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Dumbing Down Google Analytics with Smart Goals

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Sunday, 31 January 2016 in Google

google analytics smart goalsGoogle Analytics recently introduced Smart Goals.

Smart Goals are goals that Google themselves configure within your Analytics account to measure the activity of your best visitors. This is based on visitor behaviours such as the time they have spent on the site, the number of pages they have visited and an undoubtedly bewildering array of other signals that Google have doubtless determined to indicate desirable behaviour from their analysis of user data.

And, let's face it, Google have more data than... well, than anyone.

So these goals will be the best we can get, right? Nope. Not even close.

Everyone who runs a business wants a website. It's what businesses do. You get business cards, a telephone and a website and off you go - you're in business.

So you call up a web designer and brief them.

"We need a home page, an about us page and a contact page, oh, and add a video of our offices... but make them look bigger than they are..."

You feel that you have checked that off your "to do" list. Website...? Check!

But a website that is built without a core objective is next to useless. If your website is an e-commerce site then the objective is relatively clear - you want to sell stuff. But if it is B2B the objectives may be less readily identifiable. But there will always something you will want visitors to ultimately do. At some point you are going to want to be able to sell to them, or sign them up, or refer them to someone else (who will pay you for the referral). If there isn't something that you truly want your visitors to do, then you are fooling yourself - you're not actually in business at all.

Once these objectives are defined, the website should focus on driving visitors to complete them. And your Google Analytics goals should track these objectives.

Smart Goals are nothing more than a veil that (frankly, lazy) business owners can drape over their web analytics to convince themselves that they are tracking valuable activity.... goals set and tracked...? Check!

But, in truth, this is little more that going through the motions. That, and self-delusion. This is simply a further dumbing down of online marketing. You can install Google Analytics and configure Smart Goals. Then you can open an AdWords account, use the default settings and allow Google to run automated bidding. And they will, perhaps, do a half decent job of driving traffic to your website. In some cases, you might have Google design the ads (dynamic search ads, image ad builder, etc.)

Perhaps in no other area of your business would you allow an external company to have such control. You would not, for example, simply give your credit card to the local newspaper telling them to run ads for your company - "Do what you think is best, but don't spend more than $1,000 a month - OK?"

Put like that, it seems ridiculous, doesn't it? But more and more businesses are relinquishing control piece by piece to Google. Why? Because online advertising is complicated. Getting it right takes time and dedication. These enhancements from Google make it easier... and easy is always tempting.

But automation is a step above "one size fits all" - and falls into the lowest common denominator category. If you want your business to stand out from the crowd you cannot be an integral part of the crowd.

How have you found Google's automation? Has it worked for your business (or your clients)? Please use the comments for your feedback.

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