Google Ads Conversion Tracking – How to Measure Success

Perhaps you’ve been having issues with conversion tracking, or you simply want to get to grips with it to enhance your online results. A conversion is an action that a user takes on your website. For example, signing up to a trial, buying a product, submitting their email address, and so on. 

Conversion tracking is a tracking tool within Google Ads that shows you what happens after a customer interacts with your ads – whether they purchased a product, signed up for your newsletter, called your business or downloaded your app. When a customer completes an action that you’ve defined your business goal, this is a conversion. Conversion tracking is the process of tracking these actions. It sounds simple enough, but getting it right is a must. All of these things are conversions. So, when conversion tracking, these are the kinds of things you’re looking at. However, they aren’t the only things you may look at. They are big ticket, or ‘macro’ conversions. There are also micro conversions that people can take, such as clicking on a shop now button, watching a video, and so on. Let’s take a look at some conversion tracking tips that could really help you. 

Why use conversion tracking

  • See which keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns are best to spend your budget.
  • Determine your return on investment (ROI) and make decisions based on your prospect and customer data.
  • Use Smart Bidding strategies (such as target CPA, enhanced CPC and target ROAS) that automatically optimise your campaigns according to your business conversion goals.
  • See what % of customers are converting across devices and browsers. 
  • Conversion tracking lets you measure the performance of campaigns, keywords, adverts, audiences and more! In the picture above, the performance stats include the number of conversions for the account as well as the number for each campaign. Conversion rate and cost per conversion are other useful metrics for understanding performance and optimisation. 

Where to Find Conversion Tracking

Conversions is located under measurement under the tools area. This opens up a list of the current conversions that have been setup. 

To create a new conversion tag, just click on the blue plus button. This will prompt you to select a type of conversion, which will thereafter provide  a wizard to take you through the steps. The list below is all of the conversions that have already been set up. The list shows the conversion action, source, category, tracking status and more. 

Conversion Settings

When opening up the conversions, the first area you see is a list of the current conversions. These could be setup within Google Ads or imported into Google Ads

Click on one of the exiting conversions tags that have already been setup to view the settings, and to edit the conversion tag settings.

Types of Conversions

The types of conversions include Website Conversions, App Conversions, Phone Conversions as well as options to import conversions from other data sources like CRM systems.

Website Conversions

Start by selecting the type of conversion. Then choose a category of conversion. Give the conversion a name and enter a value. For lead generation websites it is often best to enter 1 as the value to be used for each conversion. For e-commerce websites, select the option of a dynamic value. This dynamic value will be the value of the product, subscription, booking or any other variable that records the actual sales revenue. 

Website Conversions Google Ads

Select the count of conversions. For e-commerce it is usually every conversion, and for lead generation websites it is usually one. 

Conversion Window Settings
Conversion Window Adwords

The conversion window is the limit in time that you consider a conversion to have occurred after clicking on the advert. We usually recommend selecting the maximum time of 90 days

Attribution Model Conversion Tracking Google

The attribution model is the interaction of campaigns, and which one you want to give the credit, or most credit to! This is covered in more detail below 

App Conversions

Conversions that happen on mobile apps can be recorded using this type of conversion. This includes both Android and Apple Apps.

Phone Call Conversions

There are 3 types of phone call conversions. The first is from phone calls made by directly clicking on a phone number within a Google advert. The second is dedicated call tracking, which assigns a unique telephone number forwarding. 

Import Conversions

Import conversions can be a mix of online and offline conversions recorded in other systems to Google Ads. 

Video Overview of how to Setup Tracking

Import Google Sheet Conversions

Many people are not aware of the ability to upload conversions from a Google sheet. Doing this is useful for tracking conversions that happen offline, or important conversions that you track using a different system. For example, a phone call conversion after somebody saw an advert. By keeping track of these conversions you will understand much better what role these things play in the buying process. For instance, seeing this ad may not have led to an online purchase, but it may very well have lead to the phone call. 

Instead of doing these manually, you can now schedule and automate these imports to save time and reduce errors.  All you need to do is go to the Tools tab and selecting Conversions > Uploads. Then, select the “Source” of your import, and in the case of Google Sheets, you’ll select Upload a File. Once you’ve selected the file to upload, check the box next to Schedule Upload and set your frequency to daily or weekly. Once you have completed this all offline conversions will upload automatically.

 

Prevent Data Duplication

Using Adwords, it is possible to record one conversion twice. A conversion should only be recorded when someone has taken the desired action on your site, which is why conversion tags are often put on confirmation pages. However, if a user completes the action and then reloads the page, the conversion can potentially be counted twice. You can stop this by using an order ID, which will prevent scenarios like the one above from throwing off your conversion tracking. To add in the ID, you’ll need to add a piece of code to your tracking ID.

