RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) are a fantastic way of helping boost performance for your paid search activity. You can target certain groups of people, adjust your bids for these audiences or even tailor ad copy for them. This can help you increase your conversion rates, reduce wasted spend and ultimately achieve a better ROI.

Whilst Bing has limited functionality in that you can create audiences based on pages that people have visited on your site, AdWords can import your data from Google Analytics to create much smarter and more beneficial audiences.


What Do I Need To Know About Using An RLSA?

Here’s the important stuff:

  • You need at least 1000 users in each audience before it comes into effect (I’d recommend having a much higher number though where possible)
  • Your privacy policy on your website should let people know that you use remarketing
  • There are some exclusions like age, gender and interests
  • The maximum life span of an RLSA for search ads is 540 days

You can find out more on Google’s Analytics Help Center.


How Can I Use An RLSA?

Some popular uses of these audiences include:

  • increasing bids for repeat customers as they’re more likely to convert than new visitors
  • tailoring ad copy to include a first time customer offer only visible to people who haven’t already purchased
  • excluding audiences who aren’t a great fit for your product


…there are so many more things you can do with RLSA thanks to Google Analytics! Here are a few (ok quite a lot!) of different Google Analytics metrics you can use to up your game with audiences.


Let’s dive in!


Session Duration

In Google Analytics, take a look at the average time a user spends on site. You can find this under Audience > Behaviour > Engagement. Apply different segments to see the difference in engagement between people who visit and those that convert. We recommend comparing All Users to Sessions with Conversions.

Looking at the below it’s safe to say that users with an average session duration of less than 30 seconds (potentially even 60 seconds) would be worth heavily down-weighting bids on or excluding.


Key Pages

Building audiences around top performing pages is a great way to identify people who have already seen what you offer and might just need that little extra push to buy. Try personalising ad copy for these users, up weighting bids and if the audiences are large, they might even benefit from a specific RLSA campaign on broader terms where you’re limited by budget.


Blog Readers

Blogging is a great way to build trust and authority. But, it doesn’t guarantee that your blog readers know about all your offerings. Did you know that we offer search, social and analytics services? Probably not (although now you do 😉). Creating an audience for these valuable visitors gives you the ability to personalise ad copy and remind them that they love your blog and yes, you offer exactly what they’re searching for! These audiences can be huge though if your blog content is awesome. This is another audience that can be particularly useful for campaigns where you’re limited by budget.


RLSA Google Analytics Audience Session Duration Engagement



Social Media Audiences

In most cases we’ve come across social media visitors convert at a lower rate to those that arrive through organic, direct and paid channels. However, these people will often be more likely to convert than brand new site visitors. Build an audience in Google Analytics with the condition of Default Channel Grouping contains Social.



First try adding this RLSA to your search and shopping campaigns with no bid adjustment and see how they perform. If they do well, great! Adjust bids, personalise ad copy and see if you can improve the stats. If they don’t perform so well, down weight bids or in extreme cases consider excluding them.


Bounce Rate

I’m sure the second you saw bounce rate you immediately thought ‘oh yeah, exclude traffic with a high bounce rate’. Try testing before excluding or heavily down weighting bids though, let the data make the decision for you.

Before making any big changes, always test. Let the data make the decision for you.



Hopefully you have your Google Analytics running like a dream and have all your important goals and events set up correctly (if not, stop reading and get onto that now!). There are so many different options here to create audiences with a high potential to convert. Think of goals and events that have strong buying signals like:

  • downloading a white paper
  • watching a product video
  • subscribing to your email list
  • submitting an enquiry form

For example, people who have downloaded a white paper and viewed your contact page but haven’t got in touch yet. Or how about people who have viewed a product video and added something to their basket but not converted. Remember though, you need an audience of at least 1000 so don’t go too specific or you’ll need to extend the date range of your audience to 12 months or even the max of 540 days which will reduce its effectiveness.


Browser/Operating System

Sell MacBook Pro covers? Or have a SAAS product that doesn’t work with old versions of IE? Create audiences around operating systems or browsers so you can heavily down weight bids or exclude them. You can potentially be excluding genuine potential customers here (for example a Windows user buying a MacBook Pro cover as a gift) but it’s likely that the numbers are quite low.


All Visitors

This audience is an absolute must when starting to play around with RLSAs. Test different lengths of time e.g. 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, to see what performs best for you. This doesn’t have to be a Google Analytics audience either, you can set it up directly in AdWords if you have a remarketing tag on your site.


Basket Abandoners

This is a really common one for e-commerce stores and its set up will depend on how your site works. You may have a Google Analytics event for add to cart which you can then use to create an audience for sessions where the add to cart event has been triggered but there wasn’t a conversion.

