Retargeting With Google Search Ads – Get More Conversions For Less – Advanced Tactics For Success

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Retargeting lists for search ads are no joke – they aren’t something you can afford to skip out on if you’re really trying to generate ROI and growth for your business.

Remarketing lists for search ads (RSLA) allows businesses to customize search ad campaigns for people who have previously visited their website, and adjust bids and ads to these visitors when they are searching on Google.

Remarketing lists help businesses reconnect with consumers as they continue to search for what they need.

You’re able to match the keywords being searched along with the intent behind them.

Let’s take a look at some advanced tactics (with examples):


1- Collect Audience Data By Adding RSLA To Your Current Campaigns

Before you can start using custom audiences and bid audiences, you need RSLA data to make informed decisions.

You should add your audiences to every ad group in your account and select the “observation” option (formerly ‘bid only’).

This setting won’t change anything in your account but it will allow you to see how these audiences perform when they see your ads and search terms.

Which audiences should you focus on and adjust bids for? That is the million dollar question. Bottom line is you need the data to see how each audience performs.

For example, past converters are likely to interact differently than visitors on your site who haven’t yet converted. This will vary on your business model but is especially important if you’re in e-commerce or have complementary products/services.

You wouldn’t want to show a kayak ad to somebody who just bought a kayak – but they might be interested in a kayak hanger for their garage. Here are our top 8  remarketing audiences you need to be targeting.

Bottom line – whether you plan to use RSLAs to modify bids or not, you should include them in all your campaigns to collect valuable data.


2- Target Different Audiences Differently

This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many clients we see using the same messaging to target and retarget.

We recommend that you create separate campaigns for retargeting (after you have enough data to do so).

Here are 2 ways to use this feature to get more from your ads:


A- Different Ads

Target audiences with different ad copy from your normal search campaigns. You can show them different offers, different unique selling propositions (USPs), or take a different voice to help them recall their previous experience with your business.

You can give discount codes for visitors who abandoned a cart or give a deal to returning customers. There are many other different things to test in your ad to boost their CTRs.


B- Different Keywords

With normal campaigns, sometimes you can take a beating from using generic keywords – but retargeting is different.

Try using generic keywords for your retargeting campaigns because you are targeting a qualified audience.

For example, if you are an e-commerce site, you can run a retargeting campaign in December using generic keywords such as “Christmas gifts” to remind users that your products (which they have seen or purchased) can make a perfect gift for the holidays.

Real footage of one of our client’s going swimming after we implemented retargeting with generic keywords.


3- Find and Target Intent-Driven Audiences

Sometimes, your most valuable audiences are the ones that have previously interacted in some way with your website or have completed intent-driven events.

The idea behind this strategy is that you can use site behavior and intent-driven events on your site to create audiences.

Some events that might signal a greater likelihood of conversion are:

  • Number of pages visited
  • Total time on the site
  • Products viewed
  • Mailing list sign-ups

You can test out bidding higher on audiences that have completed any intent-driven events on your site – because odds are, those audiences will have higher conversion rates.


4- Target Competitors Using Remarketing Lists For Search Ads

Nobody wants to lose customers to the competition. RSLA can let you target familiar users who are also searching for your competitors.

If a user has visited your site and is now searching for competitors, they are likely comparison shopping. If you can write an ad that speaks directly to a user considering another brand, you might be able to capture the purchase.

This can also be a branding play, to get consumers to start associating your brand with other popular brands, which if you’re a smaller brand, can be a huge advantage.


5- Use Negative Lists

Don’t forget that you can also exclude audiences from campaigns, which can be a handy way to keep down costs.  Using negative lists can be one of the ways to make more money without spending more money.

Your campaigns will likely have layers of inclusions and exclusions and you will likely need a few retargeting campaigns to cover your bases.

Some examples of when you might exclude audiences are:

  • Users who have previously purchased from a campaign
  • Users who have started – but not completed a process
  • Users who have reached a certain part of your site



The power of using remarketing lists for search ads to get more qualified leads to convert is very clear.

We’ve had many chances to use them to target prior website visitors on keywords that are normally prohibitively expensive – and brought in stellar results from doing so.

RSLAs are kinda cool, if you ask me :).


About the Author

Daniel Peterson

marketing director

Daniel is surprisingly good at carefully developing bulletproof marketing strategies for someone who insists on powerlifting in tights. Risky move.

After discovering his talent for data-driven PPC marketing, Daniel has dedicated himself to helping others establish and exceed their marketing goals. 

When he finishes his long day communicating client value, Daniel likes to cook and watch basketball.


InMotion Digital Marketing Agency, Marketing Director

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