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What is Remarketing? Plus 5 Best Practices

Changed your mind? Not sure you want to learn about remarketing now? Close this blog. Go on, I dare you. There’s no escape. You’ll be seeing it again in an advert on another website you’ll visit later today. Resistance is futile… Don’t worry – I’m only joking. It’s merely my (admittedly slightly sinister) way of explaining the basics of remarketing.

Don’t worry – I’m only joking. It’s merely my (admittedly slightly sinister) way of explaining the basics of remarketing.

But there’s a real principle behind it: if I was using remarketing tools on this blog, there’s a very good chance you’d be seeing display ads about it on other websites or social media platforms you visit in the near future.

Remarketing has solidified in recent years as an extremely effective way of boosting sales, by generating attention from people who may have only taken a passing interest in your online presence or content.

As these people generally aren’t those who have entered your lead generation process, that means that any sales you can derive from remarketing strategies are wins that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

So if you aren’t already deploying a remarketing strategy, then there’s no time to lose in getting one up and running.

What is Remarketing?

The basics of remarketing (at least on a display ad level) goes something like this. It starts off when a particular person visits your website. Let’s say that you’re a fashion retailer and this person does a few minutes of browsing men’s shirts. They don’t make a purchase, don’t put anything into a basket and eventually head off to another website somewhere else.

Without remarketing being deployed, that would be the end of the story. But with a remarketing campaign in place, the user’s behaviour throughout their time on your site is tracked by specially set-up cookies. The user, of course, has accepted your use of cookies, thanks to the pop-up that you’re obliged to provide them when they arrive under data protection legislation.


That particular cookie, unique to the individual user, is then used to sort them into different lists based on whatever actions and parameters you set up. For example, you might want to find the users that have searched on one chosen product, have looked at a certain number of products, or have spent a certain amount of time on your site.

Armed with that list of users, you can then target them with adverts specifically related to their browsing activities, thereby maximising the user relevance of the ads and increasing the likelihood of generating responses.

Now, this might sound like quite an invasive way of analysing people’s browsing habits in order to sell them things. And indeed, there is a certain level of consumer concern about this level of tracking.

However, as much as people may worry about being tracked, it isn’t stopping them clicking on the ads. Remarketing tactics are proving to be extremely successful on the whole when compared to more traditional forms of online advertising.

The average click through rate (CTR) for remarketed ads, for example, is 0.7%. That sounds pretty poor… until you realise that it’s ten times the CTR of normal display ads.

And why is that?

Simply because instead of throwing an ad at anyone and everyone, you’ve focused your ad placement exclusively on a group of people that have already taken a certain level of interest, predefined by you, in your company or product.

Five Remarketing Best Practices

Remarketing Best Practices - Creation Agency

So now you’ve taken a crash course through Remarketing 101, you’re probably wondering how best to apply its principles and reap the benefits for your business. Well, once you’ve determined your end goal and target audience, there are five key points to bear in mind as you design your campaign:

Best Practice #1 – Consider your remarketing platform:

There’s a multitude of different remarketing platforms out there for you to choose from. The two most commonly-used are Google AdWords, which covers Google display advertising, and AdRoll, which covers the major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Others are available, of course, but it’s worth giving careful consideration to which are best for your needs, depending on which areas, media and demographics you want to target.

Best Practice #2 – Take care of rules and regulations:

Each platform has its own rules and frameworks in place, designed to keep remarketing strategies under control and preventing the consumer being overwhelmed with targeted ads.

Google AdWords, for example, is now introducing a feature giving users the ability to mute advertising they don’t like, while Apple’s Safari browser (as used by most iPhones) disables tracking cookies just 24 hours after they’ve been installed.

Therefore, a thorough investigation of each platform’s set-up and privacy rules before you get started is an absolute must.

Best Practice #3 – Be careful not to spam people:

While remarketing ads can be very successful, it’s important to strike the right balance between getting your message across and bombarding people with repetitive advertising that just ends up annoying them.

The abuse of remarketing by some firms has led to a rise in the take-up of ad blocker software: in the US, it’s expected to reach 30% of all American internet users by the end of 2018. And once a user deploys an ad blocker, they’re lost to all your advertising techniques for good.

Best Practice #4 – Personalisation is king:

As is the case in many areas of marketing these days, people tend to respond better when content is aimed at them specifically.

Ads that make the same generic point over and over are just going to irritate people or simply bore them. Generally speaking, the more refined and personalised you can make your remarketing content, the more likely it is that people will respond to them and click through. That means making your cookie ID lists more detailed so you can nail down more precise groups of potential customers.

Best Practice #5 – Don’t feel you have to go it alone!

If you’re worried that taking all this on might be a bit too daunting, or that you may not have the time or knowledge base within your organisation to get the best results, then help is at hand. Commissioning an external agency to oversee your remarketing campaigns gives you access to proven expertise and gives you the best opportunity of getting results.

At Creation Agency, our experience across every kind of digital marketing channel and tactic means we can find the remarketing strategy that’s perfect for you, whatever your industry.

Find out more about what we do and how we do it here.