Remarketing For Search 101

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RICHARD TALBOT Head of Paid Search

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When it comes to the tactics and techniques used for targeting specific audiences online, marketers really are spoilt for choice.

However, the vast majority believe that keywords are the only way to go when it comes to search advertising. This means that Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) are often overlooked and underused, which is a great shame as they bring about a myriad of benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at what RLSA campaigns are and why it is not just the specialist PPC agency which should be using them.

WHAT ARE REMARKETING LISTS FOR SEARCH ADS (RLSA)?

Taking RLSA out of the equation for a second, let’s review the standard search process:

With RLSA campaigns, marketers are given the opportunity to adjust this process by based on whether the user has previously visit their website. This enables marketers to make bid adjustments on their ad groups using RLSA for users searching on their keywords. It also allows for ad groups to only be triggered when a user on this remarketing list searches for specified keywords.

HOW IS RLSA DIFFERENT TO DISPLAY REMARKETING?

Because of the term “remarketing” it is easy to draw a connection between the two, however while the underlying technology and code is the same, the strategy and objectives for both types of remarketing are very different.

With display remarketing, ads will be seen by users when they are browsing on the Google Display Network if they have already visited your website and become part of your remarketing list. But with RLSA, users need to be actively searching on your keywords on in order for tailored ads for them to be triggered. The same remarketing list can be used for both display and search remarketing, however use of the list for search advertising purposes requires a minimum of 1,000 people compared to only 100 for display remarketing.

WHY SHOULD YOU USE RLSA?

The main reason why you should consider using RLSA is because you are tailoring the search experience for users that have previously demonstrated an interest in your brand, product, or service. In turn, this can increase the likelihood of a conversion.

According to Google, only 2-4% of site visits result in a transaction, mainly because most users take time making a buying decision. But with RLSA campaigns, you can target audiences that may be on the brink of taking action and convince them to go further.

It is important to remember that RLSA ads are a customer segmentation tool, not a reminder like display remarketing. In the offline world, you regularly see companies employ different marketing strategies to new prospects, one-time purchasers and loyal customers. This is the segmentation logic behind RLSA ads. Without RLSA, all potential customers, brand new and ones who have already visited your website are treated the exact same.

Along with targeting more qualified users that have already expressed an interest in what you do, RLSA also allows for a better ROI, as you can tailor your bids based on the value of individual customers. On top of that, you can better customise your ad text as well, by using messaging more suited to those further down the sales funnel.

HOW DO YOU SET UP RLSA CAMPAIGNS?

Thankfully, the process of setting up RSLA campaigns is relatively simple. On your AdWords account, you should be able to see an “All visitors” list under the “Audiences” section of the Shared library. You can also find this on the Audiences tab, under the main Campaigns tab. Once there, follow these steps:

1. Create a new “Search Network only” campaign
2. Select the Audience tab, which is next to Keywords
3. Select + Remarketing
4. From the “Add targeting” drop-down menu, select “Remarketing.” Here you will find the “All visitors” list, which needs to be added to your ad group.
5. Create additional remarketing lists, making sure you use the Audiences or Shared library instead of the Display Network tab.
6. Add the remarketing tag across your entire site.

During this process, you will need to set up a relevant audience using tags, URL rules and custom combinations. However, you must wait until the search list size hits a minimum of 1,000 in order for it to be used. The time this takes varies depending on your site traffic.

When setting up RLSA campaigns, we recommend duplicate existing ones to begin with and set a budget at approximately 20% of the original campaign’s budget. You can then apply relevant remarketing lists to your new RLSA campaigns, excluding the main list from the original campaign to segment into “brand new” and “returning” prospective customers.

Over time, it will be possible to refine your RLSA campaigns so that it does not mirror the original campaign totally. Your RLSA strategy will dictate how you apply remarketing list targeting at a campaign and ad group level.

HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE MOST OF RLSA CAMPAIGNS?

