Imagine you’re an in-house PPC manager for a retailer or brand, or you are the agency they’ve hired to manage their account, and your boss/client asks you “how will you generate growth this next year?” You freak out! Things have been going well–why can’t things just stay the way they are?
You’ve already implemented a strong account structure and appropriate campaign settings. You even implement negative keywords on a regular cadence. Traffic is high-quality, and you are seeing good conversion rates and order/lead volume. You covered all the basics, but now it’s time to step it up and find that growth. But, how?
Then, you stumbled upon this post, and your life became better. (That was fast, right?) If you’re an experienced PPC practitioner, you’ve probably heard of RLSA, but maybe you haven’t tried it yet. Well, I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t tried it yet and you’re looking for a place to generate growth, this is it.
What are Remarketing Lists (RLSA)?
Just in case you’re shy and didn’t want to raise your hand and admit it — per Google, “Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is a feature that lets you customize your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google and search partner sites.”
This means you can add bid modifiers to improve performance of existing ad groups when ads are served to members of your remarketing lists. You can also create new ad groups/keywords to expand your reach and increase sales by bidding on broader terms, while only showing them to members of your remarketing lists.
Must-have RLSA Lists
Now that we know what RLSAs are, what are the 4 lists every account should implement?
If your goal is to generate highly qualified traffic that improves the efficiency of your performance marketing campaigns, you definitely don’t want to miss these lists:
- Site Visitors – Crazy right? You can actually set up your RLSA list to include real humans who have already visited your website. These visitors are already aware of your brand, and logically would have a greater likelihood of becoming buyers than people who have not visited your site yet or have never heard of you.
- Product Page Visitors – These site visitors viewed product pages and explored additional information about products on your site. They have not purchased yet, and may just be researching or price-comparison shopping, but they are that much further into the sales funnel. Visitors that exhibit this behavior could be worth more, or at minimum they could convert easier or more often, than site visitors who bounced from the home page or those who’ve never been onsite.
- Cart Abandoners – This group of site visitors can be extremely valuable in adding efficiency and conversions from your PPC efforts. These site visitors stepped it up a notch, they almost bought one or more items from your website. They actually liked an item enough to click on the product page, and then clicked again to add the item(s) to the online shopping cart. What kept them from buying that time? It’s hard to tell, but they almost bought, and are now considered strong prospects. Nurture them and watch them buy.
Past Converters – These people bought from you already. These users are gold! They made it all the way through the sales funnel at least once before, and are much more likely to do so again. Remind them of your brand and products by making sure your ads appear in front of them when they’re online. When they need what you’re selling, they are very likely to buy from you again.
- Don’t get greedy or you could upset your customers. Consider your sales cycle, buying patterns and seasons to determine the timeframe since purchase for adding past converters to your remarketing list. I often implement lists of buyers in the last 30 days, to show ads while buying may still be in their system, and after they’ve hopefully enjoyed their recent experience.
- Don’t forget to implement frequency capping to ensure you do not overwhelm these customers with ads showing too often.
As your remarketing lists align with a buying stage further down the sales funnel, the cost necessary to convert those customers typically is lower from a Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA) standpoint. While Cost-per-Click (CPC) may actually increase, due to increased bid modifiers you implement on these lists, conversion rates should also increase, resulting in a better conversion/cost ratio, meaning lower CPA overall. Bid modifiers should be increased based on performance data that indicates that these users are converting as expected.
Each RLSA list-type is shown in the inverted triangle below representing the sales funnel:
As a member of each list gets closer to the end of the sales funnel, the CPA should decrease, and bid modifiers should be increased. But don’t get too crazy — while Google provides the option to increase bid modifiers up to 900%, that is a relatively gigantic bid modifier (a $10 max CPC would become $90). Yikes!
Based on my experience, I prefer to use increments of 10%-20% at a time, enough to make a noticeable difference in a reasonable timeframe (I check weekly) with respect to the volume of clicks flowing through the account, but not enough to break the bank. Some people may call me boring for not using larger percentage bid modifiers initially. But I happily accept that; I prefer safe over sorry.
I suggest gradually increasing (or decreasing if your lists somehow do the opposite of expectations) your bid modifiers to ensure your goals are being met over time and to avoid exceeding budgets or over-bidding your performance goals. It may never be necessary or even make sense to increase your bid modifiers as high as allowable. Just set up your lists, watch the data, and make adjustments accordingly.
But Will It Work?
The best thing about RLSAs is that initially you are only setting up lists and associating them to ad groups. You get to watch the lists build until you have enough data to feel confident in making bid modifier changes. You are not actually affecting anything at first, just gathering data, so you can’t break anything. Yay!
Just get the lists going, gather enough statistically significant conversion data, and make bid modifier adjustments if and when it actually makes sense for you.
If you still feel timid, here’s something to help you get moving: In a case study Google conducted, leveraging RLSAs helped grow sales by 22%. A tire company saw a 161% increase in conversion rate, even as their CPA reduced by 43%.
Here at CommerceHub, we find it to be a best practice to implement these lists on our managed services accounts. Once implemented, we watch the data, and we make bid modifier adjustments when the performance shows we should.
So go ahead, set up those lists and associate them with your Google AdWords ad groups, gather performance data, set bid modifiers and continue your path to account performance glory!