If you want to run a ‘remarketing’ advertising campaign through Google Ads (and everyone should!), you’ll need an ‘audience’ to advertise to. I’ve lost count of the number of companies who’ve told us they want to try this, but are then disappointed to realise they can’t do it straight away, because they haven’t been collecting previous visitors on a remarketing list. If you wanted to show remarketing ads to people who’ve visited your site in the last three months, obviously you should have set up your audience more than three months ago.
A common example is when a company wants to advertise an event in a few weeks’ time, and realises that a Google Ads campaign targeted at recent visitors to their website is exactly what they need. However, if there’s no existing list of previous visitors, by the time one has been built up, the event has passed.
You can add visitors to a remarketing list by putting code on your web pages (or using Google Tag Manager to do this), but we usually do it through the alternative method of using Google Analytics. So, even if you don’t plan to run any remarketing advertising campaigns in the near future, if you use Google Analytics, there’s no harm done by setting up some audiences of previous visitors today. You’ll need to have your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts linked, and follow the steps at the ‘Property’ level in Analytics. Note that the system can populate the list with up to 30 days of data from the past, which is a nice start, if seldom long enough for low-traffic sites.
Many different types of audience list can be created, containing people who’ve visited certain pages, performed various actions or met other criteria. I’d set up a few lists. We usually have a ‘segment’ of visitors who’ve spent some time on the site and/or looked at more than one page, and that’s good to feed into the lists too. We don’t want to remarket to people who came to the site by accident and ‘bounced’ away.
Don’t forget too that audiences needn’t be targeted exclusively: you can use the lists to modify your advert bids, perhaps bidding higher for those lists which convert better. You can also show different ads to viewers who have or haven’t visited your site before.