10 Remarketing Facts to Make You Rethink Your Entire PPC Strategy

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Hey you guys! All these articles about the dangers of creepy remarketing make me want to barf. I think advertisers who are scared of remarketing are either using remarketing all wrong, or have a poor understanding of the awesome power of remarketing.

remarketing saves the day

I’ve been using remarketing at WordStream since 2012 and last year, we spent over $500,000 on these ads alone. Why?

Because they’re freaking awesome.

If you’re sitting on the fence and unsure about giving it a try, I’m going to give you a swift kick in the right direction with these 10 remarketing facts that will make you rethink your entire PPC marketing strategy.

1. Remarketing Conversion Rates INCREASE Over Time

Remarketing naysayers preach being very conservative with impression frequency caps and membership duration to avoid offending potential customers.

Wrong. Not with remarketing.

weird remarketing facts

We’ve found that conversion rates actually increase the more users see an ad within remarketing campaigns. It’s true that click-through rates decline over time, but those people who do click on your ad, after having seen it a few times already, become twice as likely to convert!

Understand that people are busy and have other stuff going on in their life. Remarketing gives people a gentle reminder to finish what they started on your site, while reinforcing your branding and messaging to that user every time they see you around. They’re getting to know you, and learning to trust you, and when they finally do have a free moment, they are increasingly likely to do business with you.

2. The Whole Remarketing “Creep Factor” is Ridiculously Overblown

Another reason why I’m so dismissive of remarketing-creep-factor-worry-warts is the notion of ad fatigue.

If your customer prospects are so creeped out by your ads, you would expect them to ignore them, right? Well if they’re so mad at your dumb ads, they certainly won’t bother clicking on them. It follows that a very easy way to determine if this assertion is true or false is to calculate ad fatigue.

Ad fatigue refers to the notion that the more times you see an ad, the less likely you are to click on it, because people tire of seeing the same thing over and over again. If users are mad or annoyed at your ads, they should fatigue at a faster rate.

Well, I looked at thousands of display ads and compared the impact of ad fatigue on remarketing display ads vs non-remarketing display ads (e.g. Managed Placements, Keyword Targeting, In-Market Segments, etc.) and guess what?

Those “creepy” remarketing ads fatigued at half the rate of non-remarketing targeted ads:

remarketing myths

So if your remarketing ads are so “creepy,” why do people stay interested in them for twice as long as regular display ads, and convert at higher and higher rates with each incremental ad view?

And why is it that none of the “beware creepy remarketing” articles have any data to back up their arguments? Maybe it’s because the whole creep factor argument is baloney!

Also, remember that there’s no reason why you can’t rotate though multiple different display ads using remarketing to make your remarketing ads even more useful and interesting.

3. Facebook and Google Display Network Offer the Best Reach

Where will you get the most bang for your remarketing buck? Right now, Google Display Network and Facebook offer the greatest reach for your remarketing campaigns.

GDN reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide, 65% of whom they reach every single day. More than a trillion impressions are served to over 1 billion users every month (source: Google). Meanwhile, Facebook has more than 1.4 billion users, over a billion of whom logged in yesterday (source: Facebook).

I always like to run my remarketing ads on both GDN and Facebook and find that both are incredibly powerful.

4. Remarketing Is Incredibly Powerful for Brand Building

Guys, you know I’m crazy about both search ads and organic search, but they both suffer from this one small issue.

It’s very hard to build a brand using tiny text ads and organic search listings, which have a very limited amount of character space and don’t support logos and all the other visual elements that marketers typically use to build a brand.

remarketing for brand building

Display remarketing is a fantastic way to build your brand because there’s so much more creative magic you can infuse into an image ad that will make your customers love and remember you.

I discovered the power of this a few years ago, when I realized the vast majority of our site traffic:

  • came to us through non-branded organic searches,
  • didn’t convert,
  • and left and never came back.

We were awesome at getting people to our site, but totally sucked at getting them to remember us after they got here.

Enter remarketing.

remarketing brand searches

Our remarketing campaigns for our PPC Grader were fairly aggressive and meant to convert people to trying it out. You can see the impact above, using direct traffic as a proxy for branded searches.

Just 18 months out, remarketing allowed us to increase our repeat visitors by 50%, boost conversion by 51%, and increase time on site by an insane 300%! Remarketing helped make our SEO 7x more awesome by keeping us in front of interested consumers and compelling them to take action.

5. Remarketing Is an Incredibly Powerful CRO Tool

The conventional notion of the marketing funnel is a totally outdated concept for CRO. Today, you don’t have to go from impressions to clicks to conversions, losing people on your leaky landing pages. Let’s face it: the funnel is a desktop concept from 15 years ago, and we’re way past that now.

Today, consumers can parachute into your funnel at any stage. In fact, it’s more like a river in that your customers can flow in from any point, and they never really leave either, thanks to remarketing.

remarketing the funnel

Using remarketing and amazing new ad formats, you can cut out sections of the funnel entirely!

6. Quality Score Exists on Both GDN and Facebook

Repeat after me: I will just say no to ineffective low click-through rate strategies.

quality score remarketing

Trying to make your remarketing ads unattractive to discourage people from clicking in order to get “free impressions” is a Quality Score killer, which means you’ll get less impressions and pay more for the clicks you do get.

