Remarketing: Running successful micro-personalised ad campaigns

Written by Joanne Kearney

Joanne has over 10 years’ experience working in digital analytics, executing and managing many large scale projects across the UK and Ireland. Joanne is also an experienced trainer, having developed many customised corporate training schemes and regularly speaks at digital and analytics events.
August 28, 2015

This is the first of three blog articles that we’ll be publishing on the topic of remarketing. This article explains what remarketing is, and discusses 3 things you should consider before deciding to execute a remarketing campaign. Next week, we’ll be looking at how to set up remarketing lists in Google Analytics and link them so they can be used in AdWords campaigns. The last blog article will use real-life examples of how remarketing can work successfully, and drive sales.

You walk into a clothes store on the high street, walk around the aisles and find a pair of shoes that you like, along with a jacket. You bring both into the changing rooms and try them on. You need a bigger size in the jacket so go back out and grab a bigger size, bring both items back into the changing rooms; you try them on again before deciding to leave them back on the shelf, and walk out of the store empty handed.

For the owner of the store, it’s hard to determine – unless they are standing with a clipboard and pen at the exit – why you choose to walk into the store in the first place, where you first heard about the store, why you picked up the items you did and why you left without purchasing the items. Further to this, it’s particularly hard (especially if you aren’t already a customer) to get you back into the store again and entice you to buy the items you had an interest in.

Luckily, if the same happened online, we would be able to use web analytics data to answer the questions, and we can use a tactic known as remarketing to get them back.

Remarketing is best known as those ads that stalk you while you are browsing the web, or, from a business perspective, micropersonalised ads that are targeted to users based on their previous engagement with the brand online.

There are many ways businesses can create micro-personalised experiences for customers online – from content that is set to dynamically update based on content that you’ve spent time dwelling over before, to trigger-based email campaigns that are automatically sent to you if you exit the purchase funnel before you’ve made payment. There is no let-up in the shift of investment to use these types of tactics to maximize users’ web experiences. Oracle’s purchase of Maxymiser for an undisclosed sum last week is one such example of this.

With remarketing, there is, however, a risk of creating fear and a sense of an invasion of privacy for the user – something that, as a business, you certainly don’t want to do. However, if you consider the three points below when conducting your remarketing campaign, you should help ensure greater success in the response to your personalised ads:

timeTimely: Never ever run a remarketing campaign without selecting an impression cap on ads. Setting an impression cap on ads means you can opt to show the ads to the same user as many times as you want before it stops appearing. For example, you can set an ad to appear 3 times before the ad does not appear to the user again. Ad-push persistence is one of the most common reasons remarketing campaigns fail and cited as the number one annoyance for users. In addition, don’t forget to set an end date on your campaign. If I search for car insurance and don’t buy, I’m not likely to want to see an ad for it in 4 months time; by that stage I’ve probably made my choice with another competitor already.


relevantRelevant: Try not to run remarketing campaigns that are simply targeted to any user who has visited any page of your website. Create combination lists to make the ad personalised to those who you know have performed a certain action on your website, but not decided to purchase e.g. used your online tool to search for a red shirt, added a red shirt to their basket but exited the website before making the purchase. Opt to show the ad with the red shirt only to those who fall into this bucket of users.



imagesIncentive: Some studies have found that users are more receptive to remarketing ads if there is something in it for them- an incentive to invite the user back to the website to complete an action. So, if someone has liked a product, added it to their cart but not purchased, display some type of incentive in the ad to give then a reason to click – whether it be free shipping, a discount on the product or a voucher code they can use across the site. Some argue that users will become familiar with this money-off tactic and abuse it, but you can at any stage stop the ads from appearing. As long as you can guarantee you are still making money on the product after the incentive has been applied, who wouldn’t want more sales?


Next week: Setting up remarketing lists in Google Analytics and linking them to AdWords campaigns.


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