4 Ways Conversion Tracking Can Prove You Are Producing ROI

White Shark Media

10 years ago



When I speak to my newer clients, they frequently express concerns about AdWords being “a scam” or “just a way for Google to steal our money”. Usually a comment like this is caused by their own trial-and-error experience with an AdWords management agency.

A lot of our clients at White Shark Media tell us that their previous AdWords managers came from an all-around marketing agency that ended up producing little to no results for them. Something that is even more disturbing is when we audit their previous AdWords accounts and there is no conversion tracking in place! I admit to having small heart attacks when I see this.

Total cost $10,000+. Total conversions = 0. WHAT? “Yeah, XY Agency didn’t do much. They brought me traffic, I guess.”

For $10,000+ dollars (not including their AdWords management fees), I would hope they brought you a Louis Vuitton skateboard and had the cast of Glee sing you “Don’t Stop Believing” as you drifted off to sleep!


That being said, if you don’t have conversion tracking set up in your AdWords campaigns, you’re doing it wrong. To sum up conversion tracking quickly, it is a tool that allows you to see what happened after potential customers clicked on an ad. This, in turn, allows you to make informed, data-driven conclusions about AdWords. According to Google, there are a few ways you can do this. In my experience, not all Google tracking capabilities are as useful as they are explained, and most would not apply to your business. For this reason, I will only explain the most relevant/useful tracking capabilities.

Tracking conversions on a website.

This is the most basic type of conversion tracking. All you need to do is access the Tools tab in AdWords, find “Conversions”, and create the new conversion. Be sure to select “Webpage” and name it appropriately. Once you created the conversion, Google will automatically create a small HTML/JavaScript snippet for you to paste into your website (usually on an “Order Confirmation” page after a transaction or “Thank You” page for submitting a contact form).

Be sure to place the code on the correct page. I’ve seen clients that were tracking the arrival to the page that contained the contact form. This is NOT a conversion. The code should be placed on the confirmation or Thank You page and nowhere else.

Tracking conversions on a mobile site with a phone number.

It is 2014. If your website is not yet mobile responsive, it’s time to take the plunge. Nowadays, many website developers automatically make your website be able to adjust its dimensions & buttons to whatever device you’re viewing it on. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Try resizing this window (if on a desktop/laptop computer): it will automatically adjust to whatever size you choose. And yes, all White Shark Media websites share this in common: they respond to size manipulation as well as have click to call buttons.

What does that have to do with AdWords? If your mobile website contains a click-to-call button, you may track how many times it was clicked after a user got to your website via an ad. This is extremely useful for high call volume businesses, such as taxi services, car/limo services, restaurants, etc.

Like the conversion tracking above, this involves a snippet that will be generated once you define a conversion in AdWords (“Clicks on a number on your mobile website”). Both code snippets must be inserted within the (<body></body>) tags of the website.

Track Calls from Ads

This is by far my favorite one: but I’m not a huge fan of how Google does it. In order to track calls from ads, you must first add a new call extension & select “A Google forwarding number and use call reporting”. You must also check the “Count calls as phone call conversions.” The new conversion is created automatically when you select “A Google forwarding phone number”. Google will then track what calls were originated from your ads and count them as a conversion.

ways-conversion-tracking-03Now, let me tell you about the way we do it: We define our own phone number: one that is given to me by our call provider, Ifbyphone. The benefit of Ifbyphone is that I can still track phone calls down to the keyword level and make informed decisions using that data.

That’s nice, Sam, but how does that differ from Google’s way of doing it?

Ifbyphone’s main value proposition is that you can record phone calls. This provides an extra layer of support: you can identify what areas of opportunity your sales staff or receptionist has and give them feedback about it (perhaps they’re not being convincing enough or not being as friendly as they could be). You can finally answer the question: what is happening with our leads? Are sales being closed?

Track Downloads of iOS/Android Apps

Smartphones are ubiquitous these days. As a business owner, you need to be on the cutting edge of technology whether you want to or not. Smartphone apps make life infinitely easier and can even be a vessel for customer loyalty.

A good example of this is a client of mine who also was the owner of a limo service and had a friend that was a programmer. His friend developed a smartphone app that helped keep track of the user’s reservation date, billing information, and real-time location updates. Extremely useful to the average consumer, and yet another opportunity for conversion tracking.

If you had such an app, it would make a lot of sense not only to advertise it and track how many people downloaded it as a result of your ad. How could you do that? Simple: by creating an app extension (go to the Ad extensions tab of AdWords, select “View: App extensions”, finally +Extension) and then adding an app download conversion. You can do so by selecting “Mobile or tablet app” from the Conversion tab. Be sure to hit “Don’t assign a value”. No additional coding is required for this.


Conversion Windows

After adding multiple conversions, you may have noticed a setting called the “Conversion window”. Google automatically sets this to 30 days by default.

What does that even mean?

This means that after someone clicks on your ad, a cookie is installed on their browser that will be valid for 30 days. If someone looked at your ad, clicked it, but did not convert, they have 30 days to return to your website and buy something/fill out a contact form for it to count as a conversion.

The nature of the product or service also has a great deal to do with it: usually, the more expensive the product or service is, the longer the purchase funnel is.

For example, I also had a client whose main business was selling a highly-specialized software suite. Normally, people that purchased this software were research facilities, so, as you can expect, it was not cheap. This type of customer also did a lot of research before signing up for a quote or requesting a demo; they had to be sure if the software suite would fit their specific needs. In essence, the decision could not possibly be made in 30 days every time. For this reason, I increased the conversion window to 90 days, so as to capture people that decided to buy the software maybe 43 days or 59 days down the line.

To sum everything up, it is critical not only to know what type of conversion are appropriate for your business, but it is also quintessential to know exactly how many conversions happened as a result of your advertising efforts. Without this, you cannot make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound) decisions.

My advice

If you’re not tracking conversions just yet, do so immediately! If your AdWords management company does not have this in place, I’d definitely recommend a second opinion. Stay tuned for my next blog post where I discuss offline conversion tracking and why it is the mother of all conversion tracking!

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