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Google remarketing campaigns allow you to serve custom ads to users who have visited your website.

My latest Search Engine Land article covers the basics of setting up a remarketing campaign and gives some examples for setting up remarketing ad groups for an ecommerce site. If you are new to remarketing, you might want to take a quick look through that article and learn the basics of how to set up a remarketing campaign as in this article we’re going to make the assumption that you have some basic knowledge of remarketing.

In this article, we will show you how we are setting them up for our new product, Certified Knowledge (note: the site is not fully live yet, but we’re planning out our marketing campaigns now so this is what it will look like once everything is publicly launched).

The Marketing Campaign’s Objectives

Certified Knowledge is a subscription based AdWords learning, PPC tool, and community site. With many subscription products it takes a few visits for someone to finally convert. Therefore, remarketing is a perfect way to serve custom ads to those who have been on the site once, but have not yet bought a subscription.

There are three main benefits of Certified Knowledge (tutorials, tools, and community); therefore, we want to make custom ads based upon what sections someone has visited within the site.

If someone entered the cart but did not buy, we want a very custom message.  For example, if a user started the purchase process but did not complete the transaction; we want to display a custom message or offer specific to the fact that they didn’t finish the purchase process.  This group of cart abandoners still have a better chance of converting than someone who has never been to our website before or looked around the site and didn’t enter the cart, so our bids for this list will be higher than for any other audience.

If someone has subscribed we don’t want to serve then an ad for the membership.

Lastly, the further into the conversion process that someone was, the longer the cookie will last based upon our settings (remarketing ads are displayed based upon a browser having a cookie that corresponds to your lists).

The Remarketing Lists

Google offers the ability to create a straightforward list (a cookie on the computer means they are in a list), or a custom combination which uses Boolean strings to combine audiences into a single list. With some of these lists, I think we could use custom combinations instead of straight lists. However, I’ve not been able to test Google’s Boolean strings yet to be confident in their use. What I’d like to do is add someone to list 1. Then, if they also make it to list 2, remove them from list 2. However, that is not currently possible.

In addition, what I don’t know is if someone is on two different lists; and you use one list as a negative list, it appears that the ad will not be displayed to that person at all. (i.e. if someone is on list a and on list b, and list a is your positive list and list b is your negative list – will the user see the ad?)

Therefore, for the initial setup of our remarketing campaigns (this may change in the future); I’m setting up several lists; and then I’ll use negative lists at the ad group level and CPC manipulation to determine which shows (i.e. if a basic list is worth $0.25 and a more advanced list is worth $1, even if someone is on both, the should see the $1 CPC ad copy for that list).

Here is a list of the remarketing lists that we created and where we put the codes across our website:

List Name Purpose Placed Cookie Duration
All visitors Reach everyone who examined in the offer Global Footer 30 days
PPC Tools Reach those who examined the Tools section PPC Tools pages 60 days
AdWords Tutorials Reach those who entered the tutorial section AdWords Video page 60 days
PPC Community Reach those looking for community engagement PPC community page 60 days
Pricing Reach price conscious shoppers Visited price page 60 days
Shopping cart abandonment Reach consumers who showed intent to buy but did not finish All pages except confirmation of cart 90 days
Converted: Free email training Free 5 email training message for sneak peak. Reach these consumers who showed high interest in system. Thank you for subscribing email confirmation page 90 days
Converted: Subscription If someone subscribed, want to make sure we don’t serve them ads Thank you for subscribing page after billing info entered 360 days


Once the lists are created and the scripts placed on the appropriate pages, then it’s time to create the Ad Groups that reach the various audiences.

Remarketing Ad Groups

We are creating an entirely new campaign for our remarketing lists for four reasons:

  • Budget. We have a much higher budget than for our placement and discovery campaigns.
  • Blocked domains. We don’t want our usual blocked domain list to affect remarketing ads (at least to start)
  • Geography: As this product has international appeal (and we’ll do international billing); we are going to start with a few different countries in our campaign list (and refine from there).
  • Reach & Frequency: We want a different frequency caps for the ads than our other content campaigns.

Once a new campaign is setup, it’s time to map out the ad groups. The reason to create various remarketing ad groups is when you want to show different ads to different audience lists. At an ad group level, you can add both positive and negative audiences and set a different bid by audience. Therefore, we’re going to build our ad groups from the ads that we’re going to be showing.

In addition, it will be common for some users to be on multiple lists. Therefore, we’re going to use a lot of negative lists to ensure the most relevant ad is being displayed. In cases where someone is on multiple lists, we will also u
se bids to ensure the more specific ad is being shown (so our bids will be the lowest on general ads and highest on close-to-converting individuals).

Ad Group 1: Non-Engaged Users

This ad group is for users who visited the site but did not enter a specific section of the site. Therefore, these are the absolutely least qualified of all the visitors. This is the reason the cookie duration for this list is only 30 days, the shortest of all the lists.

The positive list: All visitor

The negative lists: All the other lists. If someone is on any other list; we don’t want them seeing our general ad; we want a more specific ad served to that user.

The ad: Showcasing all benefits.

Bid: Lowest of all the remarketing lists. These visitors went to at least the homepage, and possibly an interior page; but not one of the very specific pages that is useful for tailoring a separate ad for that user.

Ad Group 2: Price Shoppers

This ad group is for users who visited the pricing section.

The positive list: Pricing

The negative lists: All others except non-engaged users list.

The ad: Showcasing that your time is worth money, and then show how Certified Knowledge can save you time.

Bid: Second lowest of all the remarketing lists. Price conscious users can be difficult to convince. In addition, I’d rather the more specific ad (the ad groups below) be shown to consumers instead of this ad. If someone happens to be on both the non-engaged user list and the price shoppers list, they should see this ad because its bid will be higher than the non-engaged user list.

