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A guide to Google Analytics remarketing lists

21/07/2014, By Tom Preston There’s a lesser-known but highly useful feature tucked away in Google Analytics (GA): a remarketing list builder for Google AdWords. This tool provides a great way to take your remarketing activity up a notch, building sophisticated customer profiles to fit a variety of advertising goals.

The feature has been available since 2012, but has only recently been made compatible with sites that use Universal Analytics tagging. As such, I’ve taken the opportunity to give you a rundown of how to use them, and a taster of what they offer that AdWords lists don’t.

Why should I use Analytics remarketing?


AdWords remarketing lists are based solely on page URLs, and offer some great opportunities for list building based on browsing behaviour on your site. For example, you can group people who’ve visited a product page but not purchased, or who have browsed a few news articles but made it no further into your site.

Analytics lists allow you to do the same, but offer much more besides. In essence, any information that GA gathers on your site traffic can be used as list criteria, and Google has also linked the tool to its database of display advertising behaviours to help you to refine your audiences further.
Here’s a rundown of some of the options:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Location
  • Behavioural category (e.g. Car Enthusiasts, Travel Buffs)
  • Device and operating system
  • Traffic source
  • On-site behaviour (e.g. no. of sessions)
  • Ecommerce (e.g. products purchased, days since last purchase)

How do I get involved?


First of all, you’ll need an AdWords account with an Analytics profile linked to it. Once in Analytics, go to the “Admin” section, choose the “Remarketing” option and click “Audiences”.

Click on “New Audience” on the next page, and you’ll be taken to the area below, where you can customise your audience to your heart’s content. You’ll be given a few pre-set options (including a “Smart List” where Google will attempt to pick out your site visitors who are most likely to convert) but by far the most interesting and flexible options can be found under “create my own remarketing type using Segments”.

This provides a wealth of fields to customise your lists, grouped into categories like “demographics” and “technology”. Once you’re happy with your list, choose the AdWords account that you’d like to link it to from the drop-down menu and click “Save Remarketing List”. 

Your new list will then not only appear in Analytics as a new audience, but will also be available to select from the “Audiences” part of the AdWords interface, for use in remarketing campaigns on the Google Display Network.

In Analytics:

In AdWords:



An important point: upgrade your tags!


To enable your new lists to grow, you’ll need to make a slight tweak to your existing Analytics code. If you have the “classic” tags on your site you’ll need to replace a line of code, and if you have “universal” tags you’ll need to add a line. If your code needs to be edited, you’ll see a warning in Analytics above your audience list – click on this for detailed instructions on the changes required.



List strategy: some examples


So what does this mean in practice? Remarketing campaigns that are more sophisticated and targeted than ever before.

Here are a few examples:

Reach only the most engaged users

Target only those visitors who have visited your site more than once, and made a purchase in the past few months.

Encourage customer loyalty

Offer membership to your loyalty program to customers who drive the largest amount of revenue.

Promote complementary products

Use the “Product Category” attribute to serve purchasers of a product with ads promoting   accessories and add-ons.

Support tactical campaigns

Target all visitors from an email campaign with creative that reinforces the email messaging.

Second-guess a visitor’s intentions

Use behavioural filters to differentiate between a technology lover visiting your homepage, and a new parent.

The possibilities are endless, and will vary depending on your site and your business objectives. If you have the time and creative resource to make the most of them, GA remarketing lists are well worth exploring.

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