For years, paid search platforms have been working on improving their audience targeting and segmenting abilities. This resulted in a significant shift in targeting from keywords to an “audience first” mentality last year. Now, the two biggest search engine players, Google and Bing, are pushing advertisers to use audience targeting options to benefit their campaigns.
While it is undeniable that keyword targeting is effective with paid search campaigns, in some cases the keywords chosen by a business may not exactly match the intent behind the search. Paid search marketing is intent-based, in that marketers are targeting people who are actively looking for a solution to their problems. However, when you use keywords, you’re not targeting your potential customers but rather the keywords that they are using. This is where audience targeting can be effective.
Most commonly used on social media platforms like Facebook Ads, audience targeting refers to targeting the people who actually match your customer base. Using audiences in paid search lets digital marketers strategically share content based on where the prospect is in the buying funnel and adjust their bids accordingly.
While you shouldn’t completely disregard your current keyword targeting methods, using a combination of keyword and audience targeting can optimise your ad campaigns and improve the targeting of your paid search ads. The audience list options for Google search ads are as follows: In-Market, Customer Match, Similar Audiences and Remarketing.
Google’s in-market audiences are a great tool for search campaigns. With in-market audiences, the search engine identifies people who are actively researching and comparing products to create an audience of users who are actively looking to buy. While this information has been available to display advertisers for quite some time, Google only began rolling it out to search campaigns in 2017.
Google uses third-party data to identify prospects in this category and as they have been actively looking for similar products or services, the idea is that they are further down the buying journey and as such are easier to convert than other prospects. If you try implementing a Google audience and can’t find one for the specific product or service you are selling, there will often be another relevant audience.
In-market audiences can be added to your existing campaigns, with bid adjustments where necessary. For example, if you notice that the audience is working well, you can add a positive bid adjustment to capture more of that market.
Customer match targeting is another great way to capture detailed segmented audiences. With customer match, you can create audiences using the data you have collected from your customers and that is stored in your CRM. You can then create targeted messaging to communicate with them across the search network. Customer match targets these ads to the specific customers you’ve added and other customers like them.
This audience is particularly useful in applying loyalty and purchase information that your business has collected. If you have a new product launch, for example, this may be relevant to this particular audience. It is also extremely effective for making the most of cross-selling opportunities by showing this audience complementary products and services to those that they recently purchased. On the other hand, customer match audiences can be applied to top of the funnel campaigns to re-engage prospects who have interacted with your business but have not yet converted.
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs)
Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a feature from Google Ads that allows marketers to optimise their search marketing campaigns based on whether a user has previously visited their website and the pages that the user viewed.
Google Display Network’s remarketing feature serves ads to users who have previously been on your website while they are browsing other sites on the Google Display Network. RLSAs don’t automatically show text ads to users who are on your remarketing list. For your ad to show to someone on your RLSA, the user needs to be actively searching on Google with the keywords that you are using in your search campaigns.
This means that RLSAs can be extremely effective in targeting qualified leads. By targeting the people on this list with messaging that can overcome their objections to move them further through the buyer journey, RLSAs can result in more efficient use of ad spend, an increase in conversions and better ROI.
Similar Audiences for search gives advertisers the opportunity to find users with similar search behaviour as those in your RLSAs that haven’t been to your site. Using this audience brings more qualified leads, so it’s a good idea for digital marketers to increase their bids for this audience or even try targeting them completely separately from other search campaigns.
Similar audiences convert at almost the same rate as RLSA audiences and more than 50% better than other new visitor audiences with a 65% higher click through rate than other new visitor audiences. While they may not convert just as well as RSLAs, the key differentiator for similar audiences is that they have much greater reach than a remarketing list that only goes out to people who have been on the website. As such, similar audiences have the potential to engage a much larger audience.
Advanced Google Ads Search Audience Targeting Tactics
Google is continuously working to improve its audience targeting options. While the above options are all a good start to improving your business’ performance with Google Search Ads, the following advanced audience targeting techniques can take your ads to the next level.
Combine In-Market Audiences with Remarketing
In-market audiences give you the opportunity to target prospects who are further down the purchase funnel and are ready to make a purchase. As such, using them in your campaigns can help drive conversions by connecting with prospects at the last stage before they make a purchase decision.
To make a real impact on your conversions, use your in-market segments together with your remarketing lists. By layering in-market segments on top of remarketing lists, you can increase the reach of your ads while keeping a high degree of relevancy in your campaign. This will help boost overall conversions.
Put Remarketing Lists for Search Ads to Good Use
As we mentioned above, remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) allow you to customise your search ad campaigns based on a user’s previous behaviour on your website by giving you the ability to modify your bids and targeting options for these users.
A great example of using remarketing lists for search ads to their full potential is to target previous customers who have spent a significant amount with your company when they search for your competitor’s brands. For example, if you are an online clothing retailer, you can use your customer data to identify shoppers who will regularly spend over $300 on visits to your website. You can add them to a RLSA list and create a separate campaign that targets your competitors’ brand terms. The ad copy can then be written in a way that offers loyalty discounts to these customers. This will ensure that these ads are only served when the users within the list are searching for other brands or comparison-shopping. This tactic can help your business avoid losing customers to your competitors and ensure part of your budget is spent on retaining profitable customers.
Combine Your Social Audiences with RLSAs
Facebook has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users that can be segmented at an extremely granular level. This data is gathered through Facebook’s information on what users actually “like” or follow, and in-depth data from their personal profiles. Using social campaigns to complement search campaigns can be extremely effective in generating leads and customers for your business.
Facebook is the ideal platform for expanding your reach and identifying potential new customers who are not actively looking for your products or services. In order to do this, you can tag the ads that you are running on Facebook that target these audience segments. You can then create an RLSA list of these users from Google Analytics to target ads at these same users on the Google search Network if they search for key phrases that relate to your products or services. This increases the likelihood of these Facebook audiences converting. The only thing to be aware of with this tactic, is that like any other audience list you create, it must contain at least 1,000 members before it is eligible to be used on the Google Search network.
As paid search is becoming increasingly popular, there’s a lot of competition on almost all channels, Google in particular. By making use of the audience targeting options that are now available on Google’s advertising platform, you can boost your campaign and elevate your results while still spending your current budget. We drive sustainable growth with white hat strategies and always make sure you’re on top of the digital game. Whether that’s local SEO services, social media marketing NZ, Google shopping ads or Google remarketing ads, we’re here to help. Give us a buzz, and we’ll grab coffee!