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Liz Kasian

E-commerce Ads Remarketing Strategies: Explained from A to Z

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Every ecommerce business owner, CMO or a digital marketer should consider setting up remarketing for their website. You are too busy to buy for this general blah-blah? Here come the hard-core facts:

  • Only 3% are likely to buy from an ecommerce website on the first visit. The other 97% need more work to be converted.
  • 47% of the surveyed customers reported no negative feeling about remarketing, being happy to receive great deal through it.
  • Live example: Tirendo managed to increase its conversion rate by 161% by using remarketing.

Considering getting down to the bottom of it to jump on this high ROI marketing train now? Let’s dive deep from here to find out:

  • What is remarketing?
  • Remarketing vs retargeting
  • Remarketing: Google Ads vs Google Analytics
  • Remarketing ad formats
  • Remarketing strategies for ecommerce

What is e-commerce remarketing?

E-commerce Remarketing is a suite of marketing methods and techniques, that allow to promote a product to clients who have already either shown interest to it or purchased it by interacting via one of the online channels and whose data has been collected during their initial interaction with a company’s digital channel via cookies, tags or email list collection.

Confused yet? At this point, it is vital to mention that in most cases the 2 terms Remarketing and Retargeting are used interchangeably. Following the trend, for the purposes of this article, we will also use the 2 terms interchangeably. But do we know the difference? Yes, we do.

So we thought we would share it below. But quite honestly, even Google itself uses those terms interchangeably. So who are we not to follow suit?

Remarketing vs Retargeting: finally there is real research on the topic!

OK, just as we mentioned, the 2 terms: Remarketing and Retargeting are used the world over like they are synonymic. As if they are one-egg twins and mean absolutely the same. But we wanted to make sure we provide the most accurate information for you, guys. So we started digging.

The result of the research is below, please mind, this is for marketing nerds only:

Remarketing — is a set of email marketing techniques that is aimed at clients, whose email has been obtained by the business during prior digital interactions, like a completed purchase on the website.

Retargeting is a set of digital advertising marketing techniques, that is aimed at prospect clients, who have had some kind of prior interaction with digital channels of a company like visited a webpage on the site or viewed a video on the Facebook business page.

To further investigate the idea, we have looked at the Google trends report for 2 keywords: remarketing and retargeting. Below are the US and world stats for a span of a massive 5 years. While both geo zones feature bigger popularity of the remarketing keyword, globally retargeting is even less used than in the US.

Google Trends graph for Retargeting vs Remarketing - USA, 5 years

Google Trends graph for Retargeting vs Remarketing - globally, 5 years span

Interestingly, when remarketing is used in the US, most of the related searches are related to Google ads. But for the retargeting term, 2 of the top searches are Facebook related: as in “Retargeting Facebook” and “Retargeting Pixel”.

In terms of global usage, some countries mostly use remarketing and have little-to-none traceable usage of the synonymic term, like Croatia, Latvia, Serbia, Slovenia. China, meanwhile, seems to be blissfully unaware of the term Remarketing but does use retargeting instead, just like Morocco. The US is quite close to the golden mean, using both terms extensively, with Remarketing at 56% and retargeting at 44%.

To understand how the public sees the topic, we also did a quick Google search for the combo of terms used in URLs and here are the results:

  1. Overall there appears to be more content, that aims at promoting Google Remarketing.
  2. Users and marketers, seem to associate the term Remarketing with Google rather /17,9K vs 5,8K/ and Retargeting with Facebook /9,3K vs 7,9K/.

Summing this chapter up:

We hope to have helped you differentiate the 2 terms, but highly advise you not to sweat. The entire world doesn’t. Yet. Inclusive of Google. This is something pretty new that is being coined and classified as we speak. So for this article, we will stick to the notion that retargeting = remarketing.

How remarketing works

There are a few stages in the process of remarketing. Let’s go through them:

  1. A person uses an ecommerce website or a social media channel.
  2. A website records some of the data of the user via cookies or pixels /the data can vary depending on many aspects and user settings, but it would usually contain gender, age frame, geo, pages viewed, offers clicked/.
  3. A marketer segments those customers into audiences and adds them to campaigns based on different criteria.
  4. A user starts seeing ads on different platforms with viewed products or items he or she interacted with on social media or the website.

So basically, in plain English, remarketing works in a way, that users leave traces while using digital products affiliated with the brand, and that allows the brand to later target such users with highly relevant ads.

Advantages of using remarketing strategies

Remarketing can help an ecommerce business in several ways across many KPIs: to assist the marketing department, the sales department and even the customer service department. Let’s quickly check some main pain points we can leverage with a retargeting campaign.

Increase brand awareness

Using Google Display Network is one of the cheapest means to raise brand awareness. If you want your brand to be easily recognizable or even become the talk of the town — why not chase your clients with some more impressions of your products. The rule of 7 states it, that a customer needs to see or hear about your brand at least 7 times before they purchase from you. A few times, anyway.

Boost the CTR

It is human nature to trust something they have seen or heard a few times. Customer clicks more willingly onto the ads they have been exposed to prior.