Ad Group 3: PPC Community

This ad group is for people who visited the PPC community page. I expect that most people who visit this page will also visit other pages across the site. Therefore, while this will be an ad we show, we’re going to put less importance on what I expect the stronger benefits to be: Tools & Training. However, if someone did visit this page, we’re willing to show them this ad (in addition to other ads they may see from the more specific ad groups).

The positive list: PPC community

The negative list: All others except Price Shoppers and Non-engaged users.

The ad: Showcasing the benefits of having access to an active forum, email, and news system.

Bid: Third lowest. Higher than Price Shoppers; lower than PPC Tools & AdWords Tutorials.

Ad Group 4: AdWords Tutorials

This ad group is targeting consumers who examined our tutorials. As we’re going to have many pages explaining the tutorials, this might be broken down into two lists over time: main tutorials page, all training subpages. That sectioning will help us identify those who just glanced at the tutorials versus looked at our videos and read more about the AdWords lessons.

The positive list: AdWords Tutorials

The negative list: Converted subscription, Converted email training, Shopping cart abandonment. If someone converted, or was closer to converting than just visiting the features pages, then I want them to see the more specific ad.

The ad: Showcasing what Certified Knowledge can teach you about AdWords with more than 50 lessons, and more than 100 coming by the end of the year.

Bid: Higher than PPC Community and lower than the three negative lists.

Ad Group 5: PPC Tools

This ad group is targeting consumers who examined our toolset. As we’re going to have many pages explaining the tools, this might be broken down into two lists over time: main tools page, all tool subpages. That sectioning will help us identify those who just glanced at the tools versus looked at our videos and read more about the tools.

The positive list: PPC Tools

The negative list: Converted subscription, Converted email training, Shopping cart abandonment. If someone converted, or was closer to converting than just visiting the features pages, then I want them to see the more specific ad.

The ad: Showcasing the benefits of the PPC tools we have developed which will save you time in creating ad copies, geographic keywords and keywords. They will help you bid, find quality score issues, find broken links, and help you analyze your site. While most of the ad groups will contain two or three image ads to start (by themes, each theme will have different sizes); I expect this ad group will have more test ads to see what message resonates better.

Bid: Same as the AdWords Tutorials. I expect it will become slightly higher than the tutorials over time as tutorials are one to three time views for most consumers, and many repeat views will help refresh your knowledge. The tools will be used daily, weekly, or monthly depending on what you’re trying to accomplish inside your account; and therefore, I think will be more valuable over time.

Ad Group 6: Converted Free Email Training

This ad group is for targeting those who signed up for a ‘free lessons training’ via email. Many people who sign up for free training do not have an intent to buy as they just want the free stuff. Others want a trial of what you are offering and have a high chance of converting. However, email open rates can be sporadic on free training offers. Therefore, these ads will both remind them about Certified Knowledge, but also serve as a reminder about the emails delivered to them.

The positive list: Converted Free Email Training

The negative lists: Converted subscription, Shopping Cart Abandoners

The ad: Showcase the Certified Knowledge tutorials with messages to remind them about their email subscription. I’m not sure if they will be something like: “Did you enjoy your free email training from Certified Knowledge? Learn how you can access all of our training” as that might seem a bit creepy to people that we know they have the email – or if they’ll be images more aligned with the training aspects of Certified Knowledge.

Bid: To start, a bit higher than AdWords tutorials & tools lists as these users were willing to give us a name and email address to receive the information. Overtime, the bidding for this list might change significantly up or down.

Ad Group 7: Shopping Cart Abandoners

This ad group is for targeting those who entered the shopping cart but did not convert.

The positive list: Shopping cart abandoners

The negative list: Converted subscription, Converted Free email training

I’m making an assumption here that I might change in the future. I’m considering these users more valuable than the converted free email training list as these shoppers were within a submit button of entering their credit card information and becoming customers. I think they will be more valuable than the Converted Free Email Training list – but I might be wrong; therefore, I might test this exact same ad group minus the email training list as a negative list in the future.

The ad: One ad will showcase the Certified Knowledge benefits. One will show a phone number with the benefits that talks about support for any problems. As we start to map out sign-up objections, then we will base the ads around the most common ones.

Bid: The highest of all the lists.

Are all these lists necessary?

Outside of the time to create the actual ads per ad group, setting up one list and one ad group versus seven ad groups and lists is only a few minutes of additional work. We’re using WordPress for this site’s CMS; so adding some custom code to the pages is very simple and will take less than a minute per list. I’m expecting the entire setup (outside of the ad copy creation) to take less than ten minutes. I’ve already set up some remarketing campaigns for the AdWords Seminars and it took less than a minute to setup the list and add the c
ode to the pages for each created list.

The advantage of showing an ad to the consumer based upon their main interests in the site should significantly outweigh the work involved.

The Next Step

Once everything is in place, then remarketing success is all about ad creatives and measurement.

Remarketing has a higher potential of success than almost all other forms of marketing because the user was already involved with your website. Most marketing drives some users to your website based upon a common interest (keyword, placement, email list, etc). Remarketing engages users who have already been on your website and are somewhat familiar with your offerings. This type of campaign can be the final push that someone needs to realize how valuable your service can be to them.

Want to Learn More About Remarketing?

Certified Knowledge Premium members can access more than an hour of lessons about just remarketing. Its just one of the many lesson sections available for members. Not only do members get unlimited access to informative lessons; they also have access to time saving tools.

We never just ask you to trust us blindly; we’ve built our reputation on open and honest data sharing. Therefore, you can take a 7 day free trial to see how a membership can benefit your AdWords knowledge and help you wring more profit from your AdWords campaigns. Start Your Free Trial.

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