It’s no great secret that November and December are the times when most ecommerce advertisers run their strongest promotions. To make the most of your promotions, you’ll want to reach as many first-time customers as possible during the promo period, so that you can drive them to make a first purchase and become repeat customers. One of the best ways to increase new customer acquisition during promo periods is to use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) audiences to ensure that comparison shoppers return to your site to make a first purchase.

Once someone has visited your site, they are more likely than a new visitor to purchase. The key is getting them to visit again. Image via Pixabay.

The Holiday Challenge

Last year, one of our advertisers posed a unique challenge. They typically run big promotions during the holidays, and they also have a very loyal brand following with excellent customer retention and high lifetime value for past purchasers. The holiday promo already reaches loyal customers through email marketing or direct site visits from customers already aware of the annual holiday sales.

Our challenge was to increase not just sales, but new customer acquisition, at a time when many of our purchases came from previous customers. In addition to increasing our investments in high-funnel channels like Facebook, YouTube and Display advertising, we developed an innovative strategy to use RLSA lists to draw new visitors into the purchase funnel.

Utilizing RLSA Audiences

We consider it a best practice to segment remarketing audiences by the recency of site visit. After all, someone who visited your site yesterday is much more likely to return and make a purchase than someone who visited your site 30 days ago. And users who abandoned their shopping cart within the last 7 days have a higher conversion rate than those who abandoned their cart 30 days ago. We’re willing to pay more to remarket to visitors who left the site within the last 7 days, because they are more likely to convert.

What if we also offer those cart abandoners a 30% discount? That makes the deal even more enticing.

We created very short cookie pool audiences for site visitors who had abandoned their shopping carts, and separate audiences for visitors who browsed the site but didn’t convert. We applied these audiences to our non-brand Search and Shopping campaigns, the campaigns mostly likely to attract first-time shoppers, with bid modifiers between +20% and +30% to ensure we showed on top of the page as these previous visitors continued to search and comparison shop. Additionally, we served these previous visitors an ad about our 30% discount promotion.

Performance & Learnings

These shorter RLSA audiences outperformed our campaign averages by a significant margin, even with us paying 20-35% more per click. For example, our 3-day audience for all visitors achieved the following performance compared to the campaign averages:

  • 206% stronger CTR’s
  • 323% stronger Conversion Rates
  • 187% higher Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Running these promo audiences also helped us to post big improvements in holiday performance, with a 70% increase in YoY revenue and a 14% increase in YoY ROAS for Q4.

During future promo periods, we will apply even more aggressive bid modifiers to our short-term remarketing audiences, since this new customer acquisition strategy was so profitable. These results are especially strong given that this advertiser is in a very competitive industry, where we typically accept a negative ROAS to acquire new customers, since many new customers will eventually return to make additional purchases, driving our high LTV.

If you’ve already spent marketing dollars to bring a new visitor to your site, investing a bit more to convince new visitors to convert makes good business sense. New customer acquisition through non-brand and Shopping campaigns can be expensive up front, but will usually drive additional associated lifetime customer value and repeat business. Use your RLSA lists to prevent these new visitors from leaving without making a purchase.