This post is part of the series RLSA
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It is crucial for every PPC manager to properly set up audience lists and their bids. Unfortunately, since there are various targeting criteria with infinite possibilities, it’s easy to make mistakes during the audience creation process.
Our tests suggest that used correctly, bid modifiers on audiences can increase revenue by 16% while keeping ROAS stable. So it’s definitely worth taking the time to get your audience lists setup right.
In this blog post, we’ll share some tips and common mistakes to avoid when creating audience lists.
1. Adwords audiences: URL targeting setup
URL Targeting is the most common way of creating audience lists which are accessible through AdWords. PPC managers can either use lists as a standalone factor for bid modification or in combination with other lists/factors.
In either case, it’s important to make sure that the settings for URL matching and its value are correct. Rules like “URL contains” could create too broad an audience if the setup is not done correctly.
For example “URL contains = Cart” could target your shopping cart page as well as other URLs containing “cart”. So if you notice an audience list created with this rule make sure that it’s not targeting other pages at the same time.
Recommendation: Use as much of the URL as you can including http/s protocol.
Shopping Cart Abandoners are a very important list for most of the eCommerce sites, so it’s always worth checking the setup for it specifically. It can easily get mixed up with “Cart Viewers” if the wrong URL targeting method has been chosen to build it. Make sure your “Cart Abandoners” list doesn’t contain users who have completed a purchase.
For some websites, it’s possible to go directly to the checkout step without visiting the cart page, if your site is in this category, make sure either you have Checkout Abandoners along with Shopping Cart Abandoners in separate lists or another unified list for both segments.
2. Adwords audiences: Remarketing tags
Implementing remarketing tags with attributes like category, price, and brand etc. is key to creating advanced audience lists. It’s always worth checking the values both in the tags and for the setup on the AdWords interface. A missing value in the tags or an upper/lowercase typo in AdWords is enough to ruin your list.
Recommendation: Check remarketing tags by using the Google Tag Assistant extension.
3. Google Analytics audiences: Condition and sequence builders
When it comes to creating audiences, Google Analytics Remarketing is where the possibilities become infinite. Since you are able to use dimensions and metrics on GA it’s important to check the setup of audience lists, especially those created using a regex match. Regex lets you use a sequence of characters that define a search pattern (check out this official guideline for regex characters).
Using the Condition or Sequence Builder is mandatory for lists which rely on more than one dimension or metric at the same time. For example, “users who visited a specific product” plus “just before leaving the site”.
Filtering for either sessions or users is an important decision and for both and it’s always good to check any “and/or” operators. You need to make sure interaction and following rules are set up correctly for your sequence filters.
4. List Size
After checking the setup steps, it’s worth checking the size of your audience list in AdWords. You’ll also want to compare the list’s size with the actual data you have for those users, especially if it is built using Google Analytics. You are just spot-checking to see if the list size matches what you’d expect it to be based on your other data. If for example, you have more users in the list than actual data on GA then it’s likely a signal of an error within your audience list setup.
5. Make sure lists don’t overlap
It’s not at all uncommon to have 10 or more lists running at once, and most of the time, one audience list is more specific than another one. For example, most of the cart abandoner users also visit the product pages. In this case, if your aim is to target “cart abandoners” and “product page visitors” with two separate lists, it’s important to use exclusion rules so the same people don’t end up on both lists.
If the method is URL targeting then the setup for “Product Page Visitors” should look like this:
Product Page: shop.com/product/123…
Cart Page: shop.com/cart
Visited Pages: URL Contains = https://www.shop.com/products
Not Visited Pages: URL Contains = https://www.shop.com/cart
Alternatively, you can exclude one list from another by selecting the “Custom combination” option. If you also have the same list with different cookie durations (ie Cart Abandoners 3 days, Cart Abandoners 7 days) subtracting one from the other prevents the cannibalization.
Once you’ve made sure everything is done correctly, you can jump into the bid optimization portion of audience building. To make accurate calculations and set the right bid adjustment to achieve your KPIs, you can use our automatic bid modifier tool.
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