Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is relatively new Google AdWords feature which allows you to show ads on Google only to people who have previously visited your website. Since a visit to your website suggests that that person is already somewhat relevant and qualified, RLSA allows you to be considerably more generic with your Google keyword targeting to that person only - and show ads on Google for more generic keywords than if you were targeting all searchers on Google.
For example, if you were a kitchen showroom, broad-matching on the keywords 'kitchen', 'taps', or 'paint' would normally be a recipe for disaster. However, if you know that that person has recently visited and engaged with your website, then broad-matching on the words 'kitchen', 'bench', or 'paint' could be a great way to further connect and engage with your target audience:
- Broad-matching on the word 'kitchen' can allow you to appear on Google whenever previous website visitors search Google for anything related to 'kitchen'. Knowing that people who see your ad will have recently visited your website, you can be more intelligent with your ad messaging, perhaps offering another way to engage with your products (e.g. an exclusive photo gallery, video buying guide, or selection of credible third-party reviews).
- Similarly, broad-matching on the word 'taps' can allow you to appear on Google whenever previous website visitors search Google for anything related to 'taps'. Again, knowing that people who see your ad that will have recently visited your website, you can show ads for anything related to 'taps', and be confident they are probably looking for taps for their kitchen (rather than tap repairs, tap dancing, or draught beer on tap). Showing an ad which takes visitors to your tapware section of the website could engage the visitor further, increasing the likelihood of enquiry or purchase.
- Finally, broad-matching on the word 'paint' can allow you to appear on Google to that person whenever they search for anything related to 'paint'. If you are a kitchen showroom, broad-matching on the keyword 'paint' would normally be a recipe for disaster. However, since you can assume people who see your ad will have recently visited your website, you have an opportunity to engage further with that person on Google, perhaps with messaging suggesting how to choose the right kitchen style for their desired colour scheme. Again - another way to laterally connect and engage with your target audience, in a unique and creative way.
These are just a few examples - you can probably think of many more creative ways to further engage with your targeted audience. RLSA is no doubt extremely clever, and considering it potential, it's surprising that less that less than 1% of Google AdWords advertisers have even experimented with RLSA (source: Google All-Stars Summit, August 2013, Mountain View, CA).
So how do you go about setting up an RLSA campaign?
3 Steps to Google AdWords RLSA Success
A successfully RLSA strategy comprises of three core components:
1. Define your remarketing audiences
The first step is to define your remarketing audiences - or put people in lists. People who recently visited your website. People who viewed your kitchen cabinets page. People who viewed the contact page.
A great starting point is to utilise your existing data in Google Analytics. Look at what pages people are viewing, how many visits your website is getting each day/week/month, and what actions visitors are completing. Then, bearing in mind that your remarketing audiences must have at least 1,000 people in order to run RLSA campaigns, come up with a list of audiences based on combinations of 1) pages people have viewed, 2) recency of visit, and 3) actions completed.
Some of your lists may take several days to reach the minimum 1,000 threshold, while others may take several months. That is fine, however, if you are setting up an audience for people who viewed a less popular page on your website (which only receives 500 unique pageviews per month), make sure that list has a cookie period of at least 2-3 months, otherwise it will never reach the minimum size of 1,000 people.
Also bear in mind that RLSA requires remarketing audiences to be set up via Google AdWords, using the tag-based method. Currently, it is not possible to use Google Analytics rule-based remarketing audiences for RLSA.
2. Define your engagement strategy
Once you have defined your remarketing audiences, and waited for some of them to reach the minimum number of 1,000 people, the next step is to think about how you want to further engage with each audience.
Your RLSA ad message strategy should be tailored to the audiences you have defined above, so your RLSA ads for people who have visited your website in the last 7 days should be different to your RLSA ads for people who have not visited your website for over a year.
For example, for people who have clicked through to your contact or store locator page, you might want to show them a price-driven message, while for people who have viewed multiple photo gallery pages, you might want to engage them further with additional (exclusive) photos or brochure downloads, which are not available on the main website.
These are just a few ideas - RLSA is about being creative, so your chosen engagement strategy will be unique to your business.
3. Define your keywords
Once you have defined your audiences, and have a better idea of how to engage with those audiences, the next step is to define the keywords in which to show your ads. Remember - since you'll only be targeting people who have previously visited your website, you have already somewhat qualified the relevancy of your audience, so you can afford to be a lot more generic than your normal Google AdWords keywords.
Anything related to 'kitchen' would be a good start, however also think about the types of non-kitchen searches your target audience might make if they are considering a new kitchen:
These keywords might sound quite abstract, especially for a kitchen showroom. However, since you are only targeting people who have previously visited your website, you will need to open up your keywords in order to achieve a meaningful click volume. You are drastically reducing the reach of your RLSA campaigns reach by limiting your audience to previous website visitors, so you need to increase your reach by being more open with your keyword selection.
Once you have 1) defined your audiences, 2) determined how to engage with each audience, and 3) compiled a list of keywords, create your Google AdWords campaigns in the usual way, applying the relevant remarketing audience to each RLSA campaign via the 'audience' section of Google AdWords.
It's then a case of testing, refining, and testing again to find an RLSA strategy which works for your business.
RLSA - The Next Google AdWords Frontier
I genuinely believe RLSA could be huge, and am surprised just how little exposure RLSA has had in the search marketing community. I have been having great successes with RLSA so far, I'm surprised how it seems to have slipped under the radar for many a Google AdWords advertiser.
See this as your chance to get ahead. The opportunities with RLSA are enormous - the only limit to RLSA is your creativity and imagination.
Alan Mitchell is the founder of Calculate Marketing, helping businesses of all sizes improve their return on investment from PPC marketing with comprehensive long-tail keyword strategies and intelligent campaign analysis.