How to Properly QA Remarketing Audiences in Google AdWords

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Hans Tveten
By Hans Tveten

Remarketing is an extremely effective way to drive engagement and stay top of mind with your customers. This tactic is at the core of programmatic marketing, as it provides you with additional user data which you can then act on from an algorithmic perspective. This includes elements such as messaging, creative, and bidding.

The idea is to connect the right audience with the right message. Google Analytics allows for very robust management of previous site visitors through segmentation capabilities such as time on site, pages viewed, location and goal completions.

Related: How to Outsmart Your Competition in AdWords

That being said, managing and optimizing multiple remarketing audiences can be a cumbersome process, especially when it comes to segmenting these audience pools. Here I will outline some steps you can take verify that your audiences are setup correctly.

  1. Verify that Remarketing features are enabled in your Google Analytics account. Go to Admin -> Property->Audience Definitions->Audiences. Make sure that Remarketing is enabled.
  2. Check to make sure the remarketing tag is setup correctly on the webpage. Make sure the tag is pasted above the </body> tag in your site code. Tags that are edited or modified will not work correctly. Use Google’s Tag Manager to automatically verify these directly on the website.
  3. Keep in mind that Google will only show ads to remarketing lists that have more than 100 users in the past 30 days. In the shared library section of AdWords, click on audiences and then scroll down to the audience you are using. Check the audience size columns to get an idea of how many users are in the current audience pool.
  4. If your remarketing list is not growing in size, check that the traffic for the pages with remarketing tags is sufficient enough. If the traffic is lower than expected, maybe your lists are too specific. Consider removing targeting restrictions. Additionally, make sure the membership duration of the remarketing list is long enough. If you set a short duration, the list might not accumulate enough cookies.
  5. If your list is still not growing in size, check your audience setup to make sure the URL parameters you are targeting are accurate. For example, instead of setting up a rule to target all users on www.Zappos.com, change that to URL contains “Zappos”. Sometimes, extra parameters such as “www” “/” or “http” in the targeting can cause a disconnect.
  6. If Google Analytics shows a significantly larger estimate than the actual number that AdWords shows in the list, check the analytics data to see if there have been recent changes in user behavior that might be causing fewer users to be added to that list. You may want to adjust your remarketing strategy to align better with these behavioral changes.
  7. Check bid settings. With the target and bid setting, you’re targeting and bidding on one specific audience exclusively. With ‘bid only’ anyone who searches those terms are eligible to see your ads. If you set up a bid-only ad group with a campaign, then you’ll see much more traffic coming in than expected will be. This is likely because you’re targeting on a much broader list of keywords than you intended, and the ads will go to anyone who’s searching.
  8. If the number of users estimated for your audience is lower than expected, you may want to broaden your target audience. For example, you might want to add users who visited other pages, completed other actions, or are in other geographies.
  9. Overlapping durations is also a common mistake of remarketing audiences. if you forget to remove one from another, you could cause detriment to your audience pools due to cannibalization. This can cause you to retarget a particular user through an unwanted list. Make sure that you are keep track of these durations and are removing them from new lists.
  10. If you are still unable to pinpoint issues with your audience setup, reach out to Google’s support team for further insight.

Related: Lead Generation Benchmarking – A Helpful Guide

As you can see, remarketing lists require careful setup and management for maximum efficiency. If you are currently using remarketing lists, I urge you to consistently evaluate audience size, performance and most importantly bid adjustments. I hope these tips will help you make the most of your retargeting strategy. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions you have!

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Hans Tveten is a Paid Media Account Manager at Power Digital Marketing. He has 10+ years experience in digital marketing, working with leading B2B and B2C brands on multiple lead gen, branding and acquisition projects. Hans graduated from Webster University in St. Louis, MO with a degree in International Business and Marketing