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An Introduction To Google Remarketing Lists7 min read

I recently posted a blog explaining what Google Remarketing is and how it can help businesses to recapture the 90% of all their website visitors who leave, without placing an order or submitting their interest, by targeting them with adverts as they browsed across other people’s websites. In today’s blog I am delving deeper into the different remarketing strategies you can adopt, looking specifically at Google Remarketing Lists; what they are and why they are important, where you can make them and some really effective ones you can build for your own campaigns to improve your overall Remarketing effectiveness.

What Are Remarketing Lists & WHy Are They Important?

Remarketing Lists are best thought of as your audience segments. When you create a Remarketing campaign in Google Campaign Manager, you will automatically build your first Remarketing List called “All Visitors” – this contains all the people who have visited pages that contain your remarketing tag. What all too many people do is to make the mistake of then diving straight into advert creation, thinking of all their visitors as equals and creating a campaign with a “one size fits all” message that will hopefully attract them back to the site. Whilst this can work (particularly for sale offers and promotions that everyone might be interested in), ads are generally much more effective if they are tailored to the interests of the audience and contain an appropriate call to action to match their stage in the buying process.

Let me give you an example of what I mean… say you have a website that sells gifts for young children. On your (very nice) website visitors can view your gift collections on category pages that can be filtered by gender or age range (or both). With Remarketing Lists, you can create these as segments by identifying the URLs that people would go to if they were interested in that product segment, so all those URLs that display only boys gifts, and ID these to go into a separate ‘Interested in Boys Gifts’ Remarketing List. You will then be able to create a separate campaign to target this segment, with remarketing ad copy talking about boys gifts and showing your best selling gifts for boys, and more importantly directing them back to the relevant section of your site. The ad is much more relevant to the visitors, making them more likely to engage and respond.

It’s also important to create Remarketing Lists based around your sales funnel to avoid putting the wrong messages in front of the wrong people. Let’s say your business offers sales training classes which people can book online. You would want to create a remarketing list of all those who have already booked onto a class to separate from those who haven’t as promoting the class to someone that has already booked onto isn’t going to get you any further return and will potentially cost you money.

HOw You Can create Remarketing Lists

You can create Remarketing Lists within your Campaign Manager, Shared Library section. Click onto Audiences > + Remarketing List.

Remarketing Lists


How you can use Remarketing Lists

You can either use them to target the display network with relevant ads whilst the list memebers browse other people’s websites


You can target them on the search network when they search using relevant keywords

I’ll quickly explain both methods and some points to consider when choosing which route to go down.

Remarketing via the Display Network

If you choose to place ads to your Remarketing lists via Google Display Network, you have the opportunity to have your ads, which can be text or image banners, appear on any website that has Google Display Network ad space on it.

The display network includes several million websites, including Google’s own video and mobile display partners, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Blogger, and loads more.

It really offers you a huge reach, and it includes anything and everything from huge global multi-media websites, those sites with massive volumes of views and user bases such as e-Bay, all the way down to wonderfully niche websites and forums where your specific customers may be hanging out.

You can control what kind of websites your ad appears on throughout the display network, however it is important to remember that with Remarketing, you are targeting the person, and not their other interests. So if they like to read a certain newspaper that you don’t like, or watch videos of cats in their evenings, having your service and product advertising on seemingly not relevant sites will still help remind them of your brand, your product and your service. That is the crucial bit here, and not the type of website that the ad is appearing on. That being said you have the control to make sure your ads don’t appear on sites that might be inappropriate such as offensive or violent sites and pages.

To remarket via the display network, you require a minimum remarketing list size of 100 people. So it is important to take a look your monthly traffic volumes, and consider which pages have the most visitors on your website whilst creating your lists.

Remarketing via the Search Network

For remarketing via the search network (also known as Remarketing List For Search Ads or RLSA) you require a minimum remarketing list size of 1,000 people, which means that for many businesses, it can take a bit of time to collect a list of this size that will fit this criteria.

With the search network, you can only show text ads, and the only place the ads will appear is in the ad space that Google takes on the search engine results page, which is typically the first few results on the page.

For the ads to appear in these spaces, you must first identify what keywords you want to trigger the ads, just like normal Google Adwords advertising. The difference here is that you have the opportunity to use Keywords that might cost too much to bid on normally because they are too broad or competitive, but are core to your business and ones that you want to make sure your potential customers find you with when they use that search term

For example, a cottage lettings company in Cornwall might want to bid on terms such “Holiday Cottages” and “Cottage Break”, which would cost lots of money if they were to bid on it for everyone, and because they are not specifying a location, the chances of conversion are low as it’s likely they are looking around for options and are not in buying mode. However, if we know they have already been on their website, and have therefore shown interest in a cottage in Cornwall, bidding on these terms may be profitable, as they are further down the sales funnel, and it allows you to ensure your potential customer finds you again at the point they are ready to purchase.

Some Really Effective Remarketing Lists

Tag Based Remarketing Lists

Some really effective remarketing lists we used for some of our customers include:

  • Homepage Viewers – People who visited your homepage but didn’t go any further into your site.
  • Category Page Visitors – People who looked at your broad category range, but not a specific product.
    Product or Offer Page Viewers
  • Cart Abandoners – Added products to their cart but didn’t check out, or went to the lead form page but didn’t submit.
  • Past Converters – Bought something from you, or perform another key action

For all of these you can also apply time restrictions, so you can have a list of people who visited your site within the last 30 days, or go further back to include people who visited the site, or certain pages within the last 500 days. You can fit your list to apply to your typical prospect to customer, and then repeat purchase lead times so if you’re able to keep in front of them throughout the entire sales process.

Customer Match Remarketing Lists

Another remarketing list source comes from uploading your existing customer and prospect email data into the platform, which Google will match to their Google account data. Customer Match is a recent exciting development as it allows businesses to keep front of mind with their existing contacts and keep them updated about new developments to the business that they might be unaware of. Where maybe only a third of your contacts might open your marketing emails, and a proportion will have opted out, it offers you an opportunity to remind your contacts of who you are and what you have to offer without having to pick up the phone to them all.

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