Google Analytics Releases ‘Smart Goals’

Grant Marlowe - January 14, 2016

On December 17, 2015 Google Analytics (GA) fully rolled out a new tool known as “Smart Goals.” Smart Goals were created with the intention of leveraging the data available in your Google Analytics account to improve your AdWords’ campaigns.

For those of us who do not currently have conversion goals set up, Smart Goals are a way to measure your websites “top visits” and use those as a conversion. In this post we discuss WHAT Smart Goals are, HOW they work, and WHEN you should be using them.

What are Smart Goals?

Smart Goals are used to identify users who are most likely to convert, or perform a specific action on your website, if you do not currently have conversion goals in place. The idea is that Smart Goals will use a scoring system to identify approximately the top 5% of visitors that would be considered most likely to make a conversion. Once you have configured Smart Goals in Google Analytics, the Goal can be imported into your AdWords campaigns and then used to optimize the performance of your paid search efforts. If you are in the GA interface, you may notice a new report is now available in the Goals subsection of your account.

smart goals

How Smart Goals Work

Smart Goals calculate the visitors to your site that are most likely to result in a conversion. Google calculates this based on about 15 different metrics including: pages per visit, time on site, screen resolution, days since last since visit, session duration, device type, browser, etc. From there Smart Goals uses this model to rate the visitors that comes to your site and segments that top performing group as the category of users whom are most likely to generate a conversion. Just like other Goals in Google Analytics, you must configure a Smart Goal in the Admin section of your GA Account.

smart goals setup

When To Use Smart Goals

Smart Goals can be helpful for any website that is unable to fire a conversion for a particular action. Whether the site does not have “Thank You” pages that identify when a visitor has completed an action, or if they cannot place the AdWords conversion pixel on their site, which requires access to the sites source code, these types of scenarios are ideal for implementing Smart Goals. This will allow you to measure performance against something quantifiable, as opposed to setting up your AdWords campaigns without any insight into how those paid clicks engage with your website. Ideally, you would want to use a PDF download or Thank You page to fire your AdWords conversion if possible. But for those of us who cannot make this happen, Smart Goals can be a great alternative for measuring performance!

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