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Remarketing lists for search ads (RSLA) is one of the strongest tools for online advertising, as it allows you to contact previous visitors. Our general experience is that the conversion frequency for previous visitors is higher than for new visitors, which is why we believe everyone who advertises online should try out RLSA.

With RLSA, you get the opportunity to increase the bid (CPC) on this target group and thereby boost your advertising to previous visitors.

It is our experience that our customers often overlook this platform, which is a shame - not least because this year Google has made it even easier to get started.

Set up remarketing lists directly in Google Analytics

Starting RLSA campaigns used to be a laborious process. This is because you had to set up an AdWords tag on the site, which collected data for the marketing lists. Now Google has made it much simpler by providing a  set-up of remarketing lists in Google Analytics for use with RLSA. 

Now you can set up lists that are a little more complex, which hasn't been possible in the same way in AdWords before. For example, you can target based on how long the user is on the site for or against your existing segments from Google Analytics.

But remember to check your settings in Google Analytics to ensure that the account allows data gathering for remarketing lists. You do this under your own property, then tracing information and data collection. Here it's important that remarketing collection is switched on as otherwise you risk that data about your previous visitors doesn't get collected.

Data collection

5 tips for setting up RLSA campaigns

If you haven't already begun a more targeted advertising to your previous visitors, then it's time to get started. So here are 5 specific tips on how to get started. 

1. Start with a remarketing list to all visitors

When you start up with RLSA, it's a good idea to get a feel for the quality of the advertising form before spending any more time on it.

That's why we recommend that you start by making a simple remarketing list that captures all previous visitors. During the test phase, you can add this list to all existing search campaigns.

Audience

Increase the bid on the remarketing list to 'all visitors to see the effect. Over time you might find that certain campaigns are not relevant for RLSA with an up-adjusted bid.

2. Select the target setting "Bid only"

When you add the remarketing list to your search campaigns, you should start with the target setting of "bid only". This means that the ad will be displayed to all those who search on your original search word, but the bid adjustment will only be activated to visitors on the remarketing lists.

This means that if for a normal search campaign you have added a remarketing list with all previous visitors and increased the bid of the visitors by 100%, the increased bid will only come into force if the person searching is on yor remarketing list. So if a person searches on a search word from your search campaign, such as "Bed linen", which you have priced at a max. CPC of 5 pounds, the below depends on how much you're willing to bid for the actual visitor.

Max price Appears on remarketing list +100% = 5 pounds. x2 = 10 pounds.

Doesn't appear on remarketing list Max 5pounds.

It is only if the person searches on one of your added search words and if they also appear on your remarketing list that you will be able to bid higher. However, if you would rather use the setting 'Target and bid', we recommend that you set up new campaigns and perhaps add some very broad search words. Perhaps even search words that have not worked for you previously. There is a good chance that they perform better when linked to a remarketing list.

3. Bid higher for optimum effect of RLSA

Some people may not want to spend unnecessary amounts of money to attract previous site visitors. However, we recommend using this advertising form to gain an insight into whether previous visitors in your given industry are either more or less open to conversion than new visitors.

That's why it's also worth all advertisers giving it a try. In order to feel the genuine effect of RLSA, you need to bid so that it has an actual impact on your CPC. We recommend that you bid between 100-300% higher on previous visitors.

Bid adjustments in %

-50% = x1/2

0% = x1

100% = x2

200% = x3

300% = x4

You should however be aware that search words that already have a gns. position of 1.5 would be an offensive bid adjustment, which in some cases could be superfluous and may even lead to unnecessary extra costs for previous visitors. That's why you should try out differentiated bids all depending on the type of marketing list and quality of your search words. You might also find worthwhile adjusting the bid down on certain search words. 

If instead your search words are placed as no. 4-6, you should try adjusting the bid up.

You should assess the quality of your RLSA efforts based on the following parameters:

  • Gns. Position: Here, through offensive bid adjustment, you could bid higher to reach a higher gns. position for visitors who previously visited your site.
  • CTR: Is the click frequency higher from participants on the remarketing list compared to new visitors?
  • Conversion frequency: Hopefully, you will experience that the conversion frequency is higher for visitors who appear on the remarketing lists than for new visitors.
  • Price/conversion Analyse price per conversion over time and compare your search words with the remarketing lists to see whether you should adjust the bid up or down.

4. Consider the time period for members on the remarketing list

It is possible to capture visitors on remarketing lists for up to 180 days. Here you should think about how long the purchasing decision is for your products. For example, perhaps your products require a longer thought process before the user converts on your site.

During the purchase process, it may be important to stay visible to previous visitors, which is why a remarketing list's time period of 30 days may be too short in relation to the conversion. Think about what is relevant in your industry, and check any historical data in relation to 'time-to-transaction' in AdWord/Analytics.

Test several time periods to find the best one for your solution. Target based on the above criteria.

Please note that your list should contain a minimum of 1000 unique visitors for it to be worth using it for RLSA. That's why it may be necessary to extend the time period beyond the standard 30 days.

5. Make your remarketing lists more specific

Once you have tested a remarketing list over a period of time with all visitors, you should start testing more specific remarketing lists.

Here are a couple of suggestions for remarketing lists, which you could also use for RLSA:

  • Category sites visited
  • Product sites visited
  • Visitors who previously put products in their basket but without buying
  • Visitors who have bought
  • Session duration over 3 mins. Search on specific brands

The possibilities are endless, which is why it's just about getting on with the different lists. We recommend that you find a bid strategy that suits your lists' efficiency and your CPA (cost-per-acquisition).

For example, it would help if you were willing to bid higher on visitors who have placed a product in the basket without converting, as they were close to converting anyway. Moreover, visitors on the product and category pages often spend longer in the purchase cycle than visitors who have only visited the home page.

Perhaps you have some very loyal customers who buy from you more than once, so you should also consider bidding higher on those visitors. That's why we recommend using historical data to analyse your target group, segments and then testing what works for you.

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