Measuring website visitor behavior after the click on an ad needs to be part of a Google Adwords management plan and is the reason why you want to connect Google AdWords and Google Analytics. But just because a metric is available in Google Analytics, it does mean that monitoring that specific metric should be part of your Google AdWords management plan. Below we have listed best practices for measuring behavior after the AdWords click.
Define your KPIs
First tie your key performance indicators (KPI) to a metric. For example, reach and awareness are KPIs that may include views on YouTube or brand lift surveys. Defining what your KPIs are from the beginning is a key part of any Google AdWords management plan.
Identify mobile users
Mobile use has changed the ability to measure website performance. More than half of traffic now comes from mobile devices and tablets which results in a more complex consumer path than back in the day when people did everything from a single desktop computer at home or work.
To complicate things even further, many searchers start an activity on one device, but finish it on another one for one reason or another. Perhaps they started searching on a work computer and finished at home. Or they researched initially on mobile device but preferred to complete the checkout process on a larger desktop screen. Segment this traffic so you can view any variations in response to your call to action and ad performance based on the device used.
Cross-Device Conversions were introduced several years ago “to help marketers fully measure multi-device consumer journeys that start with an ad click on one device or browser and end with a conversion on another.” Up until the end of 2016, this column had to be manually added and we saw a lot of accounts where this was not enabled which was a loss of valuable data about the device type.
Fortunately, this started rolling out as a default setting so all new AdWords accounts will have cross-device conversions in the Conversion column of reporting which provides a more accurate view of overall behavior and the interaction of different devices.
Conversions that matter
Track the conversions that matter which is why you need to start by defining your KPIs. We introduced Smart Goals in an earlier post which is Google’s way of using your “best sessions” as conversions. Since their algorithm for what defines a good session is unknown, it is a gray area for behavior. Although you may want to enable them in Google Analytics if you are a newcomer, do not import them into AdWords as a hard metric for conversions, stick to the KPIs you’ve defined for yourself
Think beyond the last interaction
Too many advertisers are only analyzing the final touch-point of the consumer’s journey in their Google AdWords management plan which is the channel used immediately before conversion. This last click attribution mindset does not consider the full journey.
The image above gives a picture of this last-click model, showing that 100% of the credit for a conversion is given to the marketing channel used immediately before the conversion. The problem is that it ignores the other interactions that happened along the way. With the last click model, no credit is given to an awareness campaign or a social media link clicked on from a mobile device while standing in line at the grocery store. Since the majority of website visitors will not convert on the first visit, especially with high dollar items, you need to monitor other behaviors on the website that occurred prior to this last interaction as well as the different channels used to arrive on the site.
Define important micro-conversions
What can someone do on your site other than make a purchase? These are the micro-conversions you will want to monitor and include newsletter sign-ups, lead generation, and videos played. These micro-conversions include any action that is important to the business. Of course, sales matters the most but other conversions, like an email sign-up, may help drive revenue.
With micro conversions, it is especially interesting to note the first interaction. Like the last interaction, it does have it’s own bias since 100% of the credit goes to the first marketing channel. However, it can help you see which marketing channels not only introduced you, but also were compelling enough to bring people into the funnel. For example, do the visitors who learn about you from a certain display ads become customers later on?
Increase your look back windows
A look back – or conversion – window is the period of time you allow to look back at ad exposures that contributed to a conversion. It examines when users click on an ad compared to when they actually convert and is set to a default of 30 days in Google AdWords.
With low end purchases, your look back window is usually not very important. For example, if you visit Amazon for a $20 book, you may not spend time comparing books and simply purchase once you find what you need. However, with a high ticket item, there will likely be a longer purchase path. You see an ad, go to a consumer review site, do some comparison shopping, read a blog, revisit the website etc.
To properly account for that type of user, you would want a window that is longer than 30 days so you can better identify which ads are influencing a purchase decision early on. For high dollar items, 30 days or less is often too short to really understand the full consumer journey as you manage Google AdWords. To view your current conversion window and change the time period, this video will show you how (Start at the 3:10 minute mark to view just that step).
Correct conversion count
Count one conversion for one lead and every conversion for purchases. One person may submit multiple leads at different times which is really only one conversion. However, since every purchase brings in revenue, you want to include every single e-commerce transaction made on your website. The video above also shows you how to change your count (Start at the 2:35 minute mark to view just that step).
Use the tag assistant
If conversion rates are too high and more than half of your visitors are converting, there could be an issue with the conversion tracking code. In other cases, you may discover your conversion counts are much different than the reporting you see from your CRM system. The Tag Assistant will help you diagnose implementation errors.
And finally – remember the difference between AdWords and Analytics
You may see different data in Google Analytics compared to Google AdWords on the same day. If your ad was clicked 100 times on Wednesday, you might expect to see 100 visits to your site from AdWords on that same day in Google Analytics but much of the time, those numbers will be different.
A click in Google AdWords is when your ad receives a click and is recorded immediately. Google Analytics is what happens after this ad click. It is possible a visitor leaves the site before the page is loaded fully and/or may visit your site a week later by typing your URL into the browser so there are multiple sessions on different dates, all identified as originating from AdWords.
Whatever practices you implement in managing your Google AdWords account, remember that your data will be slightly different with these two products.