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How to Use Remarketing Effectively

If you’re interested in getting started with or improving your paid advertising, remarketing should be top of your list. Remarketing is a fundamental aspect of paid advertising and something that, as consumers, everyone has experienced. Whether in the form of potentially annoying ads that seemingly follow you around the web or more pleasant reminders of products you’ve previously shown an interest in.

Remarketing helps you to make the most of the users who come to your site by re-engaging with them once they’ve left. This in turn is a highly cost-effective strategy as you’re not having to re-explain or sell a user on your brand, quality etc – they’ll already be familiar with these aspects. Instead, it’s the job of remarketing campaigns to spike the interest of the user and work as a stepping stone for someone to re-engage and, often, convert. 

Please note, remarketing isn’t specific to any one platform so throughout this article we’ll be referring to several key platforms where we have found remarketing can work best. These are largely Google Ads and Facebook. However, other paid advertising platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Microsoft Ads can also be used. The platforms you select to run remarketing on should be based around your personas and where they’re going to be. For almost all personas though, Google Ads and, to a lesser extent Facebook, will be relevant.

Also, while remarketing is useful for almost all types of business, we've focused on ecommerce businesses in this article as an example. 


The Benefits of Remarketing

Higher click-through rates

As users are already familiar with your products and your brand, remarketing campaigns almost always have much higher CTRs (Click Through Rates) than standard PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns. This in turn can improve the ranking of ads which then can have a knock-on effect, lowering CPCs (Cost Per Click) or CPMs (Cost Per Thousand).

It’s worth noting at this point that you’re not going to get good CTRs or any of the other benefits we go into detail about below if you’re running a poor-quality remarketing campaign. Often simple errors can have a big effect on a remarketing campaign due to the fairly small audience size you are likely be targeting.

One mistake we see all the time on remarketing campaigns is not excluding converters. This is incredibly annoying for anyone who’s just purchased something from your store – unless you’re trying to upsell to them (which requires different setup and messaging) trying to sell the same thing to them just irritates and causes your customer to ignore your ads. The worst mistake you could make to these users is remarketing to them with an offer after they’ve purchased though. Although you’re likely to get good CTRs in this scenario it’ll likely be from people clicking on your ad to complain to your support team!

Remarketing Solutions with Innovation Visual

Better conversion rates

Better conversion rates are probably the biggest benefit of remarketing. A common statistic that gets thrown around a lot but is no less relevant for that, is that 98% of traffic to your site won’t convert on their first visit. With that in mind, when you’ve worked hard to bring in this traffic to your site be it from Paid, Organic, or anything in-between, you need to get the most value from your users as possible. Hence the value of remarketing.

Remarketing can get a bad rap, but this is usually down to advertisers who don’t do it well. And they’re the ones who’ll really suffer as users aren’t going to convert. Remarketing done correctly is very powerful. Good remarketing should:

  1. Be Relevant – ads should be personalised to what the user showed interest in
  2. Be Selective – ads should only show to the right people, it’s just as important to be selective in the users you exclude as much as the users you actively target
  3. Be Restricted – ads should be limited to only show a limited number of times. This reduces ad fatigue and stops users from getting annoyed. Restrict your list membership duration as well. This stops users who haven’t engaged with you over a long period from still seeing your ads.
  4. Be Valuable – ads should bring something to the party. They should have some kind of value proposition. This could be a discount/promotion or an informative or interesting article. Give users a reason to come back to the site.

If you follow all these rules, your remarketing campaign should deliver high Conv. rates and users are going to enjoy engaging with your ads. At the end of the day, most users would in 99% of cases prefer to receive personalised ads as opposed to random generic ads that don’t apply to them.

Better quality traffic

Users who have previously visited your site are in most cases going to be relevant users. Of course, you’ll get some users who won’t be relevant, but compared to the traffic you’ll receive from broader audience-based targeting from Google Display or Facebook for example, the quality of users who click on your ads from a remarketing campaign is, by definition, going to be higher.

One way to ensure quality, relevant traffic in your remarketing campaigns is to exclude users who bounce off your site or have very short session times. That way you’re only left with the highest quality users who’ll be more rewarding to spend your remarketing campaign budget on.

By reaching a smaller audience, but an audience of a higher quality you can get incredible returns. Due to Conv. rates being higher on these users the Conv. value / Cost on these users is often far higher than on more generic campaigns. Conv. value / Cost should be one of your key performance indicators as this metric effectively tells you for every £1 you spend how much you get back. If your Conv. Value / Cost is “5.0” then for every £1 you spend you’ll get £5 back. 

The high Conv. rates and relatively low costs of remarketing campaigns can therefore make this type of advertising a great place to start your paid search activity. 

Comparison of Remarketing Platforms

As mentioned in the introduction, a range of paid advertising platforms can be used to run remarketing campaigns. As previously mentioned though, Facebook and Google Ads are the main two and the ones that will be relevant for most businesses. These two platforms do have very different approaches to remarketing and provide very different targeting options which we’ll discuss in more detail below.


