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Conversion Tracking

Beginner's Guide to Google Ads conversion tracking

January 30, 2023
Google Analytics 4 Migration Via Tagmate

So you are planning to run Google Ads for quick growth and getting a bigger piece of the (sales) pie (chart) and want to learn about Google Ads conversion tracking? Well, you are at the right place- Tagmate's blog.

Google Ads continues to be one of the best paid advertising tools and tracking conversions is a must to ensure that you are on the right track.

Wasting no time, let us go through this beginner’s guide on Google Ads Conversion Tracking by Tagmate. You will learn about Google Ads Conversion Tracking, why you should track conversions, types of conversion actions, and the limitations of tracking Google Ads conversions. 

Also, we will have a look at how to set up the tracking process, how to analyze Google Ads Conversion data, important metrics to track, and common errors faced by advertisers.

Let’s get started:

What is Google Ads Conversion Tracking?

Google Ads Conversion Tracking is a Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) feature that enables advertisers to track and measure online advertising conversions.

It helps marketers evaluate the effectiveness of paid campaigns by measuring actions taken on the website such as sales, form submissions, phone calls, or other designated actions after a user clicks on their ad during web search.

In order to facilitate this, a tracking code is placed on the website code which enables Google Ads to attribute conversions to specific ads, ad campaigns, and keywords used by the user to optimize future campaigns.

Why do I need to track Google Ads Conversions?

The short answer is: Because you are spending money on Google Ads!

Tracking conversions is important for your business due to several reasons:

Measuring campaign ROI

By track conversions, you can determine the revenue generated per campaign/ad/dollar spent, number of sales, and leads generated to get a holistic idea of return on investment (ROI).

Optimizing user experience (UX)

It is noteworthy that Google ads conversion tracking is also helpful in identifying any issues faced by users when it comes to customer journey and user experience.

You can use these insights to optimize your website, landing pages to meet your business goals and of course, improve Google ads conversions.

Optimizing Google ads campaigns

Another fundamental reason why you should track conversions is to optimize your ad spend and strategy. 

It also helps with budget allocation for various advertising campaigns based on conversion rate and business goals.

Improving decision making

Google ads conversion tracking is the basis of data-driven ad spend decisions as it keeps advertisers informed regarding the historical and current performance of ad campaigns. 

Based on the insights generated, advertising campaigns are tweaked to generate more ROI, put on hold, and dropped.

Also, it helps in making UI-UX decisions for landing pages and web pages, optimizing ad formats and targeting options.

All in all, conversion tracking is as crucial as running Google ads campaigns.

How many types of Google conversion actions are there?

As an advertiser, there are five main Google conversion actions:

#1 Website actions: A website action can be a simple CTA button click, a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or form-fill: basic yet versatile, website actions are highly popular among marketers.

#2 Phone calls: When a person makes a call to your business via Google Ads, this conversion action is triggered.

#3 In-app conversions/App installs: For businesses that are advertising an application, this conversion action helps track app installs and interactions within the app.

#4 Offline conversions: The conversions that don't directly occur on the website but through purchases from retailers, phone calls, or in-person meetings fall under this category. They must be initiated through the respective Google ad along with a reliable platform like a CRM software to verify the same.

#5 Local conversions: When a user visits your physical store near their location after clicking on your website, it is known as a local action.

What are the limitations of Google Ads Conversion Tracking?

Despite the fact that Google ads conversion tracking is a must for anyone who advertises online, it comes with certain limitations that every marketer must adopt to.

In this section, I will list down top five limitations of conversion tracking when using Google ads:

#1 It doesn't track offline conversions

One of the biggest challenges every marketer faces when tracking online advertisement conversions is that the offline conversions influenced by ad campaigns aren't a part of the traditional mechanics of the attribution model.

Only the desired conversion actions that occur on the website are tracked and measured, even leaving phone calls out of the process.

#2 It renders an incomplete picture of customer behavior

The insights generated from conversion tracking aren't holistic: they don't share much insights into the user profiles of the visitors that got converted.

Instead, it provides you with quantitative representations of the process which you must use to define the qualitative aspects of the customer persona and the strategy employed.

Hence, it leaves newbie marketers vulnerable to mistakes caused by blind spots in the data in spite of the fact that it serves its purpose satisfactorily.

#3 It is limited to paid advertisement campaigns on Google

Naturally, you can only track and analyze conversions for your Google ads and the service isn't available for any other advertising platform.

Thus, you cannot track conversions across multiple channels using this platform and if you want to do so, you must subscribe to it from another vendor.

#4 Its accuracy is dependent on proper implementation

For accurate results, you must ensure that the tracking code is properly installed and perform testing for all use cases.

If you fail to do so, the accuracy of your attribution results and overall tracking process may skew and leave you with a distorted image of conversion data.

#5 You only get historical data

As much as you may want it, you cannot avail real-time conversion data and thus, all strategy building and optimization activities must be undertaken on the basis of available historical data.

Since you have to wait for at least three hours to get the conversion tracking data, your marketing activities should be planned accordingly.

Regardless, Google Ads Conversion Tracking remains a highly useful tool for making the most out of paid advertising on Google's search engine.

How to set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking?

In this section, I will walk you through a simple step-by-step method to track conversions. You will need:

  1. Admin access to the website that you want to track.
  2. Google Ads account
  3. (Preferably) Google Tag Manager account

Follow the below steps to set Google Ads Conversion Tracking:

Step #1 Create a conversion action

Sign into your Google Ads account and go to the "Tools & Settings" menu.

