How (and WHY) you can run highly effective Google Ads remarketing

How (and WHY) you can run highly effective Google Ads remarketing

Mark Noakes
By Mark Noakes

Google Ads remarketing gives you the chance to re-engage with an audience that’s already shown interest in your products or services. If you’re currently running Google Ads that only target new leads, you’re missing out on huge conversion potential.

Not everyone who visits your site for the first time is going to convert. In fact, around 96% of first time visitors will leave your site without purchasing anything. Some of those visitors leave your site because they’re not interested. But others may leave because they’re weighing up their options or need more information to make a decision. Or because they ran out of time while browsing your site. 

Retargeting people who have previously shown interest in your brand is a tried and true method of driving up your conversion rates. It’s also a great way to boost brand awareness and increase the lifetime value of your customers.

Here’s our guide on how to create Google remarketing ads and why it’s worth the investment.

New to Google Ads? Read our guide to Google Ads and how they can change your business forever.

Remarketing vs retargeting – what’s the difference?

Remarketing vs Retargeting

Something to clarify first is the terms remarketing and retargeting. The terms are often used interchangeably these days. And while there’s a lot of overlap, they traditionally refer to different strategies and goals. Understanding the difference can help you refine your own tactics based on the specific goals you have.

Retargeting – To put it simply, retargeting uses paid ads to retarget people who have previously visited your site or social channels. The retargeting strategy recognises that most people won’t make a purchase or fill out your contact form on their first visit. The ultimate goal of retargeting is to bring people back to your website so they convert.

Remarketing – The main focus of remarketing is to re-engage past customers. Traditionally, remarketing campaigns use email to re-engage with people who have previously interacted with your business. For example, encouraging past customers to make a repeat purchase or sending offers to people who have signed up to your newsletter.

As the two strategies have evolved, the distinction has become less clear. Many sources today use the terms interchangeably – including Google. In Google’s documentation, remarketing is used as an umbrella term that covers both retargeting and remarketing strategies. In this guide to Google Ads remarketing, we’ll take Google’s lead and cover both the retargeting and remarketing campaigns you can run with Google Ads.

What is remarketing (or retargeting) in Google Ads?

Google remarketing ads are paid ads that show on Youtube, the Google Display and Google Search networks. Like standard Google ads, they can be image, video, responsive or text ads.

What makes remarketing ads different from standard Google ads is who you’re targeting. Instead of engaging with new website visitors, remarketing ads are targeted at people who have previously interacted with your brand.

Essentially they work by inserting a tracking code on your site which, when people visit your site, the code places cookies in their browser. These cookies are used later to serve relevant ads to the visitors you want to retarget. Think of it like converting your online window shoppers into buyers. You can also use customer information you collect to remarket your products and services to past purchasers.

Why run a Google Ads remarketing campaign?

Why Run a Google Ads Remarketing Campaign

Google Ads remarketing campaigns are a highly effective way to drive up conversions and extend the lifetime of your customers. 

The numbers are clear. 96% of first time visitors will leave your site without making a purchase. There can be many reasons why someone doesn’t convert on the first touch point. Perhaps they didn’t find what they were looking for or maybe they need more information before making a decision. 

Either way, when you bring interested visitors back to your site, you increase the likelihood of a conversion. Plus, with the Google Ads remarketing platform, you can target your ads to the specific visitor. That means, no matter how far along the conversion journey someone got, you can show them ads that are personalised to them.

Retargeting potential customers is a great way to build brand awareness and trust. But it’s not just useful for winning new customers. Remarketing to past customers helps you stay connected with your audience, build brand loyalty and extend customer lifetime (and value).

How to create Google remarketing ads

How To Create Google Remarketing Ads

Follow these steps to create your first Google remarketing campaign:

1. Define your goals 

As with all marketing strategies, you’ve got to know your objectives before you start out. This will help you choose the approach that gets the best results for your business.

You can run different types of Google remarketing campaigns, depending on your goals. For example, your campaign could target:

  • People who visited your site but didn’t take a particular action on your page (e.g. they viewed your products but didn’t add them to cart or they read your content but didn’t fill out your contact form).
  • People who reached a certain stage of the sales process, but didn’t follow through (e.g. they put an item in their cart, but didn’t check out).
  • People who haven’t seen a particular page on your site (e.g. they read an article you wrote about organic gardening, but haven’t seen your workshop on organic gardening).
  • People who have previously purchased something from you or signed up to your service (e.g. you want them to renew their subscription or buy another product).

2. Add a Google Analytics tracking code to your website

You’ll need a tracking code on your website so that you can create audiences for Google to show your ads to after they leave your site. 

If you’ve already got Google Analytics set up on your website, that’s great! You can simply log in and start creating audiences. You can do this under Admin > Audience Definitions > Audiences.

If you haven’t currently got Google Analytics set up, read our guide on how to set up and install Google Analytics on your website.

Once you’ve got Google Analytics set up, make sure you’ve also linked it to your Google Ads account under Admin > Google Ads Links so that the audiences you’ve created are available in Google Ads.

3. Create Google remarketing lists

Your remarketing lists tell Google who to serve your ads to. You can make different lists for targeting different groups of people. These lists can be created automatically based on people who visit your site. Or you can enter email addresses you’ve collected manually directly into the Google ads platform (under Tools & Settings > Shared Library > Audience Manager)

For the best results, be intentional with your lists, rather than just targeting everyone who visited your site. Afterall, someone who visited your page and bounced before taking an action probably requires different remarketing tactics to someone who placed an item in their cart but didn’t check out.

You can also decide who you don’t want to target, so that you avoid spending your ad budget on people who aren’t likely to convert. For example, someone who bounced from your page in under 10 seconds.

