Nick Rennard
By Nick Rennard | Analytics, SEM, Video | May 4, 2017

Conversion Tracking

Hello fellow advertisers! Today I will be giving an in-depth overview of conversion tracking for both Google AdWords and Google Analytics. I’ll be giving you my recommendations on certain settings that we recommend, tips/tricks on how to better-analyze your data, and also how to import and view your conversions from platform-to-platform. Enjoy!


Conversion Tracking: Full Transcript

Hello, everybody and welcome to another episode of My Video Blog Series. I am your host, Nick Bernard. I’m the head of Search Engine Marketing here at Digital Reach Agency, and today, we are going to be talking about all things revolving around conversion tracking and I’m going to be talking about Google Analytics and Google AdWords, conversion tracking and other platforms like Bing and LinkedIn, whatever else you’re using. A lot of the processes are going to be similar but I’m not going to be covering anything outside of AdWords and Analytics. Typically though, we use Analytics to track all of our conversions across Bing, LinkedIn, AdWords, every single platform that we use, Twitter, et cetera. We do everything through Analytics so if we know how to do it through Analytics, you can, as long as you UTM your ads correctly on other platforms, so that way, Analytics knows that the traffic is coming from LinkedIn, it’s very easy for you to set up conversion tracking to view everything through Analytics.

It’s also much easier to just have one platform to view all of your conversions rather than having to log into LinkedIn, log into Bing, log into Google, you know, instead of having to log into everything individually to see your conversions there, you can see all in one nice platform. The first thing I want to talk about is you can actually set up conversion tracking through Google Analytics and you can also set it up through AdWords. When you set it up through AdWords, it’s going to be specific to the AdWords platform, so if I set up conversion tracking for like a whitepaper download, through AdWords, I’ll only be able to see those conversions for that whitepaper within the AdWords platform, whereas if I set it up on Analytics, then I’ll be able to see that goal firing for Bing users, for AdWords users. It’s more advantageous to set it up through Analytics so you can see it cross platform but if all you’re using is AdWords and you don’t want to bother with Analytics, we’ll cover a bit about AdWords today since most people, if you run your ads on one platform, it probably will be AdWords so that’s usually kind of our main focus in digital marketing, specifically PPC.

Depending on whether you’re talking about AdWords or Analytics, either way, the setup is going to be pretty much the same. For AdWords, it’s going to be, there’s a little conversion tracking code that you, it’s a little snippet of code that you put on the landing page of where you want your conversions to be tracked and Analytics is similar in the sense that you don’t, it’s not like a custom code but it’s still, you just have to put the Analytics code on all your pages or your site. The good thing about doing it through Analytics is there’s no like secondary code that you have to add in order to set up conversion tracking for Analytics, but AdWords has its own separate code, so if you’re using both AdWords and Analytics already, it’s going to be in your best interest to just do it through Analytics, not only for the cross platform reason I mentioned earlier, but also you only have to bother with one piece of code because as long as your Analytics code is on the site, then you could set up conversion tracking. You don’t need to worry about the AdWords code.

For how to set it up, I’m not going to go into the detail on the buttons you need to click and the levers you need to pull in AdWords and Analytics. I highly, highly recommend, if you haven’t gotten to that point yet, that you just Google how to set up conversion tracking on Google AdWords. These guides that they have up here on my screen right now are very straightforward. They have a great support team so they’ll be able to help you set up anything, any preliminary basic stuff like that. I hope you’re trying to get your account going here. Analytics, also kind of a, it’s pretty straightforward. Just Google how to do it. I don’t want to spend 20 minutes showing you guys that here. I want to go more into kind of the how tos and more like in-depth analysis stuff.

What I do want to talk about is the difference between how AdWords and Analytics will attribute the conversions that you get. Actually, there’s quite a few different models for attribution that they use on the platform but the default model of attribution that they use on Google Analytics is called last click attribution. What does that mean? Last click attribution means that it doesn’t register a conversion unless the last thing that somebody clicks was the source that you’re trying to track. If somebody, for example, let’s say you’re selling Nike shoes and someone Googles Nike shoes, they see your paid ad, they click on it. They browse around your site for 20 minutes, whatever, 5 minutes, 30 seconds, it doesn’t matter, and then they back out and they walk away for a week, and then let’s say they come back and they Google your name again but let’s say this time they click on an organic ad and not your paid ad. Even if your paid ad comes up, let’s just pretend that they click on the organic ad or even if they came back to your website directly like they had bookmarked it the first time and then came back directly.

