Conversion Tracking: The Key to Increased PPC Effectiveness
by Ron Dod
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Google ad campaigns aim to help merchants reach their target audiences, be it existing customers or prospective consumers. Given that the goal of most advertsing is to drive sales, it is vital that eCommerce retailers set up conversion tracking to understand how their ads are performing and if they are actually serving their intended purpose.
Conversion tracking is an effective feature of the Google Ads platform that enables users to definitively measure how effective ad campaigns are in driving conversions (email signups, downloads, sales, etc.). By employing this tool, merchants can identify areas of their campaign that are working properly and those that still need to be optimized.
While conversions can take a few forms depending on the type of business, they refer to sales for most eCommerce retailers. After establishing the kind of conversion your brand wants to track, it merely requires a few steps to set up conversion tracking for a PPC campaign.
One of the first steps is to install a tracking pixel in your digital store.
What Is a Tracking Pixel?
A tracking pixel (which is also often referred to as a “tag”) is a small bit of HTML coding that is loaded when a website visitor arrives on a site or opens an email. It serves to track user behaviors.
In practice, a tracking pixel manifests as a 1×1 graphic that lives on various pages of a website where it is installed. Because of the tiny size of the graphic (hence the name), these can hardly be detected by site visitors, if noticed at all. Moreover, since pixels tend to be partially (if not entirely) transparent, they disappear into the surrounding colors of a webpage.
Tracking pixels are incredibly useful for merchants and marketers as the information derived from this small bit of code can be used to make their websites more user-friendly, enhance a store’s retargeting efforts, produce more effective email messaging and various other augmentation purposes.
Depending on the platform, different companies provide unique tags. For example, retailers can obtain a bit of code from Google if they aim to produce retargeting campaigns via Google Ads, or they can acquire a pixel from Facebook to target consumers through its social ecosystem.
In many ways, these pixels are becoming a necessity in the online world.
The Benefits of Tracking Analytics Platforms
At their heart, pixels are a measurement tool.
While different organizations seek to achieve different goals–some may want to increase phone calls while others aim to grow their email list – most all are pursuing additional sales.
Using pixels to collect data – no matter if it is through Google, Facebook or another platform – is crucial for broadening a business’s reach and influence in the online world, turning prospects into customers and fully optimizing marketing efforts to achieve their dedicated goals.
The information acquired from installing conversion tracking helps merchants to determine the return on investment (ROI) for their search and social media advertising efforts, which assist a brand in making increasingly informed decisions about how to allocate their marketing budget.
Conversion tracking, specifically, enables merchants to measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts by tracking the revenue associated with a given campaign (i.e., if a consumer makes a purchase after clicking an ad).
Moreover, businesses can track multiple types of conversions to help optimize a variety of their business goals. However, implementing and accurately monitoring many tags can be a tedious and complicated process.
When a conversion action is created, Google gives the user a unique piece of code that correlates to that action. This code is then inserted on any page that confirms that type of conversion. Retailers can also set different attributes for specific conversion action as well, such as the action’s value.
Since there can be a lot to oversee for this process, Google (thankfully) provides a Tag Manager to help simplify the process.
What Is the Google Tag Manager?
The Google Tag Manager is a management system that enables a user to generate and monitor a variety of tags (or pixels) without having to write new code for every new tag.
The truth is that manually coding tags can be a laborious process, particularly for retailers who do not possess a decent amount of coding knowledge. For this reason, it can be incredibly time-consuming and tedious.
However, by using Google Tag Manager, the process has become increasingly simplified. Now, when a merchant wants to implement a tag on their site, only a single bit of code needs be installed. From there, when a site owner wants to apply a new tracking tag, Google Tag Manager codes it and embeds it on the site for the user. Merchants can even add their Facebook pixel to Google Tag Manager, bringing multiple platforms under a single umbrella.
With Google Tag Manager, website owners can add, edit or remove tags directly from the Tag Manager interface, thereby eliminating the need for extra development expertise.
Through Google Tag Manager’s code-writing capabilities, retailers need not worry about the complexities involved and the potential for human error; instead, they can focus on producing results. Moreover, the implementation of these tags helps to enhance the accuracy of a brand’s analytics, thereby providing even more informative data that can be used to increase performance effectiveness.
Outside of the simplified implementation and management process, Google Tag Manager provides some other noteworthy benefits.
Benefits of Consolidating Tracking in Google Tag Manager
While Google Tag Manager’s automated coding and embedding features make it an excellent platform for merchants to utilize, these elements aren’t the only factors that make Tag Manager an essential tool.
Fewer HTTP Requests
Browsers naturally cap the number of HTTP requests that can be processed at a time. Therefore, if a site has multiple tags that all fire on the same page, there is a good chance that some of them will not fire correctly. In this scenario, without the use of a tag manager, the tags would load synchronously, meaning that they load one after another.
Tag management systems like Google’s enable tags to load asynchronously, which means that tags load simultaneously and in tandem with other page elements to ensure that they do not block their loading.
Therefore, the use of asynchronous loading places a smaller burden on the site, thereby increasing its loading speed over sites that use multiple tags that load synchronously.
Increased Control Over Deployment
Google Tag Manager has drastically improved the capabilities for retailers to manage their tags simply. However, the aforementioned coding and embedding features have provided site owners with much more control over the deployment of their tags.
Thanks to Tag Manager’s coding and embedding elements, eCommerce purveyors need not wait for on-site developers to implement changes as doing so has been simplified. Moreover, any alterations can be handled on a single platform.
Outside of the implementation process, merchants also have increased control over who can make modifications to tags via permissions. Additionally, each time a change is made in Google Tag Manager, an archived version is created. This allows site owners to easily return to a former version if need be. This feature makes the troubleshooting process extremely simple and intuitive.
Retail websites of all sizes can benefit from the implementation of conversion tracking as it is an essential component to increasing website performance, marketing messages, sales and a variety of other business aspects.
However, since the installation and monitoring of tags has historically been a somewhat complicated process, the use of systems like Google Tag Manager can make conversion tracking incredibly simple.
Be sure to install the proper tags on your eCommerce site to better your brand’s performance and bottom line. For help with your conversion tracking efforts, contact our team of PPC experts. For Google specific help, go here.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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