PPC Guide: Conversion tracking and what you can measure

This continues the tracking and measurement section of our PPC Guide.

With a snippet of code added to your website — either directly or through tag managing software — you’ll be able to track the actions your visitors take after they click on your ad (Fig. 8).

Fig. 8 – Some of the conversion tracking in Google Ads

The types of conversions that can be tracked in Google Ads

In Google Ads, there are four main types of conversions you can track:

  1. Actions taken on your website: This is the most common method of conversion tracking, and we’ll walk through it in more detail in the “Step-by-step: Setting up website conversion action tracking” section below. Google provides the following categories for the types of website actions that can be tracked: Purchase/sale, Sign-up, Lead, View of a key page, Other.
  2. App installs and in-app actions: If you are promoting an app, you be able to track app conversions via your app analytics platform. No surprise, Google Ads integrates natively with Google’s own Firebase app analytics platform and the Google Play app store. But it’s also possible to pull in conversion data from a third-party app analytics platform.
  3. Phone calls: Many businesses have greater success at educating prospects and closing deals over the phone rather than through their websites. The search engines have implemented several ways to drive phone calls from search ads. There’s even a Call-only mobile ad format that prompts a call and doesn’t link to the advertiser’s website at all. In Google Ads, you can set up phone conversion tracking from:
    1. Clicks on call extensions or mobile call-only ads: You must use Google forwarding numbers.
    2. Calls to the phone number listed on your site or landing page: After a user clicks on an ad and calls the phone number on your website. This also requires the use of Google forwarding numbers.
    3. Clicks on the phone number listed on your mobile website. You’ll need to add a tag to your mobile website to track these clicks. Google forwarding numbers (see below) are not required.
  4. Import (from other data sources): This is the newest way to track Google Ads conversions captured by other data sources, such as your analytics platform or a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. The aim is to be able to account for conversions that happen “offline.” There are native integrations with Google Analytics, Firebase and Salesforce. Advertisers can also upload a file or conversions from other app analytics or clicks or calls from other CRM platforms.

What’s a Google forwarding number?

A Google forwarding number is used to by Google to track call activity from Google Ads. It’s a unique temporary number that Google assigns that forwards to the advertiser’s actual phone number. Google automatically assigns this number when call reporting is enabled. Whenever possible, Google forwarding numbers will have the same area code as your business.

Tip: Before you launch your first new campaign, look for a new account coupon or voucher from the search engines. You can typically get the first $50 or $100 in ad clicks free.

Microsoft Advertising Universal Event Tracking

Microsoft Advertising’s tracking is called Universal Event Tracking (UET). The tracking snippet powers conversion tracking, retargeting and audiences in the platform. When you set up Microsoft Advertising, formerly Bing Ads, or have campaigns running already, you’ll want to implement UET to take advantage of all of the features and insights Microsoft Advertising has to offer. Microsoft Advertising will continue to build measurement and targeting functions that are powered by UET, so do not ignore it.

Next, learn how to set up conversion tracking on your website.

Read more of The Search Engine Land Guide to PPC: