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A Marketing Catch-22: Use Retargeting to Diversify amidst Competitive Evolution

Published: February 10, 2015

Author: Isaac Rudansky

It’s a pragmatic conflict advertisers have faced since time immemorial, but with scores of brands joining the digital marketing fray on a daily basis, the problem has only grown more pressing with the passage of time.
Whoever you are and whatever your business may be, chances are you’re not the mom-and-pop shop solely supported by children and grandchildren of your parents and grandparents’ most loyal customers and clients. Chances are you rely on more than word-of-mouth referrals to keep your business growing and thriving.
Surely, you’ve got competition. In fact, you can probably rattle off five other companies that compete with you in some way or another, and if you think a little harder, you can most likely produce 10-15 enterprises targeting some of the same folks you are.
Furthermore, you can confidently assume that your competitors are trying to appeal to your customers through some (if not all) of the advertising mediums you use to capture leads and increase your own brand’s awareness.
If you can’t find a healthy number of competitors in today’s ubiquitous digital arena, you’re probably in a bad market. If you’re in a good market, it’s no longer enough to rely on any one particular advertising medium to consistently drive a profitable marketing campaign. Hence the 21st-century catch-22.


At our agency, we’ve seen hundreds of AdWords accounts across a diverse range of industries – and over the last few years we’ve learned one thing that seems to be true without qualification: It’s no longer sufficient to introduce yourself to a prospective customer just once.
Remarketing used to be something that worked well for some but wasn’t as necessary for others. That’s no longer the case. Because your prospects are being accosted by more and more advertisements from more and more of your competitors, the playing field is simply too fierce to expect long-term profitability from a search campaign alone. Or any campaign, for that matter.
We’ve seen a huge shift in the amount of display remarketing on the web today, and it’s not unfair to assume that at some point in the near future that most, if not all, of display advertising will be retargeted ads.
Retargeting should be taken seriously, and when utilized properly it can yield tremendous results. Once you begin building your audiences, you can remarket to them in very specific ways with ridiculously specific offers.
For example, you may get a lot of traffic to the blog section of your site, but your prospects closest to the end of the sales cycle are the visitors who have checked out specific pages on your site with an actual sales offer. By creating a custom remarketing audience, you can retarget only to people who visited your sales pages.
Alternatively, you may only want to retarget to visitors who spent a minimum amount of time on your site or who’ve viewed at least a certain number of pages. As a business owner, you may decide a visitor who spent less than a minute on your site probably wasn’t seriously interested in what you had to offer.
These are just two simple examples of the highly targeted capabilities remarketing has to offer. With a little creativity, you can figure out some amazing ways to present the right offers to the right audience and send them to the right landing pages.
Developing proper landing pages and audience-specific ad copy are both integral to the success of any remarketing campaign. Those ideas are beyond the scope of this article but I hope to cover them in greater detail in a future post.
Point is, remarketing is really powerful – moreover, if you want to be successful with PPC, you really need to use it. The rapid increase in competition and the proportionately rapid decrease in our collective attention spans …
Wait, where was I?
Just kidding (not really).
But we’re all on the same page, right?
Many advertisers are beginning to think in terms of cost per pixel (CPP) and less in terms of CPC or CPA. When you have a well-oiled remarketing machine, where you’re getting back in front of your visitors with offers and content directly related to the areas of your business they showed interest in, that cost-per-pixel metric can very well be your most valuable KPI.
If you don’t have the Google remarketing tag installed on your website, go do that now. Of course, you can set up remarketing audiences from Google Analytics as well, but I like creating simple audiences directly in AdWords with the AdWords remarketing tag.
You can’t set up a remarketing campaign without a remarketing audience, so make sure your visitors are getting added to your remarketing lists with either an AdWords tag or an Google Analytics audience. Once your audiences are populated, you can launch your remarketing campaigns. AdWords allows you to run remarketing search campaigns as well as remarketing display campaigns.
My best advice is to get creative and test all your ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. Nobody else’s formula is going to necessarily work for you, and what works for you may very well have failed for advertisers before you.
One thing that has worked for us is to let our remarketing list know that we know that they’ve visited our site before. Adding this sort of personal attention to your creatives lets your visitors know you’re a thoughtful marketer and sends a human signal across the cyberspace abyss.
If you’re remarketing in search, try loosening up your keywords a bit, since you’re only showing ads to people who have visited your site before, and therefore know who you are and what you’re all about.
Dynamic remarketing is another can of worms entirely, and we’ll have to save that for another post as well. But know this: if you sell stuff on your site … get dynamic remarketing set up pronto.


There’s no reason your remarketing efforts have to start and end in the Google ecosystem. Facebook remarketing, for example, has been wildly effective for many a digital marketer.
Even if you’re not convinced yet, jump into your Facebook ads manager and grab your Facebook remarketing snippet from the audiences section and install it on your site. That way, you’ll at least start populating your Facebook remarketing audience for future use.
Facebook already offers incredibly nuanced targeting parameters, and adding your previous website visitors as a qualifier can help you create some very potent Facebook ad campaigns.
With Facebook remarketing, new vistas open up to you and your company as you have the ability to promote a variety of actions like page likes, post engagement, website conversions, and website visits.


If you’ve been accustomed to perceiving remarketing as merely a way to serve ads in a more refined way, you need to start thinking about it from a different angle.
Start thinking about remarketing as an absolutely integral part of your campaigns, one that can very likely spell the difference between success and failure of the campaigns that precede the remarketing ads.
Start thinking of your search and display campaigns as sparkplugs: stage-ones that will eventually help populate your ROI-positive remarketing campaigns.
Start thinking of your advertising sans remarketing as torsos … incomplete, ineffective, and without the ability to play all major sports and musical instruments.
If you’ve done some imaginative things with remarketing campaigns of your own, don’t hesitate to share them with us below!
Thanks for taking the time, and until next time, I wish you the best of success.

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