8 Steps to Setting Up Ad Conversion Tracking the Right Way

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The following excerpt is from Perry Marshall, Mike Rhodes and Bryan Todd’s book Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound

Do you run a lead-generation site where a visitor can fill in a form and get a free brochure? We’ll walk you through how to set up your Google account to track it.

1. Create a new conversion and name it.

First, tell Google what kind of conversion you want tracked. Click the three dots at the very top of your AdWords page and select “Conversions.” On the resulting page, click the big blue “+ Conversion” button.

Next, click the “Website” option since you’re tracking something that happens on your site.

Google will ask you to name your conversion. Choose a name that tells you what the conversion is (e.g., “Opt in for brochure”) and select “Webpage.”

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2. Set your conversion category.

You’ll be asked to choose one of the following categories for your conversion type:

  • Purchase sale
  • Sign up
  • Lead
  • View of a key page
  • Other

In this example, “Sign up” and “Lead” are probably both applicable, but “Lead” is a little more relevant.

3. Set a conversion value.

If you’re not running an e-commerce site, you may be tempted to skip this one, but please don’t. Setting a conversion value right from the beginning is going to make your data far more valuable in the long run.

Think of the conversion value as a point system that rates the relative value of the different types of conversions that exist within your business. For example, you can assign 50 points to a conversion that involves a visitor completing your quiz but 100 points if they complete a “please call me” lead-capture form. If your site is very basic and only offers one conversion action, then you can simply set the conversion value as 1.

4. Set a conversion count.

There are two options: You can choose “every” or “one.”

“Every” measures every single sale or lead. If you were to pick “one,” then if visitors did the same thing multiple times, it would only be counted as just one conversion per visitor even if they “convert” multiple times.

E-commerce site owners will want to keep track of every specific product purchased and would select “All Conversions — Every.” On the other hand, information marketers who provide PDFs for download may be more interested in simply knowing the total number of individuals who download one or more items. They would choose “Unique Conversions — One.” If you’re not sure, go with “All Conversions — Every.” You still get data for both types.

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5. Set your conversion window.

This indicates how many days or weeks you want Google to keep tracking the user after they click the first time. The default is 30 days, which is more than adequate for this exercise. If a person clicked on your ad but didn’t opt in for your brochure in 30 days’ time, they’re probably not worth following. Unless you have a very good reason for needing a different conversion window, leave this on the default setting.

6. Decide what to include in conversions.

You now get to choose whether a particular conversion type you’re setting up should be included in the total conversions count. For example, if yours is an e-commerce store, you might want to have two conversion actions. One would be every time somebody adds a product to their shopping cart and another one would be for when they buy. When in doubt, stick with the default setting (which is Yes to include).

7. Choose your attribution type.

A visitor may have clicked through to your site multiple times and from multiple places. This setting is where you tell Google which one of those clicks gets credit for the sale. Google defaults to the setting called “last click attribution.” We recommend you stick with it. There are special cases where the other options are useful, but there’s no reason to change to any of them unless you really want to.

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8. Install code.

You’re ready to ensure that your site ends up with the necessary code to allow Google to track your conversions. You’ve got two options: 

  1. Install it manually, in which case Google will give you a snippet of code to place on your key pages
  2. Enter the email address of your web developer and Google will send the code there along with instructions. 

If you’re not comfortable handling this part of the process and you don’t have a web developer, find a freelancer to handle this for you.

Important: The most reliable way to keep conversion tracking running smoothly is to ensure that your conversion action always results in your visitor being directed to a separate page that has a unique, static web address. In our current example, once your visitor completes the lead-capture form, you want them to be redirected to a unique thank-you page that has an ordinary static URL. If you create multiple landing pages, each with a lead-capture form, you can have one thank-you page for all of them, or you can have a different thank-you page to go with each one.

Either way, simpler is better. This is the only way to ensure that your conversion tracking doesn’t break further down the line and that you don’t end up making decisions based on bad data.

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