Google AdWords Remarketing

Google AdWords Remarketing

Google Adwords Remarketing Some sources indicate that a major goal of Internet marketers for 2013 will be to prove the ROI of their marketing activities. If tracking which visitors to a site from one of the dozens of amazing channels available to web marketers weren’t difficult enough, throw in the complexity of tracking conversions from visitors who came to a website once, left, then came back later and made a purchase. AAAHHHHH! How do we do that, you ask? Remarketing, of course. Google AdWords remarketing enables advertisers to still capture that elusive conversion data from visitors who just couldn’t make a decision the first time around.

What is Google AdWords Remarketing?


Disclosure:  If you’ve already heard about remarketing, feel free to skip ahead

In general, remarketing is a web-based marketing term that refers to following up with people who have visited a website, but failed to perform some action. In this blog post, we are referring to remarketing as it pertains to the feature in AdWords. This allows users to reach out to people who have visited their website by showing them relevant ads on other websites that they visit.

How Google AdWords Remarketing can Help


Google Remarket So, how can this help your campaigns? When you spend money on any kind of advertising, people visit your site, perform some action and are recorded using whatever methods you have in place. By doing this, you can measure how the money you are spending on getting people to your site is either making you more money or not. Naturally, there are very important reasons for measuring this. After all, you want to be able to see if your efforts are succeeding, and if they are, you can do more of them. Conversely, if your efforts are failing, you need to know that so you can tweak your campaigns or stop them altogether.

Not all visitors to your conversion funnel will perform the actions you have laid out for them. In reality, things happen that cause otherwise good buyers to get distracted. They may see something else on a web page that leads them elsewhere, they may not be prepared to buy for other reasons or they simply get busy doing other things offline. These visitors are still a part of your ROI equation, but they are often not included if remarketing is not enabled. Leaving them out of calculations gives you a less accurate view of how effective your ads and campaigns really are. Remarketing helps bring those pieces back into the whole puzzle so you aren’t missing any information.

How Remarketing works

How Google AdWords Remarketing Works

By adding a code snippet to your website, Google is able to track visitors using cookies. You can then create remarketing lists of visitors based on the pages they have visited. When these visitors click on another ad somewhere else and come to your site to make a purchase or perform some other action, they are remembered and attributed to that first visit. Just like with other forms of tracking, no personally identifiable information is recorded when they are tracked.


Enabling Google AdWords Remarketing Tags


Enabling Google AdWords remarketing is fairly simple. To use it, you have to add the remarketing tag to your website. This is a code snippet you get from Google that must be copied and pasted into the source code of your website. Google recommends pasting the code snippet into a common section of your site that appears on every page such as the footer. If you have a website that uses a template, you can paste the code there and be good to go. If you have a website that was not built using a CMS or template, you will have to paste the code onto every page of the site. Note that even if you have used a CMS and have built pages outside of it, you should add the code to those pages, as well.

Google’s video below shows you how to set up remarketing for your website.

A Note on Privacy


Privacy is a hot topic in the online world. Even though you may not be tracking personal information, people can get upset when they have the perception that you have been spying on them after they’ve left your website. Although this isn’t really how remarketing with AdWords works, if that is how people perceive it, then it’s true (at least for them). It’s always a good idea to review your privacy policy to ensure it’s in line with the tracking methods you are using. Of course, this is a matter of personal preference, but I like to be transparent. Will people read your privacy policy? Maybe. But even if they don’t, at least it is there in case they want to know how they are being tracked.

Set an Appropriate Membership Duration


The time frame during which a cookie remains active on a person’s browser is referred to as the membership duration in AdWords. By default, cookies expire 30 days after a visitor comes to your site. This means that if that same visitor completes a transaction more than 30 days later, he or she will not be attributed to that initial contact. Think about your business model, your campaign goals and how long your ad will be relevant for users when setting this duration period. For example, if you are selling a product that is time-sensitive, you may want to configure membership to be 30 days or less. If, however, you have a longer sales cycle or a product/service whose transaction details are not time sensitive, a longer membership duration may be appropriate.

To change the default membership duration (cookie expiration):

  1. Click “Shared Library” under “All Online Campaigns” in AdWords.
    Remarketing with Google AdWords
  2. Click the “Audiences” header. AdWords Remarketing
  3. Enter your desired membership duration in the “Membership Duration” column. Google Remarketing

Don’t Count Your Customers Twice


Sometimes it’s important to note when a prospect sees a remarketing ad, clicks through to your website, performs your action and is then converted; cookies are not turned off for this user. Instead, they can still potentially be shown your remarketing ads when browsing. In fact, since they revisited the page where their cookies were originally set, the membership duration will be reset. While that might not be a huge deal, if it is important that this not happen for you, there is a little hack you can try.

This requires that you have a confirmation page and create a custom remarketing list.

For example, create three lists:

List #1 = People who did not complete the checkout process

List #2 = People who did complete the checkout process and went on to the confirmation page.

List #3 = People who are on List #1 but not on List #2

Naturally, you can create as many lists as is required for your purposes, but you have to have some way to differentiate among people who have not completed the conversion and those who have.

Next, add your List #3 to negative audiences in AdWords. To do that, select the “Audience” tab in your remarketing campaign, click on the “Negative Audiences” link, click the “+Add” button (do this at the campaign level) then select your newly created list.



The beauty of marketing online is that you can gather data about the visitors who bought your products or services. With traditional advertising, you can’t always accurately track who made a purchase after seeing a television ad or driving by a billboard. You definitely can’t track when those same indivudals decided to purchase later after looking at those same things. That doesn’t mean those forms of advertising are useless, but it does mean we can get far better data online. Google AdWords remarketing allows advertisers to capture data that would otherwise be lost. With the growing importance of proving ROI in online marketing activities, every bit of data is important.

Have you ever used Google AdWords remarketing? If not, how do you track visitors who made a purchase later on after seeing one of your ads? Join in the conversation by commenting below.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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