Then let’s say after they found you organically or directly, that’s when they decided to buy something from your website. That conversion, in a last click model, is not going to give any credit to the paid ad that they had originally found you through, because it wasn’t the last thing that they clicked on before they ended up converting. The last thing that they clicked on before they ended up converting was the organic or the direct, directly going to the website so it’s going to give credit to that. Last click attribution is a little misleading because the problem with tracking conversions for paid ads is a lot of times, people first find out about you through a paid ad, and if that’s the case, we want to be giving credit where credit is due, like if somebody finds, if somebody decides to purchase through you and they originally found you through a paid ad, we want to give credit to our paid ads for being up there and kind of getting our name out there and having our ad at the top of the search query results because it does lead to conversions.

The other type of attribution that’s used, so the last click attribution is used for Analytics. If you set up conversion tracking through AdWords, it’s going to use first click attribution. First click attribution is just the opposite of last click. It just means that in the case that I mentioned where they found you through the paid ad first, it would give credit to the paid ad because that was the first thing that they found you through and it would give zero credit to anyone else after the first, after the original click. I wouldn’t say that one of them is necessarily better or worse, and you can honestly, you can even go into the settings and change it however you want. Those are just the defaults, Analytics defaults to last click. AdWords defaults to first click. You can track it really however you want and we’re going to go over how to change that setting to change your attribution method that you’re using but we’ll get into that in a second here.

Overall, our recommendations, if you’re considering using AdWords and Analytics, we highly recommend you use Google Analytics. There’s a handful of reasons. First of all, the first one that I mentioned, there’s less codes. You don’t have to have an AdWords code and an Analytics code. You can just have your Analytics code on the page and you can do everything through Analytics. It’s a lot simpler when you just have one platform to work with.

The other, probably more important, actually much more important reason, Analytics is a lot more fleshed out in terms of customizations and different views you can play around with, whereas AdWords is, it’s a bit of a limited version of Analytics so if you’re doing your conversion tracking through AdWords and really all you care about is seeing your last click conversions for your campaigns, probably you can do it that way, but viewing a lot of the customer reports that you can do in Analytics, if you do want to go deeper than that, for example if you have an agency that you’re paying to do your ads for you, it would be in your best interest to have them do it through Analytics and be pulling reports from Analytics because we can use more segments. We can use more views. There’s more data to be reviewing and there’s really no point setting up conversion tracking if you’re not reviewing data. That’s the point of what we’re doing here, right, trying to analyze the success or lack of success of campaigns that we’re running through paid platforms like AdWords.

The last reason that I have here in terms of using Analytics and it kind of goes along with being able to see things from multiple views and you probably asked the question of like what is, maybe you did, why can I only track last click or first click. Why can’t I track both? In Analytics, you actually can see both. In AdWords, I don’t want to, actually you might be able to see both in AdWords, I don’t think you can see any in AdWords unless they had an update in the past six months that I don’t know about, but in terms of being able to see multiple funnels, I will say that Analytics, it’s extremely granular. I always tell people that if you’re asking the question of can Analytics do X? The answer is almost always yes. The problem is figuring out how to do that, and that just requires you to be kind of a ninja with Google Analytics, and that just requires time and practice working within that platform.

All right, so that’s kind of the difference between tracking goals in AdWords and Analytics. I’m going to go into Google Analytics here and talk a bit about actual goal setups. I’m not going to go as much into AdWords because again, we don’t recommend you use the AdWords. If you want to figure that out, feel free to look up AdWords, but today, I’m going to be talking mostly about Analytics. I have an Analytics account up here. If we log in to Analytics, and you click this little Admin button here at the button, it pops up with this screen and if we click goals over here in the top right, it’s going to pop up with the goals. You can see we already have four goals set up for this particular client for contact form submissions, demo forms, yeah, pretty straightforward.

