Google AdWords Workshop – Part 8: Track or Perish


The following article is part 8 in our series on running your own pay-per-click advertising campaign with the Google AdWords program. If you are new to AdWords, read the introduction here first.

In this post we’re talking about how to track conversions that occur on your web site.

The standard reports available from your control panel will show you how many times your ad was displayed and clicked but they won’t show you how many conversions occurred, or which keywords triggered those conversions, unless you enable conversion tracking.

When you know which ads generate conversions, you can make smarter decisions about which keywords to invest in and how to target your ad copy better.

To get this information, all you need to do is place a few lines of code generated by Google’s conversion tracking tool into your website. Placing the code is not difficult for someone with web design experience, but if you personally don’t have that experience, you’ll probably need your webmaster’s help to get it done.

To get started, click the Conversion Tracking link on the Reporting tab of your control panel, and choose which one of the 5 available conversion types you want to track . . . sales, lead, sign-up, page view, or other.

The lead type is intended to accommodate sales lead scenarios . . . for example where a user completes a form to request pre-sales assistance. A sign-up might be a sign up for your newsletter. The last option lets you define the type of conversion.

Choose which type you want to track, create the action and go to the next page. Here you will choose various options associated with the racking code that will be placed on your ‘conversion page’.

The conversion page is the page that users are sent to after they’ve performed the action you’re tracking. For a purchase, that will normally be the Thank You page that customers are sent to after an order is processed. Likewise, visitors signing up for a newsletter are normally sent to a page that confirms the sign-up was successful.

The tracking code added to that page will display a small text block that discloses the fact that transactions that originated from a Google Adwords link are being tracked. (Unfortunately, this is a condition of the tracking program). If customers click on the link contained in the notice, they’ll see an explanation of the tracking process.

The first step is to choose the security level already in use for your conversion page. If your order form is accessed via a secure server (and it should be), then you’ll want to select the https option.

Next, you can assign a conversion value, which can be a constant or a variable. Doing that will mean Google can report on the total revenue or profit attributable to each keyword, depending on which you choose to specify here.

For example, if you sell just one product and every sale was worth $50 to you, just enter 50 point zero zero (without the dollar sign).

If you sell multiple products and use a shopping cart on your web site, you’ll need to use a variable. Your shopping cart will already use a variable to store the purchase price of particular items. Plug in the name of that variable and the tracking tool will track the value of multiple purchases dynamically.

The last options simply let you choose the language, format and color of the text block that will be displayed by Google on your conversion page.

When you click the Save button, the tracking code is displayed at the foot of the page.

Next comes the part you may need help with. Copy the tracking code and paste it anywhere between the body tags on your conversion page, and upload the edited page to your web server via ftp.

That’s it . . . that’s all you have to do to start tracking your web site sales, newsletter signups, page views or whatever else it is that you want to track.

To test if it’s working correctly, click on one of you’re your own Adwords ads and complete a dummy purchase on your site. (Allow 24 hours for the data to be processed by Google. Any time after that, you can generate a printable report from your Adwords Control Panel to get stats on conversion rate and cost per conversion).

Advanced Conversion Tracking

As well as the basic conversion tracking I’ve just described, Google also offers a much more advanced tool which also available via the Reporting tab in your control panel.

Google Analytics is a fully fledged web site traffic analysis package. Amongst other things, it can tell you how visitors found your site, whether that be via AdWords, organic search results, email links, banner ads or even competing pay-per-click programs like Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft’s MSN adCenter.

It can tell you what visitors did on your site when they got there and offers various other features including advanced conversion analysis.

This tool is beyond the scope of this article, but like the basic conversion tracking option, Google Analytics is fully integrated into your AdWords account, so you can view the reports and settings right there in your control panel if you choose to use it.

Gary Elley
Web2Store

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