Updates to AdWords Conversion Tracking
In the last 30 days Google introduced some interesting updates to its platform, namely to the way account managers can track conversions. All features look like they’ll be quite useful in the future (and present) as they allow you to: extended the cookie lifetime, track conversions between accounts and import offline conversions – juicy stuff right?
Customize your AdWords conversion window
I remember countless of number of times where I’ve looked at the “30 days after a click” text and thought to myself “why the &%$# isn’t the cookie lifetime longer?!?!”. Many of my clients are in the travel industry (tour operators, airlines, hotels and car rentals) which means that in many cases the conversion cycle is longer than 30 days which in return means that I’m not able to record all conversions – This “problem” is of course not isolated towards the travel industry, there are other sectors that have long sales cycles.
Last week, September 23rd, Google announced a big change to the AdWords conversion window. Previously, like most of us know, the platform was only able to count conversions that happened 30 days after a click. Today however, the platform is able to track conversions that happen everywhere from 7 to 90 days after a click.
Before we go any further; if you have never set up conversion tracking or aren’t sure how it works I recommend that you read this article from Google.
You can set the conversion window in two different places; when you create a new code or in the conversion overview where you’ll see a column called Conversion window. When you click on it you’ll see something that looks like the screenshot below. Keep in mind that you’re only able to change the window for your webpage conversions.
Also, in the Search Funnels you now see conversion data for 30+ days under the time lag report.
Cross-account Conversion Tracking and Search Funnels
Announced August 26th, this feature allows you to track conversions between accounts in your My Client Center. The biggest upside to this feature, in my utmost humble opinion, is not that it makes your tracking easier due to the fact that you only need to use one code instead of numerous others in order to do just this but rather the ability to see how my campaigns in various accounts complement each other using the Search Funnels report.
Of course Google Tag Manager (GTM) allows for one unified code for your remarketing, conversion tracking, analytics etc. but even there you have to create all the tags you need to track everything. For me this is a blessing as I can now remove all but one AdWords conversion codes in the GTM account.
Looking at the bigger picture, the ideology behind this feature is to give advertisers a better overview of their accounts performance. This they do by assigning click assisted conversions in account X even though account Y gets the conversions – pretty cool if you ask me.
This feature should work great for companies that are running different products in various accounts or targeting different languages and countries by account – i.e. international campaigns targeting various locations in the travel industry with numerous types of holiday options.
In order to use the feature you need to have an MCC account, if you aren’t using that bad boy I recommend that you read this article on how to create a My Client Center account
Here‘s how you set it up
1. Log into your My Client Center, search for the left navigation bar and click on Conversions. Creating a tracking code on the MCC level is done exactly the same way as it‘s done on the account level where you choose conversion name, source, category, window (new) etc.
2. After you‘ve created the conversion tracking code it‘s time to visit the Manage accounts section (still at the MCC level) – Here you‘re met with two columns
a) “Client account” – the name you‘ve given the account.
b) “Conversion account” – Here you either choose to track conversions via code/s generated within the account (To client account) or MCC level (To this MCC account).
Select the accounts that you‘d like to track conversions across, click on change conversion account and select to this MCC account. You can always revert these changes.
So what now?
After your accounts start getting conversions you’ll be able to see how your accounts complement each other (campaigns, ad groups, keywords etc.) before a conversion in the Search Funnels report on the MCC level.
Measure & Optimize for Offline Sales
As an online marketer I love nothing more than to see my campaigns convert but that doesn’t always happen online and until now it’s been hard to attribute an offline sale to your AdWords campaigns. Yes, there are ways like using the offers extension, promo codes in ads etc. but even with these methods and tools it’s hard to allocate conversions on the keyword level.
In the beginning of September AdWords announced the ability for account managers to import conversions that happened outside of the digital world, whether it happens in a phone call or at your stores physical location. If most of your conversions happen offline this should give you a clearer picture on your accounts %ROAS because you’ll e.g. be able to see the true value of all leads generated via your online form by uploading the actual sales that happened offline.
The way it works is that Google assigns a unique ID, known as a GCLID, to every click that comes through your website. In order for this to work a few things must be in order
- You need to have auto-tagging enabled
- Ability to make code changes to all of your web pages
- Have a conversion window that’s less than 90 days (max. cookie lifetime)
- Ability to store and associate each ID with the prospect’s information that’s gathered on your website (i.e. lead tracking system).
To set up imports for offline conversion tracking;
- Log in to your AdWords account go into the Tools and Analysis tab and locate Conversions
- When you create a new conversion select “Import”, there you fill out your category, window and assign a value if you want. Click save.
- After you’ve set everything up in AdWords it’s time to update the code on each page as well as modifying the submission page, I’m not going to go into details about that part but you can find all the technical details here.
Once you’ve set this up and start importing it should take more than a few hours until you start seeing the information in the platform. For more information check out this announcement in the official AdWords blog.
Google is getting better and better at tracking sales cycles, which is fantastic news for us account managers. With the aforementioned updates you’ll be able get a more accurate picture of your accounts performance:
1. If you have a long sales cycle you can extend the conversion window
2. If you use multiple accounts for your business you can see how the campaigns in each account complement each other by setting up cross conversion tracking
3. If your sales cycle includes calls or usually end up in your stores physical location you can import offline conversions into your account by using Google’s new conversion import.
If you have a neat way of utilizing these new features we’d love to hear it!