If we want to set up a new goal in Analytics, we hit this plus new goal here. Let’s say we want to set up like phone tracking or someone submitting a form or whatever, maybe this is a brand new account, this is what the screen looks like here. It defaults to these templates. I’ve actually never used these templates before. We do all of our goals through custom goal setups. I’m sure the templates work fine but I’ll show you how to do it the custom way because the custom way allows you to track anything as long as you just know how to do it. I’m sure that the templates have some limitation so we’ve just really never used those. I do want to talk about smart goals and I’m going to talk about that in a second here. Go ahead and select custom instead of templates since that’s what we’re going to be using today, and there’s two main kinds of goals that I want to cover today so let’s, we’ll call our, we’re going to go ahead and name our goal here test goal, test contact form submission.

Go ahead and give your goal a name that you want to track it by. This goal slot ID doesn’t matter. It will just default to whatever. The type of goals is what I want to talk about here. The two main ones that we use are destination and event and I want to talk about the difference between these two. A destination goal is if someone submits a form and after they submit that form, it takes them to a page that’s like, and it takes them to a page. It’s like a specific/thankyou page or thanks for contacting us or it has some like unique URL that makes it, we call it the destination goal because it has this destination URL that’s unique to it. Sometimes, when you submit a form, let’s say this is the contact form webpage and I submit it, sometimes, that URL doesn’t change at all and it just stays the same or there’s a little popup on your screen that says, “Thanks for submitting.”, but then it goes away and this URL never changes. The term that we use for that is called self-referring. We call that as self-referring URL, that the URL didn’t go to a separate page. It just went back to the original page even after you click the form submission.


Those are the two different kinds. One has a URL and one doesn’t have a URL so one has the thank you and one doesn’t. We’re going to use the destination goal when there is an actual secondary destination that it goes to, like this thank you page, and if it’s the case where it’s a self referring goal and it goes back to the same thing here, I didn’t realize it’s four Ws, if it’s self referring, then we’re going to use an event goal.

Let’s go back to Analytics here. I’ll go ahead and do a destination goal for you here. If we select destination, hit continue, this little dropdown box, you can set it to equals to or begins with. You can look at this as kind of phrase match, exact match. Equals to is exact match, so if the exact URL is like /thankyou and you only want to track that page, then you would set it to equals to but if your URL when you submit it has like a bunch of, make a bunch of just jargon after all this, sometimes these URLs have unique customer identifiers. I don’t even know if that’s the right term but it will just be a bunch of crap that’s after the thank you URL. You want to use begins with here because it will only track the initial phrase of thank you so it doesn’t matter what happens after the thank you as long as someone’s hitting a page where the starting URL after the name domain, so like the test site example /thankyou, then it’s going to track a conversion every single time someone hits the page with that little snippet in there.

That’s kind of the difference there. For the value here, you see this old value, you can assign conversion values. I actually highly recommend that you really think about this. Most of our clients never really like put enough thought into it to know how much a phone call is worth or how much form submission is worth to them but the truth is is that if you have a goal, let’s say one goal is like a free trial. If someone trials with you, that’s a big deal, especially if you’re like a major software company. That could be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars if they have a contract for years with you, that’s a lot of revenue, whereas something like a live chat form submission, it would be worth a lot less because it could be somebody being like, “Hey, can you help me troubleshoot this customer support thing? It’s not an actual lead, it’s just somebody going through the live chat thing. There’s going to be a, you can see the range there of someone just asking a question versus tens of thousands of potential revenue. The way that we figured that out is you have to do some kind of estimations in your head. You can do it proportionally, where it’s like I know that like trial is worth like 10 times as much as a phone call so we’re going to weight it 10 to 1.

You can do that. You can also just think about like if let’s say you know that the conversion rate of your phone sales team is like roughly 10% and you know the average order value is around let’s say like $500, you can just do the math of doing that every 10 conversions you get would be worth 10% of $500 and say that a phone call’s worth $50 in that case. Anyways, you don’t have to do conversion values but I do recommend it. If I had a company, I would definitely be tracking conversion values, but yeah, we’ll move on from that.

