Top 5 PPC Mistakes – #4: Failing to Track Performance


Why Tracking PPC Traffic Is Critical

It’s 2010 and still many PPC campaign managers are missing the final, critical piece to running a successful Pay Per Click campaign: tracking visitors once they’ve reached their site. They create sensible adgroups, write enticing ad text, assign competitive bid prices, and then, well, just hope that Google manages it from there. They know that clicks are good and if you’re spending money you’re getting clicks. Why mess with a good thing?* *In all fairness, some business owners may not necessarily intend on leaving their campaign untracked – but rather may simply lack the time to apply to the proper setup and maintenance that a PPC campaign requires. If that is the case for you, it might be time to consider finding an Adwords Qualified individual to do this for you. The problem is, once clicks turn into website visits, there’s nothing that tells them how many white paper downloads, contact form submissions or requests for a quote those clicks have turned into. It’s kind of like a restaurant chain that failed to track how much revenue each individual restaurant pulled in. The chain wouldn’t know which restaurants were performing well and which were failing. Funds wouldn’t be spent properly and the chain would be missing out on taking advantage of opportunities in certain markets, and/or potentially spending more within markets that were destined to fail. Not a good way to run a business.

Knowing What to Track (What Qualifies as a Conversion)

So now we know that we should be tracking the traffic from our Pay Per Click campaign. But what should we be looking for? That depends on what you consider to be the actions on your site that encourage a prospect to move into the next stage of the sales funnel. Here are some ideas on what to consider for conversions:

  • Request for quote form
  • White paper download
  • Brochure or spec sheet download
  • Sales email links
  • Contact form
  • Sales (eCommerce)

How to Track Conversions

Google Adwords offers a feature called Auto-tagging that allows campaign managers to append a tracking variable into the url that allows Google Analytics to distinguish paid visits from organic. This part is very easy to setup; within your Adwords account go to My account > Auto Tagging = Yes. Google offers more information on what Auto-tagging is and how it works. You’ll also want to ensure that your Adwords campaign is linked properly with your site’s Google Analytics profile. The next step is to assign a conversion code to the appropriate thank you pages. If you’ve already done this when you setup goals in Google Analytics you’re set once Adwords and GA are linked. If, however, you want conversions tracked separately from your goals, you’ll want to add conversion code provided by Adwords to the appropriate thank you pages.

Interpreting the Results

Alright, so we’ve now got our PPC traffic tracked, conversions/goals are tracked, now what? Well, the logical next step is turning the new information we have access to into actionable intelligence. So a slight admonishment: the analysis and actions resulting from the analysis of campaign results is an ongoing process. Prepare to make it a habit. The best way to determine which keywords to target and which to ignore is based on a simple calculation of return on investment. This can be defined as a cost per conversion, cost per lead or cost per sale. Either way, we’re taking the cost spent on a keyword and dividing that by the amount of leads or conversions it brought in. So if we spent $100 on a keyword in the entire month of July, we would divide that by the amount of leads (let’s say in this case was 5) to come up with a cost per conversion of $20.00. Now that I have that cost per conversion of $20, I can compare that with the cost per conversions of other keywords to determine where best to allocate my budget. Or I can compare it with the cost per conversion for that keyword in other months to determine whether changes I made to the ad position or ad text have had positive or negative effects.

Up next: Mistake 5: Running Search and Content Network in the Same Campaign