Getting Started With a PPC Agency, Part 4: The Conversion Tracking Audit

In our post a couple weeks ago, we did a deep dive into our agency’s PPC audit process—a critical part of onboarding you and your marketing team as clients.

But there was one part of the audit process we didn’t cover in that post: conversion tracking.

In today’s post, we walk you and your marketing team through our conversion tracking audit process.

Why is Conversion Tracking So Important?

We admit it—conversion tracking audits aren’t the most fun part of our job. Walking through each conversion path, step-by-step, can be extremely tedious.

But we’re willing to do it because conversion tracking is critical to PPC campaign optimization and success.

conversion tracking

Only with conversion tracking can you know, with any certainty, what ads, landing pages and keywords are working and (just as importantly) which are not. And we need this information to optimize your campaigns and improve your ROI. It gives you the insight to put more budget behind goals that are converting well and revamp goals that aren’t.

Our Conversion Tracking Audit Process

To ensure tracking is set up correctly, we follow a three-step process. (Although, as with the PPC audit more generally, the process isn’t exactly linear.)

1. We make sure conversions are captured in both Google Analytics and AdWords

This might sound like a duplication of effort, but it’s not. We count conversions in both Google Analytics (i.e. “Goals and Transactions”) and AdWords (i.e. “Conversion tracking”) so we can compare the two.

The conversion stats won’t match exactly, but they should line up more or less. If they don’t, we know we need to dig deeper.

Why won’t the figures match exactly? Because of differences in counting, attribution time, attribution source and reporting:
Conversion tracking

We also insist on capturing conversions in both systems for redundancy. If the data capture should fail in one system for some reason, we still have data from the other.

2. We follow each conversion path from start to finish

Checking each ad conversion path is easy when the company has only one form and one thank you page. But it’s often not so simple.

Many companies have multiple ads, landing pages, forms, calls to action and thank you pages. And the number of paths leading through them all can be high.

In addition, forms can get very complex with drop down menus where each option routes to a different thank you page. (Some of our clients have more than 50 thank you pages, and each can be reached through multiple paths!)

Throw multiple languages into the mix, and things can get a bit crazy!

So the only way to untangle the paths is to walk through each one, path by path.

3. We compare to the company’s internal tracking system

As a final check, we’ll compare stats in Google Analytics and AdWords with stats from the company’s internal tracking system.

Again, the numbers won’t match exactly, but they should be in the ballpark. If they’re wildly different, we’ll do more digging to find the problem.

But even once the conversion numbers in all three systems agree, more or less, we still keep an eye out for anomalies. (That goal with a 100 percent conversion rate? Take another look. I’ll bet the conversion code was accidentally placed on the home page. Yup. We’ve seen that one before!)

Following this three-step process ensures that conversion tracking is set up properly at the outset. What we absolutely don’t want is to discover an error six months down the road that throws all our data into question.

Because, as we’ve noted before, we believe in data-driven decision making. Hunches and gut instinct are great—but they have to have data to back them up.

In part five of this series, we describe how we determine our clients’ account structure and strategy.

To read this series of posts in full, start with the introduction.