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Casting a Wider Net with RLSA Campaigns

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 in Google

rlsa adwordsThere has been some discussion online recently about how to use keyword match types within RLSA campaigns.

For those who are unfamiliar with RLSA campaigns, these are Google AdWords campaigns which target previous visitors to your site (the RL part - Remarketing Lists) when these people run new search queries (the SA - Search Ads).

For many PPC Managers there is an ingrained aversion to using Broad match keywords. and even for these RLSA campaigns many are reluctant to use anything looser than Broad Match Modified.

This, in my opinion, is an unfounded fear, and you will be doing yourself a disservice if you do not use very generic keywords in Broad Match type for your RLSA campaigns.... and here's why...

For anyone to make it onto your remarketing lists, they need to have visited your site. So, they have already demonstrated an interest in your product or service. If this person then conducts a new search on Google - and remember, it is these new searches that these campaigns target - there are a couple of things we can (probably) safely assume about them.


  1. They are still in the market. The itch they were looking to scratch when they first visited your site is still there. If they were looking to buy widgets, they haven't bought one yet. If they were looking for a new accountant either the one they found didn't work out, or they simply didn't get around to choosing one.
  2. There is likely to be more urgency this time around. They are closer to whatever deadline (real or imaginary) they had the first time around. They are, by definition, further along in the buying/conversion process.


Both of these factors make them attractive prospects - so you'd like to get them back to your site as quickly as possible if they indicate that they are in the mood for widgets again!

And, here is the crucial point. Because they are essentially "pre-qualified" by virtue of having visited your site previously, you can afford to a) bid more aggressively than the competitors in the auction (think about this for a moment - the others in the auction don't know that this person searched before - and this is a pretty generic keyword... they'd likely be bidding quite low for this traffic) and, b) you can afford to use the broad match keyword since the wastage has already been largely eliminated.

It's a win-win for you.

However, there are a couple of ways you might want to stack the odds even further in your favour.

Firstly, don't use RLSA campaigns to all of your visitors. Build a combination list. As per usual, exclude any visitors who already converted on your site (unless you are in a repeater market), and exclude bouncers - those people who left your site immediately the first time around. If your site was not what they were looking for then, it probably wont be now.

And, secondly, consider developing a specific landing page for these visitors. After all, you know they have been to your site before and didn't convert and we are assuming that their need is now greater. Be more aggressive in your language, more pushy in your sales presentation. You can afford to be. If you can, offer a discount or special package offer that is not on your main site. Remember these people are closer to converting than most other visitors to your site.

Any downsides? Well, there is one.

Google has been disapproving remarketing lists for a while now, they seem to be working their way through sectors. This is related to privacy issues. A year or so ago it was the medical sector. More recently we have had a client who offers debt consolidation have their lists disapproved. We wrote about the problem of disapproved remarketing lists some time ago.

If your list is disapproved, and you're running RLSA campaign you might assume that the ads would simply stop running. Not so.

In fact the ads keep running; but now your broad match, generic keywords have no restrictions. With the remarketing list gone, they will target everyone. So keep your eyes on the remarketing list status.

Otherwise, go crazy, cast your RLSA net as wide as you can!

I'd love to hear your experiences with RLSA campaigns, especially where you have used broad match keywords - please share in the comments.


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