The other type of goal that I’m going to go over is event tracking here. Event tracking requires you to actually manipulate the code of the button on your thank you page. I’m not going to go over how to do that today because I’m not a web developer but you can also Google how to set up event tracking as well and figure that out. Basically, you change the code on the button so every time someone clicks this submit button on your form, it will fire what we call these category action labels and values into Analytics and we can track whenever these category action labels fire into Analytics and every single time that that does come into Analytics, it will register as a conversion. It essentially does the same thing where every single time someone’s clicking that button, it’s registering the goal but one of them is based on the URL itself and the other one is based on the actual button click.

There isn’t one that’s necessarily better than the other. If you want to set it up through destination tracking, fine. If you want to do it through event tracking, fine. Keep in mind that if your destination URL ever changes at any point, that your destination goals are going to break, so event tracking is slightly safer because sometimes, URLs do change but yeah, anyways, that’s just a little information on it.

The last thing I want to go over is these other goals that you see in here because we went over destination and event. We’ll talk about smart goals. Smart goals suck. Don’t use these. They’re terrible. What they do is they track user engagement so they track things like bounce rate and time on site and just things that are not metrics that we would ever use as a KPI. We’re concerned with revenue. We want to know how much money are my ads making me. We don’t want to know, “Oh well this ad has an 85% bounce rate and the other one has an 80% bounce rate.” It doesn’t matter because bounce rate isn’t what we use. If you had a campaign with ROI of that campaign, so for every $1 you invest into it, you get X amount of dollars out. Let’s say the ROI of that campaign is 10 to 1 but the bounce rate is 90% so 90% of the time people hit that page, they just click back immediately but the ROI is 10 to 1.

If you have a second campaign where the ROI is 2 to 1 but the bounce rate is 45%, so only 45% of users are clicking back immediately, a smart goal would immediately favor that first ad that had an ROI of 2 to 1 because the bounce rate was so drastically better, but that’s exactly why we don’t use bounce rate as a KPI metric. Sure, sometimes we take it into account when we’re analyzing user engagement but user engagement has nothing to do with the actual revenue that you’re getting for your company. Keep in mind that you need to prioritize the variables that you’re reviewing if you want to be a good data analyst so if you’re prioritizing something like a smart goal or something like a bounce rate over something like a destination goal or an event that’s actual like form submissions, it’s actually people that could be potential revenue down the line, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Smart goals, they’re cute. I think that the concept of them when Google first released them that they’re kind of on the right track in terms of trying to get some form of conversion tracking up for people that don’t necessarily have a large density of conversions.

I think it’s fine for that, but overall, if you’re watching this video and you don’t have any conversion tracking setup, focus on getting your destination event goal set up before you start worrying about smart goals. Smart goals are not the high priority.

Duration, these other two goals, duration, these ones have been around forever. They’re kind of legacy goals. I’m guessing these will eventually be removed. Duration, so you can track people spending like five or more minutes on the site. You can see the example here, or pages per screen. You can track people who like visit a lot of pages. They’re essentially the same thing as smart goals. You should just ignore them, yeah anyways that’s a little bit of insight into how to set up goals for Google Analytics.

Next thing I’m going to talk about here is AdWords. I have an AdWords account pulled up here. Let’s see, so when you set up the goals in Google Analytics, it’s good to note that you can actually only view those in Analytics so let’s say we just set up a bunch of events in Analytics to track our whitepaper downloads or free trial submissions, phone calls let’s say and something else, and we can only view those in Analytics but we also want to see those in AdWords because we want to be able to see these conversions popping up under this little conversions column here. If we just set it up in Analytics, we won’t be able to see in AdWords immediately but I’ll show you how to import those from Analytics to AdWords. If you log in to your AdWords and you get to your home screen here, and you click this little tools button up here in the dropdown box, and any conversions, it will take you to this page. Honestly, if you’re doing anything conversion related, you’ll have to go tools conversion so it’s like a good little spot to know about.

It’s going to default to send you to this conversion actions page where you can see all of your conversions listed out here. You can see we have our contact form, our ebook, our webinars, I get a consultation. These are all the things that we’re tracking for our company. If you click Google Analytics here, it says we’re already importing seven goals but if we had just set up those seven goals in Analytics and we hadn’t imported them yet, they would pop up right here on this Google Analytics screen and there’ll be a little checkbox for you to check them in a button that says import. Once you set up your goals, make sure you come here, click the Google Analytics tab, select the goals you want to view in AdWords, tick the little boxes and click import and it will immediately start every single time one of those conversions fires in Google Analytics, it will also fire in AdWords so you’ll see that conversion on both platforms.

