Remarketing Best Practices: Creating Ads

By Angela Seckinger — Thursday, November 8th, 2018 at 11:00am
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Welcome to part three in our series about remarketing. In our previous post, we walked through segmentation and audience settings in Google Analytics in preparation for launching your remarketing campaigns. Today, in part three, we will explore best practices for creating and optimizing remarketing ads including: aligning offers along the different stages of their visitor journey, how to optimize ad performance, and what elements to test for refining ad delivery.

Crafting the Right Offers 

One of the most powerful aspects of remarketing is the ability to personalize your remarketing ads based on the products and services a person most likely prefers but was not quite ready to purchase. For example, someone who visits your pricing page is probably going to be ready to buy sooner than someone who has just visited your blog. Tailoring your ads based on the web pages they visit and how they interact with your site will make them more likely to click-through and convert. At minimum, be sure to create different ad groups dedicated to each of these basic phases of the sales funnel.

Below, we highlight 5 visitor scenarios and some highly-related offers that you can craft to drive return visits to your website based on their visitor data.

  1. Homepage only visitors are typically in the top of the sale funnel. If they visit your homepage only, your remarketing ads should be focused on more general, high-level messaging designed to generate awareness and drive them to a specific optimized landing page where you fully control the experience. Unlike the homepage that is designed for multiple purposes. The intention here is to capture them as an initial lead/prospect and get them into the first phase of your prospect funnel. It’s your first date, so to speak.
  2. Product page visitors are typically in the middle of your sales funnel and are starting to consider making a purchase. For this visitor stage, your ads should include an offer for consideration materials such as mid-level product white-papers or case studies. For BtoC websites, send a specific offer for the product, product category or complementary items they visited. In addition, for this stage of BtoC visitor, now is a good time to consider Dynamic Remarketing, which is an advanced tactic for those that have a shopping feed. Dynamic remarketing shows ads that contain exact products and services they viewed on your site. Learn more about Dynamic Remarketing for Google Ads.
  3. Visitors who are reading your blog, downloading ebooks, or other formats of your content, should be offered additional related content such as same topic webinars, and more importantly, this is a great time to drive visibility to any customer case studies. This visitor is getting much deeper into your sales funnel. Your goal here is to show the visitor exactly how they will benefit from using your products. From a dating perspective, you are now getting serious enough to start meeting friends and family, so to speak.
  4. Visitors to the pricing pages and/or shipping information pages, are typically at the bottom of the sales funnel and are probably ready to make a decision. These visitors should receive offers that feature a stronger, more detailed call-to-action such as your most popular case studies, more advanced product focused white-papers, or even a free trial or one-on-one demo; especially for those that are repeat visitors. Here, your goal is to show the customer the experience they would have if they were already a customer.
  5. Cart abandoners make it all the way to the shopping cart but abandon the order without completing. Here, your strongest offers are usually needed since these are typically your most valuable visitors throughout the website journey. Be sure to consider your overall offers as well. Be careful not to offer a discount to these groups regularly, as that might trigger behavior where they habitually abandon orders just to get better deals. Consider other options with your offers. Just be sure that offer makes sense for the value of the visitor in that stage at that time. 

Improving Ad Performance

The following recommendations are geared specifically towards improving the ad experience for the visitor.

Keep your ads fresh and exciting to encourage clicks. To resonate with your visitor, remarketing ads must first be relevant. To be relevant, those ads must speak to the prospect’s specific needs at that time. The more meaningful and timely your ads are, the greater their impact. In addition, the longer the exact same ad runs, the less effective that ad becomes over time. According to ReTargeter, clickthrough rates fell by 50% after running the same ad set for five months. The best way to convert people who you have been remarketing to for a while is to change your ads. When you change the benefit, the offer, or a combination of the two, you can typically expect an increase in performance for a period of time.

Use a consistent, dedicated landing page. Keep in mind, your landing page is an extension of the ad. So, provide your landing page with the same look and feel of the ad, including the same messaging in the headline and the same single call-to-action in order to make the experience from ad to landing page seamless. Also, remove any other paths away from that landing page to keep that visitor contained within that same action. Keeping the landing page aligned with the ad helps guide the visitor to conversion.

