Beginners Guide to eCommerce Remarketing Campaigns

Ever notice ads for sites you’ve recently visited haunting you over and over again as you browse the web, day after day? It’s almost as if they know exactly what you want or where you’ve been. Well they do and what you’re seeing is a form of behavioral marketing called remarketing or retargeting.

Here’s a definition of remarketing from the Google AdWords team:

“Remarketing allows you to reach people who previously visited your website, and match the right people with the right message. You can show users these messages as they browse sites across the Google Display Network.”
Google AdWords

Remarketing is not a new concept in behavioral targeting; companies such as Fetchback and Veruta have been offering remarketing solutions for years. But, it has come to the forefront in the past several months with Google AdWords offering remarketing solutions and the recent acquisition of Fetchback by GSI Commerce.

In this guide I’m going to be referencing Google AdWords because of its availability and ease of use, especially for small businesses.

How Remarketing Works

Understanding how remarketing works will help you use this marketing channel more effectively. Here is a basic diagram of how it works:

How Remarketing WorksWhen a visitor comes to your website, a remarketing cookie is set and will expire after a specific number of days. The number of days depends on your average sales cycle. For example, eCommerce stores who typically sell low-ticket items and have a shorter sales cycle may only need to keep the default 30 days, but 60 or 90 days may be better for service companies or website selling higher-ticket items. After browsing around the visitor may leave your website without ordering; it happens to all of us. If that visitor then browses a website that exists in Google’s Content Network they’ll see one of your ads as long as that remarketing cookie still exists on their computer.

This is a little different than traditional ad displays and banner advertising. With traditional ad displays, you pay the website for a certain amount of impressions or clicks generated. Everyone was lumped into these costs – making it difficult for small retailers to participate because they don’t have wide-spread brand recognition like Nike, Apple or Coke. Remarketing allows you to display your ad to visitors who previously came to your website, giving small businesses an opportunity to improve their brand and target interested browsers.

Retargeting Example: Solid Cactus  on Wunderground.com

Retargeting Example: Solid Cactus banners on Wunderground.com

Tracking Success

There are variety of metrics to track the effectiveness of your remarketing ads, giving marketers the ability to see which websites are displaying your ads and are the most effective in generating impressions, clicks and conversions. One addition to Google’s reporting metrics is “view-through conversions.”

View-Through Conversions – View-through reporting attribution follows the industry standard of last click, last impression attribution. This implies that the conversions are first credited to the last click, and if there’s no click in the last 30-days, then they’re credited to the last impression, preceding the conversion.
Google AdWords

This new metric gives a little more meaning to your remarketing efforts and allows you to attribute more conversions back to this channel. In remarketing campaigns that we launched internally and for several of our Internet marketing clients we have seen improvement over traditional banner advertising and even some AdWords campaigns. They have improved leads, acquisition costs, website visits and helped solidify branding.


Remarketing doesn’t come without risks as users fight to protect their online privacy. A recent article from eMarketer revealed:

“Internet users have been sending mixed messages about their attitudes toward targeted ads: They sometimes say they appreciate the relevance targeting brings; they sometimes indicate they would be willing to provide personal information to facilitate targeting; and they also report concerns about advertisers and publishers having too much data.”

This back-and-forth issue makes it tough for marketers to please everyone in their audience so it is important you clearly communicate what information you are collecting and how you are using that information on your website. Unfortunately for marketers, this information doesn’t necessarily improve users comfort level with remarketing:

Comfort Level with Retargeting

User Comfort Level with Retargeting - eMarketer

I would still encourage everyone to give remarketing a try. If the majority of your visitors feel uncomfortable with your remarketing efforts, you can always give those visitors the ability to opt-out.

How Can I Use Remarketing?

Google gives you the opportunity to use remarketing in a variety of ways by utilizing different “audiences” within your campaign. Audiences are segmented, so you can create relevant ads targeting specific segments that will increase click-throughs and conversions.

Here are some ideas that you can use to remarket for your eCommerce business:

  1. Targeting visitors who came to your website but didn’t order by offering a 5% off coupon.
  2. Targeting visitors who placed something in the shopping cart but didn’t complete the purchase and offer a 10% off coupon.
  3. Offer free shipping for customers who completed a purchase or reached the confirmation page.
  4. Upsell a bundled offer (i.e. laptop + case) for visitors who visit a popular product (i.e. laptop).
  5. Special Facebook contest for people who visit your blog.

And the list goes on. Google AdWords make it easy to create segments for the different stages of the sales process. Use that to your full advantage by creating custom segments and lists.

Getting Started

And lastly, here are a few links to help you get started with a remarketing campaign:

For those of you who are currently remarketing, whether you are using Google AdWords, Fetchback, Vertua or any other solution, how have you used it and what results have you seen?

One Response to “Beginners Guide to eCommerce Remarketing Campaigns”

  1. Finance Manage says:

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I’m attempting to find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

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