Become an ROI Master with AdWords Conversion Tracking

By Adam Hansen
Become an ROI Master with AdWords Conversion Tracking


Using conversion tracking properly is what separates the advanced online marketers from the rest of the herd.

If you can fog up a mirror, you can set up an AdWords, Bing Ads or other pay-per-click (PPC) ad account, pick high-volume keywords and throw money at some campaigns. However, marketers and managers who track what that rush of visitors does once they get to a site become PPC champs.  

If all you care about is how many visitors come to your site, this post isn’t for you. However, if you care about the return on the PPC money you're spending, then you need to learn all about the wonderful world of conversion tracking.

What is a Conversion?

In the simplest of terms, a conversion is when a visitor to your website or mobile app completes an action that you have assigned value.

A conversion can be a lot of things, but most commonly the one we care about the most is a sale. Using our tried and true example of the Labrador retriever dog training niche, let’s say you are selling an online course to help lab owners control their unruly dogs. A conversion occurs when a visitor comes to your site and purchases the course.

But the final sale isn’t always the only conversion we care about. Say you run an affiliate site in the same dog training niche. While an affiliate sale should be your main goal, maybe your immediate goal is to get the visitor to sign up for your newsletter so you can market to them over and over again. In this case a conversion occurs when someone completes the signup process.

Conversions can be even less concrete than that. In the automobile industry, visitors who make it to the “Hours and Directions” page of a dealership’s website are seven times more likely to come into the dealership. So, a conversion here could simply be the page visit, because it could ultimately lead to a sale.

Why Conversion Tracking is Vital

If you’re going to be spending money on pay-per-click ads, you need to know how those ads are performing.

One of the keys to successful PPC campaigns is constant testing. You need to try new keywords, ads, geographic targets, ad extensions and so on. Without putting conversion tracking in place you’ll never be able to truly know what is working and what isn’t.

For example, imagine you are running two ads for your lab training course. You’re using the same set of keywords and everything else is the same as well. After looking at your numbers, you see that Ad 1 has a click-through rate that is 1 percentage point better than Ad 2. You decide to axe Ad 2 and test a new one.

However, before you do that, you set up conversion tracking and let the ads run for another week. When you look at the numbers you see that although Ad 1 has a marginally better click-through rate, it only accounts for 25 percent of your sales. Visitors who come through Ad 2 are making up the bulk of your sales.

You can use conversion tracking to examine the effectiveness of any element of your campaigns. One of the most helpful purposes is to eliminate wasteful keywords.

Using your conversion reports, you can easily compare what keywords are generating clicks (costing you money) and which ones are making you money (triggering a conversion). Find the ones that are wasting you money, cut them and dump that budget into the ones that are making the cash register ring!

Setting Up Conversion Tracking

Every PPC platform has a different system for setting up conversion tracking. As much as we would like to break them all down for you, we’re going to keep it simple and cover the biggest player in the space: Google AdWords.

Hey, we have lives too, you know…

Here is everything you need to know about setting up AdWords conversion, tracking presented in a fun and friendly cartoon from your friends at Google:


Now, Google realizes that not all conversions happen online and those smart cookies out in Mountain View, CA, have developed ways to track your offline conversions as well.

They easily let you track phone calls through their system, so you know what ads are generating customer calls. But beyond that, Google has even more advanced ways for you to import your conversions and tie them back to the click ID that generated them. Learn about the whole process here.

PPC companies know that eventually you will tire of just throwing money at online ad campaigns and take your business elsewhere unless you can track and prove a solid return on investment. That is why they want to make it as easy as possible for you to see the value their ads bring to your business.

If you’re currently running PPC ads and don’t have conversion tracking in place, today is the day! Clear your calendar, cancel your "True Blood" marathon plans, skip your fantasy cricket draft or do whatever else you must to make some time and get on this ASAP!
Rob Montgomery 10 years ago
I never thought that conversion tracking is that important. Thank you for not only emphasizing its importance but also for giving tips on how it should be done. Thanks a lot!
Rob Montgomery 10 years ago
It looks good this blog post! Thanks a lot of information. :) I knew conversion tracking is important :) So Great.