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Where Is Google Heading With Its New Smart Goals, Anyway?

Steve Tutelman

You might have read recently about Google Smart Goals, a new Google Analytics feature that helps advertisers identify the visits to their site that are most likely to convert. In case you’re catching up, Smart Goals is oriented at advertisers who aren’t already using AdWords conversion tracking and/or importing goals and e-commerce transactions from Google Analytics into AdWords.

You might be thinking, OK, Smart Goals doesn’t apply to me. But hang on there for a minute — because Smart Goals is an interesting development for anyone in e-commerce.

More, er, Intent Behind Intent?

Smart Goals is essentially a way for Google to determine which behaviors are indicative of intent to convert, based on anonymized, aggregate data from thousands of retail websites that use Google Analytics. Said another way, Google is using its unique and powerful dataset to pinpoint high-value audiences and drive more engaged visits to the retail site.

This is the second feature Google has rolled out in the last several months that makes mention of “intent” — with the first being Customer Match. Customer Match lets advertisers upload a list of email addresses, which Google then matches to signed-in Google users. From there, advertisers can show ads specifically to those users who would be most interested in their products.

The future of e-commerce marketing is about connecting the right consumer — i.e., the high-intent consumer — to the right product at the right moment.

These features are all about tapping into users’ intent to purchase — something we’ve talked about before on our blog. Google is helping advertisers use data to tie site behaviors to intent to convert, and ultimately put the right product in front of the audience that’s most receptive to purchasing it. That approach, of course, helps advertisers maximize their ad spend, while also giving consumers a better interaction with brands.

Intent Is King

Yep, I think it’s fair to say we have a king in town and he’s called “intent.” Maximizing performance in any e-commerce channel requires deep insight into the customer journey. It appears Google is continuing to take this principle to heart in developing ways for marketers to understand their audiences and reach them with the right ad.

On a broader level, Smart Goals is a sign of the digital marketing times. Marketing teams are increasingly responsible for driving bottom-line results and they need to allocate ad budget efficiently to drive results for their organization and compete in the market.

While marketers have always placed a premium on high-value traffic, today they increasingly have the capability to capitalize on it. Marketers know that all the traffic in the world doesn’t mean a thing unless it converts. And intent is the ticket to conversion.

The future of e-commerce marketing is about connecting the right consumer — i.e., the high-intent consumer — to the right product at the right moment.

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