A/B Test often. For the best data-driven results that avoid speculation, set up a testing plan that remodels your ads and landing pages on a regular basis with the Google Ads Experiments tool. This tool allows you to create evenly distributed split-testing scenarios for a variety of variables and see the potential results before applying those changes to your entire campaign. Of course, you are welcome to use any testing tool you prefer. Just be sure to test. Consider split testing your ad creatives using two different: sizes, colors, calls to actions, images, design styles, value propositions, offers, wording, landing pages and more. For best results, you should only be testing one change each time. Here are more details about the Google Ads Experiments tool.

Improving Ad Delivery 

Other key tactics related to improving performance include methods for when and where your remarketing ad gets delivered. The beginning stages of these recommendations were featured in the 2nd post in this series. There, we reviewed how to segment audiences for the best delivery. Now, we will review additional ways to refine ad delivery which will not only make your ad spend more efficient, but will result in improving conversion rates as well.

Frequency capping. Frequency capping can be set at the campaign, ad group, and ad level and further segment them by day, week, or month in the Ad delivery settings in Google Ads. In order to fight banner fatigue and improve overall ad performance it is important to limit the number of times your ads appear to the same person on the Display Network in Google Ads and in Facebook Ads. Overexposure of your ads will generally result in decreased campaign performance and may also cause a negative perception of your business. So, what’s the optimal ad frequency cap? A good start is to limit impressions to 15-20 times per month, per visitor on average, however, once your campaigns have been running a while and you have significant data, you should review the reach and frequency data within the Dimensions tab in Google Ads and the frequency reporting in Facebook Ads and then determine whether your frequency capping needs adjusting.

Stop showing ads to recent purchasers. If you successfully convert a customer with remarketing, why keep serving them ads and wasting valuable impressions on those that have already converted? Place a burn pixel, a line of code on the post-transaction page, to stop advertising to people who have already purchased or signed up. This reserves your remaining remarketing budget for those who might still be interested.

Exclusions for lists. Except for some cross-sell and upsell opportunities, minimize the marketing budget spent on existing customers. Upload your customer list and their email addresses to all available platforms (Adwords/Facebook). Both platforms allow you to exclude audiences and your customer list should be one of those excluded audiences. Exclude different segments as well including bounced visits, less than 10 seconds of time on site, and more. Plus, be sure to exclude certain interests and categories including parked domains, forums and other related ones that are inappropriate for your business.

Try different bidding strategies for ad groups. It is highly recommended to segment your CPC bidding based on their likelihood to convert. If you had spent enough time up front properly segmenting your audiences and structuring your campaigns to match these segments, then you are now prepared to easily adapt your CPC bidding to match the visitor journey and generate the most efficient returns of your ad spend. For example, your “homepage only” visitors would get the lowest bid since they are the least interested and most likely in the highest stage in the sales funnel. Meanwhile, “product page” visitors would get the next highest CPC bid. Cart abandoners, or above average repeat visitors should get the next highest bid and payment abandoners should get the highest bids of all. You should also consider the visitor’s time since their last visit. Those who have visited in the past three days should get a higher bid than those more than 14 days or more since their last visit and so on. Of course, these examples should be adjusted based on your own business scenarios. If you are an oil change company, you might want to bid more for customers who last visited your appointment page 90 days ago, than some other segment. So, please adjust according to strategies aligned with your business needs.

Timing of your ads. Use the ad delivery and day-parting capabilities in Google Ads to only show your ads during the most effective times for your business. Or, test the effect of pausing ads after a certain exposure time and restarting them after a certain amount of time to test effectiveness. This is sometimes a great tactic for those with very limited budgets.

Try refining and testing segments. Although we reviewed list segmentations in part two, segmentation should not be a set it and forget it process. Continue to experiment with your lists and the segmenting combinations as part of your ongoing optimization efforts and your performance will continue to improve as you select your winning combinations on a regular basis. Some segments to test include: time since last visit, demographics, Different gender targeting alongside lists.

Last, keep in mind visitors are less and less likely to follow a linear visiting or buying pattern through your site. They may come to your site through different paths, different devices and will even convert through a different path than they were originally introduced to your site. Your overall goal is to continue the same experience and story throughout so that you build the relationship for the visitor and assisting them along the way in their purchasing and customer journey.

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