The Ultimate guide to Remarketing with Google analytics- Get started Now.

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

It is very heartbreaking to see lots of businesses invest so much of their money and efforts to bring customers to their website but only 2 or 4 out of 100 customers actually convert on their first visit if you really have a great day otherwise results are more depressing than that. And If you are a small business owner or a marketer working in a small company, it becomes more problematic. For that specific reason, in the past, I wrote an article - How companies can increase their sales even with a low budget. And in this post, I am going to explain how can you take it to the next level.

So, If you are excited to know how you can use Remarketing with Google Analytics to better target your customers and lower down your marketing cost and increase your sales, then keep reading the article.

Things you are going to learn -

1. What is Remarketing and Why do you need it?

2. How Remarketing works in Google Adwords?

3. Benefits of using Google Analytics(GA) for Remarketing.

4. Different ways to remarket in Google Adwords.

5. Initial Setup for remarketing with Google Analytics.

6. How to create a Remarketing(Audience) List in Google Analytics.

7. Step by Step Guide - Common Remarketing list Examples.

  • Engagement Remarketing Lists.

  • E-commerce Remarketing Lists.

  • Incoming traffic Channel Lists( including Facebook).

  • Remarketing lists from GA Demographic data( only for Google Display Network).

8. Audience( Remarketing List) Report inside Google Analytics. 9. A/B Testing and measuring Remarketing Campaigns with Google Analytics.

1. What is Remarketing and why do you need it?

Remarketing helps you to re-engage with your past website or mobile app visitors who didn't make a purchase or didn't do something that is valuable to your business by showing them relevant ads across the web and brings back them to your website to make a purchase. It helps you to keep the conversation going between you and your customers even when they aren't on your website. It helps you to show more personalized ads to your customers that is beneficial to them and turn those early prospects into loyal customers while minimizing the cost.

Why do you need it?

As I told before that most of your website visitors gonna leave your website without making a purchase and even if some customers ready to buy a product from your store, due to several reasons the chances of cart abandonment and checkout abandonment happening is higher across all industry.  Remarketing basically helps you to convert those first dates with your customers into a long-term relationship. Remarketing helps you to cross-sell and up-sell products and services to your existing customers.

Suppose, if someone buys a Laptop from your store, you can target them with a laptop backpack ads to increase your sales. It's a very powerful tactic to increase sales and loyalty while keeping the cost low. With remarketing, you can create a list of most valuable customers depending upon lots of behavioral and outcome signals from the Google Analytics data and use them to bring back your customers to your website at a lower cost than attracting totally new customers who might not be so interested in your products or services.  It is far easier to converts customers who already showed some interest in you.

2. How remarketing in Google AdWords works?

When a customers visit your website, an anonymous cookie( User Id) or mobile advertising Ids is getting set on their browser and mobile app respectively. And depending on your Remarketing list criteria customers are added to the respective lists. And when these customers browse the internet, Google Adwords serves your personalized ads to these users on their Google Display network and Google search. Customers see the ads with some incentives, which motivates them to click on it and return back to your website to make the purchase.

Here is an example of Remarketing ad on the wired website. Recently, I visited the Mode Analytics website to learn about their products and services, I looked at some sections of their website but I didn't signup for their services at that time. According to the Mode Analytics remarketing list criteria, I was added to their remarketing list. And later when I visited the Wired magazine to read some article, through Google Adwords a display ad with good incentive was shown to me in the Wired to lure me to visit Mode's website and try Mode Analytics for free. The chances of me converting are much higher than if they try to target a new customer who is not aware of their products because I already showed some interest in their product.

Remarketing Threshold -

1. You at least need 100 unique visitors(Cookies) to remarket on Google Display Network.

2. And you need 1000 unique Visitors(Cookies) to remarket on the Google Search.

3. Benefits of using Google Analytics(GA) for Remarketing.


1. More capabilities to create Advance Remarketing lists.

your options in Google Adwords -

Your Options in Google Analytics -

As you can see, in Adwords you can create remarketing lists based on "Page Visited", only page level data. But with Google Analytics, you can create more advanced Remarketing lists based on your customer's demographic data, behavior, traffic sources, E-commerce data, Goal conversions and many more. Practically you can use all the dimensions and metrics available in Google Analytics to create your most ideal customers' based on your knowledge about your customers. The Audience builder has the same interface as you see in the Advanced segment builder in Google Analytics. You can totally go crazy to define your ideal customers for your remarketing list. And with simple selector you can publish these lists into Google Adwords, DoubleClick Bid Manager, Google optimize etc.

