AdWords New Feature: Smart Goals

"If you're not already tracking goals or conversions through your website, then you shouldn't be using AdWords at all"

What Are Smart Goals?

Smart Goals (not to be confused with S.M.A.R.T Goals) is a new feature in Google AdWords that allows advertisers to measure conversion data without making any code changes to their website.

Smart Goals are generated through aggregated data from websites that allow Google to view their anonymized conversion data. Google then uses machine learning to distill the data into “dozens” of key factors that are most likely to lead to a conversion. This includes factors such as device, session duration and pages per session. Using this data, Google determines which visits to your site have the highest chance of leading to a conversion and reports these back to you in Smart Goals. Using Smart Goals advertisers are then able to optimise and track performance based on the data received.

Who Are Smart Goals For?

This is where the problem starts. Smart Goals are created for the masses of small business around the world that are paying for each click in AdWords without any conversion tracking or measurable goals. These companies have been sold the importance of digital marketing, but without the budget, resource and expertise are going in blind rather than making data-driven decisions.

When done correctly, PPC and digital marketing as a whole, should not be left to chance. Unlike traditional media, digital marketing allows you to collect accurate and reliable data and improve performance based on your own data, not an aggregate of someone else’s! Optimising an AdWords account based on data that you can’t trust goes against Google’s own principles and the key benefit of AdWords – “Take the guesswork out of your marketing”.

Should I Use Smart Goals?

If you’re not already tracking goals or conversions through your website, then you shouldn’t be using AdWords at all. If you’re not able to make the code changes yourself, save your AdWords budget and spend it on paying a professional to properly set up tracking and goals.

Unfortunately, Smart Goals appear to be a novelty feature designed by Google to increase their own revenues. This is achieved by making tracking performance easier to implement but using a method that fails to deliver any real accuracy or reliability. Smart Goals successfully remove the need for “technical staff” to make changes to website code which naturally increases the number of amateur AdWords users who are incentivized to use the platform and spend more money based on unreliable data.

Similar to “AdWords Express”, this is another example of Google pushing their product to the regular guy hoping that they won’t mind chucking a few hundred quid in every month, under the guise of “marketing spend”, with little or no return.

However, this approach could alternatively backfire for Google as this may lead to many small businesses and less sophisticated digital marketers finding or reinforcing the belief that “AdWords doesn’t work”.

Our advice for using Google AdWords would always be – do your homework. Whether you’re doing it yourself or using an agency, there are no quick fixes in business and learning/using AdWords requires a lot of effort. If this isn’t something you’re willing to invest time or money into then don’t expect positive results. On the flipside, if you’re working with professionals who know their stuff and you’re making decisions based on accurate data then AdWords can deliver exceptional results!

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