I’m going to show you how to build the last remarketing campaign you are ever going to need. Brands often don’t do remarketing or they miss out on the basics. I’m going to do one better and talk about sequential remarketing – what it is and how to make it a more delightful experience. It takes some work and is totally worth it.

What Is Sequential Remarketing?

Typically when you hear people talk about remarketing, it’s remarketing 101. This could be people abandoning their shopping cart or remarketing to people who visited one of your key pages like the pricing, features or contact us page on your site.

Audience Sources

Those are all great remarketing lists and campaigns to setup and run. However, let’s take our remarketing to the next level. Ready?

Sequential remarketing is story based remarketing. It’s taking your customers on a journey as they click on an ad, get whisked away to a landing page and then take an action. You show them the next act in your story as you move people through a funnel. Funnel marekting is a common practice on Facebook. Despite this, there is a distinct lack of it on paid search, be it Google or Microsoft ads.

Why Create A Delightful Remarketing Experience?

Based on data collected by the Baymard Institute 69% of customers abandon a shopping cart each year. Think about that for a second. That’s a lot of people leaving your website and never coming back. This is a massive opportunity given the 4.66 billion global internet users worldwide.

If your remarking isn’t on point and superior to your competitors, you’re going to get left behind. Plus, many of those 1 billion people will be on a mobile device. PERIOD. They won’t own a desktop computer because for many people in the BRIC countries, they can’t afford one. It will amount to even more people abandoning their shopping cart and not buying from you. 

Delightful remarketing is about connecting with visitors to your website who may not have made an immediate purchase. You do this by targeting ads in front of a defined audience that had previously visited your website. This can help a brand grow their revenue/ profit AND not piss off customers in the process, which isn’t mutually exclusive. It just requires more effort from each of us.

If you need some help on how to properly target an audience, please feel free to use the instructions below:

Audience targeting 101

  1. Click Audiences in the page menu.
  2. In the “Audiences segment” module, click Edit Audience segments.

Adding audience segments

  1. Click Select an ad group and then select a campaign and ad group from the list that appears. You can also search for the campaign or ad group you want to update.
  2. Select Targeting to narrow the reach of your campaign to the selected segments
  3. This is where the defined audiences that had previously visited your website can be found. 

Editing Audience Segments

Executing Sequential Remarketing

Product Launch

Let’s say you are about to launch a new business that includes a bamboo clothing line for men. Since no one knows about them yet, you are going to want to take customers on a journey to get them excited about the brand and mission.

You might start off with video marketing on YouTube and build a remarketing list of people who watched more than 50% of your mission video. The video itself could talk about how you give money to NGOs that help preserve the rainforest in Canada and around the world.

For those that watched the video, you might want to serve them an ad that leads to a landing page about your bamboo clothes. The landing page talks about why they are more comfortable to wear and what makes bamboo a breathable fabric.  Those that didn’t watch beyond 50%, could be served a different video featuring people who wore your clothes during a trial run.

After running people through 2 or 3 steps in your story arc, you end up with a strong list of people who are more familiar with your brand that are now in a better position to buy. They could be offered a mix of ads on Google (RLSA, display, discovery or video) and Facebook featuring your launch product. Alternatively, if your product hasn’t launched yet, you could always take pre-orders for the product(s), and start collecting emails for additional marketing campaigns.

The Do’s Of Delightful Remarketing

Here are things to keep in mind when you’re launching any campaigns, regardless of the industry you’re in or what you’re selling.

Frequency Cap

Cap at 2 – 3/day. You don’t want to have your customers get brand fatigued. Remarketing is a marathon not a sprint. It’s a gentle reminder not a bash over the head. Dig into Google Analytics and test to find out what daily frequency works for your brand.

Age

If you’re on Google Ads or a platform that lets you segment by age, do it. You can waste a lot of impressions and spend by targeting people who aren’t going to convert on your product. At my last couple startups, it has generally been 25 – 44 year olds that converted the most, but of course this will depend on any given product.

Location

Do not target the whole country. Limiting the locations you target can save you time and money, as you don’t have to worry about targeting people who have no interest in your product (or converting). Look at Google Analytics or your analytics package to see what markets you’re strong in. Marketing is like a game of Risk, you want to own your territories and fend off competitors. Use location targeting to your advantage.

Cookie Length

Most platforms default to 30 days. Unless you’re in an industry with a long sales window (mortgages, cars or industrial equipment…), keep your look back window to 30 days or less. Very few people will convert after seeing your ads for 30 days.  It’s annoying to see ads for a brand you may not care about  beyond the 30 day mark.

