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Google Ads Retargeting Tutorial For Ecommerce

This post is entirely about the importance of retargeting and how to use Google ads to have it done for your eCommerce brand.

But a little back story.

About two years ago, when I was scaling my major eCommerce brand with Google ads, I noticed one major issue.

No matter what I did, my conversion rate from Google directly was not moving at all.

Regardless of whether I was spending more or less.

And this really stumped me because I was launching more campaigns daily, increasing budgets weekly, and just ramping things up.

And that’s when my Facebook ads knowledge clicked (at least Facebook contributed to something).

I was lacking retargeting in general.

In the day to day operations of growing my eCommerce brand, I had completely forgotten the importance of retargeting.

And my funnel was leaking badly.

This exact story still happens today with eCommerce brands – even those generating $1M+ per month.

Such eCommerce brands have big marketing budgets for cold traffic but they fail to properly implement strategies that lower the leaks from this.

The average conversion rate across multiple industries is only at 2% to 3%, which means about 97% of those visitors coming onto your website are leaving. Without purchasing a single thing.

Proper retargeting strategies not only have the power to improve this CVR to a much greater level, but it can also get it to this level if you’re operating at one lower than this.

See How My Agency Can 10x Your Brand's Sales With Google Ads

Google Ads – effective targeting and scaling methods for ROI.

Bing Ads – dominating the market of a fairly untouched platform.

Facebook Ads (Retargeting) – helping stop the leaks from all sides of the bucket, especially with retargeting.

That’s the power of retargeting.

The right Google ads retargeting strategy:

  • Reduces the leaks in the funnel in general
  • Compounds the revenue and profits over time
  • Increases brand awareness at a profit

How Does Retargeting With Google Ads Work?

There are multiple ways to retarget when it comes to Google ads but we’re going to stick to the main ones.

These main ones include:

  • Google shopping cold + retargeting
  • Google search ads retargeting
  • Dynamic remarketing

In essence, what Google ads needs from you is a retargeting list. And the way you create it is entirely up to you.

You can choose to target visitors in the last 90 days or people who took a certain action only in the last 30.

The options are endless and I personally do recommend trying all.

But depending on which retargeting strategy you decide to go with, your end results will be fairly different.

When it comes to Google shopping campaigns, you can actually retarget within the same campaign you’re using for cold traffic.

This is a way to directly show your products only within shopping ads when a customer looks for them again or for your brand name.

Retargeting works similarly with Google search ads but in this case, you can only narrow down to the retargeting audiences.

The third and least commonly used option is dynamic retargeting. These are display campaigns that run across multiple different Google search partner websites and show ads for products the user was looking at.

So out of all of these, which one should your brand be focusing on?

Strategy Overview

I’ve personally had the opportunity to test all three of these approaches out across multiple different niches and the results have always amazed me.

One strategy that worked amazingly well on one ad account completely destroyed another account.

The reality is, this is just how Google ads works. Every ad account is different and has a different buying audience, even those in the same niche.

The simple approach to retargeting with Google ads is to test all three and figure out what works best before implementing. However, many eCom brands don’t have the luxury of testing with extremely high budgets.

In cases like this, here is the approach I normally take.

I launch retargeting search campaigns while adding audiences directly to my shopping campaigns for any eCommerce brand that sells mid to low ticket items.

This is essentially for all stores with average order above under $75.

Any eCommerce brand above this selling price point qualifies as a “low – high high ticket store”. This is where dynamic remarketing campaigns really shine the most.

But while these are general approaches that have worked the best in my experience, every single approach should be tested to really identify what is working the best.

Let’s figure out how to implement all of these separately

Implementation

When it comes to implementing, each strategy has its own action plan.

Let’s start off with the first: Google shopping retargeting.

In terms of implementation, there are two approaches to retargeting with shopping campaigns.

The first way is to actually insert audiences within the shopping campaign directly and run it on an “observation” basis.

It’s crucial that you pick this option as it ensures the campaign does not end up getting narrowed to just this audience. Once this option is chosen, several things happen.