Facebook is possibly most people’s first thought when it comes to remarketing, and there is good reason for that. Facebook is still the largest social network in the world, with billions of active users, making it a no brainer for remarketing. No matter your target persona or product it is likely that your customers are going to be active on Facebook in some way or another.

It’s worth noting when we talk about Facebook, we’re also talking about Instagram as these two platforms often get confused. In the context of digital advertising, they’re the same. Campaigns set up through Facebook Ads can show on both platforms – although you have the option to select one or both placements when setting up your campaigns.

So how does remarketing on Facebook work? Firstly, you’ll need to create your Facebook Pixel if you haven’t done this already. Your Facebook Pixel gets added to all pages on your website and will be able to match up users on your site to their Facebook profiles. As advertisers, we never see specific details of these users and we’re unable to identify anyone’s name, location and any other personal details. This tends to be a concern that many consumers have so it’s worth having an understanding of this before you get started.

Once your Facebook Pixel has matched up enough users (minimum of 100). You can start running a remarketing campaign based on these users. From our experience and from Facebook’s guidance on best practice, we’d recommend using an audience larger than 100 though. Between 500-1000 is a good size to start with. However, depending on the volume of traffic your site receives this can be hard to achieve. One thing to bear in mind with audience sizes is that these users won’t be active on Facebook 100% of the time, so the audience size you can target on any given day will likely be much smaller than the figure you see on Facebook.

Once you’ve set up your Facebook campaign based on the audience from your Facebook Pixel you can then start showing to these users. Depending on the placements you’ve chosen these can show on Facebook Feeds, Instagram Feeds, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Partner Sites, Facebook & Instagram Stories, Messenger and a few others. For each placement different formats and content would be recommended to achieve the best performance. For example, Stories will work best when using a portrait image or video and across multiple slides. Square format images or videos on the other hand are usually recommended for feed ads on Instagram or Facebook.

Depending on your budget and bidding strategy you’ll compete with other advertisers in a specific audience to show your ads to users when they’re on Facebook. Remarketing is usually less competitive though and has lower CPCs, making it a more cost-effective strategy than other campaign types in some cases. To get the best performance you’ll want to review your frequency in Facebook and adjust your budget and bidding accordingly. Your frequency is the number of times your ad shows to a user on average over a time period. If you’ve got a very low frequency of less than 2-3 than you might want to increase your budget. On the other hand, if you’ve got a very high frequency 6+ then you might want to consider lowering your budget. Monitoring your Cost/Conv. when doing this is key to find your frequency sweet spot.

Remembering to rotate your assets is also essential on Facebook. This stops users seeing the same ad over and over again and reduces the effect of ad fatigue which can be damaging to your performance overall.

Ecommerce Remarketing Campaigns with Innovation Visual

Google Ads

Google Ads remarketing works quite differently from Facebook Ads. This is largely due to the range of placements Google Ads has access to, as well as the specificity of targeting options available. In Google Ads, there are three main options for remarketing. They are Display, Video and Search, though Display is far and away the most popular. Display campaigns use placements across the products Google owns for example Gmail and YouTube, as well as their extensive network of partner sites. This ‘network’ of platforms and sites is called the Google Display Network. Whilst Facebook Ads also have a network of partner sites you can show your ads on, the Google Display Network is much larger and more comprehensive. That said, the benefit of Facebook is that you can specify that the ads are only shown on native platforms i.e., the Facebook Feed and not the network of partner sites. With the wide variety of options available we recommend testing the platforms and placements thoroughly to find out which is the best option for your business and target audiences. 

For Display campaigns, the main format to use is the Responsive Display Ad format. This format allows you to provide a range of assets (images and ad copy) which Google will then show to users. Google’s advanced machine learning figures out which combinations work best and bring you the best performance.

You can also run a video campaign on Google Ads which will show on YouTube. These are available in a range of formats, however the most common is the skippable format ad which you’ll often see before viewing content on the platform. It goes without question that the video content you use here should be engaging and spark interest in those 5 seconds you have in front of a user. Each of the placements and platforms works differently and so developing content specifically for each of the placements and platforms is essential to achieve best performance.

Lastly, Search remarketing on Google Ads is possible though customised ad copy and audience targeting. This type of remarketing is less common but can be very effective and allows you to remarket to people who have previously visited your site when they continue their search online using Google search. 

One simple option which can be used on any Search campaign is through the use of an ‘IF Function’. ‘IF Functions’ can replace or amend your ad copy if someone matches a specific set of conditions. For example, if a user is a member of your “Visited Jeans Page” audience you can dynamically have the ad copy change depending on whether the user is a member of not of this audience. This then allows you to personalise your ads and improve key metrics like click-through rates and conversion rates. 

