How to create remarketing banners that work

Banner size guide

Remarketing banners (aka retargeting ads) are one of the most simple and cost-effective ways to re-engage with prospects who have previously visited your website.

From personal experience, a well thought out remarketing banners campaign will always drive conversions at a great CPA.

A lot of advertisers simply use the same banner ad copy as their standard prospecting/acquisition campaigns, or choose the wrong banner sizes, and by doing so they are missing a out on a lot of traffic and conversions.

How do you create effective remarketing banners?

Collect and use the right kind of data

Your remarketing targets people who have already visited your website, they are not an audience who has potentially never encountered your brand.

Therefore, the information they need and the way it should be displayed is different.

Remarketing best practice starts with how you collect and use the data. Remarketing is largely based around the creation of lists, and combining those lists to identify your target audience.

For example, my first list could be all users to my page selling men’s Nike trainers. My second list are people who have bought a pair of men’s Mike trainers from me.

If I create a rule to exclude everyone from list 2, I now have my target audience to re-market men’s Nike trainers.

Google remarketing banners ads audience manager

One of the biggest mistakes surrounding re-marketing is adding tracking to a home page with multiple products or target markets.

If you only have one product or service then this is fine, however, if you sell multiple products (e.g. fashion) I would advise either leaving tracking off your home page and focusing on specific products or creating a brand-led (no product specific) set of creative to target them.

An anecdote I always use is a large fashion retailer (Boden) that tracked my visit to their home page and then starting serving me banners for female fashion (I am a male).

The chance of me clicking on an advert for a dress is 0%.

If they had waited until I went to the men’s section of their website they would have been able to serve much more effective adverts.

Tailor your copy

Your banner copy should be specifically targeted at the product(s) your prospect viewed and/ or interacted with on your website.

Generic brand led messages will not be effective as product copy based on what they saw on your website.

If they looked at a pair of Nike Air Max, make sure the banner they see is for those exact Nike Air Max.

remarketing targeting

If you don’t have the technical ability or budget to run banners that dynamically show exact products (e.g. a coat they looked at), you can easily base the banner copy on the category a product belongs to.

For example, if they viewed coats on your clothes website, run a banner about coats.

If they looked at shoes, display a banner about shoes. Using this approach is very easy if you set up different tracking per page using Google AdWords’ re-marketing tools.

Strong branding cues

Because your prospect is already aware of your website, using strong and prominent branding signals such as your logo, brand colours and fonts will make your banner stand out.

This in turn makes it much more likely they will click on your banner.

Monitor your performance

When you run a re-marketing campaign You will be presented with a lot of data, the trick is to filter out what is important.

The key metrics I always use to gauge success (or lack of) are…

How much you have spent

  • No. of banner impressions
  • Click through rate
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per thousand impressions
  • Bounce rate
  • No. of conversions (post-impression and post-click)
  • Cost per conversion
  • Revenue
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)

Test different versions of your ad

Testing banners ensures you are showing the optimal version of your advert based on your visitors’ actions rather than just your presumptions.

There are two ways you can approach this…

  1. Before you fully launch the campaign, set-up a test campaign with a small budget and see which versions are most effective.
  2. Upload all the ads and let the platform self-optimise.

Option 2 is the quickest way to get set up and running, and the most effective.

When you test different versions of an advert make sure there is only one difference between the banners.

If you have wildly varying banners, how do you know which element made the difference?

Use Google Display and Facebook Ads

Online advertising is essentially a duopoly, especially for small businesses. A combination of these two platforms will target 99.99% of all your site traffic. There’s a nice guide to using both here.

They are both very easy to set-up, simply add their tracking pixels to every page you want to track to build your lists.

I’ve found Google Tag Manager is the quickest and easiest way to do this.

Remarketing banner examples…

Here are remarketing banner examples that follow me around the Internet, and do all the things I have described above.

Some I would consider these to be best practice examples of remarketing banners (they are targeted, relevant, product specific, tailored and I often see the odd change between banners where I presume they are running tests), others are the exact opposite of what you should do.


All products I have looked at on their website, with offers clearly displayed


I viewed home broadband and got chased around the internet by ads for business broadband.


The exact watch I had looked at


Literally none of the products I looked at

Read more on my thoughts about JD Sports’ marketing.


Habito remarketing Facebook Advert

Really nice video with all the benefits clearly explained

If you have any questions about re-marketing or you’ve tried it and love it, or found it a damp squib leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “How to create remarketing banners that work

  1. Great tips, thanks.

    I think good ads are essential to success and it’s a shame people will sometimes judge the results and decide it’s not worth it without realising that they could have done better if they had used more effective messages.

    I wrote a blog post that compliments this one nicely, it’s a guide to setting remarketing up using Google Analytics and AdWords, hope you like it:

    1. Thanks. The technology behind the remarketing banners is really driving CTR% higher than ever.

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