How to Track Online and Offline Conversions in Google Ads

min read
How to Track Online and Offline Conversions in Google Ads

It looks like you have all of the right Google Ads campaigns set up and your ads are generating lots of clicks. That’s awesome, but what are people doing after they click on that amazing ad? They could be making a purchase (yay!) or they could just be looking for a customer service number (boo!). In order to measure the revenue your ads are generating, you have to set up conversion tracking in Google Ads, and if your customers tend to purchase your product on the phone, you’ll have to get your call tracking software synced with Google Ads as well. Here’s how it’s done. 

What is Google Ads Conversion Tracking?

Conversion tracking is a free tool in Google Ads that shows you what happens after a customer interacts with your ads. Whatever action you deem valuable can be counted as a conversion, whether that’s a purchase, filling out a web form, subscribing to your blog, or calling your business. Google Ads conversion tracking allows you to see which keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns are best at driving valuable customer activity. When you know what campaign elements are performing best, you can better understand your ROI and make better optimization and ad spend decisions. 

To set up Google Ads Conversion Tracking, click on the Tools and Analysis tab in Google Ads, and select Conversions from the drop-down menu, which brings up the All conversions page. Click on the Conversions tab, then click the +Conversion button to create a conversion. From here, you’ll have to fill out a form with the appropriate information for the conversion you want to track and choose the source of the conversion. These include website conversions, phone call conversions, and app downloads. 

How to Use Call Tracking and Google Ads to Measure Conversions from Inbound Calls

If you want to track conversions that happen on the phone, Google’s Call on-Site tracking only gets you part of the way there. With the standard Call on-Site tracking in Google Ads, any click from that ad that results in a call from a mobile phone on a predetermined webpage on your site is counted as a conversion. There are several issues with using this as a stand-alone conversion tracking method.

  1. While you will know a call was placed, you have no idea what actually happened on that call. It could have been for customer service or even a complaint, it could have been a purchase, or they could have just hung up without even talking to anyone. The problem arises when you attribute a purchase value to every one of these calls, as there is no way that number will be accurate. 
  2. If the person calling navigates away from your landing page for that ad, you will lose track of the conversion.
  3. You also only get campaign-level attribution from Google’s stock call tracking, which means that you may not get any direct insight into the keywords you’re bidding on that drove the call or the ability to connect individual users to purchases.

Using proxies like this to count conversions not only makes your ROI calculations inaccurate, it leads your marketing optimization astray. This is what happened with University Hospitals before it began using Invoca to analyze inbound phone calls. It turned out their proxy for conversions was totally off base. The ability to tie scheduled appointments to marketing performance in real time with Invoca and Signal AI “changed the direction of marketing” for University Hospitals, said Noah Brooks, manager of analytics and strategy at University Hospitals . “Rather than saying, ‘This ad drove 10,000 clicks,’ we can now say, ‘This ad drove 500 appointments, and those appointments went to these specific doctors or locations.”

Using dynamic phone numbers that Invoca places on your website, Invoca allows you to capture valuable data about the effectiveness of your ads, like marketing campaign and ad creative, and ties that data to phone calls. For example, you can see exactly which paid search campaign and keyword led to a call. When a call is placed, Invoca captures identifiers like the Google Click ID, enabling you to report individual call events and conversions to Google Ads in real-time. Our integration offers the most reliable and precise method to get keyword-level visibility for mobile call extensions and calls from your web pages.

Through this integration, Invoca is able to not only tie the individual call back to your advertising but also the actual call outcomes, such as mentioning a product or classifying a caller as a prospect. These outcomes are called ‘signals’. The Google Ads integration page in the Invoca platform is where you connect your Google Ads account with your Invoca account, define which call outcomes you’d like to send to Google as conversions, and manage your Google call extension campaigns.

Using Invoca’s integration with Google Ads, you can see call data right next to click data in your Google Ads keywords report, giving you a more complete view into the online and offline activity driven by your paid search spend. This will allow you to get a better sense of how to understand and act on the different types of call conversions. You can see calls from landing pages, and call outcomes like sale completed, appointment set, quote given, and more. 

