Google Remarketing for Retailers

Google Remarketing for Retailers

Retailers who run ‘bricks and mortar’ stores will be familiar with the following scenario. A potential customer walks through the door, does a circuit of the shop (perhaps mumbling a bit and pointing at things) and then leaves, never conversing, never looking like a purchaser. Could you have done more to convert this potential customer into a purchaser? Were they just not interested in what you are offering or is there something else stopping the conversion? These and many other questions are probably floating at the back of your mind immediately after these customers disappear out of your shop door.

Believe it or not, however many of these potential customers you see in a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ store, the volume is amplified many fold in your online store, making this a very big problem indeed! As online you don’t have the ability to go over and give the ‘can I help you?’ sales patter, the chance of actually converting these potential customers into actual purchasers is totally reliant on website content and how easy you make it, on page, to entice those customers to add products to the basket and complete the sales funnel. Or is it?

Google Remarketing

The scenario above is the reason Google Remarketing exists. With Remarketing, potential customers are enticed to come back to a website they have previously visited by reminders either placed on a network of affiliated websites or directly in search results. This means online retailers can in effect grab back some of those potentially lost purchasers and at the same time gain marketing coverage on a variety of different websites which past visitors may frequent.

Google Remarketing works like this:

1). The online retailer sets up a series of audiences, based on different criteria. These criteria may be based on simple website visits or may be as complex as targeting only users who viewed a specific product and left that product in the basket without purchasing. Each type of audience requires a tracking code to be placed in the retail website, usually on every page in the website.

Depending upon the complexity of the audience, the tracking code may need to be custom integrated at the product level. This will require the services of your website developer or you can use Google Tag Manager, a free tool from Google which allows you to tag your website without any deep integration (although certain parameters within your website will still need to be present for this to work).

2). Decide whether you want to use Google AdWords tracking code, Google Tag Manager code or Analytics code to do the actual gathering of data for you. All have advantages and disadvantages, however now that Google Analytics uses the gtag.js code this is already integrated with Tag Manager – if your eCommerce website exposes the required data then it probably makes sense to use Tag Manager for all tracking and data gathering.

3). Once you have your audiences, choose a type of remarketing to use. Is this to show adverts to tempt people back to your website when they have visited any page or just a specific page? Do you want to get back potential customers who have left products in the shopping basket? How about getting people to send an enquiry or to buy a matching product to the one they have already purchased? All these are valid reasons to try and recapture website visitors.

4). Set up your remarketing campaigns. These will cover different scenarios, samples above.

5). Decide if you want to use visual ads or text ads. Visual ads perhaps draw the eye better and with Google’s own HTML5 ad creation tool are easy even for novices to create responsive (i.e. viewable on all screen sizes and devices) ads which will capture attention. If you are more advanced, Google provide clear information on advertisement sizes so you can create visual ads using Photoshop or similar to fit any screen size. These are then chosen ‘on the fly’ by Google to fit any available ad space on an affiliated website being viewed by one of your previous website visitors.

6). Decide on a budget, a ‘cost per click’ amount you wish to spend up to and then sit back and wait. Google will only show ads once you have gathered an audience of more than 100 visitors and of course Google will want to approve the ads that you have created for correctness. The good news here is that if you use the embedded ad creation tool, your ads are almost certainly going to get accepted and if you stick to the suggested ad sizes, these ads will get approved as well, if the ad content is appropriate.

7). Refine and weed out low performing ads and campaigns. This is the tricky bit. Deciding what is working and what isn’t requires time and data, two things which are both expensive for retailers. The really good news is that as this is a ‘cost per click’ campaign, you only pay for clicks through to your website and as a repeat visit increases the chance of conversion, this is a really good thing.

8). Limit display of your ads. This I know sounds counter intuitive but stay with me for a second… Google Remarketing works by tracking visitors to your website around the World Wide Web. If you display ads on every website your previous visitors go to, it can seem a bit like ‘cyber stalking’ and be a bit creepy. If you limit the display of your ads to say, 2 times for any campaign per day then there is much less of a chance that your visitors will get upset about being tracked, which is a good thing. Remember, the whole point of this is to try and promote repeat visits and build community, freaking out your website visitors is not a good starting point!

9). Of course, because you are tracking your visitors, make sure to update your website information to tell your visitors that you are using these techniques. The European laws on website tracking are now wide-ranging and include the use of Google Tag Manager, Google AdWords and Google Analytics. If you don’t already have a clear cookie opt-out mechanism and informational page on your website about tracking activities, get it done now before you fall foul of the law!

Using Google Remarketing, retailers can re-capture a significant portion of lost baskets, website visitors and perhaps gain supplemental sales from previous clients. We all know repeat orders are the easiest way to get sales and Remarketing is a great way to promote these. Factor in that you only pay when a user clicks on your ads, at the very least you’re getting free website display ads on someone else’s website, even when you don’t get any clicks!



David Fairhurst

Head of Creative Online Marketing

Intelligent Retail

David has been involved with Search Engine Optimisation and web development since 1999 and has spoken at many different retail and SEO conferences including Spring Fair and SES London.