Just like any other form of search marketing, RLSA campaigns won’t run like a dream from the get-go. In order to make the most of your new targeting machine, you will need to adjust and tweak a few things. With this in mind, here are some suggestions on how to deploy RLSA campaigns effectively.

BID HIGHER FOR SEARCHERS THAT HAVE PREVIOUSLY VISITED YOUR SITE

Sounds obvious, but you should place higher bids on searchers that have visited your site already, as interest levels will be high. This is particularly effective with competitive industries, such as legal services, insurance and gambling.

The logic here is that the potential customer is already familiar (even in passing) with your brand as they have already been on your website. If they are searching on your keywords, it is reasonable to assume that they have not made a purchase decision, otherwise why still search?! This logic is stronger in markets where the purchase cycle is long or once-off, e.g. a one-year utility contract or childcare/crèche services. By simply bidding higher on keywords contained within an RLSA campaign, you can get back in front of these “hot prospects” even on expensive keywords, since you know they are closer to purchase than brand new prospects. If they remember and do not like your brand from the first website visit, they should not click on your ad at all, meaning this segment can be very qualified in terms of where they stand on purchase decisions.

BROADEN YOUR KEYWORD LIST TO REACH PREVIOUS VISITORS MORE OFTEN

Following on from the logic in #1 above whereby you increase bids on keywords in RLSA campaigns, here you can add terms that might be considered too expensive or generic for original campaigns due to the highly targeted and qualified nature of RLSA.

PREVENT ADS FROM APPEARING TO CONVERTERS FOR A SPECIFIED PERIOD OF TIME

For numerous businesses, this is one of the strongest and most easily understood cases for using RLSA, especially if you have a one-off product or long purchase cycle.

When you block ads to previous converters, you can specify a time limit so that when it gets close to say home insurance renewals, the individual will see relevant ads once again. This option is not typically recommended for ecommerce sites, but is extremely relevant for say a utility or insurance provider who will typically sell a product or service under a 12 month contract, and who may have customers doing searches on brand terms to log into their online accounts for such services.

DRIVE REPEAT PURCHASES FROM BUYERS AND CROSS-SELL OTHER PRODUCTS OR SERVICES

These two points draw on the logic of bidding higher on previous searchers and broadening your keywords to past users in points #1 & #2 above. But in spite of similarities between driving repeat purchases and cross selling to previous converters, they need to be considered separate entities because the end goal and customer segment targeting is different.

With both repeat purchases and cross selling, a strategic decision will need to be made on which segments and products or services are best suited for this tactic. In some cases, it might not be worth implementing from budget and time perspectives, as getting repeat purchases and cross-selling wrong can end-up being quite expensive.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DRAWBACKS OF USING RLSA?

RLSA will only ever account for a portion of your campaign traffic and conversions, typically between 1-20% depending on your industry, seasonality, etc. This is because it only reaches people who have previously visited your website and searched for the keywords you are bidding on.

RLSA is also dependent on cookies. If anyone is using incognito browsing, a public computer, has not enabled cookies, or simply clears them regularly they won’t end up on an RLSA list.

Lastly, as with any new feature those managing the AdWords account need to be aware of the time and effort that will go in to managing RLSA campaigns in addition to the original campaigns, particularly for large or complex accounts.

ARE RLSA CAMPAIGNS WORTH THE EFFORT?

If you are already on top of AdWords in terms of optimised campaigns, advanced features, and display remarketing implemented. You should look to get RLSA campaigns enabled today, especially if you have the Google AdWords remarketing code in place already on your site and have reached the magic 1,000 minimum threshold.

Speak to TinderPoint today about how we can get you started with RLSA campaigns!

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RICHARD TALBOT Head of Paid Search

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An experienced digital marketer with 8+ years of industry experience, Richard has worked in client account management at both Google AdWords and Microsoft's Bing Ads in Dublin. He now leads the Paid Search & Display Advertising team at Tinderpoint delivering successful campaigns for a portfolio of diverse national and international clients across many industries.