Tracking Issues? Try Smart Goals

If not having conversion tracking on your AdWords campaigns is keeping you awake at night (and if you don’t, then it should be), Google has the answer. 

keep calm

For sites unable to track conversions (because there are no conversion actions, or because tracking has not been implemented), Google is now providing “Smart Goals”. Smart Goals uses anonymised conversion data from websites (those that have opted to share Google Analytics data) to identify visits that are “most likely” to convert.

Announcing Smart Goals, Google provided hints as to how likeliness to convert is assessed:
“… we can distill dozens of key factors that correlate with likelihood to convert: things like session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser. We can then apply these key factors to any 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.

Businesses wanting to use Smart Goals will, however, still need to have a Google Analytics account, which needs to be linked to a Google AdWords account. AdWords accounts will also need to get at least 1,000 clicks in 30 days to be able to use Smart Goals.

If you’re not sure about using Smart Goals, you can preview the results by activating the feature, and only importing into AdWords once you are comfortable with the data. You can then set a target Cost Per Acquisition, using the Smart Goals data to optimise your AdWords campaigns.

Why should you care?

Chances are, since you are reading this, your website is tracking AdWords conversions very nicely, thank you very much. But we have come across some situations where conversion tracking has yet to be implemented — it’s usually because there’s a new website in the works, and no-one wants to spend any money on the old one.

In such situations, Smart Goals is likely to be better than nothing. But we’d suggest careful scrutiny of the preview data before importing to AdWords and setting CPA targets.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he develops search strategies for SureFire clients and helps them make sense of their website data.