All right, we talked a little bit about conversion value. I’m going to go back here. If we click on any one of these given conversions, so let’s say this ebook for example. If we click on that, it gives us some more options here of like the customizations we want to do with these goals, so you can see here like attribution model, which we’ll talk about in a sec, conversion window. I’ll go ahead and edit settings here and I’ll go down from the top. Name doesn’t matter. Conversion value, you can assign a conversion value in either Analytics or AdWords. If you assign it in Analytics and then you import it over to AdWords, it will just pull whatever you set up in Analytics so again, another advantage of just setting everything up in Analytics is everything just gets imported to AdWords and you don’t need to do it twice.

You can assign a value to here. If you have an idea of how much, how many dollars a certain conversion is worth, like if a phone call’s worth $50 and a trial is worth $500, definitely enter those even if they’re rough estimates and months later, you realize that phone calls are worth way more than you had assigned. You can just change it later. It’s not a big deal but it’s good to get these values in here. Account here, I’m actually never messing around with accounts, so we’re not going to worry about that. Usually, if I don’t know about it, it’s because it’s usually not that important. Conversion window, this is actually kind of important. The default is 30 days and that’s fine, I believe if 30 days, I’d say that like 95% of our clients do 30-day windows but if you have a reason where you’d want to track a lead, like let’s say you have insanely long sales cycle or depending on the amount of time that your sales team takes to follow up with people, I don’t know. There could be any number of reasons that you’d want to set this window for longer. Who knows? Maybe you wanted to see more conversions in your account.

You could set this to 90 days so that way, it tracks conversions 90 days out but the default 30 days is fine. Category, this doesn’t really matter because usually I just label it with what it is, so don’t leave it, but if you want to assign it to a category, I guess that’s fine. The last thing I want to talk about here is attribution model. We talked about this a little bit. Analytics uses last click and AdWords uses first click. You can see those two here. It gives all credit to the conversion for the last click then, same thing for the first click. There’s these other ones called linear time decay and position based. These are actually kind of cool.

The one that I see that gets used the most is this position based one, where if you’re either the first or the last, then you get 40% of the credit, and if you’re anywhere in between, then it gives you 20%, split evenly amongst all the different, what’s the word, not platforms but mediums or sources that I came from, so if they visited you on Bing and then through Google and then directly, it would split that 20% between all of those so you’ll actually see, if you use position based or even time decay, it’s actually going to give you decimal places of conversions so you’ll see like 3.48 conversions or something like that, and that just means that it’s giving you partial credit for particular conversions because that’s exactly what it does.

Yeah, if you want to change your attribution model, I think you should just leave it as last click. I think last click is fine as long as you know how to use Analytics, which I’m going to go in here a little bit about how to look at your assisted conversions, but yeah, last clicks, last click’s fine, so we’ll go ahead and cancel out of this, so that’s a little bit about how to import your goals and some of the settings that you can adjust here.

The last thing I want to do is I want to go over how to view your conversions in both AdWords and Analytics, so we’ll start with AdWords since we’re already here. It’s pretty easy, just viewing your conversions here is great and all, like I can, actually let me set the date range longer. I might need another account because I don’t know how much data we actually have on, we don’t do a ton of paid advertising cost, okay so you can see a couple of pause campaigns. Maybe this isn’t the greatest example but that’s fine. You can see the conversions column is obviously where we see conversions and then we can see like cost per conversion, so this campaign has a cost per conversion of $59. This one has $115. That’s great and all but what I mentioned before about how different conversions are going to have different values, that’s why we like the conversion value divided by cost column. You can see that we haven’t actually assigned conversion values in our account because we’re bad and we shouldn’t have done that but if we had assigned conversion values, we would see like an ROI number here essentially that would say 3.5 or something that would essentially tell you that for every $1 you invest in this campaign, you get $3.5 of revenue out.