If you don’t have an add to cart event set up definitely make this a priority! In the meantime you may be able to identify people who have viewed their cart but not converted.




Checkout Abandoners

Really similar to basket abandoners however we’re looking at one step further along in the funnel. These are people who have initiated checkout but not completed it. This RLSA can be set up several ways:

  • people who have visited the first page in the checkout process but not the confirmation page
  • people who have visited the first page in the checkout process but the transaction count equals zero

When considering using this for search ads its a great idea to have a chat with the email marketing team to see if they use emails to reach these people. If so, you might be best using this audience with a longer term view (30 days or more) rather than solely trying to pick up on people who have abandoned quite recently. As always, test with a zero bid adjustment and go from there.


All Converters

If your website is all about generating leads, this could be an audience you’d heavily down weight. If someone has already contacted you recently you may not want to pay to reach them again. Though if they’re searching (and clearly still looking at options), directing them to a helpful resource may be something you’d be happy to pay for to help solidify yourself.

For e-commerce sites there’s always the question of…

“Why would I pay to reach someone who has already purchased from me?”

The simple answer to this is to do a search on the term yourself. If your competitors are present, then so should you be. If you own the first page of results (or at least own above the fold) then don’t. Exclude these audiences and let SEO pick them up.

This audience can also be useful for tailoring ad copy. For example you might offer 10% off for new customers. With IF statements in your ad copy you can let new customers know about your first time offer and highlight another USP or benefit for existing customers.


Repeat Purchasers

Targeting repeat purchasers may seem silly for brand terms but it’s fantastic for broad terms. Mosphaiti Clothing is a men’s fashion brand who have just a few accessories for women. When one of their repeat customers searches for ‘gifts for women’, they can target this group (using target and bid settings in AdWords) knowing they’re not wasting their advertising spend as they’re enticing a valued customer back to their site (and hopefully exposing the customer to items they didn’t know Mosphaiti had!).


High Value Customers

As with repeat purchasers, you might think that targeting high value customers is wasting spend. Again though, this audience can be used wisely with broader keywords or for campaigns where your budget is limited.


Cross Selling Opportunities

If you have products or services that complement each other build audiences around customers of a particular product and use these on the search terms for the complementary product. This is usually suited best to large e-commerce sites due to the RLSA minimum size requirement.


Site Search

For most sites, people who use the search function on a website are more likely to convert (and usually a lot more likely!). Go on, take a look in your analytics. Head to Behaviour > Site Search > Usage. This is a great one to test as an RLSA with bid adjustments in mind.




Session Quality

This is a relatively new feature in Google Analytics and can be found under Audience > Behaviour > Session Quality. Google measures the engagement in a session and scores it from 1-100 with 100 being the closest to a transaction. You’ll need a minimum of 1000 transactions a month to use this feature.

Set up a Google Analytics audience for sessions that have a quality score of greater than x. You’ll need to test this number for a few different things:

  1. Quality – If it’s too low, the audience will be no better that regular site visitors.
  2. Quantity – If the amount of people in the audience is too low, you won’t be able to use it!

Play around with the session quality, the duration of the audience (30 days, 60 days), until you can find an audience with a decent quality and decent quantity.




Engaged or Non Engaged Email Subscribers

Anyone else sick of re-uploading their email list into AdWords? 🙋 If your email subscribers go to a thank you page of some sort why not use Google Analytics to build an audience around them moving forward? There are a few things to consider around this though:

  • The maximum time limit you can set for an audience is 540 days. People will drop out of your audience after this period. Creating a Google Analytics audience of email subscribers alone is probably not the best idea.
  • People who have unsubscribed would still remain in this audience until they no longer met the criteria i.e. maximum time elapsed.

Ok so you probably can’t just forget uploading your email list to AdWords just yet, unless you make this audience beneficial by adding criteria that helps you determine whether someone is engaged or not. Try including users who have hit the email thank you page in the last 180 days but haven’t converted yet. Or the reverse, create an audience of people who hit the thank you page in the last 90 days and have purchased more than once.


Delivery Page

We’ve seen scenarios where a company has a high delivery charge for various reasons. I know right, free shipping is the way forward but when you’re selling low value items sometimes the business decision is to up the delivery charge to hopefully increase average order value. Building an audience around people who have visited the delivery information page, have a low session duration and not converted can be useful for down weighting bids. You’d need a significant amount of users for this though, so it’s likely you’d have a long timeframe for this RLSA i.e. 180 or even 540 days.


I really hope this list has inspired you to play around and test some new GA audiences for your RLSA activity. Have you got some innovative audiences I’ve totally missed? Please share, I’d love to hear about them!

If you have a particular scenario you’d like to throw some ideas around for get in touch. There’s definitely a solution out there for you just waiting to be discovered ☺️


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