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Smart Goals

Optimize AdWords performance using your best website sessions as conversions.

Measuring explicit conversions, using either AdWords Conversion Tracking or imported Analytics Ecommerce transactions, is the best way to optimize your bids, your ads, and your website. However, if you aren't yet measuring conversions, Smart Goals is an easy way to use your best sessions as conversions. You can then use Smart Goals to optimize your AdWords performance.

You need Edit permission at the view level to perform the tasks or use the features described in this article.

In this article:

How Smart Goals work

Smart Goals are configured at the view level. Smart Goals use machine learning to examine dozens of signals about your website sessions to determine which of those are most likely to result in conversions. Each session is assigned a score, with the "best" sessions being translated into Smart Goals. Some examples of the signals included in the Smart Goals model are Session duration, Pages per session, Location, Device and Browser. (Remarketing Smart Lists use a similar machine learning model to identify your best users.)

To determine the best sessions, Smart Goals establishes a threshold by selecting approximately the top 5% of the traffic to your site coming from AdWords. Once that threshold is set, Smart Goals applies it to all your website sessions, including traffic from channels other than AdWords. After enabling Smart Goals in Analytics, they can be imported into AdWords.

Prerequisites for using Smart Goals

To use Smart Goals, you'll need to meet certain prerequisites and complete the following actions:

  1. Link your Analytics and AdWords account(s).
  2. The linked AdWords account must have sent at least 500 clicks to the selected Analytics view over the past 30 days before you can set up Smart Goals.

    If the linked account falls below 250 clicks over the past 30 days for the selected view, Smart Goals will be deactivated until the clicks rise again to 500 or more. 

  3. The reporting view must not receive more than 10 million sessions in 30 days.
  4. The Data Sharing setting Google products and services must be turned on for your Analytics account. See the instructions below:
Learn how to enable Data Sharing
Account settings > Data Sharing options
Enabling data sharing settings

Step 1: Enable Smart Goals

If your view is eligible, you can enable Smart Goals by selecting the Smart Goal goal type when following the regular goal setup flow:

Instructions for setting up Smart Goals
  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the desired view.
  3. In the VIEW column, click Goals.
  4. Click + NEW GOAL.
  5. Select Smart Goal (if available).
  6. Give your Smart Goal a name and click Save.

No additional configuration or customization is required. (That's part of the reason why we call them "Smart Goals.")

Goals setup dialog
Setting up Smart Goals
If you have selected an Industry Category for this property, the Goal Description step will appear somewhat different from the one shown here. Ignore those differences and select Smart Goals.

Step 2: Import Smart Goals into Adwords

To use Smart Goals to optimize your AdWords performance, you must first import them into AdWords. Here are the basic steps to do this:

Instructions for importing Analytics goals and transactions into AdWords
  1. After you've activated Smart Goals in Analytics, sign in to your AdWords account, click the Tools tab, and select Conversions.
  2. Click Analytics in the left-hand menu.
  3. Check the boxes next to the goals or transactions you want to import. Click Continue.
  4. On the next page, you'll see settings that will apply to all of the goals or transactions you selected. Make your choices, then click Import goals.
  5. Click Close, or to import more goals, click Import more.

AdWords will begin importing the data from your Analytics account. Historical data from before the import won't be included.

 

Learn more about importing Analytics goals and transactions in AdWords.

Step 3: Optimize AdWords performance using Smart Goals

To optimize your AdWords performance using Smart Goals, we recommend you use Target CPA bidding, a flexible automated bid strategy. You can also use manual CPC bidding if you would like to manage bids yourself.

After importing Smart Goals into AdWords, let Smart Goals run for a few weeks to accumulate sufficient data. Then, to start using Smart Goals to optimize AdWords performance, divide the cost of your ads by the number of completed Smart Goals. This is your cost per acquisition (CPA). You can set your target CPA in Adwords accordingly.

Example:

You spent $2,000 in Adwords over the past two weeks and have 80 Smart Goals conversions. Therefore, the average CPA for a Smart Goals session during that time period is $25 ($2,000 / 80 = $25). This is the average cost for you to acquire a session with a high likelihood to convert, based on the Smart Goals model.
In this example, you should set your target CPA in Adwords to $25.

The Smart Goals report

To help you see how Smart Goals perform, use the Conversions > Goals > Smart Goals report. This report shows you how your Smart Goals traffic differs from other traffic. You can also include the Smart Goals Completed dimension in custom reports.

The Smart Goals report shows you how Smart Goals would perform even before enabling them in your view (assuming you are eligible to use Smart Goals in the first place). This lets you determine if Smart Goals will be of benefit to you before going through all the steps above.

Both the Smart Goals report and the Smart Goals Completed dimension are only available in views which are eligible for Smart Goals.

Limitations of Smart Goals

Smart Goals are subject to the following limits and restrictions.

  • Smart Goals are not configurable or customizable.
  • You can have one Smart Goal per view.
  • Smart Goals will take up 1 of the 20 available goal slots (like any other goal).
  • Smart Goals are currently only available for website views. Smart Goals cannot be used for mobile app views.
  • Smart Goals are not available for views that receive more than 1 million hits per day.
  • Smart Goals do not support View-Through Conversions (VTCs) or cross-device conversions in AdWords

Related resources

 

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