By Jethro Shaw

A new goal type is available in Google Analytics that requires only your AdWords data to pinpoint the most valuable users to your business. Best of all, it takes just minutes to implement.

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How does it work?

Last year Google debuted the much-anticipated Smart Lists - remarketing lists that are entirely automated and based on conversion data from your own business and businesses like yours. Now, Smart Goals are here. Using a similar process of machine learning, Google takes anonymised Google Analytics conversion data from thousands of sites to determine the statistics that are most likely to fit the profile of a converter. This data is not just limited to engagement metrics such as Session Duration and Bounce Rate, but also uses information that relates to the user profile such as their location, device and browser. After initially using the top 5% of your ‘best’ visits from AdWords traffic as a benchmark, Google will then apply this to all website visits.

How do you create Smart Goals?

When creating a goal, Smart Goal now appears as an option beneath the Templates, or as a goal type beneath the standard four that we know and love within Custom goal setup. To create one, select this option, give it a name and then save – it’s that simple. Once you’ve created your Smart Goal, importing into AdWords is as quick and easy as with any normal goal.

Smart Goal Configuration

If you’re not already sold about trying them out, Google have provided a handy preview split of the engagement metrics for users depending on whether or not they are deemed to have met the goal had it been in place (screenshot below). To see this, navigate to Smart Goals which now appears at the bottom of the Goals list under Conversions in Google Analytics.

Smart Goal Preview in GA

Who will this be useful for?

The purpose of Smart Goals is to give a clear acquisition target in AdWords for optimising CPA. For small and medium sized businesses who lack either the clear behaviours to measure as conversions or the technical knowledge to implement conversion tracking, this could be an invaluable tool. With almost no work, it is now possible to give a useable measure of the quality of AdWords traffic without even having to set up conversion tracking yourself. For example, we work with several high-end retailers who have low conversion rates because their average order value is extremely high. An unfortunate result of this is that it’s difficult for them to accumulate adequate conversion data to use for marketing optimisation. It’s therefore useful for our Search team to be able to use these ready-made, effective micro conversions as indicators of campaign success.

What are the limitations?

Your Google Analytics view must have received at least 1000 clicks from the linked AdWords account in the last month to create a Smart Goal, since otherwise the data is considered insufficient. The view must also receive fewer than one million hits per day.

The downside of Smart Goals being so easy to create is that they cannot be configured or customised in any way. Additionally, they are not available for mobile app views and do not support View-Through Conversions or Cross-Device Conversions in AdWords.

What are you waiting for?

With the potential that Smart Goals offer and the ease with which you can set them up, it’s a no-brainer to give them a try if you don’t already have established conversion tracking. Get in contact with us if you’d like to discuss this new feature or if you’d like our help in identifying micro conversions.

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