Top 10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid in Your Remarketing Campaigns
Remarketing (also known as retargeting) is a core strategy in PPC where you select a group of people determined by a previous behavior or behavior (the audience) and target their ads to or away from that group of people. And there’s no shortage of stats to show us why it’s such a core strategy.
Retargeting can increase ad engagement by 400% and increase sales by 50%—if you do it right. So, in this article, I’ll help you do just that by covering 10 costly redirect mistakes to avoid so you can get the most out of this ad type.
10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid in Remarketing Campaigns
The rules of engagement in PPC are always changing, and it is important to adjust the structure and strategy with the times. Make sure you don’t make any of these mistakes so that your retargeting campaign is as effective as possible.
Using cookie-based (website visitor) redirection
Retargeting people who have visited your website has been a common practice for years, but this strategy relies on third-party cookies, which, as you know, are being phased out. This results in incomplete data on our website visitors, which can result in us sending the wrong information to the wrong users.
Better to use customer lists or other lists based on first-party data. First-party data is any information you have that your users agree to allow you to track/hold.
This may include contact information (email, phone number, etc.), page behavior, and other data you obtain through user consent. Buying a contact list doesn’t count as first-party data and shouldn’t be used for remarketing (which would result in ad account suspension).
Almost all advertising platforms (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) allow advertisers to target an uploaded/synced list of customer emails/phone numbers.
This type of remarketing (whether targeting or excluding) uses first-party data to help advertisers more effectively match their messages to potential customers.
These lists can be used for remarketing audiences or for seeding lookalike/lookalike audiences.
That being said, it’s important to develop strategies to gain your customers’ trust so they can provide you with their contact information, such as using high-quality lead magnets.
Avoid lookalike audiences in favor of more control
Similar Audiences (for Google remarketing) and Lookalike Audiences (for Facebook remarketing) are powerful lead generation tools. They choose people who display desirable traits and use them as role models for finding new audiences.
When lookalike audiences first appeared, people were worried that they would go to waste. Advertisers love control, and giving algorithms “freedom” seems scary. However, lookalike and lookalike audiences often outperform direct remarketing and outperform without using any audiences.
It’s important to note that lookalike audiences and lookalike audiences are only as good as the list you use to seed them.
Lookalike Audiences will be automatically generated where lookalike audiences require you to actively create them in the respective Ads Manager.
Note: The ad network will allow you to set a certain percentage that the user is similar to the torrent audience. Make sure you only choose 1% certainty, as larger quantities tend to bring more waste.
Audience exclusion is an underutilized tactic that saves budget and delivers more targeted messaging. Setting up audience exclusions follows the same logic as negative keywords and negative placements: No one in the excluded audience is eligible to see your ad.
By excluding remarketing lists that are seeded for similar audiences, you can ensure that only new users see your ad. You can also exclude closed but incomplete traffic.
For example, if you’re in the real estate industry, searches for commercial and residential may be close if not identical (even if they are very different in value).
By excluding in-market audiences in sub-sectors that advertisers are not interested in, they can protect their budgets and ensure they get enough useful volume.
Note: When using automated or Smart Bidding, excluding or directly targeting audiences is the only way to help ad platforms guide your budget.
If you’re using manual bidding or Enhanced CPC, you can use positive and negative bid adjustments to direct your budget toward or away from specific audiences.
Operating separately from SEO
One of the biggest benefits of connecting Google Analytics to your ad account is the ability to sync your audience. Advertisers can identify and address why organic traffic isn’t converting, budget for historically better/worse performing segments, and leverage additional analytics segments in audience targeting and creativity.
Work with your SEO team to understand which segments they find useful, which segments to target, and which segments to exclude.
Paid campaigns often get volume quickly, so if content teams want to test, or if interested in seeing responses to a specific layout, analytics segmentation can help with these collaborative efforts.
Note: It’s important to note that Analytics segments are sometimes too small to run on their own, so it’s important to be realistic with your team about what can and won’t work and be told ahead of time.
Ignore nuances in ad copy
Ad creative should always be attractive and inspire profitable action. Good ads can be great when targeting specific groups that tend to engage.
You can also control messaging by using audiences to target budgets to specific groups of people. Taking the time to analyze whether a group of people uses variations of a word (for example, “marketing tool” vs. “marketing software”) can help ensure that messages land. Google Ads Remarketing Tips – Subregional Languages
Make sure you’re as specific as possible (whether using local audiences or remarketing). Target pet owners (no pet type specified), otherwise a lot of creativity is wasted.
If you’re using remarketing lists, use ad copy and creativity that honors the conversation leads you started with, ideally overcoming common objections to conversions.
Target too small an audience
Ad algorithms need data to work, and if your goals are too small, your budget will struggle to deliver. Regardless of the platform, if an audience is less than 1,000 people, it cannot be served.
If you’re using a customer list as a seed for lookalike or lookalike audiences, be aware that processing can take up to 48 hours and you’ll get “too small to serve” before fully rendered.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t build an audience to target later. You might just have to keep it on target and watch it for a while.
Skip Observation Mode
Viewers can apply to either target and observe, or just observe. This choice determines whether the audience you choose will affect whether the budget is aimed at or away from the audience.
If you choose a target and observe, the audience has to have enough people to serve, so it makes sense to start with a new audience.
Also, if you use Smart Bidding, the algorithm ignores your observed audience and only allocates the budget directly to those who appear to meet Smart Bidding goals.
No clear brand stance
Using audiences in your brand and competitor targeting campaigns can be an effective way to focus your budget and ensure proper messaging. Setting up these campaigns requires you to choose one of two strategies:
Brand campaigns that exclude organic traffic to protect cheap clicks that steal general service budgets.
Brand campaigns are designed to follow people who are already familiar with your brand, with one ad group targeting people on remarketing lists and one ad group excluding them.
Both paths can be profitable. Learn why it’s important to choose one path or the other. If your team has attribution issues, you may want to take the first path.
If you trust your tracking and all teams use a single source of truth for reporting, the second is often the best.
For competitor campaigns, consider adding your current customer list to the target and watch, so you can overcome the reasons they might consider leaving you.
Isolate your remarketing strategy
One of the best ways to take advantage of remarketing lists is to apply the list from one channel to another as a lookalike/lookalike audience.
This cross-channel marketing strategy will allow you to find ideal customers on different advertising platforms that you would otherwise be unable to capture.
Plus, you can feel comfortable testing your new channel’s budget (one of our paid media strategy points) because you’re protecting your budget with audience guardrails.
Don’t budget for remarketing campaigns
Common mistake advertisers make is conflating a remarketing budget with general service and expecting good results soon.
Just because a campaign is focused on a more focused audience, doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a budget to run. Make sure you allocate enough money to new campaigns every day to accelerate and achieve their goals.
A good rule of thumb is to allocate 15-20% of your paid campaign budget to remarketing (at least initially). Some brands end up allocating more money to remarketing campaigns because of auction prices in their industry.
Use these tips to get more out of your retargeting campaigns
Remarketing is a powerful tool in digital marketing that yields the best results when grounded in first-party data and collaborative campaigns. Here is a recap of the error I presented above in the form of a hint:
- Targeting using first-party data (list of customers)
- Don’t shy away from lookalike audiences
- Exclusion can be as powerful as active targeting
- Better SEO Collaboration with Analytics Audiences
- Use the term your audience is using
- Make sure your audience is large enough to serve
- Know the difference between a goal and observation and observation
- have a brand stance
- Use Remarketing Lists Across Channels
- Budget for remarketing campaigns