How to Use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)


Remarketing lists for Search Ads are a powerful tool to hyper-target specific audiences who have already shown an interest in your brand. Search Ads can be expensive, and if your ads aren’t generating more traffic and conversions, they can become really expensive. RLSA allows advertisers to reach potential customers that have previously shown an interest in their business and tailor their search ads to better reflect that interest. When used correctly, RLSA allows businesses to better capture potential customers during their purchase journey and get a better return on their ad spend (ROA). In this article, we’re going to show you several ways you can use RLSA to optimize your ad campaign and increase your conversions.


Using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

The simplest way to optimize your search ads is to increase your ad spend on those users. The beauty behind RLSA is its ability to better tailor your search campaign by targeting people who have visited your webpage via your search ad. RLSAs can be used in two ways:

  • Adjust your bids based on ad groups of those users who are searching Google using the keywords you are bidding on
  • Create groups to only show search ads if the user is on your remarketing list and is searching with the keywords you are bidding on.

It’s important to note that Remarketing Lists for Search Ads are best used for those prospects that are in the consideration phase of their buying journey. It’s also beneficial to use for post-purchase customers to help with future purchases and buyer loyalty. The idea is to use RLSA to help “move the needle” with these target audiences. By targeting people who have already shown an interest in your business, you can increase the relevance and effectiveness of your search ads, resulting in higher click-through rates and conversions.


Using RLSA During Consideration Phase (Haven’t Made A Purchase)

For those customers who have shown an interest in your brand but have not made a purchase, they are several options to leverage your ad campaign.

1. Increase Bids on Qualified Audiences

The simplest way to use RLSA is to increase your bids for previous website visitors. This can help increase the chances of your ad appearing at the top of the search results. You don’t need to create a separate campaign for these users. You’ll just need to create a remarketing list of users who haven’t made a purchase yet and set the terms of what interactions qualify them to be on that list. Qualifications can be based on the following:

  • Visited certain webpages
  • Left items in the cart checkout
  • The amount of time spent on your site
  • Clicked on certain products/categories on your site

You can also increase your bid on those who have completed a micro-conversion. This means they have made small steps or secondary actions that indicate they are nearing a point of conversion. These are considered small wins and a good indication that a purchase could be made. Examples of micro-conversions are:

  • Signing up for an email list or newsletter
  • Downloading an ebook
  • Registering for a webinar
  • Requesting a free quote or sample

These types of actions show that the user is seriously considering your brand. By increasing your bid for these micro-conversion prospects, you’re making a greater investment in those most likely to convert. This user will need to go into a separate remarketing list along with the qualifications of what action triggers them into the list.

2. Tailor Your Ad Copy

One of the biggest benefits of RLSAs is that you can tailor your ad text based on what specific brand interaction a user has made on your site. To make this work, you’ll need to duplicate your existing ad and apply the specific audience so that the ad only shows to users on that list. You’ll also want to make sure you exclude this audience list from your original audience list, so your campaign doesn’t overlap with your existing campaign. Next, tailor your ad copy to the specific product or service that the user viewed on your website. Just be sure that your landing page coincides with your ad text so that your messaging is clean and consistent throughout.

Based on user interaction, you may want to create different lists for different pages or sections of your website. This will allow you to target different segments of your audience with more tailored ads and measure the performance of those segments. Your ad text, media assets, and CTAs should all be adjusted to that specific segment group. Hyper-targeting your ad copy can be a powerful way to convert visitors into customers.

3. Target the Cart Abandoners

Did you know you can use RLSA to segment users by their interaction timeline with your brand? These are those prospects that keep coming back to your site for some reason or another and get cold feet. Ever added something to your shopping cart, then removed it, added it back three days later, only to remove it two days later? Or do you keep saving that item for later? These are special groups of people that you want to move into making a purchase while it’s still dwelling in their minds.

A great way to retarget cart abandoners is by offering them a discount or two or three. The concept is to create special offers for those users who have abandoned their cart for one reason or another. In any given number of days, your search ad will be positioned in front of this user with a limited offer to incentivize them to complete a purchase. After a set amount of days,   another ad with a better offer the target that prospect. If there is still no purchase, an even more exclusive offer will be targeted to that target group.   You can create tiered remarketing lists that are segmented out by days.  This is done by changing the membership duration for each list and then setting up different groups for each list. You want to create different ad groups because the offer will be different in each list. Don’t forget to exclude purchasers from your campaign. This will help prevent duplication of those who made a purchase during previous stages.


Using RLSA for Post-Purchase Phase (Existing Customers)

Just because a user makes a purchase doesn’t mean they have no value!  Past purchasers can get your greatest asset, and RSLA can be a great tool to develop repeat business and top spenders.  Here are some examples of using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) during the post-purchase phase.

1. Cross-Promote Other Complimentary Products

One of the best ways to create a repeat purchaser is to recommend related products based on their previous purchase. This is a great way to not only personalized their shopping experience but generate more revenue after purchase. The best way to set up this strategy is by creating lists of past purchasers segmented by category. This enables you to cross-promote other products and exclude the ones they’ve already purchased. These lists work best for Dynamic Remarking Ads or Shopping Ads. Because these are already people that have made a purchase, you’ll need to be mindful of your text ad copy and landing page. You’ll also want to make sure your cross-promotion compliments their existing purchase and adds value. Don’t push out products to get them to spend more.

2. Create Loyal Customers

There’s nothing better than customers who stick with you. In many ways, these are your best advocates because they are the ones who are more likely to bring you new customers or recommend your business to others.  RLSA is a great tool to tap into this special group and generate more sales.

Once you create a retargeting list of past purchases, you could create a few different options. If you want to try to capture new customers, offer a referral program and give discounts for each person they refer that makes a purchase. It’s a win for you to gain a new customer, and it’s an incentive for your existing customer to get a deal on future purchases.

Another option is to offer special discounts for those existing customers that take a certain action, such as leaving you a positive review. This is a great way to motivate existing customers to make a new purchase, all while helping to build your online reputation.


Final Thoughts

Overall, RLSA is a great tool to help target your best potential customers.  Creating remarketing lists and segmented audiences do require some planning and creativity in order to achieve your specific objectives. But the result can pay dividends in the form of new customers and more business.

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