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High CPCs and Low Conversion Rates? 3 RLSA Strategies You Need to Know!

If you listen to the search networks, there are only three ways to use search remarketing:

  • Customize ad text
  • Adjust bids
  • Broaden keywords


Remarketing lists for search ads, or RLSA, have been around since July 2012. If, after all this time, you’re still only using RLSA to adjust your bids, keywords, and text ads, then you aren’t realizing the full potential of RLSA.

Read on to discover my three favorite, crazy-effective ideas for RLSA. These strategies will be especially helpful if you’re doing PPC in a ridiculously competitive market, and/or you have a small budget.

First, a primer.

How RLSA Works

There are two kinds of people in this world:

  • People who know your brand.
  • People who don’t know your brand.

With RLSA, you’re targeting search ads only to people who have recently visited your site. These are the people who are familiar with your brand.

After someone visits your site, they get added to your remarketing list. Then you can show them customized ads when they search for your keywords on Google.

RLSA works so incredibly well because you’re targeting people who already know your brand. The result is a dramatic increase in click-through and conversion rates – we’re talking 2 to 3 times higher than regular, vanilla search ads (which typically attract new visitors to your site who are less likely to convert).


The Problem with Vanilla RLSA

Three words: low search volume. RLSA cuts impression volume by 10x.


RLSA doesn’t create new volume. That’s not good. At all.

But it’s not all bad.

Behold the Awesome Power of Unicorn RLSA

On average, RLSA:

  • Triples click-through rates.
  • Cuts CPC in half.
  • Triples conversion rates.


1. RLSA Only

The strategy: Combine RLSA with low-cost audience driving campaigns.

If you have a limited budget or suffer from low impression share, then it’s time to dump your non-RLSA search ads. Yes, ALL of them.

Only spend on RLSA campaigns. Don’t run another non-RLSA search campaign.

It’s time for a new model – one where you divert your non-RLSA search budgets to cheaper audience growth campaigns:


Crazy? Not as crazy as you think.

We’ve already established the problem with RLSA is low search volume. But there’s a solution.

You need to make the smaller circle (people familiar with your brand) 100-1,000x bigger. And you can do this for cheap with display and social ads.

Why is this strategy so brilliant? Think about how marketing works:


If you can dramatically increase the size or your remarketing cookie pools by 10x, then it stands to reason that you’ll get 10x more conversions.

By eliminating your non-RLSA campaign budgets and investing in feeder campaigns for your RLSA audiences, you’re going to have:

  • A higher quantity of conversions.
  • Higher click-through and conversion rates.
  • Lower CPA and CPA.

2. Super RLSA

The strategy: Combine RLSA with demographic bidding for search.

Both Google AdWords and Bing Ads offer demographic targeting for search ads. This allows you to adjust your bids if you want to target by gender or various age groups (e.g., ages 18-24, 25-34, or those over 65).


Also, on Facebook, you can use Audience Insights to determine your target market and adjust your bids accordingly for age and gender.

Super RLSA is the awesome combination of demographic bidding, remarketing, and keyword targeting. Here’s how and why it works.

  • Demographic bidding: These people are qualified buyers (i.e., they can afford to buy your stuff).
  • Remarketing: These are the people who have recently checked our your stuff.
  • Keyword targeting: These people are searching and ready to buy your stuff right now!

You want to target a narrow audience – one that meets the above three criteria – with your paid search ads. And you need to use your high engagement unicorns. The result?

If you promote a unicorn, you’ll get a really low CPC and high amount of free clicks – you can actually get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of visitors for very small spends of $500 to $1,000.

How do you find a unicorn? The process looks like this:

  1. Create: Produce memorable and inspirational content.
  2. Amplify: Selectively promote your top content to your target market on the cheap by using social media and display ads, PR stunts, or broadcast media.
  3. Tag: Build a remarketing audience by tagging your site visitors with a cookie.
  4. Filter: Apply behavioral and demographic filters on your audience.
  5. Remarketing: Remarket to your audience with display ads, social ads, and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) to promote offers.
  6. Convert: Capture qualified leads or sales.
  7. Repeat.

Bottom line: Demographic targeting for search makes RLSA even better.

3. Ninja RLSA

The strategy: Convince your partners and/or competitors to use RLSA.

AdWords auction prices are directly proportional to what the next advertiser is willing to pay. Notice how Advertiser 1 can pay less for a higher position due to having a higher Quality Score:


Think about people who are searching for luxury cars. Top brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and Porsche are all going after the same keywords.

What’s this result in? Expensive CPCs and lower conversion rates. And those advertising costs ultimately get passed onto consumers.

Wouldn’t it make more sense – and be more effective in terms of ROI – if these brands could somehow split up the search inventory to only target their respective audiences? Absolutely! All they have to do is use RLSA and customer match.

What’s the end result here? Lower CPCs and higher conversion rates for everyone involved.

What Does It All Mean?

If you follow the advice of Google and Bing, then RLSA isn’t that interesting. Where it becomes extremely interesting and works best is when you couple RLSA with some kind of viral marketing ploy to dramatically increase the size of your cookie pools.

Using these three strategies – RLSA Only, Super RLSA, and Ninja RLSA – will make your RLSA campaigns ridiculously more successful. Always remember: there’s way more to RLSA than just tweaking your ad text, bids, and budgets!

This post originally appeared on Wordstream, and is re-published with permission.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Wordstream
In-post Photos: All images by Wordstream

Category PPC
Larry Kim Chief Executive Officer at Mobile Monkey

Larry Kim is the CEO of Mobile Monkey and founder of WordStream.

High CPCs and Low Conversion Rates? 3 RLSA Strategies You Need to Know!

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