3 Remarketing Mistakes Everyone Makes

Remarketing is everywhere now. It’s so common that my grandmother complains about it, and people outside the marketing bubble make jokes about it. This is the slightly creepy reality of modern marketing, remarketing works so well that companies basically have to use it to stay competitive. So without further ado, here is a primer on remarketing without being annoying about it. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to see your banner ad 1,264 times.

1. Showing the same ad over and over.

There’s two ways to make this mistake. Either you start your remarketing campaign and only use your best ads, or you create a campaign with lots of ads and let Google or Facebook ‘tune’ the campaign by showing the top performing ads more often. This seems logical, because we’re used to running display ad campaigns where you can show the same ad millions of times before showing it to the same person twice, and nobody wants to use ads that perform worse on even rotation with the best ads.

The effect is showing the same ad to the same person dozens of times. You’re like the new friend who calls 12 times per day – every day – just to see what’s new. You’re like a sales assistant following someone out of a clothing store and into the mall, asking over and over again if they’d like to try something on. Make some new ads, and tone down the frequency, and put them on even rotation.

2. Continuing your remarketing after the purchase

You know what’s worse than an overly aggressive remarketing campaign? One that doesn’t stop marketing after you buy the product. This is the kind of thing that would never happen in the real world. It makes no sense to market this way, but let’s face it, remarketing technology is complicated. In a perfect world, your remarketing would turn off after a purchase, or switch to customer-success style ads that market add-ons and special features.

Unfortunately, this is harder than it should be. There’s the easy way and the hard way, and most of us take the easy way and assume people won’t mind being targeted after they purchase. I blame this on the ad platforms. Firing a conversion pixel should turn off remarketing by default. Until this happens, marketers who don’t have a deep understanding of both JavaScript tracking and their ad platform will just keep on targeting. I don’t blame the marketer, this should be easier than it is.

3. Not splitting credit between the original source and remarketing ad

Want to know the real reason remarketing is so popular? Remarketing takes all the credit. Most of us still use a last-click attribution model, and that model heavily favors remarketing. Giving all the credit to your remarketing campaign is like a football team rewarding the extra-point kicker for scoring a touchdown. It’s just wrong.

If you use remarketing without using attribution software, you are seeing a vastly inaccurate picture of your marketing efforts. Sure, you should be skeptical of the guy who builds attribution software saying “You need attribution software,” but seriously you need attribution software. Without it you’re flying blind.

So there’s the three main remarketing mistakes. If you used remarketing, you’ve either made these mistakes or you’re still making them. I didn’t write this article to scorn you. I wrote this article because I set up remarketing for Attribution last week and I suddenly realized why everyone makes these mistakes. Google and Facebook encourage you to only show the ads that work best and discourage even rotation which would freshen up the ads. They both have a concept of “Audiences” but there’s no shortcut to exclude someone who’s fired a conversion pixel.

Finally, Facebook makes it genuinely difficult to UTM tag ads for Attribution software – their ads editor literally broke when I used a UTM tagged URL. The long URL caused a field to overlap the submit button, and I had to use developer tools to re-organize the page until the submit button was visible.

I’m guessing that some of the retargeting-specific tools like AdRoll and Perfect Audience would make this easier, so in the next part of this series I’ll explore some advanced remarketing techniques. Let me know in the comments what you’d like me to try!