What’s more, you can decide how long information should stay on your list. This can help you avoid retargeting someone who already made a purchase or signed up for a service. As well as people who are no longer ‘in-market’ or just aren’t interested in your products anymore.

4. Create your remarketing campaign

Set up your remarketing campaign in your Google Ads account. Go to the campaigns tab and select “New Campaign”. You’ll be prompted at each stage of the setup. Under the Audiences section, choose the remarketing list you created above. 

If you’re not sure what settings are right for your remarketing goals, speak with the team at Dilate. Our experts can help you optimise your ads for the best return on ad spend.

5. Create your ads

Now it’s time to make the creatives for your ads. Responsive display ads are a fuss-free option. In most cases, simply upload your visuals and Google will retrofit your ads for you. You can also upload existing ads. Just make sure you’re following the correct dimension guidelines from Google. If you’ve run ad campaigns in the past, you can also copy existing ads.

Nail your ad creatives with these tips on how to create highly effective Google Ads.

How to optimise your Google remarketing ads

How To Optimise Your Google Remarketing Ads

Get better return on your ad spend with these Google Ads remarketing tips:

1. Use dynamic retargeting

I can guarantee you’ve been served dynamic retargeting ads in the past. Do you remember seeing the exact kettle that you were looking at from a store, following you around the internet? This is dynamic retargeting. Google’s dynamic remarketing helps ecommerce stores personalise ads based on what a visitor did while on their site. For example, a dynamic ad might show someone specific products they looked at on your website. Dynamic retargeting increases the relevancy of your ads, matching them with what your customers were looking for.

2. Hit them with an offer

For visitors that are still making up their minds, a special offer could get them over the line. Consider using your remarketing campaigns to offer a discount, exclusive promotion or other incentive to potential customers. Be sure to target your offers to the visitor’s needs as best you can.

3. Tailor your timeline

You don’t want to be serving ads to a visitor if they’re no longer interested. Consider the length of your customer buying journey when creating your remarketing campaigns. It’ll help you get better results. For example, if you sell a box of toilet paper, don’t start remarketing to previous customers until they’re thinking about purchasing more toilet paper. That way you’ll increase your chances of a conversion.

4. Focus on quality users 

While some of your site visitors will convert with a good retargeting campaign, others may not be interested in your products and services at all. Don’t waste your ad budget on leads that aren’t likely to convert. It’s a good idea to exclude visitors who bounce or spend less than 10 seconds on your website from your remarketing lists. Instead, focus on retargeting high quality visitors who are more likely to convert.

5. Avoid bad ad placements

Association is a powerful thing. You want to make sure your ads are showing up in locations where they have a positive or neutral impact on your brand. At the very least, avoid placements that are going to reflect negatively on your brand. For example, dirty sites and obscene content.

6. Upsell to previous purchasers 

Don’t spend all your time trying to attract new customers. Make sure you also create campaigns that are targeted at past customers. Staying connected with your past customers can help you increase their lifetime value and boost brand loyalty. Remarketing campaigns are a great way to sell previous purchasers complementary products or remind them to restock. 

7. Test different creative formats

Testing your ads is a crucial part of the optimisation process. As with all ads, keep your target audience in mind when creating visual and written messaging. Test out different ad formats, images, calls to action and other elements to see what works best. Don’t forget to track your results so you can use them for better decision making in your next campaigns.

8. Avoid hitting people who have already purchased

If someone has already purchased from you, you don’t want them to start feeling like you’re nagging them. Don’t give them buyer’s remorse by putting an offer in front of them once they’ve already paid full price. Unless your focus is on repeat purchase, it makes sense to remove these customers from your audience. 

Also read: How to calculate ROI on a marketing campaign.

Need help with your Google Ads remarketing campaign?

Need Help With Your Google Ads Remarketing Campaign

Remarketing and retargeting campaigns can be highly profitable – when they’re done right. If you need expert help to make the most of your Google Ads budget, get in touch with the team at Dilate. We’re Google  Partners with a glowing track record helping businesses reach their growth potential with Google Ads. Book in a discovery session to see how we can support your business too. Call us on .

happy clients

what our clients are saying

create business. better everyday.

Let's Talk

feed your mind

learn from the best minds in the business


Our approach to becoming Australia's most respected agency.

Our approach to becoming Australia's most respected agency.

Bodie provides some insight into Dilate's internal operations. How we approach what we do, and how we strive to be Better Everyday.


    Let's Talk

    Leave your details below or give us a call on 1800 345 283 and let's chat about your goals, and how we can help grow your business.

    Free, No Obligation Audit and Consult.

    By clicking submit you agree to our Privacy policy
    [handl_ref_i][/handl_ref_i] [handl_landing_page_i][/handl_landing_page_i] [handl_url_i][/handl_url_i] [submission_page_i][/submission_page_i] [utm_source_i][/utm_source_i] [utm_medium_i][/utm_medium_i] [utm_campaign_i][/utm_campaign_i] [utm_term_i][/utm_term_i] [utm_content_i][/utm_content_i] [gclid_i][/gclid_i]


      Get Started

      Leave your details below or give us a call on 1800 345 283 and let's chat about your goals, and how we can help grow your business.

      Free, No Obligation Audit and Consult.

      By clicking submit you agree to our Privacy policy
      [handl_ref_i][/handl_ref_i] [handl_landing_page_i][/handl_landing_page_i] [handl_url_i][/handl_url_i] [submission_page_i][/submission_page_i] [utm_source_i][/utm_source_i] [utm_medium_i][/utm_medium_i] [utm_campaign_i][/utm_campaign_i] [utm_term_i][/utm_term_i] [utm_content_i][/utm_content_i] [gclid_i][/gclid_i]