Select the "Conversions" option.

Now, click on the "+ New Conversion" button to create a new conversion action. You may choose the conversion type from the available options including sales, lead forms, phone calls, and so on.

Next, you need to enter your website URL and scan it to check if your website code already contains the Google tag. If not, you will be provided with a small code snippet which must be put on your website.

Here, you have two options: Use URL to set up conversion action or go for a manual setup.

URL setup is the easier option but it is useful only when you want to track page load event as a conversion:

Creating a conversion action

Generally, you must opt for the manual setup process as it enables you to track clicks/buttons. You can also customize the event tag with additional custom parameters including tracking ID and conversion value tracking.

For additional insights, refer to Google's instructions for URL setup and manual setup.

Step #2: Set up Google tag

In case your website doesn't have a Google tag already installed, follow the below steps:

If you created a conversion action using the URL setup option, follow the Google tag set up instructions as mentioned in the subsequent screen.

If you created a conversion action using the manual setup option, follow the Google Tag set up instructions as mentioned for a unique event snippet for every page on your website.

In case your Google tag is already set up and you have created a conversion action using the URL method, you will need to add the unique event snippet.

Note: The tracking code must be installed on the web page that loads after the completion of conversion action i.e. a "Thank you" page/Order confirmation page.

How to install Google tag (Prefer Google Tag Manager method)

Follow these steps to install Google tag on your website manually or with the help of Google Tag Manager. (Preferred)

Installing a Google Tag

Step #3: Test your Google Tag

Follow these steps to check if the Google Tag is installed properly and that all conversion tracking is enabled:

Log in to your Google Ads account

Go to the Conversions section in the menu located at the upper right corner. Here, you will be able to see the Tracking status column where all conversion actions are visible.

How to analyze Google Ads Conversion data?

Now that you know how to setup the conversion tracking platform, let us get a brief understanding of how to analyze the Google ads conversion data:

Sign in to your Google ads account and once again, go to the "Conversions" option in the "Tools & Settings" menu.

In this page, you will be able to view all conversion actions that you created along with the data associated with them.

You can filter the data based on constraints of your choice like the time period, particular conversion action, and other custom parameters to get a detailed view of the factors you find important.

In most cases, conversion rate and cost per conversion are compared against the time period to understand the effectiveness of various campaigns on a high level.

Custom columns are used to reveal additional data regarding the conversions like the source i.e. the ad and the purchase trends for ad optimization purposes.

Similarly, you can use conversion paths to understand how people interact i.e. different website actions in order identify areas of concern and where you can drive more conversions with little effort.

What are the important metrics to check when analyzing Google Ads Conversion data?

When analyzing conversion data, the following are the most important metrics to consider:

Conversion rate: It is the percentage of clicks on your Google ad that resulted in a conversion. This metric gives you a high level insight into how effectively your overall paid marketing efforts are generating revenue.

Cost per conversion: It is the total amount of money that you spend on a campaign divided by the total number of conversions. It reflects the ROI you generated from paid marketing and the figure that you must spend in order to get a certain amount in revenue.

Conversion volume: It is the proportion of ad-based conversions in your overall conversions. This metric helps you understand where paid marketing should stand in your overall game plan as well as lay the foundation for long-term impact on your bottom-line.

Click-through rate (CTR): It is the ratio of the number of clicks on your ads against total impressions on the search engine results page (SERP.)

Cost per click (CPC): It refers to the amount charged by Google for every click made on your Google Ad.

Return on ad spend (ROAS): ROAS is revenue generated on every dollar spent and it is calculated by dividing the total revenue with total ad spend. This metric will help you learn how profitable your ad campaigns are.

Time to conversion: It is the average time taken by a visitor to convert after landing on the website through an ad. It helps you understand the contextual harmony between your ad campaign and the contents of your web page/landing page when it comes to satisfying the user intent.

Bounce rate: The percentage of sessions that are bounces i.e. the visitor only views one page/triggers only one event. A high bounce rate is an indicator of disparity between your Google ads and the landing page or poor user experience.

What are the common errors in Google Ads Conversions and how to solve them?

Here are a few common errors in Google Ads Conversions and their solutions:

Wrong Conversion Tracking Code: Check if the correct conversion tracking code is installed on the correct page, such as a thank-you page after a successful transaction.

Multiple Conversion Tracking Codes: Ensure that there's only one conversion tracking code on the page to prevent double-counting of conversions.

Misaligned Attribution Settings: Make sure that the attribution model in your Google Ads account accurately reflects the length of time between clicks and conversions.

Delayed Conversion Tracking: If conversions are not appearing in your reports immediately, check if the conversion tracking tag is set to track conversions in real-time.

Blocked Conversion Tracking: Check if any ad-blocking software or browser extensions are blocking the conversion tracking code.

Unverified Conversion Actions: Make sure that the conversion actions in your account are verified and active.

If you still have low conversion volume despite the above remedies, consider reviewing and optimizing your landing pages, ad copy, targeting, and bid strategy.

Wrap Up

This was just the basics! Google Ads Conversion Tracking is easy to get started with but when the complexity of your website structure and campaigns increases issues also continue to scale.

Sign up for a free trial of Tagmate to level up your Google Ads Conversion tracking game.

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