2. No need to install Google Adwords Remarketing code on your website. If your Google Adwords account is connected to your Google Analytics account, and Advertising features are on in your Google Analytics account, which usually very simple and only takes few minutes then you don't need to do anything( Which we discuss later). It works totally seamlessly.

3. Recently Google Analytics added a separate Audience(Remarketing ) Report to measure the performance of your remarketing list with other data in Google Analytics. You can use these remarketing lists as Primary Dimensions in custom reports, secondary in other reports. You can also use it as segments and apply it to other Google Analytics reports.

There are lots of amazing benefits of using Google Analytics for Remarketing, which we will see later in the post.

4. Different ways to remarket in Google Adwords -

1. Standard Remarketing -

Standard remarketing is used to show ads to your past website visitors as they browse sites and apps on the Google Display network. Click here to learn more.

2. Dynamic Remarketing -

Dynamic Remarketing is the most advanced version of remarketing in Google Adwords. It helps advertisers to customize the ads based on the products or services customers viewed previously.

As it is the most advanced version of remarketing, you might need the help of your web developer to set up it for you. Learn more.

How to set up Dynamic Remarketing with Google Analytics.

3. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) -

RLSA allows you to customize your search ads campaigns and adjust your bids and ads to your previous website visitors when they are searching on Google and search partner sites. Learn more.

4. Video remarketing -

Video remarketing helps advertisers to show ads to people who have interacted with your videos or Youtube channel as they use youtube and browse display networks videos, website, and apps. Learn more.

5. Customer List remarketing -

You can also remarket to customers by uploading lists of contact information that your customers have given to you. When these people are signed into Google, advertisers can show them ads across different Google products.

5. Initial setup for remarketing with Google Analytics -

To get started with remarketing with GA, you need to do two things -

A. Link your Adwords and Analytics accounts, if not already done( Edit Permission Needed.).

1. Click Admin in Analytics and choose the property you want to link and click Adwords Linking.

2. Click + New Link Group.

3. Select the Adwords account you want to link and then click continue.

4. Turn Linking ON for each view in which you want Adwords data.

Make sure that Auto-tagging is enabled. It will save lots of your time.

5. Click Link Accounts. And you are done.

B. Enable Remarketing and advertising reporting features in Analytics( Edit Permission Needed).

1. Click Admin and Navigate to the property for which you want to enable these features.

2. In the property column, click Tracking Info, then click Data Collection.

3. Under data Collection for Advertising features, Set Remarketing and Advertising Reporting feature  ON. And click save.

That's all initial setup you need to do to get started with Remarketing. If you want to enable remarketing for your mobile app then follow this link.

6. How to create a Remarketing( Audience) List in Google Analytics -

There are two ways to create remarketing lists in Google Analytics.

A. From The Audience Builder -

1. Click Admin, then Navigate to the property in which you want to create the Audience.

2. In the Property Column, Click Audience Definitions > Audiences.

3. Click + New Audience.

You can choose the pre-built Audiences that Google Analytics had created for the all the users or you can click on the "Create New". you can also import a segment to create a remarketing list which we will discuss later.

4. Click "Create New".

From this Audience Builder, you can create any advanced Remarketing Lists. You have all the power of creating a list as you do in creating segments.

5. After creating the conditions for the remarketing list, click apply. you will see a window like this.

Users over Last 7 Days - It is an estimated audience size based on the number of users who have visited your site or app and who also match your Audience definition during the last 7 days.

Membership Duration - How long do you want a user to remain on the remarketing list. The minimum day is 1 day and the maximum day is 540 days.

6. Select the destination account, where do you want to publish the remarketing list.

you can publish this remarketing list to AdWords, analytics, DoubleClick bid manager, Google optimize etc.

7. Click Ok, then Click Publish.

Things to keep in mind -

1. There is a limit of 2000 Audiences per property.

2. you can publish a maximum of 20 audiences to Analytics for standard Google Analytics account and 200 for Google Analytics 360 premium account.

2. From segment Builder -

You can also create remarketing lists from the Google Analytics segments you are already using or you can create a new one from the segment builder.

1. Click on the + Add segment at the top of the report.

2.  Click + new segment to create a new one. or Click Action > Build Audience, to create a Remarketing list from the existing one.

3. When you click Build Audience, it will directly take you back to the Audience builder and the remaining process is same as we discussed in the above section.

If you are working on any reports and suppose you want to build an audience from any applied segment. just click on the little drop-down menu button and click Build Audience to make an audience list from that segment. See the pic below.

