How to set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking

How to set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking

Bird's Eye Views

A newsletter dedicated to getting your business found on Google

Paper airplane arcing and swerving to target

Tracking advertising results can be a bit like following a paper airplane arc and swerve toward a target. Google Ads conversion tracking removes the swooping and swerving enabling you see what users do after they click on your ad; the pages they visit, the buttons they click, which business goals are achieved and much more.

 

With conversion tracking properly implemented you can quickly and unequivocally answer your most important questions:

  • How many lead forms did we get (from Google Ads, Social Media, SEO, etc.)?
  • How many sales were made?
  • How many people signed up for your email list?
  • And too many more things about your business marketing to list here.

This is the information you use to optimize your campaigns, ad groups, keywords, extensions and ads. You know exactly what is working and what isn’t.

In this article you will learn your Google Ads conversion tracking choices, the value of linking with Google Analytics and then how to import goals from Analytics to Google Ads.

Google Ads Conversion Tracking Choices

You actually have three choices when setting up Google Ads conversion tracking:

  1. Website: Tracks sales and other meaningful actions on your website
  2. Import: Conversions are imported from other systems, like Google Analytics
  3. Phone Calls: Tracks the use of calls from your ads.

Google Ads Conversion Options

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Website: Tracks sales and other meaningful actions on your website

This is my least favourite option because it only tracks Google Ads conversions, ignoring all other traffic sources, such as SEO, social media, etc. For that reason, I have never implemented this method of conversion tracking.

When to use Website Conversion Tracking

In my opinion… never.

Phone Calls: Tracks the use of calls from your ads

Google Ads phone call conversion tracking only tracks phone calls when people click on the phone number in your ad. It is common for mobile users to click the phone number in a Google Ad to contact the business. That’s a conversion! But remember, this method doesn’t bring them to your website.

Phone call conversion tracking should be used simultaneously with either the ‘Website’ method or the ‘Import’ method, which we’ll get into in a moment.

When to use phone call conversion tracking

In my opinion… always. Set this up when you use call extensions in Google Ads. Once you set call extensions or call-only ads, Google Ads automatically tracks calls.

Important: Phone call tracking can (and should) be set up with any other conversion tracking method, either Website or Import.

Import: Conversions are imported from Google Analytics

In my opinion, this is by far the best choice. It leaves little room for error (unlike the ‘Website’ option) and is relatively easy to implement.

‘Website’ (pasting conversion code into your website’s HTML code) appears deceptively simple but is fraught with technical potholes capable of ruining conversion tracking.

Here is a more in depth comparison of Importing from Google Analytics and the Website Tracking code option.

Import is a little more work to set up, but the rich data returned to you makes this option incredibly valuable. Here’s how to implement it:

Setting up Import Goals from Google Analytics

Google Ads conversion tracking actually begins with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, both of which are free products. These two tracking applications provide vital performance information for all your website traffic sources.

Presumably, you are using Google Ads to get more business. But you only know if Google Ads is producing that additional business if proper tracking is implemented. Any good tracking system also makes traffic source comparison easy; Google Ads’ performance should be compared to other sales channels, like social media, other advertising, SEO, and more.

Broadly speaking, with a little effort and time you can set up your tracking in three steps:

  1. Identify what you want people to do on your website.
  2. Tag website assets and set goals in Google Analytics.
  3. Set up your Google Ads conversion tracking.

Let’s take a closer look at each step.

Identify the actions you want people to take on your website

It sounds obvious. Your list probably includes having people to buy something, collecting sales leads, engaging with your business. This is where details matter—what website assets enable people to accomplish these goals? You probably have a form, email address, phone number, maybe even chat boxes. E-commerce sites have shopping cart buttons and payment processor sites people need to get to.

Take a moment to think about what you want people to do on your website and how that is handled.  For example:

  • Contact your business (by completing a form or clicking your phone number or email)
  • Make a purchase (by clicking they buy button and going to the payment processor)
  • Engage with your website (by spending five minutes on the site)
  • Engage with your business (by subscribing to your email list)
  • The list goes on. Your list may have different actions, but what’s important is that you make your list.

Set Goals in Google Analytics

Ready Set Goal - Google Analytics goal set up

Google Analytics is free website tracking software and the workhorse of your data’s organization. It may already be loaded on your website—many developers just add it as a good practice. However, most businesses have not done any setup, like setting goals, so they can retrieve interesting but useless information, such as numbers of page views, users, etc.

 

There’s nothing like data organized by specific, targeted actions to sharpen your decision-making focus. In a few clicks, you can quickly answer questions like:

  • How many lead forms did we get (from Google Ads, Social Media, SEO, etc.)
  • How many sales were made?
  • How many people signed up for your email list?
  • And too many more things about your business marketing to list here.

