light saber

Remember how Luke Skywalker shot the port shaft with the force, destroying the Death Star for the Rebel Alliance?

If you're a marketer, you can imagine how great such intuition would be in improving conversion rates, especially from an ad campaign.

Sadly, while Jedi Knight training remains unavailable, marketers can turn to a familiar resource in learning which data segments are worth committing resources to improve conversion rates.

The Conversion Force Awakens

Google has introduced Smart Goals, a new Google Analytics reporting feature meant to help businesses identify visits that are “most likely” to convert based on Google’s model. It complements metrics related to AdWords.

Smart Goals differ from the current Google Analytics measurements. Its metrics are not based on measurement of actions taken on an advertiser’s website, like conversion tracking and analytics goals.

Smart Goals are generated with machine learning based on thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted to share anonymized conversion data.

This data utilization tactic is similar to that which drives Google Analytics' benchmark reports and Google Customer Journey Tool.

In this instance, Google distills several key factors that correlate with likelihood to conversion such as session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser.

Understanding Smart Goals

According to the Google website, "The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect your website visits that our model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions."

To use Smart Goals, the Google Analytics and AdWords accounts need to be linked.

Once linked, users can navigate to Smart Goals in the Google Analytics report panel, selecting it under the Goals panel in the Admin tab.

Gradual Rollout

At this writing, Smart Goals is in beta, so not all accounts have received it (Google states that Smart Goals will be rolling out over the next few weeks. To be eligible, the Google Analytics view has to receive at least 1,000 clicks from AdWords over a 30-day period).

Under Smart Goals, website visits deemed highest quality are identified and displayed in the Smart Goals report. The report is located in the Conversions section.

The reports permit behavior analysis of Smart Goals visits, comparing these results against visits deemed unlikely to convert.

According to Google, one choice available with Smart Goal reporting is to import Smart Goals into an AdWords account.

At that point marketers can set a target cost per acquisition (CPA) based on the Smart Goals data. Doing this sets up an optimization model, serving as guidance for AdWords campaign spending and setting alerts and limits accordingly.

Smart Goals Refine Analytics

Analysis of web analytics typically focuses on past visit behavior — what activity has happened. Smart Goal introduces predictive analytics to the analysis.

Even more beneficial, it places intelligent budget analysis within reach of businesses large and small. It is a reminder of how advanced paid search has become.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Title image by Ryan Tir