Effective AdWords Remarketing Tactics for The Advanced Advertiser


One area I have seen a lot of success with lately is remarketing. Google has improved their remarketing features tremendously over the last year. Today, I will share the most successful remarketing tactics I’ve found in various AdWords accounts throughout the years.

Remarketing is not as simple as starting regular AdWords Search or Display campaigns. The success of your remarketing campaigns eventually depends on how well you’ve set up your remarketing lists and how you’ve tagged your website.

I won’t go too much into detail with tagging your website, but if you don’t have your tag installed yet, I recommend reading the basics first.

Remarketing can be extremely powerful for the savvy advertiser, but because remarketing depends on having people to remarket to, you can’t expect success in all industries. Remarketing is most powerful for companies with a lot of visitors to their website. The more visitors you get, the better results you will see from remarketing.

This doesn’t mean if you receive few visitors (less than 10,000 per month), you shouldn’t do remarketing. However, with few visitors your success criteria shouldn’t be direct response, but instead be focused on touching prospects again and again with your ad message. With fewer visitors, your costs from your remarketing campaigns will be limited. Therefore, running your campaigns with no conversions shouldn’t pose a challenge.

Currently, Google offers 3 ways to do remarketing:

  1. Remarketing Lists for Search (RLSA)
  2. Dynamic Display Remarketing
  3. Display Remarketing

Remarketing Lists for Search

Remarketing Lists for Search (RLSA) is Google’s remarketing tool. It allows you to target people who have previously been on your site directly in their search results.

For a long time, you were only able to remarket to people on the Display Network and were therefore missing one of the key benefits of remarketing.

One of the easiest ways to get started with RLSA campaigns is to take your 10-20 highest performing ad groups and copy them into a new campaign. In your new campaign, you set up your remarketing audience as needed and set the same audience as negative in your existing campaigns.

That’s essentially all it takes to get started with RLSA campaigns. For more details I recommend reading my fellow SEJ contributor Tyler Jordan’s post on RLSA campaigns.

What are the benefits of remarketing? 

  • Target more generic keywords
  • Bid higher than in your regular campaigns
  • Offer special incentives for repeat purchasers

Target Generic Keywords

With normal search campaigns, you only have the ability to decipher the intent behind a search by looking at the keywords used. You therefore need to use highly specific keywords to assure that you achieve a profitable ROI instead of just pouring money down a black hole.

With RLSA campaigns, you get a second parameter to use – The fact that customers have been on your website before and therefore are more likely to make a purchase. Where you previously would have only targeted keywords like ‘large cotton bath towels’ because your store specializes in these towels, you can now try out generic search terms like:

  • Bath towels
  • Buy towels
  • Cheap towels

Seeing that the person searching for these phrases has already been to your site and shown interest in your products, these keywords all of a sudden become relevant. It is important to know is that customers don’t always follow a linear search pattern.

Customers will sometimes start off with a broad search, then a specific search and later try a broad search again. Let me provide you with an example of a search pattern:

  • Best bath towels for kids
  • Bath towels with hoods
  • Cheapest towels
  • Cotton bath towels with hoods
  • Disney hooded bath towel = Conversion!

The customer might choose to convert at any time during a search pattern like this, so making sure that you appear all the way through is critical if you truly want success with AdWords. Prior to having the opportunity to use RLSA campaigns, you would never think of using a keyword like cheapest towels. It’s simply just too broad for many advertisers and many high-end bath towel sellers don’t even want to appear for this keyword.

Andrew Lolk

Andrew Lolk

CMO, Co-founder White Shark Media® at White Shark Media®
Andrew Lolk is the author of the 189-page free AdWords ebook The Proven AdWords Strategy. He's worked in AdWords since 2009 and have co-founded White Shark Media®; A leading Search Marketing agency and Google AdWords Premier SMB Partner: We help small businesses succeed through innovative search engine marketing strategies.
Andrew Lolk

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11 thoughts on “Effective AdWords Remarketing Tactics for The Advanced Advertiser

  1. Andrew, you always have the best AdWords advice; thanks so much for writing this great how-to and why-to article. It’s given me a lot to think about! I’ve only used remarketing for display, but RLSA seems like a tool I just have to start using. I can see how it could be a very beneficial component in most any AdWords campaign.

    1. Betsey, your compliments humble me. Thank you so much.

      RLSA can be beneficial for many to start using. There are some min. requirements to amount of users in your lists before it really starts being effective, but you can always get started.

  2. Hi Andrew

    Excellent article. I have read other articles about remarketing but never got such details.

  3. I’m agree with you that Remarketing Tactics in PPC can be usefull. But as a websurfer, I can see the “dark site of the moon”, as you had described it in this article.
    Recently, I can’t go anywhere on the Web without having in my eyes the same ad from a web creator software. And the funny thing is that I bought this software a year ago. Nowhere! If not, the ad of a link analysis software replaces it with as much tenacity. In that case, I tried their product without been satisfied.
    The point: after I saw these ads 10 or 20 times in a day, it become irritating. How many people have to become upset before having one good prospect? How many upset person that can be a good prospects but are not ready to buy?
    I respect the right for the company to try to reach their prospects and customers. I’m not against the concept of remarketing, only against his vicious way to repeat the same add along and along. I will like I will like to have different ad and not be harass by a machine that do not make any distinction if I saw an ad once or 20 times.
    Because of that I use this software like these : AdBlock and AdBlockPlus to block Adsense ads. It is boring, because I miss others ads that could interest me.
    This is were I’m now.