Add3 – Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Seattle & Portland


Now that 2016 is in full swing, it’s time to start impressing clients with new and innovative ideas. Regardless of your client’s size or ad spend, we all know that it is essential to develop new strategies and initiatives in order to increase performance.  However, what if you are like me and have a client that doesn’t track conversions in AdWords? Well good news, Google came to the rescue with an easy-to-use solution.

In December, Google announced a new feature called “Smart Goals”.  These new goals originate in Google Analytics and help businesses that don’t currently measure conversions in AdWords.

How does it work?

In short, Smart Goals are visits that Google believes are of the highest quality.

More specifically – Google’s algorithm applies machine learning to scan thousands of websites in order to find key indicators for people who are likely to convert. It will use factors such as session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser to identify the “best” visits.   Once a threshold is established, after the top 5% of traffic has been analyzed, GA will then begin tracking Smart Goals across all channels, not just AdWords.


Once I introduced Smart Goals, I was able to gather that these “quality” users (considered a goal completion) had a 0% bounce rate, visited significantly more pages/session and their session duration was notably longer than other users.

If you are satisfied with the Smart Goal performance and capabilities in GA, you can also import them into AdWords as a conversion type. To take a step further, you would then have the potential to optimize based off these conversions, whether it be with a CPA based flexible bidding strategy or with conversion optimizer.

I would take these numbers lightly because this is still fairly new, technically a “guess” and not a concrete measurable conversion. Instead try to use these Smart Goals to spot trends and new learning opportunities.

How to Activate Smart Goals in Google Analytics:

  1. Go to the “Admin” sections of your GA account.
  2. Select “Goals” (under the ‘View’ heading).
  3. Click the “+ New Goal” button.
  4. Select Smart Goal, name your goal, assign a goal slot ID, and save!

And because these goals are so smart, no other customization or tag implementation is required!

Importing into AdWords:

  1. Make sure your Analytics account is linked to your AdWords account.
  2. Go to the Conversions section of the “Tools” tab.
  3. Click “Google Analytics.”
  4. Check the Smart Goal you want to import and then click continue.
  5. On the next page you will want to confirm the settings that will be applied to your new goal. Once complete, click “import goals”.

AdWords will then begin importing data from your GA account. Alternatively, it will not be able to retroactively import historical data.

Smart Goal Requirements:

  • These goals are not customizable.
  • You can have one Smart Goal per view.
  • Like any other goals, Smart Goals will take up 1 of the 20 available goal slots.
  • Smart Goals are currently only available for web and not mobile app views.
  • Your AdWords account must have sent at least 1,000 clicks to GA in the past 30 days.
  • Smart Goals are not available for views that receive more than 1 million hits per day.
  • View-Through Conversions or cross-device conversions in AdWords are not compatible with Smart Goals.




Ashley Davis

About Ashley Davis

Ashley is a Paid Search Account Manager, expanding her marketing knowledge with Add3 since 2013. Besides being a Shiba-mommy, Ashley enjoys Happy Hours, golfing, boating and glitter. Follow her on Twitter for everything from SEM updates to live tweeting reality TV, @AshleyDavisSEA.

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