How the AdWords RLSA Feature Helps You Target Would-Be Buyers

In Q3 of 2012, Google released Remarketing in Search as a beta program for select advertisers. Remarketing has long been a prized arrow in the quiver of digital display marketers, allowing advertisers to serve ads to users who have visited their site and tailor ad content accordingly. The new AdWords RLSA feature is a welcome development for paid search; up until this point, SEM managers have had limited ability to target and directly message would-be buyers who dropped off at some point in the purchase path, aim ad copy at shopping-cart abandoners, or get in front of existing customers with retention-oriented messaging.

As in display, however, remarketing comes with an additional layer of complexity, and is not without its potential pitfalls. If used correctly, the powerful new targeting capabilities will allow you to bring the ideal ad copy to your audience, improve conversion rates and trim needless ad spend.

With Search Remarketing being released to the public, here are some basic steps to get started:

Instrument the AdWords RLSA Tag

First, you need to ensure that your Remarketing List is being generated: no cookied users, no remarketing. You will need to instrument the Google pixel on your site in order to generate your cookie pool; these are the users you will be able to target. Here is Google’s implementation guide for Remarketing.

Structure your Remarketing efforts intelligently

 Remarketing methodologies take place at the ad group level, which is great news for marketers hoping to use remarketing lists to define and target sub-audiences with precision. Tailoring bids toward your specific remarketing lists functions in the same manner as other AdWords bid modifiers; you can designate a 200% higher bid, for example, for shoppers who have visited your site for a given ad group.

Alternately, there are two big reasons you may want to set up new campaigns dedicated entirely to a given remarketing strategy:

  1. If quickly analyzing performance of a remarketing strategy is a priority, it may make sense to create a new campaign with the strategy applied across all ad groups, so that performance can be evaluated as a single line item within reporting;
  2. If tailoring ad copy to an audience – such as returning customers – is priority, new campaigns will be necessary to assign different, remarketing-oriented messaging to a preexisting group of products and keywords.

This presents a challenge, however, as you will be creating overlap with existing campaign activity. In other words, you will be competing with yourself. Since history factors into the ad rank of your campaigns, new remarketing campaigns should have substantially higher bids than their counterparts within your existing campaign structure.

Define your Audiences

Remarketing lists for the AdWords RLSA feature can be as broad as all shoppers who have visited your site. However, you can easily define narrower lists by pasting in a portion of the query string that corresponds with a group of your product pages. For example, all cabinet products from the Curio brand.

Once your pixels are placed and you have begun harvesting your remarketing lists, here are some strategies you can leverage to improve the overall relevance and efficiency of your program:

Revisit keywords that were previously too expensive

By incorporating a remarketing list into your campaign, you will be narrowing your audience into a highly-qualified, self-selecting group of in-market shoppers. As such, keywords that were previously too broad for you to compete on profitably may become viable. While this tactic should be explored for any offer, it may be particularly impactful for B2B lead generation, where sales cycles are longer and involve many touch points. For example, if ‘SEM analytics’ proved to be too expensive a keyword in your traditional SEM campaigns, it may prove to be an efficient driver of leads for those users who have demonstrated intent by visiting your site.

Let’s look at a specific example: a home & garden retailer is focused on selling high price-tag couches, where margins are high and long-term warehousing is expensive. The purchase process for these items is long, typically involving multiple digital ad touch points. The retailer can make huge gains by relocating users who have specifically visited their product pages for couches and leveraging a bid modifier as high as 400% (4 times higher) for relevant keywords on ads served to these prospective shoppers.

Avoid ad spend on users who have already converted –

If conversion is defined as submission of an email signup or form submission, or if repeat purchasing is unlikely, you will likely benefit from excluding users who have already converted. This will keep you from serving extraneous impressions to uninterested users. This may save you ad spend dollars if lead gen ads were previously driving toward conversions that have already occurred, and are of no recurring value. It’s important to note that full exclusion of a remarketing list can only be done at the campaign level. However, bid modifiers as great as -80% can be applied to audiences at the ad group level.

Properly valuate different segments of your audience

You can expect users who have visited your site to be familiar with your brand, and therefore more likely to notice and be compelled by the next one of your ads they see. Just as you bid higher on cornerstone, high-converting keywords, be sure to increase CPCs on ads served to your existing or prospective customers. Prioritize ads to your existing customers for those products that warrant repeat purchase, such as tennis balls, toiletries or office supplies.

No matter the size of your customer base, we recommend that you leverage RLSA to the greatest extent possible – this exciting new feature will help you better identify, segment, and craft eye-grabbing messaging to your target audiences. Get in touch and we’ll help you set up your remarketing programs that bring in the results from Day 1.