.

To do this, you’ll want to create action-based rules that move users from one remarketing list to another. So once a user starts looking at specific products, they’re automatically shown ads for this product and if they later abandon their cart, they’ll automatically see your remarketing campaigns for cart abandonment.

You can automate this entire process with campaigns targeting highly specific user actions on your site, creating a synchronised remarketing strategy that guides users along every stage of the buying process

#10: Bid more on high-intent audiences

The final thing to keep in mind when you’re running a system of advanced remarketing strategies is to vary your bids. You want to make sure the majority of your budget is spent on users who are most likely to convert and this generally means people closer to making the purchase – e.g.: shopping cart abandoners.

However, you also want to keep the widest possible audience of potential customers engaged with your brand (keep in mind you’ve already paid for this traffic) and maximise the number of users you ultimately convert.

This is something of a balancing act and you’ll want to test different bidding strategies over time but start by bidding more on the high-intent audiences and refine from there.

Maximise conversions with remarketing

While it takes a bit of time and effort to move beyond the basics of remarketing, it’s one of the most worthwhile investment you’ll make in PPC advertising. As soon as you pay for traffic, every user who doesn’t convert hits you in the pocket and dents your advertising performance.

Remarketing is there to help you maximise your conversion rates, get the best return on your ad spend and create an advertising strategy that guides users, from the early stages of the consumer journey, all the way to the finishing line.

Aaron Brooks is a copywriter & digital strategist specialising in helping agencies & software companies find their voice in a crowded space.

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