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What is Sequential Remarketing

Digital Advertising: What Is Sequential Remarketing

February 20, 2019

By Jacob Havenridge

The goal of any paid media campaign is to leverage your knowledge of the audience you’re attempting to reach in order to effectively isolate them with your targeting and entice them with your messaging to visit your site. That being the case, there are ways that you can use the data from your own site and how visitors are interacting with it to help give you a leg up on your competition. Doing this is called sequential remarketing, or remarketing for short.

Understanding how sequential remarketing works and when it can best be deployed to improve your marketing campaigns' performance is so important that we decided to devote a whole blog post to get you up to speed.

What Is Sequential Remarketing?

Let’s start with the basics. Using tools like Google Analytics, marketers are able to gather a wealth of data on how traffic moves across their sites. This includes insights on how much time visitors spend on certain content, where they go, and ultimately what conversion activities they complete. Where does remarketing come in? Well, remarketing enables advertisers to serve ad content to subsets of their websites' visitors, using knowledge from data to make sure those ads are as relevant to that specific audience as possible. Let’s walk through an example:

Say you are a company that sells athletic training gear for both men and women. Your site is structured so that there are categories for each type of gear you offer—shirts, pants, and socks—and each of these categories is either for men, women, or children.

You have received word from your boss that men’s pants sales are down this quarter, so you will need to build a Google Ads campaign to increase sales starting this month.

You know that return visitors convert at a much higher rate on the site, but with Google Analytics, you can see that these returning visitors have fallen over the last few months. Understanding this, you can start using remarketing to help increase those return visits and hopefully improve overall sales.

First thing’s first, you will need to make sure that your company’s Google Analytics is linked with your Google Ads account. To do so, navigate into the “Admin” section of Analytics, and then select the “Google Ads Linking” option under the Property column, like so:


Once the account is linked, you’re good to start building your audience. While you’re still in the “Admin” section of Analytics, navigate to the “Audience Definitions” option and then click “Audiences”. From there, you can click the red “+New Audience” button.

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You know that visitors who have been to the men’s pants page are going to be the main focus of the campaign. Given that understanding, you decide that the best audience to build would be one that only includes former visitors to the “/shop/mens/pants” page. To build this, select “Users who visited a specific section of my site” and name your audience. In this case, we’ve named it “Men’s Pants - Non Converters.”

Google Audience Builder

Moving on to the next step, you have the ability to tell Analytics that you only want to include visitors in this audience if they’ve been to the “/shop/mens/pants” page in a 60-day window, but here we can also take it a step further.

By adding an “and” statement, we can tell Analytics that we also only want to include visitors who have completed no transactions. This will help ensure that these ads are not serving to people who have already purchased pants from you, because the ads could turn them off to shopping with you in the future, while also wasting impressions on a subset of your audience that is unlikely to come back to buy again.

Google Ads Audience Builder


Quick tip: When setting up audiences, sometimes it makes sense to build several with subsequently longer durations, so that members can be given different offers or deals depending on how long it takes them to re-engage with your ads.

Click here for some more tips on how to use Analytics to track your Google Ads account.

In the next step, you can select your Google Ads account and save your audience.

Now that the audience has been built, you can build a remarketing campaign in your Google Ads account to target it. There are some things that you will need to keep in mind while setting up the campaign.

The first is that you won’t be able to actively target your new audience on the Google Display Network until it has more than 100 active members within the last 30 days, so if you find the list is too small to target, you may need to expand it to include any visitors to the men’s shopping section.

Assuming this isn’t the case and your list is large enough, another thing to consider is how you want to position your imagery and messaging to entice these users back to your site.

Click here for a quick primer on building quality remarketing ads. It’s best practice to use images that align with the products you’re promoting, so in this case, it makes sense to use images of some of your top-selling pants in either your static image banners or responsive display ads.

Beyond this, it’s important to understand that these visitors left without making a purchase at some point, and they likely did so for a reason. Testing coupons may help call people back to the site if they left because of the price point.

You can also try using verbiage that communicates that the items will only be available for a limited time, how easy it is to check out, or that you have free shipping. All of these options could nudge buyers back to the site if their original bounce was due to it not being at an ideal time to purchase.

The sky's the limit in terms of what you can test here—it’s just important that you do so in a structured manner so that you can inevitably gain a solid understanding of what is driving visitors off of your site and how you can ease those tensions.

Other Considerations

Looking beyond the example here, sequential remarketing, as its name implies, can be leveraged to encourage your site visitors to move deeper into your sales funnel. This can be especially helpful for sites that have a longer sales cycle. Audiences can be built for each step along the path, and ads can be served based on what stage of the Buyer’s Journey your personas are in, each prompting them to remain engaged with your brand.

Now that you know exactly what sequential remarketing is and how powerful of a tool it can be, it’s our hope that you will leverage it to increase the impact your paid search campaigns are having on your organization’s bottom line.


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Topics: Paid Media, Paid Social