First, the shopping campaign starts showing your products more often to people within the audience list you inserted. This means any time a potential customer from the list searches for any type of product you sell, chances of your ad showing up increases.

Second, Google’s algorithm is actually able to use this audience list to go out and find even more customers similar to those in the list. This increases the quality of traffic you get and makes the campaign optimize faster.

The second approach to retargeting with shopping campaigns is to launch a whole new shopping campaign that “narrows” just to the audience list.

Not only does this approach make the traffic more focused, but it keeps the retargeting campaigns separate from the cold traffic.

Both are ideal approaches to retargeting with shopping campaigns but I personally prefer the first. It makes management easier as you just have one campaign doing both these things and makes the campaign smarter as a whole.

Retargeting with Google search ads on the other hand requires a bit of a granular approach.

I personally prefer to do retargeting with search campaigns via the branded search campaign. This type of search campaign is designed to only target your brand’s name or URL.

I’ve had many eCommerce store owners mention that all this branded search campaign does is reach those customers who were searching for your brand in the first place.

While this may be true on a general level, a branded search campaign serves a much greater purpose. In term of strategy, this is the perfect “anti-competition” search campaign you can launch because it:

  • Keeps your brand’s search listing at the very top in case competitors try to bid on your brand name
  • Creates an opportunity for you to retarget
  • Helps get additional sales that the account as a whole can use to become smarter

To implement retargeting with this branded search campaign, it’s as easy as choosing the audience lists from the “audiences” section on the left hand side. Once this is done, you can run these audiences based on an observation basis.

Pretty simple and straightforward.

This brings us to the third and final type of retargeting I recommend with Google ads: dynamic retargeting.

Dynamic retargeting campaigns are essentially display campaigns that show up on a variety of different websites. Any website that has opted in for Google’s adsense program is eligible to have your ads show up on it.

While this approach might seem a bit too broad as it could be just about any type of website a member of your audience list visits, it is ideal to always be in front of your customer’s eyes in some way, shape, or form.

Plus, a well known marketing rule is the rule of seven, which states it takes about seven interactions with your ad before a potential customer decides to become a real customer.

Implementing this strategy is as simple as creating a display campaign with multiple different asset groups that target specific audience segments.

You can go one step further and even different audiences in each different ad group.

Optimizing

If you’ve launched your select retargeting campaign, pat yourself on the back.

Now, the real work begins.

Launching the retargeting strategy itself was a straightforward A/B process; optimizing is where creativity and skill is needed.

Before you begin to optimize any parts of the business, you need to give sufficient time for the campaigns to actually run and optimize. Every retargeting audience list is different so in this case, I normally recommend waiting for at least 100 – 300 clicks before taking action.

Once that’s done, we can begin taking the necessary action needed to either make performance better or scale it.

The only major change I make with these kinds of campaigns is with the bid. To keep things simple, if the campaign is not spending anywhere close to the set daily budgets, I increase the bids.

On the other hand, if the campaign is overspending and unprofitable, I end up decreasing the bids.

The benefit of retargeting campaigns is that the major thing that determines the level of success you achieve is based on the bids, nothing else. But things definitely get a bit more tricky when retargeting is getting done with cold campaigns.

The strategic approach I normally take when dealing with a shopping campaign that has retargeting audiences within is that I treat it like a normal cold campaign.

This means I optimize it on a weekly basis and exclude products, adjust budgets or bids / TROAS, and add new products consistently. The specific nitty gritty details of this approach can be customized based on your profit margins and more.

Keep in mind that because retargeting audience lists will have smaller audience sizes, it’s crucial to give the stand alone campaigns the time they deserve to optimize.

But once they do, this leads us into the scaling phase.

Scaling Retargeting Campaigns

On a fundamental level, when we think of scaling, we think of adding budget to a performing campaign or increasing bids.

This makes sense because in order to increase reach, we need to spend more.

Retargeting campaigns, on the other hand, don’t work that way.