Another option with Search campaign remarketing is targeting via a list of users as well as keywords. This layering can work well for more generic keywords that get a lot of traffic but without a user previously showing an interest in your business would be too broad. For example, “jeans” might be too generic a keyword usually because they might be looking for jeans you don’t provide. However, if they’ve visited your site previously and are searching for jeans it’s likely the user is still relevant to show to.

To create a remarketing list to use on Google Ads there are two options. The first is to add the Google Ads remarketing tag to your site, this works similarly to the Facebook Pixel and will match up site visitors with Google Ads accounts and also use cookies to identify the same users across the web. Alternatively, you can connect Google Ads to your Google Analytics account. This is often the best option and requires less development work. The connection works in the same way to the remarketing tag; but the data is collected through the usual Google Analytics tracking code natively instead.    

Remarketing Options for Ecommerce

Remarketing: The Options 

We’ve talked above about the need for relevancy and personalisation to get the best performance from your remarketing campaigns. There are two main types of remarketing which have quite different use cases though.

Standard Remarketing

Standard remarketing will often be quite generic. This means it wouldn’t be showing the user a product they previously viewed or be extremely granular in the details it provides. However, this doesn’t mean it’s any less effective. You can still be personalised and relevant when using this type of remarketing. You can remain relevant by segmenting your users based on a theme, this could be if someone has expressed an interest in jeans on your site and not hats. You’d therefore share content, an offer or similar products based around jeans and not your best-selling hats or content about this for example. It seems straightforward but is often missed by advertisers.

Show people what they’re interested in!

Standard remarketing for e-commerce can also work very well for users who might not be ready to buy just yet. With this type of remarketing you can focus in on sharing key information about why your products are just what they’re looking for without being too specific – as they may be too low in the funnel at the moment to need detail. It’s important they don’t forget about you!

If you are familiar with the HubSpot buyer journey the best users to use standard remarketing on would be users in the Awareness and Consideration stage. This means that standard remarketing is best for those potential customers who are really just researching an idea or who are trying to get an idea of the options available to them. Those customers who are closer to a decision will need a little more detail than you can provide here.

Dynamic Remarketing

Dynamic remarketing, in contrast to standard remarketing, is highly specific and personalised. In short, dynamic remarketing will show the products a user viewed or showed interest in whilst previously on your site. This approach is much more granular when compared with standard remarketing. Dynamic, as the names implies, is dynamic so each user will see something different. This format is great for scaling as, although in standard remarketing you can remain relevant by segmenting your users, dynamic remarketing provides a granularity that would be impossible to achieve otherwise.

Dynamic remarketing is possible on both Facebook and Google ads with the use of a feed. A feed is a list of your products with details on each product (image, size, price, URL etc.). These feeds allow each platform to match up what someone showed an interested in and pull that through into the ads the user sees.

This type of remarketing is great for the final stage of the buyer journey and acts as push to convert. These ads effectively say to the user, “hey you showed an interest in this great product, we know you want it, why don’t you go buy it?”. You can identify these users in several ways, but we recommend segmenting a dynamic remarketing campaign by repeat visits, the more repeat visits the better, as this clearly highlights a strong intent to buy and so these users should be prioritised above others.

Upcoming Changes to Remarketing:

Third-Party Cookies

Privacy is becoming a growing concern in the digital space, with users becoming more reluctant to give a business their information, agree to being tracked, etc. One of the most common ways of building remarketing lists is through the use of third-party cookies on your website – these have the ability to track users who take a specific action on your site and build audiences which can be targeted.

With upcoming changes hinting at the demise of third-party cookies, marketeers are going to need to lean into first-party data collection a lot more to build useable remarketing audiences. Gain a further understanding about the future of digital marketing without third-party cookies by taking a look into our recent discussion on the topic.


Google Consent Mode v2

A quite recent change introduced by Google is Consent Mode v2. This requires Google products, such as GA4 and Google Ads, to collect and send specific consent signals from users to signal to Google that data collection and usage is/isn’t available.

Google have stated that this is a requirement for users who are utilising conversion measurement, ad personalisation and remarketing features. The exact impact of not adhering to these requirements is currently mostly unknown, but it is hinted that this could greatly cripple, if not outright disable, any remarketing audiences for those who are operating or serving to users in the UK/European Economic Area (EEA).

On a positive note, implementing Consent Mode v2 in its “Advanced Mode” will allow for the collection of some data even when users decline cookies, by sending cookieless pings. This can help to mitigate some of the aforementioned struggles, where users are becoming increasingly reluctant to accept cookies and allow tracking of their online activities. For more information on Consent Mode v2 and whether you should have this implemented on your site, check out our All You Need to Know article.

Want Expert Advice on Remarketing?

Remarketing is a great option for any e-commerce businesses looking to increase their revenue and make the most out of their site traffic. If you’re interested in learning more about creating an effective, productive, e-commerce digital advertising strategy feel free to get in touch with our expert team.

We’ve worked with a wide range of e-commerce clients and have an excellent track record of providing a high return on investment for them. For more advice on getting the most ROI out of your paid campaigns, we’ve put together another great guide for you here.