Tracking PPC Campaign Conversions

I talk a lot about the importance of PPC campaign metrics such as CPA (cost per acquisition) and conversion rate (percentage of clicks that turn into conversions), but at the heart of these metrics is the actual conversion. As defined by Google:

“A conversion occurs when a click on your ad leads directly to user behavior you deem valuable.”

This user behavior may be a purchase, a whitepaper download, or a page view in an important area of your site. As with your other marketing media, PPC is a channel that needs to be tracked.

The first task is to determine what your conversions will be. You need to ask yourself how you will judge the success of this campaign. You are ultimately looking to see a good ROI from this campaign, but how are you going to turn those clicks into conversions? Types of conversions and campaign success can vary greatly between B2B sites and B2C sites. Knowing what to track is the first step toward justifying your PPC budget to management.

Aside from proving the value of your campaign, your conversions will tell you which keywords, text ads, and ad groups are working. You may find that one keyword is eating your budget and rarely converting, but another keyword sees better conversions at a much lower cost. Or you may find a particular text ad’s messaging to be converting extremely well. You have the ability to optimize your campaign around what is converting and better allocate budget.

Tracking conversions is easy in Google AdWords, MSN adCenter, and Yahoo Search Marketing. All of these services provide codes that let you know when a conversion goal has been attained. Usually these codes go on the thank you or postback page. An example is when a user purchases an item and gets to the confirmation page. This page would have the conversion code and when hit would show in your campaign’s interface. I like to add conversion codes to all postback pages in order to track each specific conversion. Some of these conversions will rarely be hit because your ads’ messaging is pointing elsewhere (i.e: sending a user off to a webinar landing page), but the codes are in place so you will know if they are hit. If you are not using these codes make sure you are tracking your PPC campaign conversions in some way, such as setting up goal tracking in your analytics program.

So what can you track? The short answer is whatever you want, but here are some common sources for conversions.


When a user clicks your ad and makes a purchase on your site this is a conversion! In fact, this type of conversion is probably the easiest to track spend wise. Say you spend $500 and garner 30 conversions. Since you are tracking these conversions you know that the campaign’s revenue is $2,000. Using the ROI formula (revenue – costs/ costs), you have an ROI of 300% with a profit of $1,500 (not bad at all).

Filling out a form

Many B2B companies sell services or expensive products that cannot be bought through the site. For example, few people would buy a $60,000 piece of software without first having extensive communication with a sales representative. Therefore, companies must find a way to start the dialogue with potential clients. Companies will often tailor ads around collateral such as whitepapers, webinars, or demos. The landing page might then have a short description further explaining the download with a registration form. If you fill out this form you receive the download. In turn the company gets your contact information and has an in to get in touch with you. When this form has been submitted the conversion has been recorded.

View of a key page

With Google Analytics Event Tracking you can now track even more of the actions your users take on your site. For example, you can track your whitepaper downloads or webinar views without forcing your visitors to fill out a form. Though you are not receiving users’ contact information you know that they are viewing the materials you want them to see.

For a more in-depth list of PPC campaign conversions check out Megan Leap’s 10 Types of Landing Page Goals for PPC Campaigns.

Your PPC campaign cannot be done in a vacuum. Conversions have to be tracked in order to measure the success of the campaign and make informed decisions based on data, not conjecture.

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