7. Step by step Guide - common Remarketing list examples.

1. Engagement Remarketing Lists.

A. Time Spent on the Site -

Every website whether you are an E-commerce or non E-commerce should create a remarketing list and also Goal based on time spent on the site. It will help you to understand, how long it takes someone to convert on your website or on which contents people spent more or less time. Measuring time spent will help you to improve your marketing strategy. Like if most of your customers are not spending as much time as required to convert, you can create some kind of strategy that will keep the customers engaged, or you can create more contents similar to the one on which your customers or readers spend more time. Creating a remarketing list based on it will help you to spend more of your Remarketing advertisement budget on the people who are most likely to convert.

How to do it? -

1. First, go to the Audience > overview report in Google Analytics

2. Select Average session duration at the top.

3. Look for the highest point during a month. In this case, it's 2 minute and 40 seconds.

4. Now, add at least 50% more to the average session duration i.e. roughly 5 minutes.

2nd method - If you want more precise and create a tighter remarketing list, then

First, Go to the Audience > Overview then apply the converters Deafult segment in GA to the report.

you can see that it takes on average 7 minutes to convert a customer on the Google Merchandise store. So you can set the 7 min for your remarketing list. But keep in mind that if you have low traffic to your website than setting 7 min will cause very few people to be added to your remarketing list. You may lose lots of potential customers who are engaged with your site and likely to convert. My recommendation is start with 5 minutes, see the result and change it later based on your conversion data.

How to create the Remarketing list for time spent on site -

1. First, go to the Audience Builder as described above in the post.

2. Select User and include in the filter.

3. select session duration > 300 seconds.

4. click Apply.

5. Then Give it a name and select the Lookback days to either 7,14 or 30.

LookBack days (User scoped segments only) - Set a lookBack window of 7,14, or 30 days to specify a time frame for evaluating the behavior that qualifies users for your Audience. For example, if your filter include users from central Asia, and transactions greater than 2 and you set the Look-back window to 14 days, then any users from central Asia whose cumulative transactions exceeds 2 during the last 14 days is added to the Remarketing(Audience) List.

6. Select where do you want to publish this remarketing list.

7. Click "Ok" and "Publish".

Click here to download this Remarketing List - Time Spent > 300 seconds.

Notes -

1. Ignore the error at the top when importing the Lists.

2. Select the view at the top where do you want to import.

3. Select the Product account at the bottom like Analytics, Adwords etc.

B. Page viewed Per Session -

just follow the steps as we did earlier. Add 20% more to Pages/session. In this case, the Pages/session is 4.75( approx 5). So just put 6 or 7 because as we already know that it takes at least 11 pages/session to convert a customer on GMS ( look above in the first case).

I am just going to take 3 here because I have an audience list with page/session greater than 5. You can make changes according to your need.

Click here to download the Remarketing list - Page Depth > 3.

C. Count of sessions >= 3

Count of sessions tells you how many times a user comes to your website during a Period. Suppose if you select a Membership duration of 30 days, then users who visited more than or equal to 3 times will be added to this list.

Download link -Remarketing List - Count of sessions >= 3.

D. Visited in the last 30

page - Matches regex - .*

It's used as a wild card in the Regex( Regular Expression). It means match to all the pages on the website.

If you want to include all the customers within 90 days, just change the Membership duration to 90 days. The minimum duration is 1 days and the maximum is 540 days.

Click to download additional- Engagement Remarketing List pack from analytics solution Gallery.

2. E-commerce Remarketing Lists -

A. Users who dropped out of a Funnel.

1. First, Go to the Conversions > Ecommerce > Shopping Behavior

Here you can see your existing shopping funnel of your website.

Our goal here is to re-engage the users who dropped out of the funnel.

To do that, we need to create a separate audience for each stage of the funnel by including users who exited the funnel at that stage and excluding the users who exited the funnel at the later stage.

Suppose, I went to the GMS and liked this backpack but due to some reasons, I didn't make the purchase. So, How do you create a remarketing list to serve an ad to all users who see this product but didn't make a purchase?

1. First I will look at my shopping funnel to understand how it is structured on the website.

2. The, I will include all the users who viewed this Google backpack page in the first filter.

3. And in the second filter, I will exclude all the users who viewed the Cart page and the checkout page.

Now you can use this Remarketing list to serve an ad to all these users with some kind of incentives to bring them come back to your site and lead them to make the purchase.

B. Users who abandoned items in their Shopping Cart.

This is one of the most important remarketing lists every store owners should have. Because when someone adds a product to the cart, they already decided to buy from you. But due to some reasons like some technical issues or price comparison or high shipping cost etc, they abandoned the purchase. This is a perfect audience to retarget with ads because they are very close to making a purchase relative to someone who only viewed a product.

