Thursday, December 10, 2015

Use Smart Goals, powered by Google Analytics, to optimize in AdWords

To advertise smart, you have to measure smart.  And a key metric for almost any business is conversions, also known as “that moment when users do the thing that you want them to do.”

Many AdWords advertisers are already measuring their website conversions, using either AdWords Conversion Tracking or imported Google Analytics Ecommerce transactions.  Measuring actual conversions is ideal, because it allows you to optimize your bids, your ads and your website with a clear goal in mind.

However, hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses aren't measuring their website conversions today.  Some businesses may not have a way for users to convert on their website and others may not have the time or the technical ability to implement conversion tracking.

The Google Analytics team is committed to helping our users use their data to drive better marketing and advertising performance.  So, for businesses that don’t measure conversions in AdWords today, we’ve created an easy-to-use solution: Smart Goals. Smart Goals help you identify the highest-quality visits to your website and optimize for those visits in AdWords.

"Smart Goals helped us drive more engaged visits to our website. It gave us something meaningful to optimize for in AdWords, without having to change any tags on our site. We could tell that optimizing to Smart Goals was working, because we had higher sales than usual across our channels during the testing period." - Richard Bissell, President/Owner, Richard Bissell Fine Woodworking, Inc

How Smart Goals Work

To generate Smart Goals, we apply machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted in to share anonymized conversion data.  From this information, 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.

Step 1: Activate Smart Goals in Google Analytics

To activate Smart Goals in Google Analytics, simply go to the "Admin" section of your Google Analytics account, click "Goals" (under the View heading) and select "Smart Goals."  The highest-quality visits to your website will now be turned into Smart Goals automatically.  No additional tagging or customization is required; Smart Goals just work.

To help you see how Smart Goals perform before you activate them, we’ve built a Smart Goals report in the “Conversions” section of Google Analytics.  The behavior metrics in this report indicate the engagement level of Smart Goals visits compared to other visits, helping you evaluate Smart Goals before you activate the feature.
Step 2: Import Smart Goals into AdWords

Like any other goal in Google Analytics, Smart Goals can be imported into AdWords to be used as an AdWords conversion.  Once you’ve defined a conversion in AdWords, you’re able to optimize for it.
Step 3: Optimizing for Smart Goals in AdWords

One of the benefits of measuring conversions in your Adwords account is the ability to set a target cost per acquisition (CPA) as opposed to just setting a cost per click (CPC).  If you aren’t measuring actual conversions today, importing Smart Goals as conversions in Adwords allows you to set a target CPA.  In this way, you’re able to optimize your Adwords spend based on the likelihood of conversion as determined by our model.

Smart Goals will be rolling out over the next few weeks. To be eligible for Smart Goals, your Google Analytics property must be linked to your AdWords account(s).  Learn how to link your Google Analytics property to your AdWords account(s) in the Analytics Help Center or the AdWords Help Center.  Note that your Google Analytics view must receive at least 1,000 clicks from AdWords over a 30-day period to ensure the validity of your data.

Posted by Abishek Sethi, Software Engineer, and Joan Arensman, Product Manager