5 RLSA Strategies to Crush Your Competition

Andrew Booth
RLSA, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

In the fourth post of our ongoing paid search series, Senior Vice President of Media Services Andrew Booth dives into the particulars of RLSA and how The frank Agency uses this tool to our clients’ advantage in their search campaigns. Want to learn more about the different paid search methods we use to generate results for our clients? Check back soon for more posts!

You are probably already familiar with the power of retargeting using display ads, but did you know that we can apply similar strategies in your paid search campaigns? In 2013, Google introduced Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) as a powerful new tool in our paid search toolbox.

By placing Google’s remarketing tracking script across your website (you can also simply use your existing Google Analytics tracking), we can create unique remarketing lists for use in your paid search campaigns. So, how do we use RLSA to improve results for our clients? I’m glad you asked!

1. Generic Keywords

If you’ve ever discussed paid search with me, you’ll know that I’m constantly preaching against using generic keywords. They aren’t focused enough, don’t have the purchase intent that we need for our clients, are overly competitive and overly expensive.

BUT, they are perfect for use alongside RLSA. Let’s say that you’re a university offering a bachelor degree in criminal justice. We would probably never bid on the broad keyword criminal justice, because it doesn’t show any purchase (enrollment) intent. The searcher could be looking for anything from conducting research for a school paper to looking for the definition of the phrase.

So we’ve determined that the broad keyword criminal justice isn’t a good fit for our campaign, but what if the individual has already visited our clients’ website? In this case, we know that the person is interested in an education and they’ve also already shown interest in our clients’ institution. This is the perfect scenario for bidding on a generic keyword, because the searcher has already self-identified as the correct audience for our client.

2. Competitor Keywords

Bidding on competitor brand keywords can be a touchy subject. It can be a great tool for interrupting the buying cycle for a competitor by introducing your brand into the mix, but it’s not always something that we recommend. There can be several reasons for this:

  • It’s not your brand, so you are pretty much guaranteed to have a very low Quality Score, and a very high cost-per-click (CPC).
  • If the brand gets a lot of searches, this can get very expensive very quickly, and may have a negative ROI.
  • These keywords will probably have low ROI, assuming that it is positive at all, so it may make sense to allocate your limited budget to a campaign with better return.
  • Some clients just don’t feel comfortable having their ads show on a competitor brand search, or they may even have an agreement with competitors that they will not bid on each other’s brands.

So, there can be a lot of reasons to stay away from the competition’s branded keywords! But now we have the power of RLSA on our side. By using our remarketing lists, we can bid on the competition’s brand – but only if the individual that is searching has visited your website. This can help prevent losing an interested prospect to your competitor, while creating heavy restrictions on the amount that you can expect to spend on these keywords. Because you are being so specific with the audience that you are displaying your ads to, you can expect to get a much better return on investment with this strategy, as opposed to a broader strategy of displaying ads with each competitor brand search.

3. Excluding Audiences

Do you have a product or service that is generally only purchased once per individual? If that’s the case, you probably don’t want to spend money to bring that customer back to your website. We can create a remarketing list that houses individuals that have already become a customer, and exclude those individuals from seeing your ads moving forward.

We did this very successfully for one of our education clients that wanted to show ads on their branded keywords, but didn’t want their ads to show to current students. Those students are constantly searching for the brand in an effort to locate the student portal on the website – and obviously we didn’t want budget that should be generating enrollments to be wasted on getting existing students to their login screen. So we simply created a remarketing list that housed individuals that had logged into the portal previously, and excluded that list from all campaigns. Doing so dramatically improved the cost per lead of our branded campaign.

4. Cross-Selling and Upselling

Do you have cross-selling, upselling or servicing opportunities with individuals that have recently purchased your product or service? When an individual has completed a transaction on your website, you can add them to a specific remarketing list and aggressively bid on keywords to capture them as a repeat customer.

Let’s say that you sell smartphones and smartphone accessories on your website. Based on your customers’ buying patterns, you may know that the typical individual that buys a smartphone from you buys a smartphone case within 48 hours. You probably already have a separate campaign with smartphone case keywords. By applying RLSA bid-modifiers to this campaign, you may want to increase bids on these keywords by 40% for individuals that have bought a smartphone from you in the past 48 hours.

5. Unique Messaging

Our campaigns perform at their best when we match the messaging in our text ads to not only what the user is searching for, but their behavior as well. Prior to RLSA, there weren’t any options at our disposal to help us align behavioral targeting with our keyword targeting.

If a user placed an item in the shopping cart in your online store, but then abandoned their cart without completing a sale, you can show them ads with a promo code to save 10% on their purchase if they search for your product again.

You may be a company that needs us to generate leads for your sales pipeline, and you may have a fairly long sales cycle. We can show different ad messaging to an individual before they become a lead, vs. what they see after they enter the pipeline. The first set of ad copy that they see may have messaging around “requesting information”, while the ads that they see after entering your lead pool can have more focus on pushing the individual to the next step in your conversion process through the use of offers.

The Right Person at the Right Time

Everything that we do at The frank Agency is with the express purpose of generating great results and increased revenue for our clients. RLSA has been a great way for us to better align search and intent, resulting in great ROI opportunities. If you’re in need of a paid search agency, contact us today to learn how we can utilize RLSA to increase revenue and reduce wasted ad-spend from your existing campaigns!

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