While it is entirely possible to increase scale by adding budgets and bids, the campaign is limited by reach. Your retargeting audience lists have only a certain number of people in them at any given time.

There are two distinctive ways to go about scaling retargeting campaigns.

The first way is to increase the flow of cold traffic to the funnel. This will help ensure that newer audience members are cycling through to the retargeting audience lists.

And as the list size increases, your retargeting campaigns will naturally begin to spend more to reach these members.

The second way to scale retargeting campaigns is to increase the budgets and bids directly on them. But keep in mind this will only work if the strategy is combined with strategy #1.

At the end of the day, not having a consistent flow of new traffic will slow the retargeting scale you could achieve otherwise.

Long Term Growth

Once the wheels of your retargeting efforts start to turn, it’s only a matter of time before revenue and profits start to grow. However, good eCommerce brands are separated from the great through the long term efforts they put in.

The amount of success your eCommerce brand gets from retargeting is solely dependent on how far you take it as the head.

Many brand owners stop after creating those branded search campaigns or retargeting shopping campaigns. For long term growth, there are many factors that come into play.

First, you need to ensure that there is a steady flow of cold traffic. Without cold traffic coming in, your retargeting audience lists will slowly start to become irrelevant.

When that happens, your retargeting campaigns are forced to stop spending the daily ad spend allocated to them.

Second, you need to ensure you’re reaching your target audience beyond the avenues mentioned here.

Search campaigns, shopping campaigns and display campaigns are only a small portion from the whole that you can use for retargeting purposes. Some other good ones to add to the mix include Youtube retargeting campaigns, discovery campaigns, etc.

But it’s crucial you don’t make the biggest mistake of all; keeping your retargeting efforts only on Google ads.

While it’s entirely possible to scale to new audiences via Google ads only, it’s not ideal to just retarget with Google. At any given time, your ideal customer might also be scrolling on Facebook or Tik Tok or pinning things on Pinterest.

The least thing you can do to continuously get a steady flow of revenue is retarget via other platforms. This keeps you on top of the customer’s mind and helps improve the amount of trust others have for your brand.

Conclusion

It’s easy to get hung up on deciding which strategic approach to take when it comes to Google ads & eCommerce but the best thing you can do is test.

One strategy that works for one eCommerce brand may completely fail on another.

The best thing you can do for your eCom brand is to implement multiple retargeting tactics at once. Not only will this get traffic flowing from multiple different areas, but it’ll also ensure the campaigns are feeding each other the needed data.

Just to recap, the major retargeting types you can work with include:

  • Retargeting shopping campaigns
  • Retargeting search campaigns
  • Retargeting display campaigns

It’s as simple as adding retargeting audiences to these campaigns once they’re spending money but keep in mind they’ll only work as long as the cold traffic campaigns bring in traffic.

The day you decide to shut off your cold traffic efforts is the day your retargeting campaigns begin to fail.

Get An Actionable Strategy Plan To Scale With Google Ads

With major moves towards a recession, this year has been extremely chaotic to say the least. Many eCommerce brands have suffered and things have just been all over the place.

Running Google ads retargeting campaigns is a long term strategy that nourishes your brand with the right kind of audience members. Do it wrong and retargeting campaigns can become money pits that suck the life out of your brand.

To really understand if you’re retargeting properly for your eCom brand, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I get at least 20% of conversions from retargeting?
  • How many placements have I expanded my retargeting efforts to?
  • What retargeting strategy should you prioritize now?
  • How can you use Google ads retargeting strategies on other platforms?

By constantly reviewing your retargeting flow, you’ll be able to really identify the leaks within the funnel and take your brand to the next level.

Alternatively, you can potentially work with someone who has “been there and done that” to cut the time it takes you to fix current issues in half, grow more at a faster pace, and build a long term brand.

So if you’re doing $40,000 or more per month and want to scale to the next level with Google ads, let’s work together. Schedule a free call with me and get a strategy report that has the potential to 10x your results.

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