Picture this—a potential customer visits your website, browses around for a bit, adds a few items to her cart, and then leaves for whatever reason.
A few hours later, she encounters your web banner displayed across the top of her favorite news site.
While many users would say you’re “following” her, what you’re actually doing is remarketing.
What You’ll Learn:
- What are Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)?
- How do RLSAs Work?
- RLSA Setup
- RLSA vs. Traditional Display Retargeting
- Benefits of RLSA
- Winning RLSA Strategies
Most search networks will tell you that there are only three ways to utilize search remarketing—customize ad text, adjust bids, and broaden keyword search terms.
But what if those aren’t your only options? In addition to matching the keywords being searched, what if you could reveal the intent behind those keywords?
That’s where remarketing lists for search ads, or RLSA, comes in.
What are Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)?
RLSAs were first launched in 2013 and have proved to be a game-changer for online marketers and brands with slimmer marketing budgets.
Google defines RLSA as “a feature that lets you customize your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google and search partner sites.”
Logistically, RLSA campaigns work by putting an anonymous cookie, called a remarketing tag, on a customer’s browser when they visit a particular site. This cookie monitors the user as they browse the web, which sends data back to your brand.
From there, you’re able to segment those visitors according to their behavior and create detailed audience lists. This info helps you to determine the most effective timing and placement of additional ads. As a result, businesses can target these consumers using highly tailored ad copy to drive them all the way through the customer journey to conversion.
How do RLSAs Work?
RLSA campaigns are made up of two different components—observation mode and targeting mode.
With observation mode, you can add an audience to a search campaign or ad group and monitor how it would perform if 1) the prospect is either part of that audience or 2) they’re typing in the specific keyword you’re bidding on.
This mode also allows you to add a bid modifier in case you wanted to alter your bid if both conditions mentioned above are met.
If there aren’t any bid modifiers, your ad will appear when the target keyword is being searched, even if the person searcher isn’t a member of the audience.
Targeting mode means that the ad will trigger only if the keyword is being entered into the search bar and they are part of that particular audience.
- Create a website remarketing list.
- Once you’ve created your list(s), you can apply your newly created remarketing lists to a single search network campaign or ad group:
- Create a new “Search” campaign, or select an existing search campaign or ad group from the drop-down menu.
- Click “Audiences” from the page menu on the left-hand side.
- To add an audience list, press the pencil icon.
- Under the “Add to” section, select your campaign or Ad group.
- Click “Select a campaign” or “Select an ad group,” and then pick the campaign or ad group you are looking to target.
- Under “How they interacted with your business,” click the “Website visitors” drop-down menu.
- Click on the checkboxes next to each remarketing list you want to add. You will see the audiences populate the “Selected audiences” column.
- Click “Save.”
RLSA vs. Traditional Display Retargeting
RLSA is often used interchangeably with display remarketing, but they’re not the same. Essentially, RLSA takes display remarketing to the next level.
Similar to RLSA, site targeting via display retargeting serves ads to people who have previously visited your site. However, unlike RLSA campaigns, display ads are shown on other websites indiscriminately, and not on Google results pages. For RLSAs, the user must demonstrate having a specific search intent in order for the tailored remarketed ad to show up on Google.
Display retargeting campaigns are also more geared towards customers who are in the earlier stages of the buying process.
Even though RLSA campaigns are gaining traction, display remarketing is pretty common on Google Ads.
It may be the go-to setting for remarketing to your site visitors, but display retargeting has many flaws that shouldn’t be overlooked—one of them being ad blocker.
The trend of ad blocking has been growing for years now much to the dismay of advertisers. One study reports that 30 percent of people in the United States utilize ad blocking tools.
That means that you’ve lost roughly a third of your potential target market.
But this isn’t surprising. Most people have developed an aversion to traditional display ads.
With RLSAs, users are targeted on the search network with search ads, and not invasive display popups.
