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3 RLSA Audiences That Maximize ROI

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads or RLSA campaigns is one of the hottest topics in the paid search community. RLSA works by targeting users who have previously been to your site within search results, unlike traditional remarketing which involves targeting these users across the Google Display Network. Once these users have been targeted, advertisers can layer in audience multipliers and custom copy to better address various audience segments.

RLSA Common Practices

There are two commonly-cited RLSA Adwords practices:

  1. Set up multiple audience segments

  2. Tier bids according to intent

Most advertisers set up a few audience segments. RLSA example audiences include site visitors, product viewers, cart abandons, and past purchasers.

Next, advertisers use tiered multipliers to effectively segment different levels of intent. For example, someone who visited your site once has exhibited less intent than someone who added a good to their cart and abandoned. That user, in turn, likely has less intent and brand affinity than a past purchaser. Each of these three audience segments have different needs and propensities to convert.

For many, these three audience segments are sufficient. But for advertisers looking to maximize their return on investment through sophisticated RLSA strategy, here are three must-have audiences for remarketing lists.

Audience #1: Non-Bounce Users

An axiom of retargeting states that users who have previously been to your site have greater brand affinity and have a higher likelihood of converting on a subsequent visit. But does this hold true for users who bounce from your site within seconds of a click?

Bounced visits actually represent users who are less likely to convert on a subsequent visit. These users came to your business and, their needs so grossly unfulfilled, exited without a further action.

Note that the audience option of "Visitors of a page who did not visit another page" is only available for the display network. A benefit of using Google Analytics for Remarketing is that you can create a custom audience to leverage in AdWords. In this instance, specifically target non-bounce users.

Because bounce rates for most businesses are around 40-60%, this segmentation delivers lofty savings. For those still looking to maximize revenue in the long run, also add the audience of 'bounced users' and apply a stronger negative bid multiplier.

Audience #2: Click-Path Users

Each time a user does an action, they become more qualified as they invest their own time in the conversion flow. Sometimes, however, users may land on a page down the funnel (as is the case with many large, SEO-optimized sites) or may simply exhibit browse behavior.

Search is the highest intent digital marketing channel and on-site search is one of the highest purchase intent actions a user can take.

Instead of simply targeting users who reached a product page, set up a click-path based audience in Google Analytics targeting users who conducted a search AND viewed a product page--one of the benefits of using google analytics for remarketing. Including the search qualifier reduces the cookie pool of unqualified users who happened to 'stumble upon' a product page. (Note if your URLs function by appending a search parameter to a standard product URL you may be able to build this audience in AdWords by creatively applying a custom rule to the 'Visitors of a page' remarketing option.')

Audience #3: Disgruntled Users

Negative public reviews can be incredibly damaging and costly for your business, especially in competitive markets. Once you understand the typical 'pissed off' consumer behavior it can become easier to reduce the number of these reviews.

When a user has a poor experience, they tend to reach out to customer service in one of two ways: via email or a customer support page. Indicators of a poor experience may be a complaint lodged, return initiated, refund requested, or a subscription cancelled.

If a user engages in any action indicating a poor experience via email or phone, upload the customer email addresses to a customer match list audience. If these actions can be initiated on-site, create an audience based on the customer support type.

If you are one of the many businesses that fields more complaints than testimonials, target these angry users in search, utilizing broad match keywords such as:

  • {Brand} + reviews

  • {Brand} + sucks

  • {Brand} + scam

Now with expanded text ads, creating a compelling apology through RLSA ad copy is easy. Consider offering a high discount to assuage the angry customer driving them to an apology page with a one-time discount code.

While this audience may be small, the outsized effect of negative reviews make this effort worth it.


To win in digital marketing, you need to segment your audience better than your competition. Simply creating the same audiences as everyone else won't elevate your marketing to best-in-class. With RLSA and google retargeting, you can find innovative ways of segmenting the varying levels of audience intent and use your creativity to delight even the most disgruntled consumers.

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