10 Creative Ways to Use Google Ads Remarketing Lists

by Cydney Hatch November 25, 2019

Remarketing campaigns are some of the most profitable campaigns you can run on Google Ads. They allow you to personalize—a trend needed for 2020 and beyond—and connect with a people who are already familiar with your brand and products, whether they’ve purchased from you or interacted with you in some other way online.

These campaigns have a lot of digital advertising clout as they typically have higher success rates for a number of reasons, and there are statistics to prove it:

So, what are you doing to better promote your remarketing lists on Google?

If you need to shake up your remarketing strategy, in this post, we’re going to go over  10 unique Google Ads remarketing list strategies you should try!

Remarketing Lists and How It Works

As you probably already know, Remarketing helps you reach people who have previously visited your website or used your mobile app. Previous visitors or users can see your ads when they browse websites that are part of the Google Display Network, or when they search for terms related to your products or services on Google.

To go a step further, a remarketing list is a collection of website visitors or app users gathered by snippets of code added to your site or app. When you create a list, you set rules for when visitors or users should be added to the list. You also specify a membership duration for how long you want your visitors or users to stay on the list. Once you’ve created remarketing lists, you’ll need to add them to your campaigns’ ad group targeting so that you can show ads to visitors or users on your lists.

The requirement to serve your remarketing list ads varies based on the target network:

  • Google Display Network must have a minimum of 100 active visitors or users within the last 30 days
  • Google Search Network must have a minimum of 1,000 active visitors or users within the last 30 days
  • YouTube must have a minimum of 1,000 active visitors or users within the last 30 days
  • Gmail must have a minimum of 100 active visitors or users within the last 30 days in the Display Network

To shake up your remarketing, let’s take a look at creative ways you can use your Google Ad remarketing lists in the next section!

10 Creative Ways to Use Google Ads Remarketing Lists

It’s all about lists, baby!

To get started, you’ll need to brainstorm:

  1. Create a list of all actions taken by users on your site
  2. Determine which actions you should create unique ads for
  3. Create remarketing lists that capture these individual groups separately
  4. Create ads that speak to what makes them different

Once you understand the logic, let’s get creative and look to ways in which you can use your Google Ads remarketing lists:

1. Anniversaries and Seasonals

Since you are already using Google Ads, you know that cookies can last up to a year and a half before they expire. This fact alone allows you to set up annual remarketing lists for things like holidays and anniversaries!

To build this type of list strategy you need to create something similar to product-based abandonment but instead, you need to create a new remarketing tag, unique from the main tag that you’ve been setting rules for up for.

One of those tags should place a cookie set to expire in 370 days, the other places a cookie set to expire in 360 days.

For the first 360 days, Tag 2 is positive and exists as a cookie in the browser.  Tag 1 is active until day 370, at which time it expires. This gives you about a 10-day window 360 days after the purchase of a product (5 days before the anniversary of when they purchased) so you’re catching them in the shopping phase.

Think to connect and create remarketing lists around anniversaries and purchasing seasons.

2. Review Lists

A lot of times blogs, especially affiliate ones, review products.

If you have this type of content, you can easily create a Google Ads remarketing list around all of your readers who have spent some time reading reviews on products and follow them with ads for products after they leave your site! It’s best to remind yourself that remarketing is not just about people who click on PPC ads and purchase things! Remarketing lists and ads are all about remarketing to anyone who has visited y our site, regardless of what they did!

Take advantage of people who are interacting on your site, outside of just purchases!

3. Time-Delayed Retargeting

If you are familiar with cookie and pixel retargeting strategies you know that your target audience has an expiration date.

For most marketers, they see time as pain but in time-delayed strategies, time is of the essence! Similar to sequential retargeting (which we will talk about below), time-delayed retargeting basically works by showing people a  sequence of ads without taking any type of action.

For example, your retargeting list campaign can look something like this:

  • First Week: Website visitors see ad #1
  • Second Week: Website visitors see ad #2
  • Third Week: Website visitors see ad #3
  • Fourth Week: Website visitors see a thank you message.

The best thing about time delayed retargeting is that you can use different ads to share different perks and values of working with you. This pairs nicely with other content strategies like email nurture campaigns and paid social!

The longer visitors have been part of your time delayed retargeting campaign, the bigger the offer/incentive they need to act. So, say your first two weeks of content are sharing products but later you can offer them a 15% discount to get them to act.

In short, it is all about leading people down a content string enough to get familiar and then sending them something to finish the deal!

4. Page Value Retargeting

Your website is full of different ROI opportunities.

In fact, you will probably treat people differently according to how they interact with your website. For example, if someone just visits your front page for a minute or so, it probably does not make sense to target them as it is most likely a waste of marketing time and dollars. In contrast, if someone has been on your website for a little longer trying to dig through products, you probably will spend and bid proportionally to people’s actions.