Literally, by clicking a few buttons those questions are answered!

The Role of Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager helps Google Analytics track actions taken on your website. By default, Google Analytics is built to count only when a website page changes. For example, when a user goes from your home page to your products / services page, and then to your Contact us page, it would track all three pages.

However, many important actions, like form completions, playing a video, clicking email links, etc. happen without a website page changing. If the web page does not change, the action is not tracked unless you use Google Tag Manger—it too is free.

Among the many things that Google Tag Manager tracks are the clicks on website assets that you have ‘tagged.’ Each ‘tag’ offers Google Analytics a set of instructions on how to store this data.

I highly recommend installing Google Tag Manager. It’s an awesome product that does so much more, but that’s another story.

With Google Tag Manger, you ‘tag’ your forms, email and phone links, videos, PDFs, and anything else you consider an important action. Tagging some website assets may require a developer to deal with web language and some scripting, but it’s usually pretty routine.

Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics working together

Set Goals in Google Analytics

With Google Tag Manger and Google Analytics working together, we must get into your Analytics and start ‘telling’ it about that list of actions you want people to take on your website. These are called ‘goals’ in Google Analytics. Setting them takes only a few minutes, and usually does not require a developer or any programming.

With your goals set in in Analytics, you’re ready to start tracking Google Ads’ performance, and the performance of any other digital sales and advertising channel you choose to use. We have two more steps in your performance set up; and they’re both easy.

Link your Google Analytics and Google Ads Accounts

Importing your Analytics Goals to your Google Ads conversions requires linking your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts. Linking allows goals to be imported to your Ads’ account, which become your ‘conversions.’ 

Added benefits of linking

Linking the two applications saves the hassle of manually toggling between the two. Here’s how it works:

  • Google Analytics sends valuable engagement information to Google Ads—Bounce rate, pages/session, time on site, and percentage of new sessions.
  • Google Ads sends Google Analytics valuable click information—Clicks, CPC (cost per click) and total cost.

With Google Ads and Analytics linked, all you have to do is import the desired goals from Google Analytics into Ads.

It sounds like a lot, but it won’t take long. Besides, when you get the insights about your marketing investments, you will be glad you invested an hour or so setting up performance tracking.

 

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Google Ads Conversion Showdown

Google Ads Conversion Showdown

Bird's Eye Views

A newsletter dedicated to getting your business found on Google

When it comes to tracking Google Ads conversions from your website there are two options:

  1. Website: Insert code on a conversion page on your website, or
  2. Import: Set and import your goal from Google Analytics.

Let’s take a close look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Insert Code on Website Conversion Page

Google most likely names this conversion tracking option ‘Website’ because it requires you to post code on one of your website pages.

Copy and Paste Your Website Code

This conversion tracking methods requires you to place Google Ads code on your website conversion page. The ‘conversion page’ is the page where your conversion action is confirmed. On an e-commerce website for example, the conversion page would be the order confirmation page; on a lead generation website, the conversion page would be the thank you page.

This option of website tracking is very simple if you know and understand HTML. Without that HTML knowledge, this tracking method has several trap doors:

  • Code does not work because it’s in the wrong place on the page
  • The code is placed on too pages, so conversions are irrelevant
  • Limited to only tracking Google Ads conversions – no social media, SEO, or other conversion sources.

Only tracks Google Ads

This is a nice choice if you are generating website traffic solely from Google Ads. But let’s face it, you have more traffic sources than Google Ads: SEO, email, social media, etc. Tracking information from these traffic sources comes from Google Analytics. That means your Google Ads tracking is an island, not tracked in Google Analytics.  

When to use Website Conversion Tracking

In my opinion… never.

This conversion tracking is restricted only to Google Ads, making it difficult to compare with other website traffic sources like social media, SEO, email blasts, etc. Furthermore, unless a knowledgeable technical person is loading the code, there’s a risk of it being improperly implemented, which results in meaningless conversion information.

While this Conversion Tracking option looks easy, there is a minefield of possible mistakes if you do not know HTML and exactly where the code should be placed on the specific page.

Table 1 Summary Google Ads Website Conversion Tracking

Pros

Cons

Looks easy

Tracks only Google Ads

 

Need to know HTML so code inserted properly

 

Code must be inserted in correct place on page

 

Doesn’t track other conversions made on your website (ex: email clicks, phone number clicks)

Import Goal from Google Analytics

Google Analytics is free website tracking software that tells you about your website audience—the pages they visit, the buttons they clicked and a lot more. Most significantly, Google Analytics will tell you if people did what you wanted them to do on your website—made a purchase, became a sales lead, signed up for your newsletter, etc. 

