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How to mix audience lists to improve your online advertising

Back to all resources

How to mix audience lists to improve your online advertising

Key take-aways

Potential customers are individuals: no two are exactly alike. But when they interact with your business online, they often behave in similar ways and sort themselves into groups. For example, high spenders, repeat buyers, or window shoppers. To track these groups and advertise to them selectively, businesses can create audience lists. Learn how to mix and match your audience lists to improve your advertising results.

1. What are audience lists?

2. How can I use audience lists?

3. How do I build audience lists?

4. Should I use one list across multiple ad campaigns?

5. Should I use multiple lists in one ad campaign?

What are campaigns?

A set of ad groups (ads, keywords, and bids) that share a budget, location, and other settings. Campaigns are often used to organize categories of products or services that you offer.

Learn more about ad campaigns

By running ads designed specifically for recent visitors, or another subset of visitors, business owners could entice them back and get another chance at closing a sale.

1. What are audience lists?

As the name implies, audience lists are groups of app or website visitors who have taken valuable actions such as subscribing to a newsletter or placing products in a shopping cart. Every business owner can create their own lists based on whatever behaviours are valuable to their business and goals.

A Glasgow nail salon, for example, could create lists for visitors to its manicure and pedicure pages to learn more about each group of potential buyers. If people interested in manicures tend to visit the website late at night, the salon might consider extending its hours. If people interested in pedicures tend to look at manicures too, the salon might consider offering a two-for-one deal.

The salon could also create lists for prospective customers who took valuable actions, such as nearly booking an appointment, and advertise to them.

2. How can I use audience lists?

Audience lists can be used for remarketing campaigns, which is when you show ads to a select group of people who have visited your app or website recently. By running ads designed specifically for recent visitors, or another subset of visitors, business owners could entice them back and get another chance at closing a sale.

This approach can also increase an ad's CTR because prospective customers are already somewhat familiar with the business. If a potential customer has interacted with a brand or product before, they may be more likely to interact with it again. If a remarketing ad shows them the exact image of a product they already browsed, the business stands a better chance than normal of luring them back to buy.

Take a Bristol sandwich shop, for instance. If it wants to advertise its new lunch menu, it has several choices. It can advertise to a general population, or it can advertise to a list of people who have visited its website between 10-2pm in the past 30 days. If it chooses that narrow population of regular lunch-seekers, and those people are shown images of its mouthwatering sandwiches for the second time, they may be more likely than the average browser to take advantage of the offer.

3. How do I build audience lists?

To create an audience list, businesses must simply integrate the no cost tracking tool Google Analytics into their website or app. Once installed, Google Analytics tracks each visitor to determine whether they have:

  • visited before, or are new
  • visited a certain number of pages
  • visited a specific page
  • visited for a specific duration
  • clicked specific buttons
  • completed a goal, such as a transaction

Business owners can create lists to capture a particular date range, such as a week, or an ongoing period, such as the past 30 days. Google manages ongoing lists — known as smart lists — for advertisers, and automatically keeps them accurate and up-to-date.

What is remarketing?

Remarketing is a feature that lets you customize your display ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your ads (using dynamic remarketing) to these visitors when they browse the web and use apps.

Learn how to customize Google Display Ads

4. Should I use one list across multiple ad campaigns?

If one list proves to be highly successful, a business owner can use and reuse it throughout their various Google Ads campaigns. For instance, a London florist could reuse its smart list of highly-engaged website visitors to run its spring, summer, and autumn ad promotions, hoping to earn the same high CTR on each.

Lists of lookalike prospective customers, known as similar audiences, are also well-suited for reuse. Where most ads reach the exact members of the list selected, similar lists expand the ad's reach to anyone on Google's network that behaves similarly. For example, a Newcastle-based clothing brand could create ads for anyone whose behaviour is similar to those who have already purchased its jackets.

5. Should I use multiple lists in one ad campaign?

Business owners can also use multiple lists within one campaign — known as a combination list. For example, if a Glasgow sports supply store wanted to run one ad campaign but include multiple audiences, it could combine its lists for fishing enthusiasts, golfers, and rugby players.

Combination lists are particularly useful when businesses are launching a new product or service that may be interesting to all its audiences. A Sheffield packing and shipping shop, for instance, could announce its new notary service to all its lists — individuals, businesses, and entrepreneurs — because all are good potential customers for its new offering.

Combination lists can also be used when an ad applies to some groups and not others. A Cardiff roofer, for instance, might want to run a discount for prospective customers who have visited each of its service pages, but not those who have already booked an appointment or are existing customers. By advertising selectively, the roofer ensures their ads only reach engaged audiences — i.e. the ones who are most likely to click on their ad.

By mixing and matching lists, businesses can make their ads more effective and precise, which offers them a better chance of reaching the right potential customers at the right time.

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