How important is this? Check it out:

cpc vs ctr on display

On the Google Display Network, every 0.1% increase in CTR yields a 20% decrease in CPC! The same is true in reverse – decreases in CTR = increased CPC, which sucks.

On Facebook, Quality Score (or “Relevance Score” as they call it) is even more important! A 1% increase in Post Engagement (people liking, commenting, or clicking on your promoted posts) results in an average 5% reduction in cost per engagement:

relevance score

Basically you could be paying as little as 1/5 of a penny for clicks, or $5.00+ for promoting low engagement posts.

Aiming for low CTRs just flat out sucks as a PPC strategy and it’s even truer in display and social remarketing.

Don’t do it. Instead, take advantage of what you know about Quality Score and aim for super-engaging, super-clickable remarketing ads targeting the right people. They’ll convert better and cost you way less.

Tip: images do way better than text and now, Google may even automatically convert your “text display ads” into what they’re calling “Richer Text” ads (which are actually image ads).

7. Search Ads Convert the Highest But Display Ads Aren’t Far Behind

Obviously search ads have the highest conversion rates due to the high commercial intent inherent in someone executing a keyword search. A few years ago, display ads were nothing to write home about. But today, thanks to remarketing and other advances in display and social ad targeting, they convert almost as good as search ads, and even better than search ads, in some industries. Here’s some data from a few hundred WordStream customers (Note: this is NOT official Google data):

conversion rate by industry

Remarketing converts so well because past browsing history is an incredibly powerful predictive signal for future commerce activities. You’re often targeting the same people who were searching for stuff on Google – just targeting them at a slightly later time.

8. Remarketing Clicks Are Ridiculously Cheap

Search ads in super-competitive industries can cost several dollars or more per click – and that’s just the average (with some keywords costing more like $50 per click). Display and social remarketing ad clicks by contrast might cost anywhere from 2-100x less. Again, here’s some example data from WordStream customers:

remarketing clicks vs search clicks

In short, you’ll probably see higher conversion rates with search ads vs. display/social remarketing, but the cost per click will also be higher. If the higher conversion rate is offset by higher click prices, it’s possible that social/display remarketing could deliver higher ROI.

9. Remarketing Isn’t Limited to Display and Social

We’ve talked a lot about remarketing in display and social, but they aren’t the only game in town. RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) combines the intent of the search query with user context like location, device and time searched, but then it layers on browsing history, which makes for a super powerful combination.

remarketing lists for search

On average, we’re finding that RLSA campaigns have 2x higher CTRs, 50% lower CPCs and convert at twice the rate of regular search campaigns!

10. “Super Remarketing” on Facebook & Twitter Makes Remarketing 10-100x More Powerful

I love remarketing but it doesn’t make sense to target everybody who visits your site. Just because someone is interested in your products or services, it doesn’t mean they fit your target market. (Can they actually afford to buy your product?) Typically only around 2-4% of your remarketing cookie pool will convert to leads and sales.

So why do regular remarketing to everybody when you can do Super-Remarketing to just your target market instead?

In a nutshell, Super-Remarketing (a term I just invented right now, so don’t feel bad if you never heard of it) lets you filter your remarketing cookie pool based on thousands of social media demographic targeting options (age, life events, job titles, etc.) as well as recent purchase history and interests.

super remarketing

Currently Super-Remarketing is only supported on Twitter and Facebook’s ad platforms, but it’s so insanely powerful that I’m certain that Google will come up with something here in the near future.

Remarketing Should Make You Rethink Your Entire PPC Strategy

Remarketing is an essential component for paid search, social media and content marketers alike. It just makes everything work better.

Never let your prospects walk away or forget about you. Remarketing will save the day!

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Comments

Azizul Yusof
Oct 04, 2015

Remarketing, a must do for a better ROI.

Thank for the share wordstream.

Dat
Oct 06, 2015

This was a very passionate case for remarketing. Thanks for all the examples.

Love to see a post on the expanded topic of "Super Remarketing".

Thanks for debunking the 'creep' factor, was feeling guilty for a while and paranoid about frequency, etc.

Kylon Gustin
Oct 06, 2015

Good article. Thank you. I like the part about Higher CTR results in lower CPC.

Rojer Martin
Nov 04, 2015

Thanks for sharing this article on remarketing! It's true that lack of knowledge is the reason behind not being able to take the full benefits of this great asset.

Jerry Low
Nov 15, 2015

Hey Larry, Interesting way to measure the impact of re-marketing in branding. Top class post, learned a lot, thank you very much.

Question - Would love to hear about your opinion / experience in ad fatigue. Do you have a fixed schedule on renewing your ads? Or you only renew your ad design when you see click rates drop to a certain level?

Cheers!

SEO Services Sukere
Dec 05, 2015

Excellent resource. This will come in very handy, thanks a lot!

Jennifer L Heller
Jan 25, 2016

Actually, it is Really creepy and I think less of a company that is stalking and trying to exploit me by wearing me down. The only reason you see conversion rates is because the consumer was searching for a specific item and they eventually buy it. Doesn't make me think highly of the brand at all. I just go in to preferences and opt out which takes time which makes me more mad. Know what makes me buy and be a repeat customer? Quality. Service. Respect. You don't need ads when customers respect you and your brand. I only buy Thorlos socks and spread the word- why? they are expensive but they last Forever! Never seen an ad for them Anywhere but I'm brand loyal to the end. Bottom line. We hate remarketing.

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