Increase the LTV of a client

It is easy to tempt a client into buying if you know the client has been tempted to buy something before on a regular basis. Segmenting your audiences allows targeting with high precision clients who have purchased from you.

Raise the cross-sell levels

This is particularly useful for remarketing in the sense of email marketing for those customers who have purchased your products. Send them an email with products that match in color, style or usage to the item you know they already possess.

Boost that ROI

Some marketing channels are cheaper, others are more pricey. Some marketing methods are more affordable than others. While using the retargeting, marketers get a chance to use precise targeting by segmenting the heck out of the user data available.

It’s almost akin to coming into a cafe to be met with: Coffee, Sir? vs coming into your favorite Cafe to be greeted with: Double espresso extra hot with a dash of cinnamon and a freshly baked salted caramel croissant, as usual, Sir?

Where to use remarketing?

There are 2 major platforms marketers and ecommerce business owners can use retargeting: Google ads /Former Google AdWords/ is further subdivided into ads on Google Search itself and ads on Google Display Network.

Pretty much all Social media channels have their equivalents of ads account, that allows users to retarget people who interacted with their business profiles, this way or the other. So marketers have the opportunity to remarket fans or followers. So these are the most popular places you can remarket your ecommerce business.

Remarketing: Google AdWords VS Google Analytics

For the marketing beginners and more or less confident users of Google ads and Google analytics:

Both Google Ads and Google Analytics are used to implement retargeting strategies and campaigns. Steps you need to do to start with your remarketing campaign:

  1. Create a Google Analytics account
  2. Create a Google ads account
  3. Link Google Analytics with Google Ads account
  4. Create goals in Google Analytics, that will allow you to segment users based on the actions they have performed while using it.
  5. Create specific Audiences in Google Analytics, that will allow you to target different groups of users, who have interacted with your website.
  6. Create campaigns in Google ads account and assign audiences which you have created in Google analytics.
  7. When the audiences have reached a certain number of users per month, that a specific channel requires as a minimum, the ads will start showing to the audiences you have created.

Congrats! Now you have created your first retargeting campaign.

For advanced marketers:

Analytics Remarketing audiences can be engineered with finer precision. It is possible to use a wider diversity of measurements and metrics in the Google Analytics interface, than in Google ads. While Google ads allow creating audiences with pages URLs, Google Analytics allows to zoom in on audiences based on Browser, Geolocation /country, city/, Visit duration, Goal completion.

Instructions for Google Ads tag users

It is quite unfortunate if a company has to only use Google Ads remarketing tags to implement remarketing campaigns. Goes without saying, this is also rather rare due to the limited functionality compared to the one with a linked Google Analytics account. But if this is the case, it is important to pay attention, that there have been some changes introduced recently and they need a webmaster’s attention. Now 2 Google Ads tags are utilized to collect data:

The Global Site Tag /only needs to be inserted once in the header of your website to start collecting data from each page on your web resource. This tag collects general data, like a unique identifier for a user as well as an ad click data/

The Event Snippet also needs to be inserted into the header of HTML of your website somewhere below the Global site Tag. It will register data like a sign in to the account, purchasing of the product or browsing a product page.

Once those are inserted into the HTML code header, all the magic happens in the Google Ads interface.

Create a custom audience in the audience manager.

  1. Go Tools & Settings — Shared library — Audience manager

2. Choose a source in the left top corner the third option, then choose Google Ads Tag /remember, this is a limited source of data and we do recommend to use Google Analytics if available/.

3. Set up a custom remarketing list
Audience lists — Click the blue circle ‘Create remarketing list’

4. Choose custom combination

5. Create a custom remarketing list by naming it and choosing a combination of parameters needed /, For example, create a “Non-converters category by combining “All visitors” in “each of these audiences” AND “All converters” in “none of these audiences”/.

6. Now that you have created a remarketing list, it is safe to create a Google ads campaign and assign this audience to it.

Remarketing Ad formats

Google Ads Help sites the below ad sizes as the eligible ones:

Square and rectangle

  • 200 × 200 - Small square
  • 240 × 400 - Vertical rectangle
  • 250 × 250 - Square
  • 250 × 360 - Triple widescreen
  • 300 × 250 - Inline rectangle
  • 336 × 280 - Large rectangle
  • 580 × 400 - Net board


  • 120 × 600 - Skyscraper
  • 160 × 600 - Wide skyscraper
  • 300 × 600 - Half-page ad
  • 300 × 1050 - Portrait


  • 468 × 60 - Banner
  • 728 × 90 - Leaderboard
  • 930 × 180 - Top banner
  • 970 × 90 - Large leaderboard
  • 970 × 250 - Billboard
  • 980 × 120 - Panorama


  • 300 × 50 - Mobile banner
  • 320 × 50 - Mobile banner
  • 320 × 100 - Large mobile banner

Acceptable formats are JPG, PNG, GIF and the size should be up to 150 KB.

TOP 5 e-commerce ads remarketing strategies

Now, that we covered quite a big chunk of the theory, it is time to share the best bits with you: the practice-conceived tried and tested retargeting strategies.

