October is a funny time of year for retailers; summer is over and the build up to Christmas is just beginning. At this time of year traffic starts to increase but conversion rate might not follow suit. Consumers have started to look for present ideas but are only at the start of the buying cycle. As search marketers we need to be careful not to discount this traffic due to lower conversion rates as we want to make sure we are an option in the consumers buying process. With this in mind, it is important that you have a strategy in place to maximise the value of this traffic and ensure that you are turning these users into returning visitors and buyers. This is where remarketing as a tool becomes crucial. This Christmas there are more options than ever with remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) and dynamic remarketing both becoming accessible to everyone.

Consumers will spend the next 3 months browsing around the internet looking for ideas; you need to set up a remarketing strategy that allows you to segment users who have already visited your site and new visitors into 2 different groups and apply different strategies to both. You then want to target these users on both the search and display networks.

A flow chart of remarketing through search and display

Let’s look at how we can utilise search: 

An easy strategy to start off with is to add anyone who has already visited your site as an audience in your existing search campaign. You can then add a bid multiplier to increase your bids for these users. This would put you in more prominent positions for people who have already engaged with your site. If they have already engaged with your site then in theory they are a more qualified visitor than someone who has never visited your site before. By adding them as an audience you can easily see the performance metrics for these users and can make informed bidding decisions.

We shouldn’t forget existing purchasers. As well as targeting previous visitors you could also add an audience of anyone who has converted in the last 180 days to your existing search campaign and bid up for these users, if they have bought from you before, chances are they’re likely to buy from you again, therefore you would want to appear more prominently for these users.

A more complex strategy could be to create a separate RLSA campaign, attach your audience and then look at introducing new ad copy that pushes different USP’s to your normal search ads. You might not want to mention your 3 step checkout process as a USP in your normal ad copy, however to users who have already visited the site this might be a good selling point. Alternatively you might want to incentivise users to purchase and this could be a good medium to do this. If someone has visited your site and is on Google searching again you might want to offer a discount code. As well as ad copy If you have a well built out long tail search account, this could be a great way to test shorter tail generic keywords with an already qualified audience. For example if you are a big shoe retailer who tends to focus on brand searches, this could be a great opportunity to trial advertising on terms like “women’s shoes” to test the waters. This could increase traffic re-visiting your site. Users tend to do multiple searches before they convert therefore it is crucial you make sure your search strategy takes that into account.

Now let’s look at targeting users on the display network: 

As well as maximising traffic on the search network, it is also important not to forget about traditional display remarketing. I would recommend any ecommerce client utilises Google’s dynamic remarketing option. This allows you to follow users around the display network with the exact products they were looking at. This means they are seeing a targeted advert reminding them of your product offering and price. This is a brilliant way to ensure they don’t forget about your brand as they browse the internet. I would recommend you experiment both with ad creative and audience cookie durations in the lead up to Christmas.

Dynamic remarketing utilises Google’s ad gallery which means you cannot create the creative yourself. It is still important to test different layouts so you can see which layouts appeal to your customers. One important thing to note about the standard templates is that they are in flash and therefore won’t work on a lot of mobile / tablet devices. Google have recently announced the introduction of HTML 5 ads which should lead to an increase in traffic from dynamic remarketing campaigns. At the moment this appears to also bring in traffic at a lower cost per click, as a lot of dynamic remarketing offerings don’t include a non flash variant.

As well as testing ads, I would strongly recommend you test audience cookie durations (this is worth doing on RLSA’s too). I suggest targeting different time periods to see the impact on conversion rate. Doing this could lead you to have a complex effective strategy, for example if the product value isn’t particularly high you might want to target people aggressively for the first 3 days, and then less aggressively for 7 days and finally with a much lower bid from 7-30 days as you still want to keep a presence but you feel users are less likely to purchase this far down the line.

Finally, you want to remember to utilise both these features as we near sale period. If someone has already looked at your site but hadn’t purchased, it is well worth pushing the sale their way. The benefit with dynamic remarketing is that they will automatically get shown the new prices as soon as the feed is updated. Therefore if your sale launches on boxing day, make sure you are following users with a longer cookie duration as this could encourage users to return and purchase. (Don’t forget to update your budget to deal with the increase in demand!)