What are Smart Goals in Google Analytics?

Estimated Reading Time 6 minutes

When it comes to online marketing, it’s imperative that you’re actively tracking what is and isn’t working for your business – whatever your goals are.

Sometimes that’s easier said than done, in particular where those goals are difficult to measure, or perhaps you don’t have ‘hard’ goals such as purchases, sign ups or downloads that are easy to set up and track through your analytics account (Google or otherwise).

Google, of course, has a way to help businesses overcome this matter, through the use of smart goals.

What are smart goals and how do they work?

Smart goals, as the name suggests, look at copious signals from your website and from that data, uses machine learning to signify what a ‘valuable’ user may look like to your business.

A valuable session could be identified from the length of time someone has spent on your website or the number of pages they’ve visited. This means that the smart goals are more than likely going to differ for each and every business, and unfortunately, Google won’t share what they are considering as a goal for your business.

Google states that “Each session is assigned a score, with the “best” sessions being translated into Smart Goals.”

Rather than the normal procedure of setting up goals or conversions in Google Analytics or Google Ads, smart goals just need to be ‘switched on’ within your Google Analytics account. Once they’re turned on, you can pull them straight into your Google Ads account.

Analytics Smart Goals

It’s recommended to let smart goals run for a few weeks, so that there‘s sufficient data to back up your optimisation.

Why use smart goals?

The idea is that with smart goals, advertisers can utilise automated bid strategies such as Target CPA even if they don’t have enough ‘hard’ conversion data, Smart goals will determine what type of users carry out valuable actions and behaviour on your website, and automated bid strategies will help to bring more valuable traffic to your website.

Who should use smart goals?

Firstly, it’s important to note that there are certain requirements that must be met before an account is eligible to use smart goals.

You must have at least 500 Analytics sessions from Google Ads over a 30 day period before you’re eligible to set up smart goals. If your traffic dips below this, smart goals will be temporarily disabled until it picks up again. In comparison; your Analytics view must not have over 10 million sessions in 30 days.

If you meet the above criteria, you might be wondering whether you should use smart goals. Unfortunately there’s no right or wrong answer here, it entirely depends on your business. From an agency perspective, we are using smart goals for some of our client accounts, whilst there are others that we recommend to steer clear of smart goals, especially in instances where the goals are easily measurable.

Go back to basics; what are your business goals? Can you measure them, and are they accurate?

In essence, smart goals will show how many ‘high quality’ visits you are getting to your website, though what is deemed as ‘high quality’ – only Google knows, for now.

Whether or not you decide to use smart goals as a part of your online advertising strategy, the same rule applies: Always keep an eye on the data.

Don’t set it and forget it; analyse the figures, understand what is and isn’t working, and use this to back up your optimisation strategy.

If you’re still unsure if your analytics account is tracking goals accurately, or whether smart goals are the answer you’ve been looking for, contact a member of the team today.

Sophie Burrows
As a Senior Digital Strategist, Sophie's role is focused around working with clients to achieve their business objectives, through a mixture of digital marketing channels. Having worked closely with clients in a variety of disciplines over the last five years, Sophie has gained an invaluable insight into what makes for a successful campaign. Applying a strategic process along with deep analytics insight has made Sophie an in-demand digital strategist.
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