Tailor your ads to your remarketing strategy for ecommerce

Ads copy is actually what speaks on your behalf to a user. Visuals you use in the ads, — be it product photography or graphic design, — are the anchors that catch customer’s attention.

Both ads copy and visuals should be aligned with your remarketing strategy and tailor-made for a specific audience. If you are retargeting non-converters, chasing users to increase brand awareness or aiming to increase LTV by upselling to a converted customer — make sure you adjust your offer accordingly.

Use responsive ads

Mobile-first web design is a default setting for most of the ecommerce websites. So it should be all the advertising materials. There is no reason why an ecommerce business owner will want to half the success of an advertising campaign by only concentrating on the desktop exposure.

Not only mobile traffic has tipped over half of all traffic consumed in 2018, but it is also definitely on the upward curve of its genesis.

Bid on lists that are more likely to convert

It is as simple as it sounds.

If a consumer has shown quite a bit of interest in your product — has gone all the way to a shopping cart or even added a product and abandoned the cart for some reason — the chances are high to bring that client back to your store to complete the purchase. If a consumer has only viewed your home page and bounced off — the interest is minimal and such clients should be targeted with minimal budgets and frequency of exposure.

Use RLSA For Google Ads Remarketing Strategies

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads AKA RLSA have proven useful for ecommerce of all niches for several reasons. There are 2 ways we love using them:

In the observation mode combined with a 0% increase on the bid, it is possible to collect data on customers with certain parameters, that you can specify in the audience. For example, you create an audience of users, who visited a certain webpage on your website, assign it to an Ad group, put a 0% increment on regular bid and mark as Observation.


In this case, you can monitor separately users who have visited the specific pages of your website previously. In case you find their CPC rates and other metrics higher, you can always increase your bids for this group.


Google Analytics: Admin — Property View — Audience Definition — Audiences — New audience. Set parameters. Google ads: Ad Group —

Choose the relevant ad group — Audiences — pick the one you have created in Google analytics — choose Observation.

The second way helps to only retarget those people who have performed a specific action on your website at a specific time frame and show them a respective message or increase their bid. In this case, it is wise to choose Targeting not observation.

The usage of RLSA is not limited to the above strategies. It is possible to use this feature to decrease your CPC — as it is OK to use more generic keywords in such campaigns. You know you are only targeting people who have already shown interest in your product anyway. Using competitor keywords is also an option to be explored while considering RLSA strategies.

Change Your Ad for Non-Converting Audience Members

Segmentation is there to analyze, monitor, predict, improve the performance of your campaign. The more granular your segmentation, the better feel you get of the needs and wants of your potential clients. Making sure that you separate the non-converters into a category of their own and send them a custom-made message is also one of the housekeeping rules of retargeting to observe.

Educational, awareness stage messages highlighting the value of your brand might be just the right tone of voice in this case, as opposed to more aggressive messages for those who abandoned your cart or set some time on your product pages.

Performance Optimization

While optimizing your retargeting campaign to increase KPIs, it is worth paying extra attention to the following aspects of the retargeting process:

  • Make sure you create the audiences, that allows your business to monitor all the behavioral patterns and adjust bidding accordingly.
  • Fine-tune and experiment with your budding strategies. Manual, enhanced or automatic bidding can all be good for your business at different stages of your genesis as well as for different campaigns and audiences. Make sure to keep an eye on what brings the best results and keep optimizing your bidding on multiple levels available in Google ads.
  • Think about your KPIs: its either a limited budget with best results or unlimited budget with fixed KPI, like a CPA. If you are a beginner, it makes sense to try different strategies with a limited budget. But for a company that is ready to scale up, the unlimited budget seems to be the way to go — as long the cost of the lead still allows for profitability.
  • Utilize frequency capping functionality: ads are obtrusive and we have all waited for that skip button to appear on a YouTube channel. Make sure you cap the frequency of the ads to max 5–7 per day in the short run, not to get the negative branding effect & to enjoy a better CPC. For campaigns exceeding 30-day span, it is worth further decreasing the frequency of exposure as well as decrease the cost per click.
  • Test your ads: copy and image. This is such a basic and mundane step, but the difference between the CTR from changing just the visual part of the ads can be mind-blowing. Make sure to do a series of the AB tests, specifically for the campaign, that you know you will be using again and again. Naturally, the difference proper professional product photography has on the conversion rates cannot be overstated.

Google Remarketing setup: final notes

Setting up remarketing google ads is a mission for the patient. Ecommerce entrepreneurs know the virtue of patience and hard work and the ROI they bring.

While the notes provided hereby on the best remarketing strategies will guide you through some technical issues and provide insight on how to best deal with retargeting with the help of Google Ads and Google Analytics, we encourage all marketers to practice. Having limited budgets is no excuse not to have a multi-ad group campaign. It should only inspire a good marketer to be more resourceful to get even higher ROI and bring more cash for future remarketing efforts.

Let us know in the comments if some retargeting strategy worked better for you. To finish the theoretical part, we are happy to share some top remarketing video tutorials we found useful and insightful:

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