Since the dynamic phone numbers can be placed throughout your website, you won’t lose track of a caller if they navigate away from your landing page. And don’t worry, Invoca automatically replaces the phone numbers on your website with trackable dynamic phone numbers, so you don’t have to do that manually on every page. Additionally, unlike Google Ads call tracking, each user sees a unique phone number, allowing you to get 1-to-1 attribution for each individual caller and campaign.

Since call conversions are reported in Google Ads in much the same way as online conversions, you can treat this call data exactly how you would typically treat digital data.

  • See which Ad Groups, Ads, and keywords are driving each type of call outcome 
  • Measure revenue from calls to calculate return on ad spend 
  • Use conversions to optimize keyword spend using automated bidding rules

By providing keyword-level attribution and conversion reporting in real-time, Invoca helps marketers attribute calls to paid search and display budgets, and use call conversions to optimize their spend to drive more revenue.

Tracking Webpage Conversions with Google Ads

What Google Ads is really good at is tracking conversions that happen on your web pages. You can use conversion tracking to track purchases, sign-ups, and other actions that customers complete on your website. Google tracks conversions that occur on your website by storing cookies that contain information about the interaction. When someone converts on your website, a conversion tracking tag on your website reads this cookie and sends it back to Google Ads with the conversion information. In some cases, the cookies used to store information about your ad interactions may not be available due to factors including browser settings, such as those that block third-party cookies

Attribution can still be attained when cookies are blocked by using the updated Google Ads conversion tracking tag. This new tag sets first-party cookies on your domain that will store information about the ad click that brought people to your website. The cookies receive the ad click information from a GCLID (“Google click identifier”) parameter that is included in the conversion tracking tag. You can also use your Google Analytics tag to track conversions on your website. This Google article takes you step-by-step through setting up conversion tracking on your website.

Once you’ve set up conversion tracking, you can see data on conversions for your campaigns, ad groups, ads, and keywords. Viewing this data in your reports can help you understand how your advertising helps you achieve important goals for your business.

Tracking Store Visit Conversions

If someone clicks on one of your ads and then makes a purchase in your brick-and-mortar store, you’re out of luck for attribution, right? Not quite. Tracking in-store conversions are a little trickier and it doesn’t work for all advertisers, but it can be (sort of) accomplished. Store visit data also is not a method of getting 1-to-1 attribution for your advertising dollars, as Google bases it on anonymous, aggregated statistics — it’s more about getting a better idea of how your ads influence store visits.

Google Ads creates modeled numbers by using current and past data on the number of people who click or view your ads and later visit your store. Store visit data can’t be tied to individual ad clicks, viewable impressions, or people. Like many things Google, they aren’t entirely clear on how they gather this data, but the assumption is that they are using their own location data and aggregating credit card purchase data in partnership with some credit card companies to make correlations between ad impressions and purchases made in stores.

In-store conversion tracking is still a bit of a white whale for marketers, but you may be able to glean some useful information from tracking store visit conversions in Google Ads. And setting it up isn’t super straightforward, either. If you meet a somewhat long list of requirements to use it, you need to call your Google rep to get it set up, too.

Make Sure to Optimize Google Ads for Conversions, Not Clicks

If you don’t want to pay for a bunch of clicks on your ads that are not resulting in sales, so you’ll want to make sure that Google is optimizing your ads for conversions. Of course, if you have brand awareness in mind for ads, clicks are fine, but here we’ll focus on conversions. By default, your ad rotation setting will optimize for clicks, meaning that Google Ads will serve the ads it feels are most likely to result in click-through. You’ll want to change this setting to serve the ads deemed most likely to result in conversions in the auction more frequently. To change the setting, go to the Settings tab and scroll down to the Advanced settings section. Open the Ad delivery: Ad rotation, frequency capping drop-down menu, click Optimize for conversions and click Save.

Request a personalized demo to learn more about Invoca's Google Ads Integration.

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