5 common remarketing pitfalls and how to avoid them

Whatever sector you are in, if you are offering products or services online then you should have a remarketing strategy running alongside your current search or shopping campaigns. 

Remarketing campaigns often make the difference between success and failure, especially when a user is in the consideration phase and may be stuck choosing between your business and multiple competitors. In these instances, a well placed remarketing ad can be the cutting edge you need to give your business the upper hand.

However, they are by no means easy and you easily fall victim to some common pitfalls. In this blog, I’ll take you through the main ones and how you can avoid them.

1. Being too generic with audiences & ads

One of the easiest traps to fall in with remarketing is to be too generic with targeting and ads within your remarketing campaign. It is so easy to fall into the trap of using the “all visitors” remarketing audience, because the audience size will be large enough and it’s a simple set up.

Be sure to boost your performance by ensuring audiences are created to match key events (both completed and not completed), and target engaged users on core pages on the site to ensure that the most relevant users are targeted and that budget is well spent.

When creating your strategy and campaigns as a result, you can ensure that the right user sees an ad that is more personal to them by creating different ad groups, with matching audiences and copy that is applicable to their original visit.

For example – if a user visited a page about trainers but didn’t convert you could include an ad that says “Come back and buy x trainers and get x% off with code X” – this is much more likely to convert a returning user than a generic ad offering a user to browse trainers.

2. Not broadening audiences to scale

With remarketing audiences, it is easy to assume that the sooner a user is retargeted after their visit, the more likely they are to convert to a sale or lead. This is not actually the case, and there is evidence to support that sales and leads can be made up to a year after the original visit. 

When creating your remarketing audiences, it is important to review the audience sizes calculated based on the number of users in the last 30 days as a standard – if this is not a large enough audience size to convert based on your current conversion rate, then you may need to open your audience set out to a wider date range, such as 60 or 90 days to ensure you have enough users to really maximise your efforts.

Another factor of scalability is remembering that remarketing isn’t just for users who have not converted. You should consider creating campaigns with audiences that target users who you may be able to cross or upsell additional products and services to in order to maximise ROI to existing customers.

3. Not adding the correct exclusions

One of the most common mistakes we see on remarketing and display campaigns in general is the lack of any content or placement exclusions. 

Content exclusions proactively prevent your display and remarketing ads from showing on sites that have explicit content, sensitive topics or themes in general that as a brand you would not like to be seen advertising on. If you forget to tick these exclusions then your remarketing ad might show to a user on these sites, which can lead to the creation of bad PR if picked up and shared online.

Placement exclusions are more reactive. As an advertiser, you review the “placements” – sites where your ad has served an ad, and then review whether or not this site is relevant, if it is not then you can add it as a placement exclusion. 

Checking content exclusions when creating campaigns and keeping on top of placements and reviewing them regularly, will help to keep the sites that serve your ads as relevant as possible, making it more likely that you will generate successful results and use your budget wisely.

The biggest factor to remember with placement exclusions is ensuring that mobile app categories are disabled, at campaign and ad group level – mobile app remarketing ads get lots of clicks as users on the phone tap them by accident, and they have poor levels of engagement and conversion. Unless you are serving ads such as a mobile app installation or something that is entirely based on mobile phone interaction, then you should exclude mobile app placements.

4. Not incorporating messaging from other channels

Remarketing ads should speak to the target user, but they should also tie in with your brand guidelines, language and tone of voice to ensure consistency and alignment with all your other channels. The best brands consistently use the same wording and branding when it comes to content, and your remarketing ads should be no exception.

Sites that are well aligned with their advertising campaigns in terms of the creatives used on search, display remarketing and social campaigns on average have much better results than those that don’t.

5. Not committing to a long term strategy

Many budding advertisers think that remarketing is a quick fix to immediately boost leads. However, like with any campaign, remarketing can take some time to bed in and start to perform – it can take weeks or months to craft the perfect strategy that works for you, testing different audiences and creatives along the way.

Avoid the common mistake of assuming that just because you have not converted after the first week or two, remarketing isn’t working and pausing the campaign – this is counterintuitive. You should keep pushing forward, using remarketing as an affordable opportunity to find out where you can get results, and what ads you can use to maximise these.


When it comes to remarketing, it is a numbers game – be valiant in your approach in terms of broadening your audiences where possible to maximise your success. Ensure your audiences are as relevant as possible and that all proper exclusions are set and reviewed regularly. 

Be sure to take your time, both when creating your strategy and creatives to ensure they align with your brand, and be patient and measured in your expectations when it comes to results. If you take all these steps into account, you are much more likely to ensure sustained success in your remarketing strategy.

If you’re struggling with your remarketing campaigns – whether it’s due to knowledge or time – our award-winning PPC team can help.

Get in touch with us today.