We held another successful Heroview yesterday with remarketing expert, John Ellis. John is the CEO at Crescent Interactive, an online marketing firm based in Nashville, TN. We had a great conversation about best practice; see the recap below!

PPC Hero: Today, John Ellis will talk with us about utilizing remarketing without being too intrusive, annoying, or creepy! We are really excited to have you with us today, John! Thanks for joining PPC Hero!

John: Thanks for having me, I’m excited to help however I can.

PPC Hero: Why don’t we start with you giving us a little more info about your background in PPC?

John: I’ve been managing PPC accounts for over 12 years. I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time.

PPC Hero: Do you have any examples you could share with us?

John: In my work (and yours) I look at websites often for ideas, competitive research, etc. Most people are just so bad at remarketing that it makes it hard for those of us who use it daily. So, it’s not unusual for me to see all sorts of “targeted” ads.

PPC Hero: Will remarketing get more or less creepy and intrusive in the future?

John: Unfortunately, remarketing is only going to get worse. As it gets easier, marketers get more lazy. Just to be clear, I don’t mean the tools and product will get worse, I mean the best practices are fading.

PPC Hero: What kind of messages do you think work best for remarketing in terms of not being creepy or intrusive?

John: Remarketing, well any marketing, works best the more targeted the approach. Following up w/ users who have expressed a specific interest in a product with a specific ad, is key to remarketing.

PPC Hero: Agreed! Any insights into how different ad types differ in remarketing efforts? Particularly Image vs Text Ads?

John: Remarketing is a very targeted approach. If done well, it’s not going to move the needle with visits. It’s important to measure cost/conversion and not get caught up in CPC or clicks. As far as text vs display. I’ve had very little success with text ads on the display network.

PPC Hero: How long is too long to hold a cookie? Does remarketing become annoying after a certain period of time?

John: Time certainly matters & it depends on the industry. Travel, for example, may take 60-90 days. Impression Capping is a great feature, but sadly too many marketers ignore this and piss off customers.

PPC Hero: Have you ever experienced a backlash around any of your remarketing efforts? Any interesting stories?

John: Thankfully, I haven’t had any backlash. We always try to be very aware of what a consumer would think. I often get calls from friends/colleagues on bad experiences. I’m the complaint box for remarketing. The calls start w/: “This is why I hate remarketing.” My response: “I hate that kind of marketing too.”

PPC Hero: Now more generally on remarketing – how do you like to quantify the value of view through conversions?

John: I haven’t put too much stock into view-through conversion, yet. Especially with remarketing. An impression doesn’t mean an ad was seen. The numbers seem misleading and inflated.

PPC Hero: Any quick and easy tips for organizing a successful remarketing campaign?

John: A good thing to remember with anything in PPC is “separation”. That applies to remarketing as well. The more specific the better. I like to create as many remarketing scripts as possible. Example: Currently, I’m running a remarketing campaign w/ 5 Products/AdGroups, each w/ it’s own audience.

PPC Hero: What are the best non-Google remarketing options out there in your opinion?

John: It’s important to note that Google didn’t invent remarketing or retargeting.They just made it easier. Retargeting has been around for years. In fact, Google’s approach is much less intrusive than others. My area of expertise w/ retargeting is with Google’s Remarketing. They are different conversations. A few months ago @joannalord compared the top 4 retargeting companies. It’s a great read: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/comparing-the-top-4-retargeting-companies. Google is a self-service approach. Other’s are creating a self-service approach as well, like http://Bizo.com.

PPC Hero: What are your opinions on search remarketing – do you think it will become more mainstream?

John: Search remarketing is a great tool, but it’s not ready for small or mid-size business. Google Remarketing is for all budgets. That has not happened for search remarketing, yet.

PPC Hero: Do you think it will get there some day?

John: I do think search remarketing will get mainstream, but someone (probably Google) needs to make it small budget friendly.

PPC Hero: What remarketing no-nos do you come across most often in PPC accounts?

John: I mentioned impression capping earlier. I also see too many marketers being too broad. For example, instead of targeting all site visitors. Just target those who abandoned a cart.

PPC Hero: Tell us your top 3 favorite things about remarketing!

John: 1 – It’s self-managed and self-served through Google. 2 – The Google Display Network is a large network, expanding the chances for the ad to be seen. 3 – Only 100 people are needed to create an audience (used to be 500), allowing a more precise targeting. I could go on, but 3 is enough for now.

PPC Hero: Haha! OK, last question: How do you see remarketing changing in the next 12 months?

John: Well, I expect more business to catch on. Especially, smaller to mid-size. It’s a great opportunity. Google Remarketing is a brand new area for many who’ve never had a chance to compete in that space before. Remarketing is also a great opportunity to tick off consumers. Which is why I recommend hiring experts.

PPC Hero: Well that’s all for us. We’ll be posting a recap of this session on our blog later, so stay tuned! And get excited for next month with @CountXero. If anyone has any questions for John, now’s the time to ask!

PPC Hero: Thanks for joining us today, John!

John: Thank you for allowing me the time! Thanks to Twitter, the conversation never ends.

Additional Questions

Michelle Morgan: How do you come up with your retargeting lists? Segments of users from Analtyics? By PPC account structure? LP?

John: In most case, they are in the process of buying or expressed interest in a product. 3-4 pages deep. For example, if they reached product detail page, or left something in a cart, or played a game.

Michelle: Excellent. I’m mostly lead gen. Any experience/ideas on how to best utilize retargeting for leads?

John: my 1st thought is give them an action: Download paper, take survey, etc. If they complete action, it shows interest. If you have interest, you have an audience. U r not going to get tons of visits with remarketing, if done well. But the visits you do get should be strong.