Anything you want people to do on your website is called a goal in Google Analytics. So, whatever you want people to do should be set up as a goal.

The biggest advantage of using ‘Import goal from Google Analytics’ is you can compare Google Ads’ performance to your other traffic sources: SEO, direct, email, social media, etc. Just look at the screenshot below taken directly from Google Analytics. You can see the number of sessions and the number of times website users became sales leads by requesting contact with the company.

This is an instant website traffic source comparison, valuable to any business.

Even better, notice the drop-down arrows on ‘Sessions’ and ‘Request contact Goal 3 Completions’. Those dropdown arrows enable comparison by any metric!

The ability to compare traffic sources against each other is invaluable. So is the ability to compare many different metrics. This is the kind of data that provides significant insights into marketing campaigns.

The biggest challenge of ‘Importing’ conversions to Google Ads is that you need to set up ‘Goals’ in Google Analytics, but that only takes a few minutes and generally is a non-technical procedure.

Table 2 Summary Google Ads ‘Import’ Conversion Tracking

Pros

Cons

Tracks all traffic sources (social media, SEO, email, etc.) in a single place

Must setup goals in Google Analytics (which you should do anyway)

Google Ads easily imports goals from Analytics

 

Do not have to know HTML

 

Enables multiple conversions to be grouped together (‘contact’ via form completion, phone or email can be grouped together)

 

When to use the ‘Import Goals from Google Analytics’ for Google Ads Conversions

In my opinion… always.

Hopefully the reasons for importing goals from Google Analytics makes this your choice for conversion tracking. It will make your life a lot easier! Setting it up can be done in three easy steps:

  1. Set your goals in Google Analytics.
  2. Link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts.
  3. Import your goal(s) to Google Ads.

This is a much more comprehensive way to track your Google Ads conversions. You will be glad you did it!


 

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Marketing Tracking Rescues a Bad Website

Marketing Tracking Rescues a Bad Website

Bird's Eye Views

A newsletter dedicated to getting your business found on Google

This customer had received some State funding for digital marketing, and they were anxious to strut their stuff on Google AdWords. But before they started spending their advertising grant money, I recommended multiple changes to their site. Their response was, “that’s what the other two guys (my competitors) said too.”
 
The business owner claimed the website was “good enough” and just wanted to get started before the State withdrew the grant money (which had no chance of expiring for six months).

The budget was $2,000 per month, so away we went with advertising on Google AdWords.

After the first month, there were no leads, and the dashboard showed these indicators:

Key Indicators from the Dashboard

  • 83% bounce rate (ideal bounce rate is between 40% and 60%)
  • 2 pages/session (ideal is 2–5 pages/session)
  • 48 seconds/session (ideal is 120–240 seconds/session, or 2–4 minutes)
  • 0 sales leads

I recommended we stop advertising and fix the site.  The “The site’s good enough” argument persisted.

Each week after the first month, the data was showing no indication of improvement. After four more weeks (2 full months and $4,000 spent) the owner agreed to stop.

We spent the next month rewriting many pages and restructuring some of the top navigation items. When we resumed the advertising after that month, the dashboard indicators changed dramatically:

  • 53% bounce rate (eventually the bounce rate came under 48%)
  • 7 pages/session
  • 189 seconds/session (3:15 minutes)

Lesson

Getting traffic to your website is one thing, but your website has to be able to generate sales leads (or direct sales for ecommerce sites). If it’s not able to do that, fix the site before advertising.

This post is part of the Dashboard Discoveries Series where customers learn from the Bird’s Eye Marketing’s AdWords and Website reporting dashboard.

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Segmented Google Analytics Audiences: Your Pandora’s Box to Remarketing

Segmented Google Analytics Audiences: Your Pandora’s Box to Remarketing

Bird's Eye Views

A newsletter dedicated to getting your business found on Google

What are your customers doing on your website the first time they visit? Are they looking at specific pages? Putting items into a cart, but not following through with the purchase? Maybe they’re reading your Contact page, but not getting in touch.

That’s ok. Most website visitors don’t become customers right out of the ‘Pandora’s Box,’ so to speak. To convert their interest into a sale, they will need to return to your site.

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Keyword Strategies for Attracting Buyers at Different Buying Stages

Keyword Strategies for Attracting Buyers at Different Buying Stages

Bird's Eye Views

A newsletter dedicated to getting your business found on Google

With all the options and information available online nowadays, few people purchase a product or service immediately after finding it. Instead, they will go through several Buying Stages: Information Search, Evaluation of Alternatives, and Ready to Buy.

Each of these buying stages results in a different ‘Moment of Search,’ which is the moment when someone Googles their problem.

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