Boost Your Conversion Rates with Google Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs)

May 22, 2014

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

About RLSAs

As many as 96% of the visitors to your site will leave without completing a transaction or another desired action, according to Forrester Research. To combat this abandonment issue, Google AdWords unveiled new targeting capabilities in 2013 with remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs). This new feature allows advertisers to adjust PPC bid amounts, ad copy and keywords based on the activity of the prior visitors to your website. So if somebody leaves your site without completing a purchase, RLSAs can help you reconnect with them while they continue to search for what they need on Google Search.

How RLSAs Work

To begin using remarketing lists for search ads, you’ll need to add a snippet of code, called a remarketing tag, to your website. This tag will then add a cookie to the each site visitor’s browser, ultimately allowing you to target visitors by which pages they visited and products they viewed. For instance, to target users who have completed a purchase, you could place a remarketing tag on the order confirmation page.

Next, you’ll need to set up a remarketing list, which is a collection of cookied users who have visited your site. These users can be segmented into similar groupings, such as users who completed a purchase, that align with your business goals.


Once the tags are in place and you’ve added the remarketing lists to an ad group, you can assign custom ad messaging to customers on the remarketing list. Only the people included on the list will then see these ads. Note that you have an option for how you assign bids to the remarketing lists. If you choose the “Target and bid” option, your ad group will serve only to the remarketing list you specify. However, if you choose “Bid only,” the remarketing list will be assigned your bid adjustment, while the rest of the ad group continues to serve the normal keyword or ad-group-level bid to the audience not included in the remarketing list.

Best Practices

  • Try bidding on broader, more expensive keywords (that you may have previously avoided) to specifically reach visitors who have previously converted on your site. Since these customers are already familiar with your site and the overall shopping experience there, they may be more likely to click on an ad served to them for generic keyword searches like “gift ideas” or “presents.” When incorporating this approach, be sure to set up the generic keywords in a separate ad group and choose the “Target and bid” setting. We also recommend closely monitoring your ROI goals during this process to determine which keywords are most profitable.

  • Adjust your bids for greater visibility with returning customers. These higher value shoppers may be more likely to respond to a familiar ad, so it could prove profitable to increase your bid amounts to ensure that your ads are seen. For instance, try increasing your bid amount by 25% for customers who researched a product on your site but didn’t purchase. The additional exposure may be enough to convert them to a sale.

  • If you want to serve different ads on keywords you’re already bidding on, be sure to duplicate the campaign or ad groups within a campaign, set the appropriate ad-group-level settings to “Target and bid,” and then write your customised ad text for that audience. This approach will ensure that these ad groups are served only to the remarketing lists you’ve chosen. Use the “Bid only” setting if you’re adjusting bids. The bid will be applied only when the user is on the given remarketing list. The ad group will continue to serve the regular bid to users not on the list.

A Recent Success Story

ChannelAdvisor recently performed an analysis for a client using year-over-year data for Q4 2013. After increasing bid amounts by 30% to a remarketing list of previous site visitors, we observed the following:

RLSA results

This analysis shows that while new visitors made up the vast majority of traffic, RLSA traffic was more efficient with a higher conversion value.

To learn more about how incorporating RLSAs into your search campaigns can increase conversions and ROI, please give us a call at 866-264-8594 or email us at

Blog post by Greg Ives, product marketing manager, digital marketing