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10 Google Analytics Audience Lists creation

Let’s start with some of the requisites for creating Google Analytics audience lists. Then proceed to set some up, and finally discuss a strategy to use them to realise significant marketing gains and personlise messages to audiences.

Create Google Analytics audience lists

analytics audience listLog into your Google Analytics account, under Admin > Property > Audience Definitions > Audiences. If you have the right access level, you will see a large red button that reads “+ New Audience”.

Click on the red button (see screenshot), and select your best Google Analytics View and your main Adwords account. Please remember that the Audience list you pull from your “Germany View”, will only have users in there that meet the filters set up for this view (i.e. only visitors from Germany).


analytics audience list

When you click “next step” you can see in the screenshot there are predefined audiences there. All the audiences are pretty self explanatory, except “Smart List”. Smart List is a Google Analytics audience list that consist of the fifteen percent of users that are most likely to convert on subsequent sessions. It uses machine learning to analyse your data to see what factors are reliable predictors of success. If you do not have 500 ecommerce transactions per month, it will use the data of others Google Analytics users. You can read more here.


Small businesses should, for each of the recommended audiences, export a list with a membership duration of 540 days. This should take ten minutes, and will ensure your lists start to populate immediately. Google Analytics audience lists do not backdate, and always start out with very few members in them.Setting them up now means they will be populated when you are ready to use them. Think about what Google Analytics views you import them from, as the Google Analytics audience lists are view specific. You should name them logically, with the membership duration, the name of the Google Analytics view and the conditions in the name.

Larger businesses, should start with the exact same thing. Once that is done, they should do the same again for lists with ninety, thirty and seven days. Larger businesses might also start to think about making lists definitions specific to their goals. For example, if you have set up custom dimensions to capture whether people are looking to book for their entire family or only for one person, you might want to create family and non family versions of your lists.

Once you have these Google Analytics audience lists imported in Adwords, your are ready to target your visitors through Google Search or via Remarketing.

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Strategy Google Analytics audience lists for small businesses

The easiest way to get a quick benefit from Google Analytics audience lists is to set up text ad remarketing. You create an Ad Group in Adwords and attach an two different audience list to an Ad Groups each. Perhaps one 30 day Smart list and one 540 day All User list? You then allocate a bit of budget to that campaign. With 2000 users a month, a euro per day for your remarketing will be difficult to spend. You then write up three ads per ad group and start with a CPC bid that is equal to what you pay on Search.

Let’s assume you set up the two Ad Groups with the Google Analytics Audiences mentioned above. You will have some visitors that are in both Google Analytics audience lists. Visitor John is thus targeted by both Ad Groups. Therefor, it is best if you make the bids for the Smart List powered ad group slightly higher. Or alternatively, lower the bids in the other “all users ad group”. This will lead to the smart list ad group taking preference, because the higher bid ad group will win the auction. The ad groups will not target the same user in the first thirty days.

After running this remarketing activity for a few weeks you should have collected some data. You can then switch the bidding an automated form. If you import conversions in your Adwords account you can switch Target CPA bidding. If you do not have or case about conversions, switch to maximise clicks. This will give you a boost. The bidding algorithm will now take a lot of different factors into account when setting the right bid, such as recency, location, browser ect ect. If the results are great, and you are keen to improve further, you could consider adding display ads on top of the text ads you currently use. You can find an easy guide to creating customised image ads here.

Strategy Google Analytics audience lists for larger businesses

If you are a large business that invests heavily in marketing, the above strategy is far too simple.

Instead, you should start by enabling list sharing between the different Adwords accounts that you might have. This will make sure you can use the Google Analytics audience lists in all your Adwords accounts. Not just the one you are dropping them into. At the same time, you can import these A/B pack for advanced remarketing lists from the solutions gallery here. Having these lists will ensure you can do proper testing of bids and bidding strategies. You can even test incrementality through them.

Also, if you have a large pool of email addresses, from say loyal customers, one time customers, and prospects, you should upload those via the customer match functionality in Adwords. Some of the email addresses you posses can be matched to Google accounts. If Google can find a match all devices that are linked to that Google account will be included in the list.

Create mutually exclusive combo lists in Adwords

Once that is done, you should be creating mutually exclusive custom combination lists of the Google Analytics Audience lists that you have. You want to aim for about ten lists, from most valuable to least valuable, where a specific user can never be in more then one list. I have found simple things to be the most valuable in determining the value of a specific user. Recency, number of visits (where the big differentiator is between one visit or more), engagement and previous (goal) conversions. You might have some custom dimensions you can use. You have fifteen percent of you most valuable audience captured in a smart list already.

Suppose you have the following lists: Customer Match (CM), People that Transacted (TR), Smart list Recent (SL), Smart List non Recent (SLnR), Visited more than once Recent (VM), Visited more than once non Recent (VMnR), an All user list (AU) and an All user list non recent (AUnR). To make exclusive custom combination lists you can create the following lists

  1. Each of these audiences: People that Transacted (TR) & Customer Match (CM)
  2. Smart list Recent (SL) and none of these audiences: CM & TR
  3. Smart List non Recent (SLnR) and none of these audiences: CM & TR & SL
  4. Visited more than once Recent (VM) and none of these audiences: CM & TR & SL & SLnR
  5. Visited more than once non Recent (VMnR) and none of these audiences: CM & TR & SL & SLnR & VM
  6. All user list (AU) and none of these audiences: CM & TR & SL & SLnR & VM & VMnR
  7. All user list non recent (AUnR) and none of these audiences: CM & TR & SL & SLnR & VM & VMnR & AU

Requisites for creating Google Analytics audience lists

If you want Google Analytics to collect additional data about your visitors, beyond what a standard implementation would collect, you need to enable “Advertising Features”. You must adhere to the policy requirements for Advertising Features, but once you do, you allow Google Analytics to collect data from the DoubleClick cookie (web) and from anonymous identifiers (app activity).

Optimisation and test with Google Analytics Audience lists

This is an example, and a very generic (but extreme solid) one. If you have better ideas, you want to do up or cross selling and know the product dimensions or customer patterns to fit that, that is obviously more likely to result in growth than the generic strategy described above.

You should adjust the way to engage with these different customers. With the A/B packs, you can test different ad messages, landing pages, offers and bids.

Remember you should use the lists above both for remarketing and remarketing list for search. Contact us if you need support to get this up an running for your organisation.