If you’re new to online advertising or if you’re running an ad campaign without proper conversion tracking, then this article will help you get started.

What is Conversion Tracking?

Let’s start by defining a conversion.

A conversion is really any action on your website that you deem valuable.  For example, you may want to track the following conversions on your website:

  • when a customer completes an order
  • when a prospect adds a product to the shopping cart
  • when a prospect submits a contact form
  • when a prospect submits a form to access a free report
  • when a prospect submits a form to schedule a free demo
  • when a prospect calls you

All of the examples above are online conversions except for the last one.  A phone call would be an “offline” conversion because the action is performed off of the internet.  Offline conversions are outside the scope of this article so I’m only going to focus on online conversions.

Online conversion tracking is therefore the method by which you will track all of your conversions.  More specifically, AdWords conversion tracking is how you will measure the conversions generated directly from your AdWords advertising campaigns.

Why You Need Conversion Tracking

So why go through the trouble of setting up conversion tracking?

Well without some form of conversion tracking you will have absolutely NO idea how your AdWords campaign is performing.

You may have an excellent click through rate on your ads and therefore you’re driving tons of traffic, but you do not know if the traffic is converting to leads and sales.  Visitors do NOT equal revenue and your goal with any online ad campaign is to generate sales, not traffic.

So you need conversion tracking in order to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of your campaigns.

In addition to simply measuring ROI, you need conversion tracking in order to optimize and improve your ROI. Without conversion tracking, there’s simply no way to systematically improve your ad campaign because you’re flying blind.

In every search campaign, some keywords and ads will generate leads and sales while other keywords and ads do not convert and waste your money.  So the key is to use conversion tracking to determine which keywords you want to keep and which keywords to pause to improve your ROI.

How AdWords Conversion Tracking Works

Online conversion tracking is fairly simple and doesn’t require too much technical know-how.

Here’s a diagram to illustrate how this works when you’re tracking a web form or an order form:


First, your prospect searches for your product or service in Google.  Then the prospect clicks on your ad…

Your prospect reads your landing page and eventually completes a web form or an order form on your website.  Then she clicks submit and gets redirected to your “thank you” page.

The “thank you” page is where all the magic happens :)

The “thank you” page includes the conversion tracking code.  This code is provided by AdWords and either you or your webmaster will have to add it to your webpage.

As soon as your visitor loads your “thank you” page, the conversion code is triggered and it sends all the information automatically back to Google AdWords.

AdWords then collects the information about which keyword was searched, which ad was clicked, what time of day, and the geographic location of the visitor.  All of this info is displayed in your AdWords account typically within 24-48hrs after the conversion occurs.

5 Steps to Set up AdWords Conversion Tracking

Here are the 5 steps to set up your conversion tracking in AdWords:

  1. Identify what you need to track in order to measure the effectiveness of your ad campaign
  2. Log into your AdWords account and go to “Tools and Analysis” and then click on the “Conversions” link
  3. Follow the setup wizard
  4. Send code to your webmaster or add the code yourself to the “thank you” pages you are tracking
  5. Repeat the process for every online conversion you want to track

That’s it! You’ll start to see conversion data in your AdWords account within 24-48hrs of your next conversion.  Keep in mind this only tracks conversions directly from your AdWords campaign so you’ll have to complete this process for all other ad outlets you are using.

If you have any questions, post a comment below.