Remarketing List Search Ads (RLSA): 3 Great Strategies

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The paid search landscape is changing. Gone are the days when the only targeting method was keywords. We are now seeing more sophisticated targeting methods that work alongside keywords. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) are a great example of this. Although they’ve been around since July 2013, RLSAs are still hugely underused. In this post I’ll be covering some handy RLSA strategy  We’ll also go into some tips on how to implement them.

What are Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs)?

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a Google Ads feature that allows advertisers to tailor their search campaigns based on whether a user has previously visited their website (or app), and the pages that user viewed.

RLSAs can be used in two ways:

  • Making bid adjustments on your ad groups for users (remarketing lists) who are searching on Google using the keywords you are bidding on
  • Set up search ad groups to only be triggered and show ads if a user is on your Remarketing list, and is searching with the keywords you are bidding on

RLSAs are totally different from traditional display remarketing

The name ‘Remarketing Lists for Search Ads’ can be a bit misleading. It sounds like it’s the same concept as display remarketing, but on the search network. This isn’t the case, though!

The only thing RLSAs have in common with display remarketing is that they both use cookies to track users. They also add them to lists for the advertiser’s use. The way those lists are used for RLSAs is totally different than that of traditional display remarketing.

Standard remarketing delivers ads to users when they are browsing on the Google Display Network. However, RLSAs don’t just automatically show text ads to users just because they are on your remarketing list. The users still need to be actively searching on Google using the keywords you are bidding on within your search campaigns.

What are the benefits of using RLSAs?

With RLSAs you can better tailor your search campaigns to target more qualified users. When used well, RLSAs can result in more efficient use of ad spend, better conversion rates, and ultimately, better ROI.

3 Winning strategies using RLSAs

Here are some strategy ideas for using remarketing lists for search ads:

1. Show ads only to users who have already visited a page on your website

These strategies work by only letting the keywords and ads be triggered when the person searching on Google is also a member of your remarketing list. The list could be anyone who visited your site, or visitors of a particular page on your site, as the strategies below demonstrate:

Make the most of a very small ad spend

AdWords can be expensive for very small businesses, and if you have really small budgets you might not be able to achieve the return you want from your PPC traffic without some very time-consuming strategic optimization.

By using RLSAs, you can choose to only have your search ads shown to users who have already visited your site. This means your small budget will last a lot longer than on standard search ads. The users seeing your ads are potentially a more qualified audience as they must already be aware of your brand having already visited your site.

The only caveat for this strategy is that you need at least 1,000 members on a Remarketing list for it to be used on the search network. This means you need traffic levels of 1,000 unique visitors or more on your site within the time-frame that you use for your remarketing list. These visitors can be from any traffic source and don’t just have to be from PPC. Take a look in your Google Analytics account and see how many days it usually takes you to achieve 1,000 unique visitors. You should then set your Remarketing list membership duration to at least this length.

2. Bid on more generic terms, but only for the most qualified users

I almost always avoid bidding on vague or generic keywords in search campaigns. They tend to be expensive and generate very low levels of conversions (if any).

With an RLSA you can reduce the risk of bidding on more generic keywords because your audience is more qualified.

For example, a department store that sells Chanel cosmetics, but not Chanel clothes, might avoid bidding on the term “Chanel” because it’s too vague. Someone could be someone looking for anything related to Chanel, from clothes to jewelry or cosmetics. With an RLSA they could put this term in their own ad group. Then apply a remarketing list containing users who have already visited the Chanel cosmetics page. The ads will only trigger when a user who is searching is already on that audience list. This means that this term will only be triggered when the user has some qualified interest in Chanel cosmetics. he advertiser’s website.

The result is a reduced risk of wasting ad spend, and the ability to expand campaigns. THis allows us to see if generic terms can bring in conversions when the user is an existing website visitor.

For this strategy, I’d recommend creating a totally separate campaign and testing all your more generic terms. Do this their own ad groups as normal so you can have full control over their ad spend.

3. Test your brand campaign

There are so many benefits of bidding on your brand name that I can’t squeeze them all into this post! Having said that, I understand that some clients may not have the same point of view.

With an RLSA you could create a brand campaign and ad group that targets only users who have not previously visited your website. This is ideal if your campaign is focused particularly on driving new visitors. You can isolate the brand to spend to just new users. Naturally, this strategy may not see as many directly attributed conversions. Especially when you run a brand campaign without an RLSA. Many users will search your brand when returning to your site to purchase. It’s a nice way to justify a brand campaign if your client isn’t keen on using ad spend to bring returning users back to the site via PPC brand searches.

You could even test this campaign against a brand campaign that targets only returning visitors. Do this by creating two versions of the same campaign and excluding each audience from the other campaign.

The future of RLSAs

Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas on how to use RLSAs. The possibilities are huge at the moment, and as we see the functionalities of the lists we can use with RLSAs improve, the possibilities will become endless! What are you waiting for? Set up your RLSAs today!

If you loved the info in this post, be sure to checkout our other great articles like 6 ways to better understand your Google Ads Campaign.

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