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Recapturing Attention with RLSA

As marketers, at one point or another, we have learned about the purchase funnel: a customer’s journey through stages from awareness to action before committing to a purchase.  As the customer travels through different stages of the funnel, they become more and more aware of their particular interests and needs and the brands available to fulfill them.  It is therefore a best practice to adjust your marketing to be engaging and appealing to the customer at each stage.


Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) are an excellent way to adapt online marketing efforts to customers in different stages of the purchase funnel.  RLSAs allow you to target your search ads to those people who have previously visited your website when they are searching on Google again.  In essence, RLSAs are remarketing for the search network. 


In order to get started you will need to implement the remarketing tag on your website and create remarketing lists aligned to your marketing goals.  The simplest way to get started is to target all of the customers who have visited any part of your website before, because those people are already aware of your brand.  You can further refine your RLSA audiences by combining different tag-based and rule-based lists to create more precise targeting based on specific pages or completed actions.


For example, you may only want to target people who viewed product pages, but did not convert in their previous visit.  You can create a remarketing list by setting a rule-based parameter defining particular URLs a user viewed and exclude anyone who has a converted.  Because of Google privacy policies, it is important to know that you will not be able to use a particular list for remarketing until at least 1000 users have received the remarketing cookie, so make sure that any particular list you set up will receive enough traffic.


Once you have identified the audiences, adjust your marketing by tailoring your ads to particular audiences, optimizing bids to target these better qualified customers, or broadening your keyword lists by bidding on keywords that are either more generic or may normally be too expensive.


Rise Interactive has successfully used RLSA campaigns to target shopping cart abandoners for our brands.  Because of their actions, we knew that these customers are already familiar with the brand and were already ready to make a purchase.  We wanted to make sure that we re-captured these highly qualified leads, because they were already in the final stage of the purchase funnel and were more likely to convert.


In one instance we targeted this audience with our branded keywords, but set up our CPC bids in tiers to be 3-5x higher than standard branded campaign bids.  This effort achieved us the highest conversion rate of any of our campaigns along with lowest CPAs, because the audience was already qualified and just needed an additional push to finally convert.


In another instance, we used non-branded, top-of-funnel, short-tail keywords that were otherwise highly competitive and too expensive for general audiences.  In this case we wanted customers who did not convert to be aware of related products that the brand offered, and counted on existing brand recognition to set our ads apart.  This produced the third highest conversion volume of all the campaigns we were running and an excellent CPL due to high conversion rate.


While creating RLSA campaigns requires a lot of thought and some level of creativity, with a lot of competition for a user’s attention, RLSAs are definitely worth the effort to make your ads stand apart and better engage the users you really want to target.

Jen R
August 2014

Thanks Reid.  How are you able to target shopping cart abadoners via the remarketing lists for search?  I've tried setting this up but it only allows for display.  I've asked our Google rep and she said that lists that are built from custom parameters are not compatible with RLSAs?

December 2014
Great question Jen. Looking forward to an answer to this one.