Getting More From Your RLSA Campaigns

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) has been, in my opinion, the highest impact feature released by Google over the last year!


However, many people out there are still not putting them to use, and those who are using them could probably be getting even more out of them by adopting smarter strategies.

Why This Type Of Targeting Is So Important

If you’re not already using these, then here’s just a brief explanation of why you should be. By adding a remarketing audience of your choice to your search campaign, you can apply different keywords, bids and ad strategies in your search campaigns to people who have come to your site before via search. Most people are using some form of image retargeting now, so why miss out on this second chance to target your visitors again but via search!

What You Could Be Putting More Thought Into

The below diagram shows the four key areas to consider when it comes to RLSA campaign strategy.

RLSA Options

People often go wrong by not thinking their strategy through. A lot of campaigns I see coming into our agency have just had an audience target added to an existing search campaign with a low bid multiplier.

However, considering all four areas above and putting together something to get the best out of this cool feature is going to make a much bigger impact.

Audience Target

Be smarter! Don’t just target people for 180 days (the max possible) that have been to your site or have been to your site but (shocker!) have not converted. Test different time durations, especially shorter ones. I’ve seen more successful strategies using 1-3 day time durations as opposed to 30-180 days.

Don’t just think about people who haven’t converted, but rather use your longer time duration audiences to target people who have converted previously and who may be looking to purchase again! Use further custom combinations based on top pages viewed from the content reports in your Google analytics reports and target people with ads specific to that content.

Of course, you still need to ensure you have 1,000 visitors in your audience before you can begin using it, so this may limit the time periods and audiences you are able to choose.

Bid Strategy

Be Bolder! Unlike with applying bid multiplier for mobile, RLSAs have the same potential to work as standard remarketing campaigns with image ads. Sometimes, it can be even higher as it’s less obvious to people that they are being remarketed to. Take advantage of this!

Industry managers at Google have recommended that 100%+ bid multipliers should be used with RLSA audiences in order to achieve maximum impact. People started off cautiously with this type of campaign; but, as I’m sure many of you will see, it’s an area where you can achieve great results. I strongly recommend trying out bolder bid strategies in order to take your results to the next level!

Keyword Strategy

Be different! Don’t just add an audience to your current campaigns with a bid only setting and leave it at that.  Create new campaigns with more generic keywords that you’d never normally target via search! I’ve seen successful instances where very generic terms have been combined with remarketing audiences using target & bid settings in a new campaign.

Test out new things like combining dynamic search ads with a remarketing audience using the target and bid setting. DSA campaigns can often be risky, but a lot of risk is removed by overlaying an audience of people who have already been to your site via search. This can also give you a much wider reach!

Ad Copy

Be subtle but smart! You can’t go shouting about the fact that you know someone has been to your site before and not purchased in your RLSA ads, and things like “Come back & Buy!” won’t get past Google (and aren’t very subtle at all).

On the other side of the spectrum there are too many people who are simply using the same ads as their normal search campaigns for RLSA. I advise creating new sets of ads for RLSA with a focus on your remarketing audience.

For example, if you know someone hasn’t purchased in the last 180 days, perhaps offer them 10% off a first time purchase using a code. Think about the reasons a user didn’t purchase from you and counteract these in your ad copy, mention how trustworthy a company you are, how many great reviews you have, your returns policy, etc. If you tried price targeting the first time around, test out something different now to get that customer back!

Target-And-Bid Or Bid-Only?

Which One

These two settings, which I’ve mentioned throughout the article, refer to whether you chose to separate out your RLSA targeting into its own ad group/campaign (called “target-and-bid”) or simply to overlay your audience into an existing campaign which will run as usual but allow you to bid higher for your RLSA audience (known as “bid-only”).

It’s important to know the difference here as choosing the wrong one could either leave you targeting very generic keywords without the RLSA audience on them, or you could end up cutting off all new traffic within your existing campaigns if you were to choose target-and-bid over bid-only.

What Should Come Next

I am hoping that one day, we’ll be able to use RLSAs with Google Analytics remarketing lists. This would really allow us to be super smart with our strategies as we could then target people based on demographics, engagement metrics and more!