By Rebekah Schelfhout

In April Google Analytics officially announced the launch of Smart Lists. Find out more about why you should use this new type of remarketing list.

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A brief intro to smart lists

On the 9th April Google Analytics announced the release of a cool new audience list called "smart lists". We've been able to create remarketing lists in GA for some time now but often the options for creating new audiences are so endless that it can become confusing when trying to decide which lists to build! Which metrics do you choose? Which durations? Which combinations?

Now you don't need to worry about all of the metrics you could have chosen, because you can just choose one type of list, the new smart list. This type of list is automatically populated for you with users who GA has identified are more likely to complete a goal on your site. Sounds amazing right?

How they work

As Google puts it 'Smart Lists rely on machine learning applied to conversion data to understand which users are most likely to convert in a subsequent session. Based upon that understanding, Analytics then automatically manages your remarketing lists to focus on those users.' These advanced lists make use of all key signals within your analytics account to really hone in on the people it thinks are likely to convert; this can be based upon signals like location, duration of time on site, etc.

One key point to note is that if your site generates at least 500 monthly ecommerce transactions and 10,000 daily page views than your smart lists will be generated based on data from your own site. If you do not meet this criteria it's a different story and Google will use conversion data from similar industries to your own in order to populate the audience with your visitors who show similar signals.

Why you should use them

  • Quick and easy creation of a remarketing list.
  • Automatically updated based on latest data so even if your audience composition changes, your list will be updated.
  • They only run on transaction data, so even if your goals are set incorrectly it won't affect the reliability of your audience list.

Don't delay, set this up today!

Firstly you'll need to update your GA code if you've not already got the options for GA remarketing. It's a nice and simple change and instructions for what you need to do can be found here.

Once you've set this up you'll not only be able to use GA remarketing but you'll also be able to see demographic and interest data for visitors to your site!

After adjusting your code you'll be able to go to admin, properties and then see a section for remarketing, as in the image below:

If you click on this option and then select the box for +new remarketing list you'll be given the following options:

The one I'm referring to here is the first option. You can see in this example that the list is called [smart list] which means that it will be based on Google's Anonymised data as I mentioned earlier. You are then given the option to add a duration and can import this into AdWords for use within your standard and dynamic remarketing campaigns.


I recommend to set this up asap within your accounts and test it out against other lists that you've created within Google Analytics. This sounds ideal if you meet the criteria for Google to base the signals from your own data, and for those that don't it's a chance to take advantage of all the knowledge Google has put together from other people in your industry to see if these signals can be applied to your own audience too. It's a really great new feature and I'm sure we're going to see some top results coming in from it over the coming months so check back for upcoming blogs sharing our thoughts and results in a couple of months' time!

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