Efforts for efforts!

I mean, paying a little higher for someone who has been on your site for 3 minutes or more is probably going to pay off better than just bidding on all website visitors.

So, look inside your Google Analytics dashboard and find which of your pages are the “hot finds.” Once you’ve figured them out, you can add layers like page URLs, time on site,  etc to help craft retargeting ads tailored to that audience based on page performance and time.

5. Cross-Sell Retargeting

A lot of the time, people will not want to purchase from you, but sometimes that is okay! Use that information to your benefit!

Just because a conversion offer did not work today, does not mean it cannot work tomorrow so look for down-sell opportunities that can enrich a long term relationship! If someone says no to your services today, create remarketing lists around down-sell opportunities and share a landing page for it.

Offer a free ebook, guide, or template with the goal of converting them later in your relationship!

A loss now is never a loss forever, invest in people and you might be surprised!

6. Un-Digital Leads

You might be scratching your head wondering what I am talking about, but there is a way to track people who are not connecting with you on the digital web!

Say your business held an event and did a raffle where people shared their business cards or a form they filled out to enter. If you were smart, you had cards that had unique UTM codes for a URL visitor to visit to see if they won.

By having people visit that URL code you are cookie-ing them for a positive response in winning or a negative response in you did not win.

By creating a list around a contest, you can send “thank you for participating” emails in conjunction where you can then start remarketing to people who interacted with this engagement. Give an opt-out option of course!

7. 30-Day Trials

Free trials are one of the lifeblood offers in modern marketing. Between Netflix and subscription boxes, people love signing up for 30-day or yearly trials!

So, as a remarketing list, you can easily advertise only to those who signed up for the trial a few days before their 30 days/years are up! Talk about a nice upsell remarketing idea!

You can rotate through ads featuring value propositions, customer testimonials or just simply create a sense of FOMO! If you cannot get people to sign up after their trial, the last effort could be that you offer discounts to people who let their trial expire with a time limitation.

Retargeting is all about creating more opportunities, right?

8. Target Through SEO Value

Blogs are awesome as they provide information as to topics people are interested in. This is also an opportunity to hone in on some Google Ad remarketing opportunities where you can build lists around blog segments!

In reality, you could easily create remarketing lists for people who visit your blog and read the material. You can then create remarketing content featuring some of the topics they read about. You can also narrow down your remarketing lists based on read times which might help you clean up lists for people who are truly interested and reading your content in detail.

If people are committed to your written blog content, wouldn’t they be open to getting ads about things they are interested in from a source they committed to reading? (hopefully one they also came to trust?).

It’s a win-win and possibly an easy shoe-in!

9. Individual Email Retargeting

At Disruptive, we are all about lifecycle marketing because communication throughout the buyer’s experience matters! Remarketing is a big part of that!

If you want to create a unique remarketing list, do so in email!

You can add a hidden HTML image tag to your emails that attaches a cookie to the browser of the person who opened that email using programs like SiteScout.

Doing this, if you are running promotions through an email campaign, you can create additional ad sets to follow people who open your emails to amplify the promotion further! This also allows people who are interacting a quick way to use the promotion instead of having to dig around to find the original email contact.

These hidden email tags can allow you to match your email to the retargeting ads to improve conversions!

10. Sequential Retargeting

If you are a B2B business or tend to have a more long-term buying process then sequential remarketing lists could be your new best friend!

Being a lot like email nurturing and time-delayed retargeting, as discussed above, you can push remarketing content down a conversion funnel depending on what emails are opened and engaged with.

Sequential retargeting is all about building out different categories or lists and include/exclude them depending on the landing pages, durations, or downloads they’ve been taking action on.

Sequential retargeting is the practice of varying content messaging for where people are in their sales journey, which the end goal is to get them all the way to purchase something! This type of remarketing allows engagement to be relevant!


I don’t know about you, but remarketing is a fun part of marketing—if you do it right!

My hope is that this short article helped you get the creative juices flowing on how you can creatively use and built out Google Ad remarketing lists for your business.

While remarketing isn’t the only strategy you should be using in your marketing bucket, you are losing money but not trying some of these tactics out! Remarketing can be so powerful, so if you need help deciding on how to best connect with people, let us help you! We have a fantastic Lifecycle marketing team as well as PPC consultants who love coming up with ways to engage your current and potential customers!

On top of that, share some of your ideas below! What successes (or failures) have you seen from remarketing campaigns you’ve run in the past? 

  • Google Ads

Cydney Hatch

Cydney Hatch

Cydney is a polka dot wearing business owner, photographer, cupcake enthusiast and writer, who through her work, shares her personal passions about visual marketing, branding and business strategy.

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