How to Harness the Power of RLSA

Back in April I wrote a blog on what I consider to be the top 3 trends/focal points we will be discussing throughout 2014 and 2015. Number 3 on that list was audience targeting and the importance it will have on how we handle campaign executions.

Today I’d like to dive a little bit further into how we use RLSA to create custom audiences and how to best leverage these audience segments once deployed!

Leverage Audience Segments When Testing

Define your loyalty segments so you market & target them differently. A lot of our clients are in the membership space (ideel, Gilt City, JackThreads, etc.). For clients like these we strongly recommend using advanced remarketing to define your buyers. This will allow you a tremendous amount of flexibility when it comes to how you get your users.  How you build your audience segment is critical. At the most basic level we recommend that you leverage rule-based audience segments (URL contains, etc.) but what I think is much more valuable and powerful is advanced custom remarketing. This requires engagement on both sides (client + provider sides) to make sure the right audience segments are being defined when the remarketing tag triggers. Doing this however will increase your control of the actual audience segments. From creating buckets based off loyalty segments to user retention – if you can think of an audience segment – more than likely Google and others can help you create that segment for targeting purposes!

Once you have your audience segments established – the power now lies in how you leverage these unique segments within your SEM campaigns. Below are three prime examples of how we use audience segments within search for our clients.

Control the Message

Offer unique deals to certain folks based off how they have been identified within your audience segments. Not all users behave the same and thus not all users should be targeted in the same way. Identify who is no longer a loyal shopper and make sure the offer and CTA you provide to them is that much more aggressive so they WANT to come back to your site and shop. A|B test this vs loyal buyers to see if it has an impact on conversion rates. Time decay based off remarketing list is crucial here.

We work with a ton of lead gen clients. One thing we like to do is change the offer up after X days if the user has not engaged. Doing this has shown to be truly effective in driving that user in to convert when the 2nd and typically stronger offer is put in their face. Example: User comes to site and doesn’t complete lead form. For the first 15 days after visit we will show the user a 15 day free offer. If the user still does not engage on day 16 we will move them into a separate bucket so they are now seeing a much more engaging offer (30 days off for example instead of just 15 days). This helps boost conversion rates and if they still don’t engage we know for sure it’s not about the value proposition but that they are just not interested. Also always make sure you set a cap on that 2nd window – never let that ad just sit there in front of the user after X days. Last thing you want to be recognized as is that creepy remarketer.

By creating audience segments based off the pages they actually visited we are able to personalize the actual creative and message we share. If we know someone came in and visited our “Filson” luggage cases – wouldn’t it make much more sense to serve a “filson luggage” ad to them when they search for our brand term “Filson” instead of a generic copy about our brand?

Spend Money More Efficiently & Win Back Lost Dollars!

Why are we spending money on branded? More than likely we’ve heard at least once from a client “This is traffic we will get anyways!” The argument behind branded coverage has been made more than a few times by a variety of reputable sources and publications. They sometimes still fall on deaf ears due to exceptions to the rule. Those outliers can easily bring the whole house down! Take for example a current client of ours who has tremendous brand clout and recognition. After running their SEM campaigns for a few months, we were told to shut down branded completely because on their backend they were seeing the same high loyal users coming through without delivering enough new members to justify the brand spend. After a few weeks going back and forth we reached an agreement – if we can block all existing members from seeing our brand ad not only will we be saving $$$ that would have traditionally been wasted but we would approve the overall account efficiency and performance. Sure enough, after implementation of this tactic our client saw a drop off in the number of repeat visitors from brand searches, dramatically allowing the brand ads to perform as a new customer driver instead.

Effectively Test in Areas Once Considered Too Expensive or Unprofitable

The power of RLSA and audience segments is that they now will open the door for marketers in more ways than one. Aside from the 2 ideas I listed above, I think the most compelling area is that RLSA now allows advertisers a way of efficiently testing areas of interest without taking on too much risk. RLSA provides us with a methodology that allows new keyword sets and ideas to be tested in a relatively safe and systematic way. Too often we are in a situation where we scale our new keyword coverage across the board which can result in poor performance. Why not hedge some of those risks by only targeting our strongest buyers when they make those searches? If it works well for our loyalists then let’s take that learning and apply it to the general consumer. We’re better off playing it safe initially to get a read of the market before jumping in with both feet!

It also gives us the power to compete in areas where we may not have been able to in the past. For example, we all know that competitor keywords can be crazy expensive and unprofitable in general. But what if we just served ads (aggressively, too, if I may add) when our most loyal customers are querying up the competition. After all, you want to make sure your ad is appearing specifically for them in a high enough position to gain traction. The last thing you want to do is lose your loyal member to a competitor!

These are just a few examples of how RLSA and audience segmentation can improve the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaign. The opportunities are really endless and as we move into 2015 my belief is that audience segmentation and RLSA will no longer be a “cool new concept” but rather a “best practice” when executing your paid search initiatives!

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