Ever feel like the internet is stalking you? Maybe your Facebook advertisements reflect exactly what you were just shopping for on Amazon or somehow your advertisements know that you’re a Spurs fan. This is a tactic called remarketing.

Remarketing is advertising that engages customers or prospects with custom messaging based on previously acquired information (usually in the form of cookies). Advertisers put metaphorical sticky notes all over consumers so that subsequent interactions will be tailored specifically to them.

In a recent webinar, Sean Dolan, the President and COO of Pushfire, discussed some tips and strategies of remarketing, as well as a case study to help visualize the strategies in practice. Read on below for a recap of some of his insights.

But first things first. Before creating a remarketing list, it’s important to figure out how to break up the lists themselves-then, mix and match as needed. Identify wanted and unwanted behaviors to target desired audiences.

Advanced Remarketing Strategies

Here are just a few advanced remarketing strategies you should know about.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment, an instance where a user adds a product to cart but doesn’t complete the purchase, occurs at a staggering rate of 70 percent of all shopping instances.

To combat shopping cart abandonment, this advertising trick makes products customers are shopping for on Amazon (or elsewhere) immediately show up on their Facebook feed. As an advertiser, you are dropping one cookie on the shopping cart page and another on the thank you page. You then set a rule that shopping cart cookies must be there but the thank you page cookie cannot be present. Only people who abandoned the shopping cart, therefore, will see your ad.

Product Abandonment

Similar to the logic from before, customers are required to follow a certain path. If a product was searched for and then eventually abandoned without purchase, advertisers can use that search history to remarket. 

Anniversaries and Seasonality

You’ve set the conditional logic that fires a marketing cookie that identifies the category of the item purchased as an anniversary gift. The customer has purchased the anniversary gift and visited the thank you page. Two separate cookies are fired on the thank you page-one that expires in 360 days and one that expires in 370 days. So in 360 days, for 10 days, your ad for an anniversary gift will show; this catches the customer exactly in the right time period they should be buying a gift.

30-Day Trials

This remarketing strategy gives your trial members a nudge to jump back in before they miss their month deadline.

Targeting Offline Prospects

You meet someone at a tradeshow booth and give them a URL to sign up for a free giveaway. With this strategy, as soon as they hit that URL, they are on the marketing list.  Add a negative “enter to win” cookie to hold off the ads for five days and skip the time period when all other competitors are targeting.


RLSA takes everything you love about remarketing lists and adds the condition of a search query. Advertisers can reach customers if a customer has already searched within the brand and/or searched for specific keywords. If someone frequently engages with websites, videos, etc. associated with the Steelers and suddenly searches for yoga pants, RSLA allows you to display an advertisement making them aware of yoga pants with the Steeler’s logo on them.

Target Your Seach Traffic on Facebook

This remarketing tactic is sort of like RLSA for Facebook. Create an ad on Facebook that speaks directly to the term that was recently searched and suppress all those who already converted it by excluding all already existing captured emails.

Turn the Screws

Set your marketing up so that relative to the user, they can see different ads for different cookie lengths. This helps remind customers that they were in the market and encourages them to make a decision.

Do Not Skimp on Ad Sizes, Do Them All

Ad words offer responsive ads that are very easy to set up to get all ad sizes you need. Or hire a graphic designer to create awesome ads, your choice. More ads mean more visibility…simple as that.

Case Study

Now I know you’re wondering, does it even work?  Sean Doyle put these strategies to the test by remarketing a live event.

Red/orange numbers reflect the average cost per click and $11 reflects the average cost of these terms if you were to bet on them through AdWords. The bottom numbers reflect the actual cost per click that was spent to remarket to this group through display ads. This was done by dropping cookies on traffic brought in by all sources.

The traffic coming to this site was purely organic (referrals, direct traffic), cookies were dropped based on the level of engagement and the theme of the content they engaged with. Cookies were also geographically contained to a certain mile radius around where the event was held.

Results show that the remarketing play resulted in $5000 in total spending, 26 direct conversions and just under $26,000 in revenue. This revenue reflects a 500 percent ROAS; results also generated 217 view-through conversions (meaning conversions made after someone saw an ad but they didn’t click).

So, yeah, safe to say it works!

Questions and Answers

Here are some questions that were asked during the webinar, addressed by Sean Dolan.

Q: How do you counteract the accusation that remarketing is invasive and/or borderline creepy? 

Dolan: First off, I believe that stigma comes from us (marketers). It reminds me of a comedian heckling another comedian. We know the tricks. We know how it works. So, it kinda grinds our gears sometimes. And I think we need to step back and realize that. But my family doesn’t come to me claiming remarketing ads are creepy and invasive. I hear that from brand conscious business owners. It’s scenarios like, “what if my remarketing ad shows up on an inappropriate site?”

My response to that is that person is on that site and they are the only person seeing what’s on that site. So in the context of that visit, it’s not weird to that person. Using AdWords, there is the ability to filter certain website categories out. So, there is some protection there. At the end of the day, look at the data. I would much rather be overbearing with remarketing and then find out it works really well rather than scare myself into missing opportunities.

What are the best networks for placing remarketing ads?

For me, AdWords and Facebook are the most important ones. I think that Facebook is a little less competitive than AdWords at the moment. You have the ability to overlap your remarketing lists with more accurate behavioral data than you can on AdWords. So, if I have to pick one, it would be Facebook. The average person spends an hour a day on Facebook and I feel like it’s probably more for some.

For a beginner, how do you conceptualize remarketing strategies before executing? 

I envision it. I want to lay out all the behaviors I want and I don’t want. This can be gathered from analytics. Go through analytics and look at the people that convert and find commonalities. Look at the people that bounce and find commonalities between them. But if that’s going to hold you back from getting started, just remarket to everyone on your website. If it’s that or nothing, do that. The benefit is, using the Google Display Network, you get to see what else your site visitors are doing online.

“Remarketing makes it look like you have a billion dollar budget. Next thing you know you’re on CNN.com. Fox, MSNBC…I’d get started right away.” — Sean Dolan