The benefits of remarketing to your website visitors

By Matt Brown, matt@onevision.co.uk

What is remarketing? Simply, it is the opportunity to put your targeted message in front of somebody who previously visited your website. By using a small piece of tracking code on every page of your website, visitors are added to a list you can use to create audiences to which you can target your online advertising.

Create your audience lists
Remarketing audience lists are created within the Audiences section of the Shared Library in the Google AdWords interface. Visitors to your website are likely to be at different stages of a purchasing decision and have different needs. So, to make your remarketing more effective you might create audience lists for:

  • All people who visited your website
  • All people who visited a specific page or part of your website but did not convert
  • All people who reached the checkout but did not complete their order

Once the list has grown to a sufficient size (1,000 for remarketing on Google search) you can create an advertising campaign in Google AdWords that targets your previous website visitors when they browse the internet or make another relevant search in Google. When we have looked at client website data in Analytics, we have found that almost half of online conversions are from people who leave the site and return, often days later, to convert or buy. By remarketing to previous visitors you have the opportunity to increase sales and reduce your conversion costs overall.

Campaign strategies
There are a number of strategies for which you might want to consider remarketing. You could simply use the list of your website visitors over the previous 30 days to bid higher to increase your ad’s visibility when these visitors search again. Or you could use remarketing to target individual visitor types as the examples below.

  • Visitor 1 searched on “buy running shoes”, clicked through to the site and left without buying. You could target people who visited but did not convert or buy, with a specific offer to encourage them back to your site again. For the best visitor experience, your site should retain any products that they added to the shopping cart and any form data that they filled in previously.
  • Visitor 2 searched on “buy dance shoes” added a product to the basket but did not complete the purchase. You could target Google search with a broader set of keywords that are aimed only at previous visitors. Targeting ads too broadly to all search engine users is likely to result in a poor performing campaign where you will be paying more than necessary per click. However, a broader set of keywords that displays an advert only if the person has previously visited your website increases the chance of bringing that person back to your site again, to give you a second chance to convert that person.
  • Visitor 3 searched on “buy tennis shoes” visited the site and completed the order. You will be communicating with your new customer with specific emails and offline marketing but you could also target this person when they make a related search on other keywords or visit other related websites, to encourage them back to your website again.

What we know
All websites have visitors who leave without converting. In fact we know that:

  • 96% leave without converting1
  • 70% abandon shopping carts without purchasing1
  • 49% typically visit 2 - 4 sites before purchasing2

Remarketing gives us a second chance to convert a visitor. We also know that a significant number of people will visit a website and not buy on the first visit, so we can increase the conversion rate of a website overall by adopting strategies that bring visitors back again. And as with all marketing tools, it is vital to test and measure.


1Source: Understanding Shopping Cart Abandonment, Forrester Research, May 20, 2010
2Source: Google/Compete Sporting Goods Study (Sept 2011 - Sept 2012) Clickstream BF02 (number of different brands visited)

The Author

Matt Brown is a co-founder and Director of One Vision Ltd, a certified Google Partner. Matt has been managing Google AdWords campaigns since 2001 and provides online advertising management, consultancy and training.

For tips and advice see www.onevision.co.uk and @1visionltd


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