How to Leverage Your Remarketing Lists

Remarketing Lists Featured Image
Anthony Lower
September 4, 2014


Remarketing lists are nothing new to Google, and in fact if you are not already using remarketing campaigns you are lagging behind your competitors. With that being said there are many ways to optimize and leverage your remarketing lists and campaigns that many people are not aware of.


What is Remarketing?

By installing the Google Remarketing Code associated with your AdWords account onto your website, you are able to “cookie” your site’s visitors and then show them ads based off of the fact that they have visited your site recently. Unfortunately, many people stop here when setting up and running remarketing campaigns. We will break down a couple of ways to improve your campaigns, from the simplest to the most complex strategies.


Segment Your Cookie Base

The simplest way to add value to your remarketing strategy is to segment your cookied users into different lists. It should not come as a surprise that many different people will visit your website and not all of those visitors are created equal in terms of how valuable their visits are. Google gives you the ability to separate these users into different lists based off of the URLs they have visited and how long ago they visited your site. This allows you to separate past visitors into different categories. Some of the most common uses are creating lists for different product/services types or lists for only converted users. This then allows you to show more relevant ads to your users based off of their interests and where they fall in your sales cycle. It also gives you more flexibility to set your Max CPC’s depending on the expected value of a return visit.



Add Display Network Targets

The next easiest way to improve your remarketing campaigns is by adding in another layer of targeting. You can layer any display network targeting option over the top of your remarketing lists. By setting these targeting options as “Bid Only,” you have the ability to adjust your Max CPC’s based off of where your ads are showing without affecting who sees the ad. It should be clear that where a user sees your ad will change its effectiveness. By adding in display targets you can ensure your ad spend is being focused towards the most relevant placements (like showing clothing ads on a fashion blog) and bidding down on areas that are less relevant (like showing electronics ads on an outdoors/camping website.) There are hundreds of display targeting options that you can experiment with, ranging from user interests to gender and age.


Dynamic Ad Content

One of the most technically difficult but straightforward ways to improve your remarketing campaigns (specific to e-commerce sites) is to install dynamic remarketing (covered here.) Dynamic remarketing gives you the ability to show dynamically created ads to users that display the exact products they were previously viewing. This obviously shows the most relevant ads to users, and even allows you to separate your cookie pools into “Product Viewers,” “Abandoned Carts,” and “Completed Checkout” so you can target customers based off of where they are in the sales funnel.


Don’t Forget the Search Network

The final and newest way you should be using your remarketing lists is with search campaigns. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, or RLSAs, give you more control over your general search campaigns. There are two separate strategies associated with RLSAs depending on your goals.

The first is to take your normal search campaign and make the ads only visible when a member of your selected remarketing list performs a targeted search. This generally allows you to target broader keywords than what would normally be effective because the user is already familiar with your brand.

The other is to layer the remarketing lists over an active search campaign and then simply set positive or negative bid adjustments depending on the value of the remarketing lists. For example, if you have an e-commerce site you could have a positive bid adjustment on searches performed by previous customers, and on the flip side if you are trying to generate member signups you can add a -100% bid adjustment on searches from previously converted users so you do not waste ad spend where conversions are not possible.


Are there other strategies that you use when working within remarketing lists? Comment below, email us at, or tweet us @Perfect_Search!

Anthony Lower
Director, Search & Social Advertising

Anthony Lower is an Indiana University alum who really wishes Chewbacca was in his posse. If he were stranded on a desert island, Anthony would hope he had his golf clubs, bicycle, and a radio – why not turn his time there into a vacation?

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