Reach valuable customers with RLSA, Customer Match & similar audiences

Power your search and Shopping campaigns with audience signals

Search is an incredibly powerful way to reach new users. But not all of those searchers are actually new to you. Some have been to your site before, others have subscribed to your newsletter, and others still have been loyal customers for years. Getting your strategy right with these different audiences can take your marketing in Google Ads to the next level.

By using Customer Matchremarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), and similar audiences in Google Ads, you can segment your traffic to cater specifically to returning customers and those like them. This guide offers advice about how to create an audience strategy that takes full advantage of similar audiences, Customer Match and RLSA in Google Ads.

The contents of someone’s search tells you a lot about their current intent. Couple that intent with what you already know about them through RLSA and Customer Match.

Connect audience signals with your search and Shopping strategy.

Using audience lists allows you to reach your most valuable customers - those that have done things like visit your site or sign up for a newsletter - at the exact moments they’re searching. Use these signals to build a connected, engaged and loyal customer relationship. You can build successful campaigns at scale based on an understanding of your most valuable audiences.

By complementing what you know about your customers with Google’s contextual information, you can deliver delightful, useful and relevant ads to the audiences that matter most.


Be sure to tag your entire site so that you can place visitors on the proper lists. The Google Tag Manager is a quick, free way to handle your tagging.

Generate your lists from both site visitors and customer data.

RLSA, Customer Match and similar audiences are the three main methods to use audiences within your search and Shopping strategy. These approaches complement one another and help you cast a wider net to reach as many of your previous visitors and customers as possible.

Reconnect with site visitors via RLSA. These audience lists can contain people who’ve visited at some point within the last year or more. While these audience lists are likely to fluctuate a bit because they rely on cookies, a recent visit is a valuable signal about the intent of your audience.

Customer Match, on the other hand, is a way to reach customers that have engaged more deeply with your brand: customers who’ve signed up for a newsletter, joined a loyalty program or made a purchase. They’re customers that you’d select based on your own customer data.

Take it one step further by creating new audience lists based on your existing lists. Similar audiences captures new customers by finding people who have similar behavior to your existing remarketing list members.

Audience lists based on RLSA, Customer Match and similar audiences can be used at the same time. You can create one campaign for your remarketing lists, another for Customer Match, another for similar audiences, and even one that reaches all types of audience. These campaigns will reach more specific, but more qualified, audiences, allowing you to bid appropriately for each.


Don’t forget to follow the rules of the road for RLSACustomer Match, and similar audiences.

Identify segments of visitors that you want to treat differently.

Using similar audiences, Customer Match or RLSA, think about what types of visitors you have and how you might want to treat them differently. Keep in mind what you want to accomplish as you identify your different segments.

You can change bids, messaging, and ways of reaching your audiences. What specific actions you should take will depend on your audience. There are many different ways to segment your audiences, but here are some of the most common:

  • General site visitors. These people have visited any page of your site, even just one page.
  • Shopping cart or lead form abandoners. These people added products to a shopping cart but didn’t complete the purchase.
  • Recent converters. These people went all the way through the purchase path and bought something from you.
  • Loyal customers. There people have purchased from you multiple times, perhaps over a number of years. Upload your existing email list of loyal customers through Customer Match.


You can import audience lists that you create in Google Analytics. GA is endlessly customizable, so be sure to only use the most impactful of those lists.


There are plenty of different options, but no matter what segments of customers you identify for yourself, think about how you’ll want to treat each audience differently.


Demographics for search ads (DFSA) is another way to identify visitors you might want to treat differently. DFSA reports the performance of your users by age and gender. You can use this data to adjust bids for your high value demographic groups or use exclusions to reach a specific set of customers. Pairing user insights with your search strategy can help you be there for your customers with the most relevant ad experience possible.

Make audience lists specific without being overly segmented.

As you think about your audience lists, here’s an important consideration: don’t over segment. Each audience you create has the potential to limit your insight and increase your management overhead.

Ideally, your audience lists will have a good number of members. You can go down to relatively few visitors on a list, but you probably should avoid using audience lists that don’t have a significant amount of members. You want a set of audiences that you can properly manage. You also want those audiences to drive a substantial amount of traffic so that you can make optimizations. If your audience is too small, it’ll drive a limited amount of clicks and impressions and prevent you from receiving the insights that improve your account.

Apply negative targeting sparingly.

The option exists to exclude audiences from your search strategy. While it may be appealing to exclude certain audiences to increase your efficiency, use this option with caution.

One potential exclusion could be something like subscribers to one of your newsletters. You already have their contact info, so why would you need to get in front of them again? There are a variety of ways that you can still prove value to them even though you’re already reaching them through email. Think about these potential approaches:

  • Cross-selling. What other products of yours might that audience be interested in?
  • Upselling. What can you do to get more value out of an existing customer?
  • Renewal. If you have an annual subscription, how can you reach them one month away from that crucial renewal date?

Even if you initially consider certain customers not worth bidding on, think about those customers long term. Excluding an audience removes your ability to nurture customers over longer time frames. Instead of removing any audiences entirely, think instead about adjusting your bids to increase efficiency while those audiences aren’t at their peak value.


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