How to create it?

1. First, include the users who viewed the cart page.

2. Exclude the users who viewed the order-confirmation( thank you) page.

Now, Rather than remove these users permanently when they make a purchase. it would be a better option to add them back to this remarketing list the next time they add items to their cart but didn't make a purchase.

To Do that.

3. Clear the check box that permanently removes users so that they get added back the next time they added the product to the cart but didn't make the purchase. Keep in mind, removing users using Permanent Exclude filter are not yet eligible for Adwords RLSA, DoubleClick Bid Manager, or DoubleClick for Publisher. C. users who have converted ( Macro+ Micro outcomes).

The Goal of this remarketing list does not only include users who had made a purchase but also include users who had completed any of your micro goals but didn't make a purchase yet. This list makes sure to captures the users who already did something valuable to you so that later you can re-engage with them, remind them about your products and services to finally lure them to make a purchase on your website. This remarketing list also works for a non-e-commerce website because of the "OR" condition. A non-e-commerce website like mine does not have anything to purchase but I have created some micro-goals that are valuable to me.And I can use this remarketing list to capture those users.

D. Current shoppers -

This Remarketing list will allow you to capture all the users who visited your website and viewed a product but doesn't make a purchase yet. And if they come back to the site and didn't do anything, they will still be on this list. They are just going to be on the current shoppers list until they made a purchase. Make sure to set the Membership duration to 540 days. E. High-value users - Users who spent more than $100

F. High-Value Users - Users who purchased more than or equal to 3 times.

G. Super High-value Users -

The Goal of this remarketing list is to add all the users who have converted recently, who convert frequently and who engage in high- value conversions. These are your's one of the most important customers, and you should definitely target them with remarketing across every channel and device.

To do that, you need to create a combination of the Behavior, date of the first session and E-commerce filters to define this audience.

This remarketing list will include users who visited at least three times, purchased at least once this month, spent at least $100 and who bought an item in the "Bags" category.

How to create this Remarketing List -

1. First, we will include the minimum number of sessions >= 3.

2. And Transactions is >= 1 see above.

3. Then we will apply The date of the first session "is on or after" to make sure that this list includes all the users who meet the remarketing list criteria on and after Nov 1, 2017.

4. In the Final step, we will use the E-commerce filter to include only the users whose purchased more than or equal to $100 in the Bags Category. If including category results into a very low number of users for this remarketing list, then remove the Product category, in this case, "Bags" to include all the super high-value users regardless of what category they have purchased.

Download link - Other E-commerce Remarketing lists you might find helpful.

3. Incoming traffic channel List (including Facebook ) -

A. Users came from Organic Search ( or Paid Search, Social media, Display etc.) -

In This remarketing List, we are using the Google Analytics Default channel grouping to capture all the users who came from Organic search, whether it's Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex etc.

Similarly, you can create a remarketing list for other Default Channel grouping Like Social media, Paid search, Display etc. Just change the name.

B. Cross Channel ( FB Campaigns ) -

It is Good to target all the users who came from Social media but All social channels behave in a very different ways. The messaging, contents etc. all vary among different channel. So it would be more helpful if we focus on a particular channel. And use the data from that channel to change the strategy of a different channel.

Suppose, you run Campaigns on Facebook. And want to find out high-value users who came from Facebook and target them on other channels.

How to do it?

Facebook Converted users -

This Remarketing list will include all the sessions where a user came from Facebook and purchased a product or completed any useful goal on your website.

Facebook High-Value users -

This remarketing list will include not only users who made a purchase but purchased worth more than or equal to $100 in revenue. These users are big whales who came from Facebook. You can change the source for other channels like twitter or google to find these kinds of users from a particular channel. You can also adjust the revenue amount if the number of users is very less on this list.

Download Link - Other Helpful Channel Remarketing List.

Related Helpful post - 8 advanced social media marketing analytics techniques you need to know.

4. Remarketing list from GA Demographic data( Only for Google Display Network) -

You can also create a Remarketing list based on Age, Gender, and interest of your customers and target them through the Google Display Network.

How can you do it?

1. First go to Audience > Demographics > Age

2. Click on the compared to the site average button at the top right and select Revenue to quickly figure out which age groups are performing well.

In the Above pic, we can see that 25-34 and 35-44 age groups are generating more revenue compared to the other age groups.

3. Then either click on the any of these age groups to see whether male or female are performing well or go to the Gender report just below the Age report to find it out.

From the above report, we can see that males are performing better than the females.

