Go Beyond Standard RLSA lists

- Şevki Argalıoğlu

This post is part of the series RLSA

Other posts in this series:

  1. How to make most of Audience Remarketing using RLSA and Customer Match on Google Shopping
  2. Understanding audience targeting tools and when to use them
  3. A printable cheat sheet to essential RLSA and Customer Match audiences

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads have always had an important role in the optimization process ever since their release in 2012. Every PPC manager worth his salt, has spent many an hour playing around with list definitions and using them as a bid modifiers.

As marketers, those lists make our lives a whole lot easier. Not only are they a powerful opportunity for segmenting, they also provide a rare optimization element whose borders we can define and refine to our heart’s content. We can add, exclude or create combinations of lists focused on specific behaviors and use them for our ads as long as the number of the users in the lists reach 1000 for 30 days (with a few policy limits).

We’ve talked about the basic rules and strategies for RLSA lists before, including the ability to create lists based on:

  • Adwords remarketing tags
  • Google analytics

In this post, we’ll take that knowledge to the next level and share some of the clever ways you can generate lists through Google Analytics.

Engagement Metrics

We always want to try and identify users by their shopping intention, and the content they consume can shine a lot of light to this intention. You should have a way of measuring and recording the patterns of customer behavior on your site. Using these tracking metrics,  page depth, time on site, days since last visit etc.

For example, here is the total performance of 4 lists based on Engagement metrics in action. We’ve created a comparison with the more generic product viewers list used in the same ad group.

The lists are:

  • Visited last 1 day
  • Visited > 10 minutes
  • Page depth between 10 – 20
  • Page depth >= 20

While the highly targeted RLSA lists, only represented 28% of traffic, they had a 17% higher conversion rate – definitely” worth to spending some time on.

Here are those lists broken out for individual performance.

Sometimes, the results are good enough to use a single retargeting metric on its own – without combining it with others – either can be used with positive or negative bid adjustments.

You can even create lists and monitor them with 0% bid adjustment to find traffic/conversion patterns, before deciding to increase or lower the bid adjustment.

Engagement-driven retargeting lists can be a lifesaver during those dark times when you have a budget cut. The ability to “target and bid” allows you e to cut down some traffic, without losing loads of conversions.

Here are some more examples from the GA solution gallery.

Retention Lists

Average order value is especially important for companies with multi-products-in-basket business models. It’s not unusual to have something  like 20% of customers bringing in more than 50% of your revenue. If you find yourself in this category, it’s essential that you focus on those big-spender customers, in the hope they’ll need your services again.

Creating lists based on order value and order count per customer can be a highly effective retargeting strategy. In most cases, we would prefer to bid more for top ad placement for any customers we know have purchased two or more times in last 60 days. Or we can go even further and create combination lists with engagement metrics.  For example, we could combine “Purchased > 2x” and “Days since last visit > 15”.

Also, in case some of those customers are searching for the brand terms of your competitors,  you might like to remind them of your loyalty program by creating a new ad group that targets competitor’s search terms with an RLSA list.

Search Exits

Sometimes users land on your site only to exit immediately after they realize you don’t sell the product they are searching for. To avoid bidding for their traffic again, you can’t create RLSA lists for those users and set a negative bid adjustment.

Or if your in-site search engine isn’t working right,  leave the whole search result part to Google by using the same list in a Dynamic Search Ads campaign which targets all of your products. You can also narrow it down by creating lists based on specific terms they’ve searched for on your site.

Event Based Lists

Another good retargeting strategy is to create lists based on users who complete specific events:

For example, recent subscribers or users who have just signed up, are most likely interested in your services/products. You could set up an event in GA for a sign-up, and create an audience list to use for your campaigns. You can do the same thing for users who clicked a banner in the carousel but didn’t complete a purchase for.

Or, If there is a prediction engine running on your website, you can also create lists based on it. This allows you to target users whose shopping intentions are statistically significant.  Priceless!

Keep in mind when creating audiences

Some lists require sequence steps when creating on Google Analytics and it’s important to think carefully through the details like first/any user interactions, and/or operators etc. Before creating lists, don’t forget to check your settings and make sure that GA is working properly. Otherwise,  if GA isn’t tracking site searches, your “RLSA-Site Exits-30days” will be just an empty list.

Finally, it’s always better to give the newly created list a probation time while you monitor its performance before taking actions. This will allow you to reach your target accurately.

Continue reading this series:


Sevki is a Digital Marketing Manager at crealytics with more than 7 years experience in E-commerce, Digital Marketing, and Analytics.


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