Some of you right now may be spending a lot of money on PPC, but not properly tracking conversions and overall PPC success. If you don’t know what campaigns and segments are contributing to your revenue at any given time, you can’t make informed decisions about what’s really going on with your PPC, nor can you make quick choices about where to focus your PPC efforts next or what to tweak within your campaigns.
In this post, we’ll first talk about why tracking is important in PPC management, then we’ll go into three types of Google Analytics tracking you should consider implementing to get the most out of your ad spend.
Why is Analytics Tracking Important in PPC?
Without using the analytics data that’s available to us for tracking the role that PPC has on a conversion – whether it’s a sale, a lead, a sign up or something else – PPC management is very difficult, if not impossible.
Here at Group Twenty Seven, we always follow the money in our PPC campaigns, and this starts with data.
Google AdWords and Google Analytics go hand-in-hand to give us the information we need to make wise decisions.
It’s this data that helps us set up the campaigns properly in the first place for our PPC management services, and then allows us to track those segments that are performing well against others, which leads to new opportunities to target ads. PPC managers simply can’t do their job to the best of their ability unless they have the data.
We’ve had clients come to us with years and years of PPC ad spend under their belt and no tracking in analytics to go with it. Once we implement tracking with these clients, we often find that many of the campaigns never even converted nor contributed to revenue. This is often an eye-opening experience, and we’re always anxious and excited to start helping them follow the revenue using the data we’ve uncovered.
So the bottom line is the bottom line; you have to know what you’re getting for what you’re spending. Even if a conversion doesn’t directly tie to revenue at first, you can use analytics data to find out how that conversion ultimately contributes to the bottom line. And if you’re exploring other digital marketing avenues like SEO and social media, you can use analytics to find out how PPC contributes in tandem to the conversion goals you’ve set up.
3 Ways to Start Tracking PPC Success
1. Make sure Google Analytics is set up on your site.
When you use Google AdWords, the very first thing to consider for PPC management is if the Google Analytics code is installed on your site. Sometimes clients will already have Google Analytics on their site, but it’s not installed properly or they have the older “traditional” code that’s now somewhat obsolete.
Google Analytics Asynchronous Code is an updated version of tracking that offers more data collection than the traditional code, and loads asynchronously, which translates to speeding up your page load time. This new functionality is great for PPC managers and users of your site alike.
Setting up your Google Analytics properly is not an exact science. Even if you have a developer on the job and it looks like it’s properly implemented, we can still see errors. It’s best to test the analytics by analyzing the data (we’ll talk about that more in the following section).
For more on the new code, check out Google’s documentation on how to migrate to the asynchronous code from the traditional code.
You’ll also want to make sure your tracking is set up properly if you have more than one domain to track; this is called “cross-domain tracking,” and here’s some information on how to collect visits to multiple domains through analytics.
2. Make sure ecommerce tracking is set up in Google Analytics.
Not every company that manages PPC has an ecommerce site. But for those who do, it’s essential that ecommerce tracking is set up within your Google Analytics.
Google explains the importance of ecommerce tracking:
- “Which of your products sell well, and by inference, which of your products are best suited for your customer base and which ones are supported by your best marketing efforts. A poorly selling product may not necessarily be the wrong product, but may have the wrong marketing behind it.
- The revenue per transaction, and the number of products per transaction. For example, if the number of products per transaction is lower than you’d like, you might benefit from offering better quantity discounts, or eliminating shipping costs if customers meet a minimum dollar amount.
- How long it takes customers to make the decision to purchase, and how many visits to your site it takes to induce them to purchase. For example, if your sales cycles are stable, or fluctuate predictably based on product or season, then you can use that information (in conjunction with overall sales forecasts) to make reliable predictions about revenue. If customers routinely make numerous visits before they purchase, you might think about a site design that leads more easily to your purchase pages, or options that let visitors compare your products and prices to your competitors’.”
When we set up ecommerce tracking in analytics, we want to test it to make sure it’s accurate. The best way to know if your ecommerce tracking is set up correctly is to click on the ads and do a handful of sales test. We usually ask clients to make a sale, clear cookies, make a sale, etc. We keep close tabs initially, checking in with the client, the product sold and sales figures to be sure we’re on track.
Tip: When you see the attribution of “direct/none” in analytics, it can be an indication that the tracking is off. Often, if the cross-domain tracking is not set up right, the tracking gets lost somewhere during the shopping cart process and that’s a “direct/none”) because Google Analytics doesn’t know where the sale came from.
In ecommerce tracking in analytics, you can drill down on each individual product or transaction you wish to examine, and what can be attributed to PPC:
Note that the “direct/none” attribution in this screenshot is nearly 50 percent on this client – that’s too high, and an indication that something is off. For this particular client, the tracking was implemented only at the tail end of the month, which is why this particular direct/none attribution is occurring. Direct/none will always be present, but if you start seeing it as a larger percentage over other channels, you may want to investigate.
If you sell on your site, here’s more info on setting up ecommerce tracking.
3. Access “Multi-Channel Funnels” in Google Analytics when you have more than one type of digital marketing effort.
Are you running multiple marketing campaigns including things like search engine optimization and social media marketing alongside your PPC management? Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics is a great way to find out how each one of these areas is impacting your site and your bottom line.
Here’s a brief video from Google explaining the functionality:
Accessing the multi-channel information in Google Analytics is easy once you have goals set up and ecommerce tracking as well. With this data, you can begin to attribute what channels make up what part of the overall goal attainment. This is called “attribution modeling,” and is becoming more and more important as business expand to many channels for their website’s success.
It’s rare to see a one-click conversion. With attribution modeling, we can see how all the channels work together to get to that final goal – the sale. Most of the time, all the channels work together. With attribution, we can see the path people take on the way to making a sale.
For example, one sale could include someone clicking on a PPC ad, then later, organic search, then direct type-in, and then PPC again. With attribution, we can see how all of your efforts work together to affect your revenue stream.
Make Tracking and Measuring a Habit in Paid Search
Whatever type of initiative you’re running, you should always make tracking and measuring your efforts a priority. Different goals and different networks will yield different ways to track. But it’s important to always line out how you will measure success before the start of any new campaign. This is essential to effective PPC management.