4. Next, Go to the Audiences > Interests > In-Market segments

In-Market Segments helps you to find customers who are in the market, means that they are actively considering buying a service or product like yours.

5. Then sort the Revenue column from high to low to find out which In-market segments are performing well. In this case, Financial Services/Investment services and Consumer Electronics/Mobile phones are the top 2 highest revenue generating segments for GMS.

6. Now, we can Go to the Audience Builder to create a Remarketing list based on our findings to retarget these segments of the users over the Google Display network.

If you want, you can also look at other data like Device types, country data etc and add those to the above Remarketing list to be more specific.

Download Link - Other Helpful Demographic Remarketing Lists.

8. Audience(Remarketing List) Report in Google Analytics.

As you can publish your Remarketing lists in Google Analytics, you can also measure these Remarketing list performance inside Google Analytics itself. You can also use these Remarketing Lists as Primary Dimension in Audience Report( New Dedicated Remarketing list performance measurement Report in Google analytics), secondary dimensions in other reports and as a dimension in segments, custom reports, and custom funnels.

1. Audiences Report in Google Analytics -

Though I don't have enough data at this moment but you can still see how my Remarketing lists are performing.

I can look at the Acquisition, Behavior and conversion data for these lists to understand their End-to-End performance. Some of my high performing lists are marked with Green squares.

You can see that my Direct and social channel lists are performing very poorly compared to the others. And If you look closely, you can see that the Average session duration for my Converted visitor's list is approx. 6 minutes. Now I know, how long I have to engage my readers to convert them to my website.

I can also drill down to any lists by clicking on it to learn more about it Like Aquisition channels, age, gender, country etc. In the Above pic, I am looking at the Country report for my Returning visitor's lists. You can see actually the returning visitors from India, Israel, and Poland are performing better than the other countries. Though I don't have a statistically significant data to make a decision right now but if I have enough data then I definitely want to focus my efforts for this list on these countries rather than targeting all the countries.

2. Remarketing Lists as Segment -

Another great thing about creating and publishing your Remarketing list with Google Analytics is that you can use it as a segment and apply to your other Google Analytics reports to gain more insights about the users of any remarketing list that you have published in Google Analytics.

You can see above, how I have created a segment based on my remarketing list.

In the above pic, you can see that I am using my New and returning Visitors remarketing lists as a segment and applied it to my Goal conversion report to better understand how these lists are adding values to blog, Which list is helping me to convert more visitors to my blog?

3. Remarketing lists in custom reports -

With Google Analytics, you have the full flexibility to create your own custom reports and include your remarketing lists as a Dimensions along with any metrics and additional dimensions you want to add and analyze. You don't have to rely on the standard report, you can customize it based on your need.

Learn more - How to create custom reports in Google Analytics.

9. A/B Testing Remarketing Campaigns -

Yes, you can also run A/B test on your remarketing Campaigns with Google Analytics. To do that, you need to create two or more identical Remarketing lists and run different ad campaigns for each list. And then you can measure their performance inside Google Analytics.

How Google Analytics Do this?

Google Analytics randomly assigns each of the users to one of 100 User Buckets. Google Analytics uses the User Buckets Dimensions to put users into different buckets for testing. All you have to do is apply the User Bucket Conditions along with your Remarketing List Conditions.

How You can to do it?

1. Go to the Audience under Admin to create a new Audience as we did throughout this post.

2. Either you can create a new audience from scratch or use your existing Audience list in conjunction with User Bucket to create a new Audience list for A/B testing.

3. I am going to create it from the existing list. Look at the below pic.

All I did is selected the Audience Dimension and include my Pre-built New Visitor remarketing list and applied another filter to create the User Bucket condition with value <= 50.

4. Then click apply and Name the List with Test.

5. Then again create a new Audience with the same Audience definition except for the User Bucket value. This time with User Bucket >=50 for the control.

6. Click Apply and give it a name with Control.

7. Now create a separate Remarketing Campaign for the Test and Control inside Adwords.

8. Then, Let the campaigns run for some time to get enough data for a meaningful comparison.

9. Once you have enough data, create two segments based on the Remarketing Campaign you are running.

Example -

Segment 1 - Campaign exactly Matches Campaign A(with the New Visitor Remarketing Test List) Segment 2 - Campaign exactly matches Campaign B(with the New Visitor Remarketing Control list)

10.  Now, apply these segments to your Google Analytics Goals overview and E-commerce overview reports to quickly measure their performance as we did earlier in the Post or apply to other reports if you need to. That's all you need to do to A/B test and measure your Remarketing Campaigns inside Google Analytics.

Download Link - A/B Testing User Buckets condition lists.

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