Creative

Use a variety of creative. Having a set of pure brand creative is fine, but make sure to mix it up with other creative that gets super niche. 10 remarketing lists of 1,000 people with great creative is always superior to one remarking list of 10,000 people and generic creative. Keep message match in mind. The way to find ad copy for your remarking is by interviewing customers and talking with CS team. If your homepage is not answering their questions and helping the customer, that’s a golden opportunity to put it in your remarketing.

That is it for this week. See you next time.

Bonus: Converting Display/Discovery Remarketing Traffic With Promotions

Promotions are one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to driving sales. There is no denying the effectiveness of a strong offer in terms of increasing conversion rates, as demonstrated below by a 2021 report from BigCommerce.

Promotional Effectiveness Overview By Industry

To get the most out of an offer it has to be timely. With remarketing we can potentially show our offer to a pre-qualified audience at a time when our brand is still top of mind. 

Using a very specific ad group structure for Display/Discovery campaigns you can target audiences with different promotional messaging depending on how long ago it was that they were visiting your site.

In this example we are going to create an audience for Cart/Checkout Abandoners because these users are so far along in the conversion funnel. They’re perfect candidates for remarketing campaigns that would nudge them forward with a small incentives like free shipping, or a discount on the items in their carts.

Creating The Audience in Google Analytics

First follow these steps from Google to create a new audience in GA. Then once you’re into the audience builder let’s get started: 

Name this first audience: Abandoned Cart (1 day)

Audience Definition

Click Create New, then let’s narrow things down by adding a session duration parameter, found under Behavior (below)

Audience Builder Qualify Traffic

This will help cut some of the traffic that bounced quickly from our site. Remember, we want high quality/purchase intent traffic for this audience.

Then to create your add to cart conditions:

Navigate to Advanced > Conditions, and enter the highlighted filters:

Audience Builder Cart Checkout

Click Apply, and then you’ll be asked to choose your membership duration (below)

Audience Definition Membership Duration

To start you’ll want to use 1 day. Lookback days can remain at 7 throughout. 

Click Next step and choose the audience destination. Make sure the Google Ads Account is selected.

Adding Audience Destinations

Then repeat this whole process so that you end up with the following membership durations:

  • 1 Day
  • 7 Days
  • 14 Days
  • 30 Days
  • 60 Days
  • 90 Days

Creating the Ad Group Structure in Google Ads

  1. Create Ad Groups for each membership duration, naming as follows:
    • Abandoned Cart (1 day)
    • Abandoned Cart (7 days)
    • Abandoned Cart (14 days)
    • Abandoned Cart (30 day)
    • Abandoned Cart (60 days)
    • Abandoned Cart (90 days)
  2. Add the corresponding audiences that you previously created in GA. To do this, first navigate to the ad group, then follow the steps outlined above in Audience Targeting 101.
  3. Layering Exclusions: depending on the ad group date range, you’re going to have to add exclusions for each of the preceding membership durations. Exclusions are essentially Negative Audiences. You will need them to stop audience traffic overlapping between the different ad groups. Without them, the campaign won’t work as it should. To start adding Exclusions, go to:

    Audience > Exclusions > Edit Exclusions.

Working Example: 

  • Ad Group: Abandoned Cart (90 days) 
  • Exclusions: 60, 30, 14, 7, and 1 day audiences. 

Repeat this process for each Ad Group. (Of course 1 Day will have no exclusions).

Keep in mind that unless your data segment contains the minimum audience size, your ads will not serve. The screenshot below should give you an idea of the required audience sizes:

Audience Sizes

Search is around 1000. Therefore, depending on your volume of daily traffic and the types of audience definitions you have in place, it could take time before your ads are ready to serve for a given audience.

Adding The Promo

Now for the reason we’re all here: adding the promotion! Do you recall me mentioning something about offers being timely, earlier? Well, now we have our remarketing traffic segmented with ad groups showing 1, 7, 14, 30, 60, 90 day cart abandon audiences. How timely!

To get the most out of this structure utilize your strongest promotion for the most recent visitors. Here’s an example of how you might want to structure your offers:

  • Abandoned Cart (1 day) = 25% OFF 1-Day Exclusive Discount (Today)
  • Abandoned Cart (7 days) = 15% OFF Limited Time Offer (7-Days)
  • Abandoned Cart (14 days) = 10% OFF Limited Time Offer (14-Days)
  • Abandoned Cart (30 day) = Non-discount or lower value offer 
  • Abandoned Cart (60 days) = regular promotional message, less invasive 
  • Abandoned Cart (90 days) = Regular message reminding the customer of the brand

The further along the customer journey you get, the less friction you want to create. Constantly offering a maximum value discount isn’t going to create a sense of urgency, and might even have a negative impact on the customer.

Promotion Implementation

Make sure to highlight your promotion within both ad copy (headlines & descriptions) and creative if possible.

Summer Sale 25% off example

The offer must be as clear as day to capture your customers attention, and always make sure that each ad group has the correct promotion attached.