Smart Lists for Remarketing in Google Analytics

The Google Analytics team recently announced the launch of Smart Lists, a new remarketing list type for marketers. Remarketing with Google Analytics allows online marketers to follow up with the people who have visited their website and provide ad content specifically targeted to the interests they have shown during those visits. For example, if the visitors did add some items into their shopping carts, but did not complete the purchasing cycle, marketers can entice them with a discounted price. Smart List ensures great results for those who engage in remarketing with the ability to automate list creation and management with Google Analytics, thereby helping them to explore more internet marketing possibilities.

Smart Lists – An Overview

For remarketing with Google Analytics, you have to define a remarketing list. This list is a set of criteria that detects the segment of visitors to whom you want to deliver remarketing ads. Once you create a remarketing list in Analytics, you can specify your AdWords account so that the list will appear and function there. Analytics will update the list every time an additional visitor meets the criteria specified in the list. To be more specific, whenever a visit meets those criteria, Analytics adds the associated cookie to the remarketing list if it is not there on the list. By the time a visitor associated with any of those cookies visits a site on the Google Display Network, one of your remarketing ads will be provided to that visitor.

While creating remarketing list, you can use any of the following three predefined segments

  • All of your site visitors
  • Visitors who visited a particular page or section of your site
  • All visitors who completed a conversion goal

You also have a fourth option to define your own remarketing type using Segments.

How Does Smart Lists Work

Now that Google Analytics has rolled out Smart Lists, you have the option to allow Google to manage your remarketing list for you.


According to the official Analytics blog post on the announcement, Smart Lists relies on machine learning over millions of Google Analytics-enabled websites which have decided to share anonymized conversion data using several signals including visit duration, location, referrer, page depth, device and browser in order to determine which of your website visitors are most likely to convert during a further visit. Google illustrates this with an example: if your website generates at least 500 eCommerce transactions a month and earns 10,000 pageviews on a daily basis, then your Smart List is generated according to the unique factors urging your own users to convert (a list appears based on your own site data). If your website is not able to generate this minimum number of transactions and pageviews, then your Smart List would be generated according to the conversion data from businesses similar to yours that have opted to share their anonymized conversion data with Analytics. The other benefits of Smart List are:

  • With Smart List, Google Analytics is literally operationalizing statistical analysis so that you can speed up with ongoing statistical analysis and a complex cookie structure. You can thus not only focus on list management, but also grow your business
  • Your Smart List will be updated automatically when you use eCommerce transaction tracking and have sufficient traffic and conversions
  • Smart List is ideal for newcomers (in remarketing) to kick off with strong performance results. Once they get comfortable with Smart List, they can tailor their own ideas and apply best remarketing practices

To achieve the best results, import your Google Analytics goals and transactions into AdWords and combine your Smart List with conversion optimizer using Target CPA or ROAS within AdWords.

However, it is quite important to seek help from SEO professionals to better utilize the Smart List option for your business since they can understand how your business performs currently and how Smart List can improve its performance.

The Google Analytics team has plans to expand conversion data signals as an optimization signal used in AdWords bidding, directly for your current lists. They intend to continue to iterate on models based on this so as to help users to better understand their data and take necessary action. The team is also working on surfacing these signals somewhere else in your reports and in the product so that it will be easier to identify the factors that can predict whether a visitor is likely to convert.

About Monica Barber

Monica Barber

Monica Barber is the Internet Marketing Manager of MOS, a leading BPO company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She joined the MOS team in 2013 bringing with her a wealth of experience in SEO, Social Media, web design and Internet Marketing management. She has successfully designed digital marketing campaigns for Fortune 500 and small to mid-size companies and continues creating new MOS digital strategies to keep up with Google’s everchanging algorithms.