Increase the Reach of Your Ad Spend with RLSA Lists

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Remarketing lists for search ads, or RLSA, is a feature in Google Ads that allows advertisers to customize search remarketing campaigns by targeting people who have engaged with their site in the past. The benefit for retailers is that it’s an opportunity to reconnect with qualified buyers using a relatively low-cost PPC strategy. RLSA lists also collect valuable insights and help you go after competitors, with behavior and intent-driven events used to grow your audience and drive conversions. In this article, we’ll look at a few ways that e-commerce brands can benefit by adding RLSA lists to their PPC stack. Let’s have a look:

How RLSA Ads Work

Before we get too deep into using RLSA ads, it’s essential to understand that there are some critical differences between this ad type and traditional remarketing ads. 

Conventional remarketing campaigns serve ads to users any time they’re online, no keyword triggers required. Instead, ads are displayed based on interests, behavior, and other factors. Additionally, these ads are shown to users when they visit YouTube or a Display Network.

As per Google, RLSA ads help you customize search campaigns for past visitors so that your ads will be tailored specifically for them when they’re using Google search or visiting a partner site. Typically, you’ll use them to target high-intent audiences, or past website visitors who have viewed specific product pages or completed a conversion goal.

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There are two main strategies for running standard RLSA campaigns:

Increase Keyword Bids 

Because your RLSA campaigns target a smaller, more qualified group, you can optimize your bids on existing keywords to make sure you reach as many people on your list as possible. For example, you might try raising your bid 30% to target users who abandoned their shopping cart within the last 30 days. 

Go Broad to Boost Sales

You can also bid on keywords that you’d typically skip; because you’re working with a limited pool of users, this is a great opportunity to increase sales by taking a broad approach to your keyword strategy. Again, RLSA lists are made up of qualified audiences, people who have had some interaction with your site in the past. 

What’s great about this arrangement is that you don’t need to worry a whole lot about wasting money on broad search terms, as everyone on your list is already a qualified buyer.  Getting too specific may mean that no one sees your ads at all. Most PPC campaigns should not include bids on generic or broad terms because you’ll inevitably end up paying for irrelevant clicks, but RLSA lists are the exception to the rule. 

Why RLSA Benefits Ad Campaigns

RLSA lists are unique in that they allow advertisers to segment their search campaigns in a really specific way. Further, the smaller customer segments allow marketers to measure results more accurately, thus ensuring that you’re getting a decent ROI on your campaigns. Compared to other types of search marketing, RLSA lists have higher click-through rates and lower costs per acquisition—again, thanks to the familiarity factor. Additionally, those CTRs can lead to better quality scores and lower CPC rates across all campaigns.

You’ll Need 1,000 Members Before You Can Run RLSA Campaigns

What’s the catch? Well, one of the challenges associated with RLSA lists is that you’ll need at least 1,000 members on a remarketing list to get started. As is the case with other AI-based PPC tools like Google’s Smart Bidding strategies, newer advertisers don’t get as many benefits as seasoned PPC pros because they just don’t have enough data to work from. 

You might start with a different page or increase the duration of your marketing list. If you are taking this approach, set the duration of your campaign based on how long Google Analytics predicts it will take to collect enough visitors. Keep in mind that this means 1,000 unique visitors, not multiple sessions from repeat visitors. 

Targeting or Excluding Those Who Have Converted

E-commerce brands can benefit in a big way from using RLSAs to get back in touch with past shoppersCLICK TO TWEET

E-commerce brands can benefit in a big way from using RLSAs to get back in touch with past shoppers. This approach is ideal for advertising other items that this group might like, or subtly letting them know that you’ve got some new items on the site. 

You can also use RLSA ads to exclude past buyers from any ads that promote the items they’ve already purchased. We’ve all been followed around by products we’ve already bought. Regardless of how we felt about those products, it’s obvious that the ad is missing the mark. 

Combine RLSA Lists with Audience Data

Another benefit of RLSA campaigns is that you can layer them with other audience lists. This report from Think with Google looks at how Chrysler combined RLSA lists with Similar Audiences to reach more high-value buyers. Similar Audiences allow advertisers to target new users that share characteristics with your existing customers. 

RLSA lists

You can add audiences by navigating to the Audiences tab in your Google Ads account, then selecting the desired targeting option. 

For more info, Google offers a guide to segmenting your audience with remarketing lists


From there, you can build audiences based on behavior, demographics, and more. 

Keep in mind, you can also collect audience information by enabling the “Observation” option under the “Audiences” tab. This option allows you to collect more data about your users, without limiting the reach of your campaign.

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Drive More Value By Using Social to Fuel Your RLSAs

If you’re only targeting those who have already visited your website, you’re not going to get a ton of new impressions or first-time traffic from running these ads. Although the clicks that you generate are likely to be of a higher quality than they would be with your average search campaign, low search volumes can stand in the way of meaningful growth. 

RLSA lists

To work around the numbers problem, you can use social media ads to increase your audience size and compete for high CPC rates without breaking the bank. To get the ball rolling, you can promote content on channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—if you’re in e-commerce, chances are pretty good that social ads are already “business as usual.”

Once you’ve gathered enough data from your social media reporting tools, you can export an audience list and upload it to Google for remarketing. Here’s some more info about exporting a list from Facebook

Wrapping Up

The bottom line: RLSA lists may be a bit more complex than your average PPC campaign, but they’re ideal for getting qualified leads to convert and for bringing valuable insights into your Google Ads dashboard.  

Thanks to the lack of competition for the super-specific segments that it facilitates, RLSA campaigns really shine when it comes to targeting previous visitors with high-intent keywords that would otherwise eat up your entire marketing budget.

With that said, if you’re overwhelmed just thinking about juggling various audience lists with Facebook data and intent-based segments that drill down to the page, you might want to outsource your PPC campaign management. Key PPC works exclusively with e-commerce stores, helping them scale using data-backed strategies. Contact us today to learn more about how we can set you up for growth.

Mr Sam Baldwin

Mr Sam Baldwin

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