If you don’t have conversion values set up, then it’s just going to show up as zero and you won’t be able to use this metric at all. The other thing that let’s say, you have a bunch of different goals, let’s say you have five different goals and you know that your chat form submission is worth way less than your free trial goals but you haven’t set up conversion values yet because you’re not, you’re really not sure what the values are. There’s a little box here called segment and if you go to segment and then conversions and select the conversion name, it will actually break out the conversions for you so you can see, of these 40 conversions that this campaign had, one of them was an ebook download, 19 of them were webinar registrations and 20 of them were for this AdWords conversion.

This allows you to see a more granular breakdown of exactly what conversions this 40 is composed of. Yeah, that’s usually how I view my conversions. Again, you can see conversions, conversion value divided by cost. I highly recommend you assign those conversion values. If you can’t or don’t and you have some reason or you just haven’t hit this segment box conversion and conversion name, you’ll be able to see the breakup pretty easily here, which is nice to see.

Analytics is the last thing I’m going to go over here. Like I said, Analytics tracks things on a last click basis, so let’s go to our basic acquisition and we’ll go acquisition all traffic and source medium here. Let’s just see the source medium of all the traffic coming through to our site so we can see Google CPC, direct traffic, organic traffic from Google, et cetera or Bing organic traffic. In here, there’s a little segment, I’m sorry, a dropdown box for conversions here that you can view. All of the goals that you set up in Analytics are going to pop up here, so no matter what screen you’re on, if you’re on like the acquisition overview page for example, this well, I’m wrong about that. Oh wait, here it is. Yeah, it’s just in a different spot. You’ll be able to separate what goal you want to be looking at so if you just want to be looking at contact form submissions, you can view them individually, which is really nice. Then if you just want to be looking at them altogether, you can also just select all goals.

Again, this is only going to show for last click conversions so what about if we want to see the other conversions? Good question. If we want to see the other conversions, there’s a little conversion thing in the bottom left here. If you click that and you hit multichannel funnels, fancy term and then you hit assisted conversions, here you’re going to see the assisted conversions. Unfortunately, there’s not any in here. I’m going to open up another client’s account here that has more traffic to their site. Let’s go back to conversions, yeah these people get a lot more traffic. Back to conversions, multichannel funnels and assisted conversions, if you see that, they call them channel groupings down here. It groups it into different source mediums so here’s paid, here’s direct, organic, yeah everything, social, so let’s go ahead and click on paid since that’s what we’re going to be most focused on.

We can see the assisted conversions here, you see like on Saturday we got three, Sunday we got four, Monday we got 20, 16 on Tuesday, 24 on Wednesday. These are the conversions where they found you originally through either like a paid Google ad, a paid Bing ad, Facebook, et cetera, but they ended up converting through another platform or maybe the paid ad got some kind of attribution along the way  but it just wasn’t the last thing that got clicked on before converting.

You can see here that these people have conversion values assigned to their account. I think this is actually e-commerce so you can see that there’s like over 20, yeah $21,000 of revenue that’s not being credited at all through the last click attribution, so you can see why assisted conversions are insanely important because in this one week here, there’s $21,000 of revenue and if we weren’t looking at assisted revenue, we never would have known that our paid ads were helping us get $21,000 worth of revenue each week, which is I don’t know, I mean if I were a business owner, that would be very relevant to me.

A couple other things you can do in here. If you just want to look at AdWords, you can actually see a breakdown per campaign. Unfortunately, you can’t see a campaign breakdown view for anything but AdWords and that’s because AdWords and Analytics are both Google products so it’s a little better synced for AdWords than it is for other ones, but you can see here. These are the names of our campaigns here and you can see which campaigns generated the most revenue here, so this winning keywords campaign, so fittingly named for the one that’s winning, has $9,500. This is $4,500, $3,500, $3,500, $3,000 so you can see that, where that sister revenue is coming through.

That’s nice if you want to see more granular breakdown of your AdWords, assisted conversions. If you also, similar to how we’re able to look at one goal at a time, you can also just look at ecommerce or quote forms here and we’re going to also select, you can also select multiples at a time, so there’s a lot of customizations you can do with Analytics. Recall when I said earlier that if the question is can I do X in Google Analytics, the answer’s almost always yes, it’s just a matter of fiddling around with it and getting the right view that you want to be looking at.

Anyways, that’s a lot of information on conversion tracking. I hope that you found some of this useful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave in the section below. Otherwise, I hope you guys join me for my next video blog and thanks for watching.


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