Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is one of those features that has been available in Adwords for a long time, but nevertheless it does not make much noise and not many people use it. Therefore, this post aims to explain the basics and uncover the potential it has for advertisers.
The first thing you need to be clear about is that, unlike display remarketing, when it comes to search remarketing there are more possibilities to exploit : What does this mean? that not only can we retarget a user after they visit our page, but we can also modify our search campaigns based on this audience…and this is very interesting!
Step by step
First you must create (or edit) a campaign for search only and go to the “Audiences” tab (yes, that’s what it was for…). Once you enter you must add a new segmentation and select a remarketing list you are going to work with.
Remember that the remarketing lists for display and search work exactly the same at the pixel level and configuration in the Shared Library. Once you have selected the list comes the fundamental part and that is the selection of the options to use it:
1) Bid only : shows the ads to all users, regardless of whether they have visited the page before or not. But it allows you to make adjustments for those users who already belong to the list. In this way you can increase the bid if you identify that the users on the list convert better or exclude it so that the ads are not shown to those users. In the latter case we will be dealing with a “negative audience”. The logic of increasing the bid when the user has visited the page before is that they are more likely to convert and thus improve ROI.
2) Targeting and bidding: with this option, ads are shown exclusively to users who are on the remarketing list, i.e. who have visited your page before. In this way, we will again impact the users when they are doing other searches on Google.
The difference, although apparently small, but you must take it into account to get the result you are looking for, define your strategy and not limit your campaigns too much.
Tips to follow to optimize
Once you are clear on the basic concepts, it is time to start taking advantage of this functionality and understand how you can improve your campaigns:
1) Bid on broader keywords.
When you use “targeting and bidding” and only show your ads to those people who are in the remarketing list the first tip is to use broader keywords than you would have bid in a normal search campaign. The reason is simple: when you bid for the first click you must analyze in detail the user’s intentionality to get clicks from those people who really want your service or product.
For example, you could bid for “buy golf clubs”, but never for other more generic words like “golf”. The logic is that the user who searches for “golf” is performing a search whose intentionality is not clear and is hardly looking for what you are offering and the conversion rate will probably be worse. So far so good.
However, when that person has already visited our website looking for “golf clubs” and has left without converting, we already know that he/she is interested in the product and we already know that this user has the intention of looking for golf clubs.
Therefore, and here comes the interesting part, when the user performs broader searches such as “golf”, “golf tournaments” or “golf teacher” and we impact him with our ad again, we know that this person is interested and the probability of success is higher.
2) Use broad match
Just as the previous point goes against logic in Adwords, so does this one. No expert will ever recommend you to use broad match for your campaigns. However, when we already know the intentionality and interest of the person we want to impact them in as many situations as possible. Therefore, broad match allows a wider range of possibilities to reach the user.
Another tip is to analyze the search terms report and discover the searches that we activated and made the user after visiting the website and that have brought him back. I assure you that you will bring clicks that otherwise would never have reached you, but they will help you to know your user better.
3) Bid for a higher average position to increase ROI
When you select the “Bid Only” option and impact both those in the list and any other user who performs a search on Google, the strategy should be different.
One option is to increase the bid to improve the position and maximize the number of clicks of those in the list since you know that this user has interest in what is offered and a higher probability of converting.
5) Do not appear again in search to those who have already spent a click.
Another valid option is to exclude remarketing lists from your search campaigns so that the ads are not presented again to the same users who clicked on them.
The logic is to exclude all users who made a first click and do not find us again in the search results. This way we avoid that same user to click again when the CPC is normally more expensive, i.e. in search, and we can impact them again with remarketing in Display where the CPC will most likely be cheaper.
6) Fight against fraud
The other side of the coin, especially in competitive niches, is the possibility of avoiding fraud by not showing ads to users who have clicked on them again. This is especially interesting in services where the decision cycle is short.
Don’t forget that cookies in remarketing lists last for a while and then disappear. Therefore, although it can help, it is not a definitive solution like using the IP exclusions tool.
7) Careful with segmentation and bidding for search campaigns
Don’t make the mistake of selecting the “targeting and bidding” option for your current campaigns because, all of a sudden, you will see how impressions and clicks will decrease dramatically as you will be reaching only the users of your lists.
Therefore, you should pay special attention when you include audiences in your search campaigns to select “bidding only”.
Finally, don’t forget that to activate a remarketing campaign in search, the list must have at least 1000 cookies, unlike display campaigns that only need 100 to be activated. Therefore, if the account is new or you have just inserted the remarketing pixel, you may need a little more time to activate this functionality.