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A Reminder: How to Use Google Analytics Smart Lists for Better Remarketing

Amanda DiSilvestro
A Reminder: How to Use Google Analytics Smart Lists for Better Remarketing

The Google Analytics Smart Lists feature has only been available since April of2014, so it’s still a fairly new initiative available to Webmasters. Although it hasn’t gotten that most press over the past year, it has recently reemerged as a must-have tool to improve your remarketing campaigns.

If you’ve been looking for something to improve these campaigns and you want to get more involved or even advanced with Analytics, this is a great option to help get you started.

How Google Analytics Smart Lists Work the Benefits

Smart Lists are a remarketing list type that automates list creation and management within your Google Analytics. The lists will then predict which users are most likely to convert when coming back to your site. Smart lists will analyze user on-site actions and use signals such as visit duration, page depth, location, browser information and more to determine who is most likely to convert during a later visit.

Analytics will then automatically manage remarketing campaigns in your AdWords to focus on these users who have a high likelihood of conversion. In other words, Analytics can calibrate remarketing campaigns to align with each visitor’s value. These users most likely to convert are also updated daily based on this data, and then automatically added or removed from a Smart List, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Note: If you have 10,000 daily pageviews on your site and at least 500 monthly transactions, then your Smart List will automatically be upgraded. If you don’t have enough data, Google will look at businesses similar to yours that opted-in to share their anonymized data with Analytics to generate your Smart List. Nonetheless, the lists you see are completely secure and not shared with anyone, even if you never use Smart Lists.

How to Setup Google Analytics Smart Lists

You can get started using Smart Lists by visiting the Admin section of your Analytics and clicking on Property > Remarketing > Audiences. Then you will see options like the screenshot below to define your audience. Choose “Smart List,” create an Audience Name and you’re set!

You will then see this list appear in your AdWords shared library, so you can use it for any of your remarketing campaigns:


Google also recommended in their official announcement back in April 2014 that you should make sure your Analytics goals and transactions are being imported into AdWords. Then, combine your Smart List with Conversion Optimizer using Target CPA or ROAS in AdWords for best results.

A Quick Case Study

Search Engine Land recently published a case study from media agency Periscopix that showed the benefits of Smart Lists when testing for a retail client.

Periscopix set up different ad groups, and two using Smart Lists. Then, they looked at the data of all other remarketing lists, and found that Smart Lists showed a higher ROA overall. Below are their results after a 2 ½ month trial period:


Periscopix did hypothesize that text ads outperformed image ads because they are catching more engaged users who are taking the time to spot and read the ads. Of course, it’s tough to say why this happened and whether or not you will have the same results. But, the ROA numbers are clear — Smart Lists can really work.

The Takeaway

Plain and simple, the reason that Smart Lists were created was because many marketers found data overwhelming when trying to create remarketing lists themselves. Smart Lists simplify this because they manage your remarketing lists automatically.Remarketing campaigns get mismanaged all the time, so this is an excellent resource regardless of the type of company you run, the industry you work in or your stage of growth.

For remarketing tips in general, visit this article. Once you give Smart Lists a try, let us know if you saw any positive results in the comment section below.

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Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO firm HigherVisibility.com that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.
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