The one step I miss in retargeting

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What’s the one step I miss constantly in retargeting, the one step that would save me money, save me time, and not irritate my buyers?


Knocking out purchasers. What’s the point of showing ads to someone who has already bought? This is the hardest part of retargeting, but it can be done if you’re willing to do the work (which is why I often forget to do this). Let’s assume you’re using either Facebook Custom Audiences or Google AdWords. Here’s how you’d spend less money on your ads.

In Facebook Custom Audiences, you’ll need to remove people from your audience segments. This is done by the same process you used to create a Custom Audience. If you have a list – conference attendees, book purchasers, etc. – then simply remove them from your custom audience with the add/remove option:


With Google AdWords, you’ve got a bit more of a hill to climb. First, you need to change up how you do retargeting in Google Analytics’ settings, switching from a generic retargeting URL or site-wide to specific conditions. This requires creating your own remarketing segments, rather than using the built-in ones. It also requires that you have a trackable landing page or goal for someone who has successfully completed a purchase. Assuming you have both of those things, create your own Conditions sequence that includes people who started the purchase process but didn’t finish it:


Above, we see people who visited my Marketing Red Belt book page but never got to the thank you page. Obviously, if you’re working with a vendor that doesn’t pass back personally-identifying purchase information (looking at you, Amazon), you’ll either want to switch to a vendor that does, or put a tracking call on the Buy from Amazon link outbound to knock out those people.

Knock out your buyers from your generic retargeting messages and you’ll spend less, not annoy existing customers, and have better ROI!

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4 responses to “The one step I miss in retargeting”

  1. Hey Chris. Great article, but the screen shot you show is not relevant to the article. Chris is a speaker at the event and not an attendee. Google could never know that. However, setting up frequency caps is one way I am now getting around the over saturation of remarketing ads.

    1. Hi Michael,

      One other way would be to set up a landing page for speakers and then knock that out in the segments.

    2. Christopher is right on this Michael, all you need is to drop an exclusion cookie on the systems of your speakers and you can prevent that from happening within most retargetting systems. Mechanics vary slightly but are similar between the systems. Simply set your exclusion cookies or trackers on any pages of staff members, speakers, and buyers that have already purchased, and you’ll reduce advertising waste.

  2. Great article Chris. Another sad reality is even though the technology is there and the options to “close the loop” on retargeting campaigns are available, many large companies have one department making the retargeted ad buys and a different one managing the checkout flow and CRM systems. So even though the marketer may know what they should do, the red tape/politics/IT hurdles prevent them from implementing them. Do you see that scenario as well? Such a shame.

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