Installing Conversion Tracking

You can install the Google Ads code on your website, or use Google Tag Manager to “soft code” the installation. Our preferred method is using Google Tag Manager, then deploying all other tags within Google Tag Manager itself

Conversion Tracking Installation

Installing the Google Ads code on your site

If you choose this option, you need to use a base global tag that goes on all pages. Then seperate event tracking code needs to be installed for each specific conversion. 

Install Tag Conversion Tracking yourself

The event snippet code can be either page load or click. Page load is better for destination page view conversions such as a dedicated thank you page after redirecting from a thank you page. The click event uses html event tracking when a conversion element is clicked on such as quote, or contact us button. 

Conversion tracking Google Ads2 Installion yourself

Our preferred option is to use Google Tag Manager. The conversion ID is the same for all conversions, and only the label is unique for each conversion. The conversion linker in Google Tag Manager helps capture all conversions- such as when an Apple browser is used. Google Tag Manager is also better for event based conversions because it has facilities for auto event tracking listeners and triggers. 

Using Google Tag Manager for installation.

Tag Manager Google Conversion Tracking installation

Attribution & Conversion Paths

You don’t want to simply focus on the very last touchpoint in the customer journey, without taking the time to learn how they made it there in the first place. A customer does not just get to your website, perform the desired action and leave. They usually look around first, look at the products that you have on offer, play a video, and more. This is why understanding both macro and micro conversions is key to understanding the entire process. 

For this, you’re going to use your Top Conversions Path report. You can find this in your Google Analytics, in the left-hand sidebar under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths. This will show you each conversion path, including things like organic search, paid search, direct, and more. Then you will see the number of conversions that came from that path. 

By analyzing this date you’ll be able to set better attribution models in analytics, and this will help you to track customers as early as possible in the buying process.

Choose the Right Attribution

We briefly covered attribution models when setting up the tag at the start of this article. Now we learn how to use attribution in measurement and optimisation. Phrases like “first click attribution” and “last click attribution” are common but few people know what they mean. They are the process of determining how various sales and conversions is assigned to various touch points throughout the marketing cycle. In a Last Click attribution model, the final touch point may be clicking on the final confirm order button, and this will receive the credit for the conversion. 

 

The model you choose will be the one that best fits your business model. A First Click attribution model will suit businesses that are more interested in brand awareness and finding out which channels are driving the most customer acquisitions, while Last Click attribution will suit a business whose main interest is measuring the final decision making actions. Many businesses do fall somewhere between both of those, however. For this, a “Placement-Based” attribution model is recommended. This will give you a way to split the value of the touchpoints along the customer journey. A larger portion of the credit might go to the first and last touch points, while the remaining credit may be distributed to any middle touch points that were utilized.

Google Analytics

Create Audience Segments For Reporting & Ad Targeting

Google analytics can help you to better understand your audience, learn about their interests, browsing behaviour, and so much more. Do this by going to: Start by going to Audience > Interests > Overview. You can then start with a broad demographic overview, and then look at gender, age group, interests, and so on. 

Based on what you find here, you can use segments to better target your campaigns. Once you have formed a segment you can use it to create to an audience, which is especially useful in your retargeting efforts. That audience can be uploaded to AdWords for better ad targeting and remarketing campaigns once you are complete.

Google Ads Conversions vs Google Analytics Conversions

The source of the conversion is highlighted, in this case Google Analytics.  Google have 2 types of tracking, Google Ads conversions and Google Analytics Goals. It is possible to use either, or a combination of both. Event tracking for example is done with Google Analytics. 

Exclude Referrals From Your Own Domain

Sometimes, if you set up URL redirects on your website, you might see your reports incorrectly attributing traffic coming from “referrals”. This can happen when you use a third party tool that will take the visitor away from your site for a short time. 

If a user has to register for an event on a third party site and then is taken back to your site for the thank you page, it would be tracked as a referral from the third party site even though all of this started on your own website. This means you must exclude your domain from being counted as a referral to prevent inaccuracies. 

To set up referral exclusions, go to Admin Settings > Property: Tracking info > Referral Exclusion List.

Conclusion

Conversion tracking is the heart beat of digital marketing, taking the guesswork out of marketing. Conversion tracking provides performance reporting creating the opportunity for optimisation to improve ROI. You can setup conversion tracking inside Google Ads or import from Google Analytics or other third party systems to cover both online and offline tracking. 

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