Making Sense of Conversions… Scoring Goals with Adwords & Analytics
Embracing Google Adwords PPC (Pay Per Click) and SEO is to make a commitment to spending money on marketing. Unlike most forms of marketing the results of both SEO and PPC are measurable and quantifiable even on a daily basis. Despite this few organisations see their web site in this light.
It’s All About Conversions Not SEO or PPC
Google Adwords has a fantastic conversion measurement system. All that’s required to use it is that you paste some code onto the conversion completion page often referred to as the “Thank You” page. The code is only triggered if the conversion is the result of a click on an ad generated by a search query in Google Adwords.
For example lets say someone searches for “pond pump”. The searcher saw an ad about pond pumps and clicked the ad. The searcher went on immediately to buy a pond pump. After final checkout the process is complete and Google records a sale conversion. Google also tracks the conversion back to the search query (think keyword for this explanation).
VERY IMPORTANT: Note that at the time of clicking the ad Google placed a 30 days expiry cookie on the searcher’s computer.
In general when it comes to selling low value items online the conversion more often than not takes place on the same visit. The system under these circumstances works well and the conversion relating to the specific individual doing the search is correctly recorded. We as the advertiser know the value of the sale and thus the value of a conversion.
However in the majority of cases a purchase is not made the first time a searcher sees an offering. If the searcher switches off the computer and comes back the next day to buy and does this by typing in the URL rather than going through Adwords route again Google will still report a conversion. This is because when the buyer reaches the final thank you page on which the Adwords conversion code is sitting there is a match between the initial cookie and the tracking code on the thank you page. This only happens if the process takes place within 30 days of the ad being clicked and if cookie has not been deleted from the computer.
In practice therefore a conversion can be the result of a single unique visit or it can be the result of a return visit.
If an Adwords account is linked to an Analytics account it becomes possible to see how many conversions came from unique visitors and how many came from repeat visitors.
In addition by setting up goals in the Analytics account it also becomes possible to differentiate between paid search conversions and non-paid search conversions.
This is why setting up Analytics to measure goals (a goal could be same as the conversion step in the Adwords discussion) is very important when running an Adwords campaign.
To summarise… setting up Adwords conversion tracking and implementing Goals in Analytics it becomes possible to see the following
1. How many conversions came via Adwords
2. How many conversions came from non-paid search
3. How many conversions came from referral traffic
4. How many conversions came from direct traffic (eg bookmark or typing URL)
5. How many conversions came from first time visits
6. How many conversions came from returning visitors
Example of Conversion Tracking
Here’s an example from a campaign I’m managing: covering last 2 weeks in September
Total Conversions: 91
- Direct conversions: 7
- Referral conversions: 15
- Search conversions: 69 split as follows
- Non paid search : 35
- Paid search: 34
- New visitor conversions: 57
- Returning visitor conversions: 34
I think you will agree this is vital information to know if you want to optimise (make money from) any website and especially those seeking to achieve conversions such as sales or sign-ups.
Chances are pretty good that you, the reader, have not set up Goals in analytics. If you have congratulations… you are one of very few.
- SEO and PPC (Google Adwords) are important traffic generating tools.
- Traffic for the sake of traffic is meaningless in any kind of commercial strategy.
- The pursuit of SEO and PPC need to be viewed as tools to maximise sales.
Both SEO and PPC are costly and as a strategy within an organisation both must be seen to be paying their way or otherwise. The days of just spending an advertising budget are on their way out as organisations wake up to the fact there is a real alternative to the traditional advertising agency model.