Understanding conversion tracking

Conversion Tracking is a free tool that shows you what happens after a customer clicks on your ads -- whether they purchased your product, signed up for your newsletter or filled out a form to receive more information.

By tracking these actions, known as "conversions," you'll know which ads, keywords and campaigns bring you business. This helps you invest more wisely in the best ones and ultimately, boost your return on investment (ROI).

Example

You have a website for your clothing store, and when customers submit their orders online, they see a "Thank you for your purchase!" Pages:

You want to see which of your keywords – "blue jeans" or "buy designer jeans" – leads to more purchases, so you set up Conversion Tracking. First, you get a single snippet of code from AdWords that contains HTML and JavaScript. Then, you paste that code snippet in the HTML for the "Thank you for your purchase!" Pages:

Soon, you start to see that customers who click on your ad with "buy designer jeans" as a keyword buy a lot of jeans. Meanwhile, you see that a few people click on the ad with "blue jeans" as a keyword, but none of them make a purchase. So, you decide to stop investing in the "blue jeans" keyword and put more money towards the "buy designer jeans" keyword, resulting in more purchases and a better return on your investment.

Read on to learn more about conversions, why you'd want to use conversion tracking, how it works and how we protect your customers' privacy and security.

Conversion

A conversion is a customer action that has value to your business, such as purchase, downloading an app, visiting a website, filling out a form or signing a contract. Online and offline actions are called conversions because a customer's click translated – or converted – to business.

Why measure conversions

Measuring conversions is helpful for your business if you're trying to do the following:

  • Connect your ads and keywords to your business goals: Maybe you want people to view a particular page more, or you'd like more purchases. Conversion Tracking can show you which keywords are helping you meet those specific goals by connecting them to actions.
  • Boost your ROI: Not all keywords are equal. But if you know which keywords bring you the most business and which ones don't, you can make smarter investments in those keywords and avoid the unhelpful ones altogether.
  • See how customers interact with your ads across devices: Sometimes your customers click on your ad on one device, and then make their purchase on another device. These are called cross-device conversions, and you can see them in the Estimated Total Conversions column in your AdWords account.

Counting conversions

There are two important Conversion Tracking metrics: conversions and converted clicks. You can view both metrics in your conversion tracking reports.

  • Conversions
    For each conversion action, you can choose to count all or unique conversions. The "Conversions" column of your reports will display all conversions within your chosen conversion window, according to your selected counting method. The "All" setting is useful for counting all instances of sales, while "Unique" is used to count only one conversion when the same person generates multiple leads (example: one person fills out multiple forms requesting to be contacted about one of your services).

  • Converted clicks
    The "Converted clicks" column shows you the number of AdWords ad clicks resulting in a one or more conversions within your chosen conversion window. Note that the converted clicks count doesn't reflect the relative value of each converting click. Clicks that leads to a high-value conversions (such as multiple purchases) aren’t distinguished from those that lead to low-value conversions (such as a single newsletter sign-up).

Learn more about these different metrics and how they affect bidding and reporting.

How it works and set-up

Conversion Tracking works by adding a single snippet of HTML and JavaScript code to your webpage (without slowing it down, of course). Specifically, this snippet is placed on the page your customers see after they complete a conversion -- the "Thank you" page they see after a purchase, for example.

Every time a customer clicks your ad on Google.com or selected Google Network sites, a temporary cookie is placed on the customer's computer so a conversion can be recorded when the customer reaches the conversion page.

Online conversions
To set up conversion tracking for your website, you'll generate the snippet of HTML and JavaScript code in AdWords. Then, you'll place the code on your website. See our set-up guide below for step-by-step directions.

Offline conversions
If you’d like to track offline conversions, such as a sale over the phone or in your office, you’ll follow steps for tracking and importing offline conversions so that you can view them in AdWords.

Security and privacy

Google's security standards are strict. Only pages containing the Google conversion code are tracked through this program. We use data encryption and secure servers.

Privacy is also very important to Google. That's why we do the following to protect your customers' privacy:

  • Conversion Tracking cookies persist for a limited time only.
  • Conversions aren't isolated: This means that you can't match conversion data to specific customers, just see overall data for ads and keywords.
  • Conversion Tracking includes the option to notify customers about cookies: During the setup process, we'll help you create a notification box for your website that lets your customers know they're being tracked. This is known as the Google Site Stats box, which appears on your conversion page -- the page customers see after they complete a conversion. Google Site StatsThis notification appears only for customers who've been referred by Google to your site. When customers click on it, Google tells them that they don't have to accept the conversion cookie if they don't want to and reminds them that none of their personal information is being recorded or used in any way. Customers will also have an opportunity to provide feedback about your website.
  • Promote a clear privacy policy: If you don't use the Google Sites Stats box, we ask that you review your website's privacy policy to make sure it discloses your use of tracking technology.

Tip

For the Google Site Stats notification, we recommend placing the image in the lower-right hand corner of the conversion page, no further than a quarter of the screen away from the last line of content.