Benefits of RLSA
RLSA is a powerful enhancement to the Google Ads platform. Here’s what it can do for your business:
Improve reach and conversion rates
Did you know that up to four percent of site visits ultimately end with a transaction? If your website delivers lackluster conversion rates, RLSAs are a game-changer. This remarketing strategy lets you adjust your bids, create ads, or choose keywords with your previous visitors in mind. You can use existing data to reach these visitors, resulting in increased conversions and improved ROI.
Forge a stronger connection with customers
Today’s consumers are increasingly looking for a more personal experience with brands they are considering buying from. That’s why personalization is a must. RLSAs lets advertisers customize ads based on a consumer’s previous behaviors. Since the needs of your customer can change throughout the course of the conversion journey, this can play an important role in building a lasting connection with them.
More efficient use of ad spend
Most marketers don’t have the luxury of having an uncapped budget that allows them to bid on broad search terms that come with high click costs. Through your RLSA campaign, you don’t run the risk of bidding on such terms since the visitor has already been qualified through your targeted audience. The ability to target specific audiences means that advertisers can focus their efforts and their expenses on the consumers who are more likely to convert.
Opportunities to cross-sell
The great thing about remarketing is that it can also be used to promote a variety of different products or services. For example, if someone booked a flight to Belize, you could take the opportunity to bid aggressively for the top position for resorts and car rentals in Belize. The costs per click may be substantially higher, but the rewards could outweigh the risk.
Winning RLSA Strategies
To unlock the full power of RLSA, keep the following strategies top of mind:
Campaign personalization is key to creating a successful RLSA campaign. This means matching specific ad text to searchers based on the way they initially interacted with your brand. Start by building a remarketing tag for certain traffic behavior, along with some bid modifiers to make sure the ad copy is consistent with the behavior of the tag.
Bidding for Competitive Terms
A little healthy competition goes a long way, particularly when it comes to RLSA campaigns. This especially rings true since your potential customer is likely comparing products and offerings already. By using RLSAs to serve up ads that include your competitors’ brand as keywords to those who are already familiar with your store, you can more easily win their business.
Take a Tiered Bidding Approach
Tiered bidding is a fantastic way to capitalize on the key differences in your audience without breaking the bank. With tiered bidding, you can choose to raise or reduce bidding depending on how engaged your audience is. For instance, you’re more likely to spend more on ads to reach consumers who’ve browsed your site within the past 10 days compared to those who haven’t visited your site within the past five months.
By putting too much emphasis on keyword-level targeting, we tend to forget about the real person behind the search. Demographic targeting enables advertisers to reach a specific audience based on age, gender, marital status, and household income. Imagine you have a specific product that appeals to a particular demographic. You could then use that date to target previous visitors who fit that demographic with customized product or search ads.
Cart Abandonment Targeting
These days, customers are comfortable buying pretty much anything online. But many still feel apprehensive before clicking “submit order.” That’s why using remarketing lists for search ads with Google Shopping campaigns can yield incredible results. Why? Because it allows you to target shoppers who know your brand, have higher buying intent, and are actively looking for what you’re selling. This would mean creating remarketing lists based on traffic that abandoned a cart, and then building retargeting campaigns around the neglected product(s).
Segment Bids According to Sales Funnel Stages
Another good, but often underutilized, RLSA strategy is to customize your remarketing campaigns to specific buying stages in your funnel. This tactic involves increasing your bid modifiers when a potential shopper is getting close to converting. This can be achieved by launching different campaigns at different stages and then raising the bids for potential shoppers who have visited your online store multiple times or for an extended period of time. There people tend to have higher conversion intent.
Don’t get us wrong—Google Ads can be tricky to navigate.
And while visitors typically have different intentions on your site, RLSA gives you the ability to shorten the path to purchase, boost brand recognition, and get qualified leads to that final step of conversion.
Hopefully this post has shed some light on how to create a powerful Google search ad retargeting campaign so you can leverage your top returning visitors, ultimately earning your company more customers and more money.