Remarketing 101

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by Daniel Newton

In addition to targeting keywords, digital marketers now have the ability to target specific individuals. This unprecedented kind of control over our marketing spend and messaging creates endless possibilities for growing your paid search accounts. But it also creates a new, serious challenge:

With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day, how do you choose the right pieces of data to use in your targeting and drive your business forward?

Fortunately, there are a few core audiences that we’ve found remarketing success with, across multiple industries. Here’s how to target them, and how to use custom combination lists to take your campaigns to the next level.

Existing Customers

Existing customers are a perfect group to start with because 1) they’re easy to collect and 2) they perform very differently than other audiences. For example, here’s a quick snapshot of how existing customers perform from a sale conversion perspective compared to users who have not previously purchased products in these industries:


These numbers represent millions of dollars of wasted spend. However, in many industries, existing customers may actually convert more cheaply than prospects. You’ll have to test to figure out how you should treat them on your business.

Practical application: How to Capture Existing Customer Data

Upload a .csv file of hashed customer e-mails, and/or place a remarketing pixel on your customer log-in page.

Cart Abandoners

Another powerful indicator of intent that can be captured by web activity is a user’s engagement with an online cart. If someone has taken the time and effort to enter a cart, they’re far more likely to convert than a user who’s never interacted with your site before. On one business at RV, we saw a 300% lift in sale conversion from my cart abandoner remarketing list compared to a standard visitor.

Practical application: How to Create Custom Combination Lists

Place remarketing pixels on the initial page of your cart and another on your purchase confirmation page. Then create a custom combination list to generate a list that segments out the users who didn’t complete the sales process. Here’s a screenshot of what the interface looks like in Google AdWords:


Custom combination lists are the future of remarketing. Individuals can be classified in an infinite number of ways, so you shouldn’t limit them to one dimension in your account. Google offers an easy solution by allowing you to mix and match multiple lists together. This gives advertisers the power to create unique profiles of users.

Practical Application: How to Marry On-Site Behavior to Affluence Indicators

Find trends within your industry, and use those to your advantage. For example, we’ve found that wireless providers who require a credit-check often prove to have higher lifetime values than users on less demanding providers. That’s incredibly valuable information if you’re advertising in a highly competitive (read: expensive) industry.

In this example, creating a custom combination list to target an audience of cart abandoners (high-intent) who are also existing customers of a wireless provider like the one we mentioned above (high-value) should produce the best parameters for your campaign.


Obviously, this post just scratches the surface of the power of remarketing. But if you’re just starting out, these techniques are a great launching pad to find your own core audiences to start testing with in order to maximize value in your accounts.

Daniel Newton has been a Paid Search all-star on our team for almost two years. When he’s not geeking out about tags, you can find him walking around South End having deep but slightly snarky conversations with friends.

Want more from the RV Paid Search team? Check out some epic wins made easy, or read up on “The Millenial Dilemma.”

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