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Consistent cross-channel messaging using Google Analytics audience lists

We have previously discussed how you can use Google Analytics demographic data to identify the best audiences and targeting for your display campaigns. This time, we’re going to go a step further and look at how we can capture users coming from one (or more) channels and help to ensure consistent messaging is displayed.

A real-world example of when this has proved useful is with one of our clients in the travel industry.

Travel companies rely heavily on awareness, both brand and product. Traditional marketing methods (print, TV, shop windows) achieve this very well. Paid Social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) are very good at generating awareness, many travel companies push large investments through these channels, but how can we ensure the message delivered is consistent across other channels like Paid Search and Display?

This can be achieved using Google Analytics audience lists set to capture users by source.

How to setup audience lists in Google Analytics

First, make sure you have the required level of access, you will need edit permissions to be able to setup audience lists. If you don’t have these then be nice to the person who does! You will also need to ensure your AdWords account is linked with Analytics before this option is available.

Navigate to the admin section of the Analytics property where you want to setup this audience

2. You’ll be looking for Audience Definitions in the Property column

3. Click Audiences followed by + New Audience.


4. Once your link configuration has been setup (this is where you tell Analytics which AdWords account you want to send the audience lists to) you can start to define your audience.


5.  In this example, we are wanting to create an audience list of users who visited our site off the back of some advertising we are running on Facebook. You can filter on Sessions if you prefer, but I’m only interested in Unique Users at this stage. So, we won’t be using any recommended audiences, instead we want to Create New.

6.  In the above image, you can see that I have navigated to Traffic Sources (as we want to see users who have visited our site from Facebook) but I’m also adding the ‘cpc’ Medium into the mix to ensure that only users who visited via a Paid Facebook ad are collected.

7.  Optional. Depending on how many campaigns you have running on Facebook, you might want to further segment the list. If you have UTM Parameters setup on your landing pages then you could add a Campaign filter, or even go so far as to track visits to a specific landing page by navigating to the Conditions section and adding a Landing Page filter.

8.  Once done, our audience list will look like this. (Note that I’ve included the optional step in the image)

9.  Keeping things simple, and just choosing Source contains Facebook, then Analytics will give us an estimate of how big this audience list is based on the last 7 days of traffic to the site. (I’m also going to give the audience a name)

This list is now ready. Over the last 7 days we have 9,266 users, this is good to know as to use audience lists for remarketing purposes there are certain sizes that the audiences need to hit, this currently stands at 1,000 for Search and 100 for Display.

Now we can go ahead and setup our remarketing campaigns in AdWords, using these lists. But let’s check it’s been imported into the account first.

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account (this must be the same as linked to Analytics)
  2. Navigate to the Shared Library then
  3. You can filter on the name of the audience and ensure that it is in the list. You’ll also get an idea of the actual list size as it grows.

Now, go ahead and build your remarketing campaigns as normal. Make sure you change your targeting settings to Target and Bid!

What we have achieved is to segment our Facebook audience into their own unique list to give us an idea of how large this audience is. Then, using AdWords, we’ve created a remarketing campaign that targets this audience list.

The most important point is to ensure that you carry the messaging from Facebook into this campaign too. This could be by using the same creatives (just in GDN format) and if you’re using responsive ads, ensuring that the Description and Headlines contain the same message and/or offers. This will keep things consistent and acts as a bit of a safety net, helping to bring back users who were exposed to your Facebook advertising while they continue their online journey.

This strategy is also particularly useful in scenarios where exclusive offers are given to your Facebook audiences. You might be offering an exclusive 20% Off a product to Facebook users. This might have a positive impact on your traffic and CTRs, but it might take a day or two for the conversions to come in. With the above, you can be confident that only those users who have interacted with your Facebook campaign will be exposed to the 20% Off offer online, meaning that those users who you do not want exposed to this offer, won’t be.