Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) Implementation Guide

Search Retargeting, aka Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, is a powerful feature in your SEM toolbox. It allows you to stay top of mind with recent site visitors, reconnect with past converters at the right times, or exclude certain visitors from seeing your ads.

However, implementing an effective RLSA strategy requires forethought, time spent setting it up correctly, and more time spent analyzing and optimizing the performance. This is the first in a series of articles walking you through the six steps required for RLSA success.

Step 1: Define RLSA’s Purpose

Step 2: Determine Audience Membership Duration

Step 3: Create Audiences (Remarketing Lists)

Step 4: Add Audiences to Ad Groups

Step 5: Collect & Analyze Data

Step 6: Optimize


Step 1: Define RLSA’s Purpose

First you need to decide how RLSA will be used to help your SEM campaign. We typically see three use cases that make sense for most advertisers:

  1. Reach site abandoners who don’t convert.

  2. Motivate past converters to convert again.

  3. Exclude certain site visitors from seeing your ads.

Reaching site visitors who don’t complete a conversion is probably the most common use for RLSA. For e-commerce advertisers, remarketing to visitors who place items in their shopping cart but don’t finish checkout usually converts the best, but you can even retarget visitors who viewed product pages or category pages (usually with decreased success). For lead gen advertisers, a common scenario is to retarget visitors to your landing pages who didn’t submit the form.

Another effective use for RLSA is to reach customers who have bought in the past. You can serve them a “time to reorder” message, or you can cross-sell them complementary products.

The final scenario is to use RLSA as an exclusionary tactic; i.e., prevent your ads from being seen by certain searchers. Most commonly, advertisers will exclude their ads from people who have visited and bounced from their pages in the past. The thinking here is: why spend money bringing a visitor back if they didn’t engage with your site the last time? We also have clients who don’t want their existing customers clicking on ads for service-related issues, and will thus exclude past converters from seeing their branded ads, for example.


Next Steps

Once you've decided what you want RLSA to do, it's time to figure out the specifics of your remarketing particular, the membership duration (or how long a visitor stays on a particular list) and the tactics for segmenting them from other site visitors. More on that in our next post.