How Google Ads Conversions Fall Short for Performance Marketers in 2019

Google conversion tracking is the first and most widely used conversion tracking tool today. It’s popular because it integrates well with Google Ads so marketers can easily understand how their ad spend affects performance. The technology comes with some inherent limitations, though, which prevent performance marketers from making targeted bidding decisions to drive their financial business goals.

How Google Ads Conversion Tracking Works 

Google Ads conversion tracking works by assigning conversion value to specific actions people make with your business. Here are the kinds of actions Google conversion tracking can follow:

  • Website actions such as sign-ups or purchases.
  • Phone calls from your ads, calls to a phone number on your website, or clicks on a phone number on your website.
  • App installs from Android or iOS, purchases or other activities within apps. 
  • Online to offline activity, such as clicking an ad and submitting a contact form online, then signing a contract offline.
  • Local actions: Actions that are counted whenever people interact with an ad that’s specific to a physical location or store.

Advertisers can set up conversion tracking based on what actions are most relevant to their business goals. Then they can easily track data on conversions for advertising campaigns, ad groups, ads, and individual keywords. This helps you better understand how your advertising efforts are impacting key business objectives. 

With Google conversion tracking, you can use Smart Bidding strategies to automatically optimize your bid strategy to meet specific conversion goals. Smart Bidding strategies include options such as Maximize Conversions, target CPA, or target ROAS. 

Google Ads also makes it possible to track multiple kinds of conversions by creating different conversion actions. For example, you can track purchases on your website as well as calls from your ads.

Issues with Google Ads Conversion Tracking

Google Ads conversion tracking is valuable for its accessibility to advertisers and simplicity. It does, however, have numerous shortcomings compared to other conversion tracking alternatives. Here are some of the reasons Google Ads conversions aren’t good enough for performance marketers today:

Tracking Offline Conversions

One of the biggest challenges for conversion tracking today is incorporating offline conversion data into your analysis. Tracking and utilizing offline conversion data is extremely important to help advertisers understand the real value of their advertising efforts. 

Google Ads provides some offline tracking information for when a conversion starts online and ends offline, but it falls short in some other cases of offline conversions. This is especially true if your business relies heavily on phone call conversions. Many businesses use call extensions or call-only ads with Google Ads to encourage people to call their business.

Google Ads call reporting helps you measure the performance of your call extensions with data like call duration, call start and end time, caller area code, and whether the call was connected. You can also set calls of a certain duration as conversions. For example, you can designate that calls over one minute are conversions, then set your automated bidding strategies to increase this kind of conversion.

The real problem here, though, is that none of the data Google provides actually illustrates if the call was a true conversion or not. Someone could call you for one minute to discuss complaints about your service. There’s no way to differentiate calls from current customers or new potential leads. There’s also no way to identify and segment out calls that brought in a sale. 

In order to take advantage of call tracking in conversion analytics, you’ll need to use a third-party CRM tool that helps you identify specific things about the call and the caller that make them valuable to your business.

Phone calls aren’t the only kind of offline conversion businesses need to track today. Leads could also click on your PPC ad, browse your website, then decide to walk into your store to convert. This is the kind of offline conversion data that you’d need to manually upload to conversion tracking software. With Google Ads conversions you can do this after the fact, but that leads to delays in automated bid adjustments. 

Google bidding algorithms need to rely on this data to make important changes to your bidding strategy to better target the kind of leads that are likely to become sales. This need to manually upload offline conversion data means the algorithms aren’t always working from the most recent and relevant conversion data when making bidding decisions. This can lead to inefficiencies in campaign budget spend, resulting in poor performance overall.

Assigning Financial Value to Conversions

Google Ads allows you to assign conversion value to all sorts of actions that are valuable to your buying cycles, such as online signups, app installs, and other local actions. It’s important to know how your advertising efforts impact these actions, yet it’s most important to understand the big picture of how these actions impact sales and drive revenue for your business.

It’s very challenging to make these kinds of attributions, especially with Google Ads. Many businesses have a long buying cycle, meaning it takes a while to convert most leads into actual sales. Consider software technology companies that offer a demo or free trial. These are very important conversions to track, but they still don’t illustrate the true financial value of your advertising efforts. If you ignore this glaring fact in your conversion tracking analysis, it can look like your conversion rate is great, without actually driving actions that impact your bottom line. Then you end up spending more money promoting ads that might be doing very little to actually close sales for your business. 

Accurate and valuable conversion tracking needs to show you more than just how your ads are impacting lead generation efforts. They need to go so far as to illustrate the financial value these leads have.

Limited Automation

One way you can get more valuable insights out of your conversion data is by linking Google Ads with Google Analytics. Using the two tools, it’s possible to get a better understanding of how different online actions impact your buying cycle. 

Google Analytics helps you understand more about user behavior than just ad clicks and landing page actions. You can get a deeper look at the traffic sources to your website, as well as goal-based paths-to-purchase. Getting someone to click an ad and fill out a contact form on your landing page is a conversion. But what actions do they take beyond this point to end up on your sales page and make a purchase? Google Analytics helps you track this. 

For businesses with longer sales cycles, these insights are arguably more valuable than what Google Ads conversion tracking has to offer. Businesses can use this information to make changes to their advertising message and targeting strategy. But there’s no way to really automate this. 

Google Ads automated bidding strategies rely on conversion data from ads to make targeted bidding decisions. Any other insights advertisers gain from Google Analytics must be acted on manually. Google Ads conversion tracking would be a lot more valuable if you could automate bid changes based on insights from your full sales funnel.

Looking Beyond Google Ads Conversions 

Google Ads conversion tracking is valuable because it’s simple and easily accessible. It’s automatically integrated into your PPC technology. But it has many shortfallings that can be easily addressed using more sophisticated tools. 

Consider the issue of call tracking, for example. CRM software makes it easy to track, tag, and assign value to all individual calls that a business receives. Your CRM can then integrate with a third-party bidding technology tool. This makes it possible to make targeted bidding decisions based on the most relevant call data. 

The key to success with PPC advertising today is using automation technology that is able to unify data analysis and easily act on those insights. Google Ads conversion technology is inherently limited in this respect because it can’t analyze the necessary deep funnel data to make informed bidding decisions. Relying on surface-level metrics that track conversions but not revenue can lead advertisers astray – causing them to funnel money into advertising initiatives that may not be driving their bottom line. 

QuanticMind is one example of a sophisticated bid automation technology that addresses this issue. It employs advanced machine learning technology to analyze any relevant business data you need, such as historical revenue, click and conversion data, publisher data, third party analytics or tracking data, deep funnel or offline revenue data, customer lifetime value data, and other internal metrics. Most importantly, it considers all relevant deep funnel actions when assigning value to conversions. Using a revenue per click (RPC) model, QuanticMind is able to focus on the financial benefit of conversion behaviors, rather than assigning artificial value to the actions themselves.

The Bottom Line 

Google Ads conversion tracking is a great place to start when measuring the value of your advertising efforts to drive important business goals, but it falls short when performance marketers want to analyze valuable deep funnel data and assign true revenue value to user actions. Exploring third-party options is the best solution to maximize the benefits of conversion tracking for marketing success.

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