By Helena Clark

It has been a year since Remarketing Lists for Search Ads became a common feature in accounts. Creating the right audience lists for your business is the first stage of driving a very successful campaign with the best return. In this blog I cover what indications and implementation strategies we have in deciding who our most valuable audiences are without making any assumptions.

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When creating remarketing lists there are lots of factors to think about when deciding your most valuable audiences. The simplest being targeting any user who has been to your website and not converted. That's fine, but we can do a lot more. The way AdWords conversion tracking works means we only track page visits; this is currently the only type of remarketing list we can use for search. There are several questions we can ask ourselves when deciding which audiences we should create.

How engaged were they with my site?

It is too easy with remarketing to fall into the trap of only using an audience for people who visited the site and didn't convert. The level of the site your users got to give us a lot of info on how well they interacted with what you offer.

If you are an ecommerce client with a fast turnover of products a lot has to be said for the user who reached the category of products they were looking for and didn't reach a specific product. This suggests they didn't see what they were looking for and so didn't go that level further. Viewers of specific product pages show a more engaged user. The other normal indicators are adding to basket and abandoning the cart.

How long ago did they visit?

This will differ from business to business, however the general rule of thumb is that a user who visited the site more recently is more engaged with your brand. For RLSA we have the opportunity to create lists within a 180 day time frame. Look at breaking these lists up into chunks: someone who visited over 90 days ago might not be that useful to you but it is still worth creating these audiences so you have them if they're ever needed.

With these audiences it is worth thinking about your product. If the decision is an impulsive one the user is likely to convert there and then. Is there a reason they didn't?; no free delivery or a cheaper competitor? If there is you might want to avoid these users in the short term. If your product is a high end item a user is likely to do a lot more research; longer lists may be needed to keep bringing them back.

What areas of the site did they visit?

Building lists based on which site category a user has visited can be a great way to create very targeted ads. However, be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot. If someone came to your toy store and bought a Barbie for their niece, a great idea would to bid on Barbie terms with a higher bid for this customer, however, if 2 weeks later they browsed for an action man for their nephew they are still a very qualified user you would want to put your ad in front of.

On the same note, it is worth building lists of visits to areas of the site that are not as valuable to you. Such as the job pages.

Did they convert?

A user who has converted compared to a user who hasn't is a really important line to build into your audience strategy. For a website where a user can convert multiple times these users can be the most valuable and using RLSA you can keep them coming back. Equally for a business where a user can only convert once it might be worth excluding these users from your campaigns.

Implementing your audiences

Once you have got to the point of creating lots of audiences for lots of different time ranges and interactions on site, you have to think about the best strategy for applying them. The easiest first step is, if you are running a normal search campaign don't just apply the audiences that you think will get you the best return. Instead, add every audience to collect more data from your clicks. You don't have to bid up or down on these audiences, it just allows you to compare CTR and conversion rates of these previous visitors. From this point you can see which audiences are your most valuable and you can use this data to decide on bid adjustments and to shape other RLSA strategies in your account. You might be surprised about which audiences perform the best.

What should we take away from this?

RLSAs are a really powerful tool we have in search. There are lots of approaches we can take to bidding more generically, more aggressively and showing new messaging. These are all great for getting traffic that already knows you back to the site, however, by fine tuning your audience targeting you are likely to drive more qualified traffic back with these techniques.

Create and apply lists with 0% bid multipliers to all search campaigns for the max duration possible. This will give you a lot of data on how different audiences behave on site. Use indicators such as depth of page visited and previous convertors to create lists. Applying this strategy to your normal search campaigns will give you a lot of data on optimisation techniques and also help you when building out RLSA specific campaigns and ad groups.