Tracking offline conversions

Sometimes, a click on an AdWords ad doesn't lead directly to an online sale, but instead starts a customer down a path that ultimately leads to a sale in the offline world, such as at your office or over the phone. By importing offline conversions, you can measure what happens in the offline world after a click on one of your ads.

Why use it

Importing offline conversion events gives you a more comprehensive look at which keywords and targeting criteria (ex. geography, time of day) drive the most cost-effective conversions. This data can help you target and optimize your campaigns for increased profit.

If you attract leads or buyers online, or both, you might want to record a conversion in the following cases:

  • when you close a sale offline (ex. over the phone or in person)
  • 30 days after the online sale so you can exclude transactions that resulted in a return
  • only if the sale was made to a new customer
  • only if it is a customer's second purchase
  • when you close a sale online but are unable to use our standard Javascript-based conversion tracking solution

Here's a quick overview of the feature.

About AdWords Conversion Import

How it works

AdWords provides you with a unique ID, called a "GCLID," for every click that comes to your website from an AdWords ad. To track offline conversions, you'll save that ID along with whatever lead information you collect from the person who clicked your ad.

Later, when that person "converts" in the offline world, by signing a contract, for example, you give that GCLID back to AdWords along with a few details about the type of conversion it was and when it happened. Then AdWords records this conversion along with your other conversion tracking data.

Example

You design, build, and sell custom boardroom tables. You use AdWords to drive prospective customers to your website, where they then can submit their contact information and request a sales call. If a lead results from a click on an AdWords ad, the lead's contact information will also include a GCLID.

Once a week, your salespeople review that week's sales and send you the prospects (and associated GCLIDs) that converted into customers, along with the date and time of each sale. You then compile that data into a five-column spreadsheet and upload it into your AdWords account. Within a few hours you'll be able to see which keywords and queries are contributing not just to new lead submissions, but, more importantly, to actual sales.

This new data saves you time and makes it easier to maximize your investment in AdWords.

 

Requirements

To import offline conversions for your business, you'll want to make sure the following applies to you:

  • You've enabled auto-tagging. This lets you import offline conversions. To see steps on how to enable auto-tagging, click the link below.

    Steps to enable auto-tagging
    1. Click the gear icon and select Account settings . Preferences Tab
    2. Select Preferences.
    3. Under the "Tracking" section, find "Auto-tagging." If it says "Yes," then auto-tagging is already enabled. Otherwise, click Edit.
    4. To turn on auto-tagging, check the Destination URL Auto-tagging box.
    5. Click Save changes.

    You'll also be able to enable auto-tagging when you create a new offline conversion type for import. (We'll explain how to do this in a bit.)

  • You can make code changes to all of your web pages. This lets you capture the GCLID parameter that's appended to the destination URL when someone clicks through to your site from one of your ads.
  • You can store each GCLID with the corresponding prospect's information that's gathered on your website. You'd want to be able to do this, for example, in your lead tracking system.
  • You have a click-to-conversion cycle that is less than 90 days. Conversions uploaded more than 90 days after the associated last click will not be imported by AdWords and will therefore not show up in your conversion statistics.

Set up imports for Offline Conversion Tracking

There are two parts to setting up imports for Offline Conversion Tracking. Click the links below to see steps for each one.

Step 1: Create one or more import conversion types

You'll need to create a new conversion type — called "import" — for each kind of offline conversion you'd like to measure, such as "lead qualified" or a "deal won." You can measure as many offline conversion types as you want.

Here's how to create a new type of offline conversion:

 

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com
  2. Click the Tools tab, and select Conversions from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the + Conversion button.
  4. Enter a name for the conversion type you're creating. (It's important that you remember the exact name and spelling because you'll need to enter this name later, when you upload your offline conversion information.)
  5. In the "Source" field, select Import.
  6. Click Save and continue.
  7. Select the conversion category that best fits your new conversion.
  8. Select an optional conversion value if you wish, and click Save and continue. The value will apply to any imported conversions that don't already have an assigned conversion value — that is, if you left the conversion value column blank.
  9. On the next screen, you'll see a link to this Help Center article, which explains how to prepare your data and import your conversions.
  10. Click Done.

How to upload conversions for multiple accounts from a single file

To do this, all of the relevant accounts need to be linked from a shared My Client Center (MCC) account. This MCC is where you will upload your files. We'll then import any conversions that originated from that MCC's accounts.

Keep in mind: If you upload a conversion for an account that isn't linked from your MCC, you will get a "not authorized to upload" error.

  • If you use Cross-account Conversion Tracking: You'll need to create your import conversion types at the MCC level and follow instructions to make sure all managed accounts use the MCC account as the "conversion account."
  • If you don't use Cross-account Conversion Tracking: You'll need to create your import conversion types in each individual account. Keep in mind: if you're tracking the same conversion (ex. "lead qualified") across multiple accounts, it's critical that you use the exact same spelling and capitalization for each conversion name in each of your accounts.
  • If you haven't used AdWords Conversion Tracking before and all of the accounts under your MCC belong to the same business: You'll want to use Cross-Account Conversion Tracking. It can help simplify tracking your conversions and your Search Funnels reports.

 

Step 2: Enable your website and lead tracking system

Keep in mind: Be sure to complete step 1 — create one or more conversion types — before starting this step. Otherwise, you won’t be able to import your early conversions.

  1. Update the code on each of your web pages to capture and store the GCLID in a cookie.

    Here's sample JavaScript code you can use on each web page to store the GCLID in a cookie named "gclid."

    <script type="text/javascript">
    function setCookie(name, value, days){
        var date = new Date();
        date.setTime(date.getTime() + (days*24*60*60*1000)); 
        var expires = "; expires=" + date.toGMTString();
        document.cookie = name + "=" + value + expires;
    }
    function getParam(p){
        var match = RegExp('[?&]' + p + '=([^&]*)').exec(window.location.search);
        return match && decodeURIComponent(match[1].replace(/\+/g, ' '));
    }
    var gclid = getParam('gclid');
    if(gclid){
        var gclsrc = getParam('gclsrc');
        if(!gclsrc || gclsrc.indexOf('aw') !== -1){
    	    setCookie('gclid', gclid, 90);
    	}
    }
    </script> 

    It's a good idea to insert this code at the bottom of every web page, immediately before the closing </body> tag. This way, you don't have to add it every time you create new ads with new landing pages, or worry about losing GCLIDs if you change landing pages for existing ads. Even better, consider adding this code to your webpage template so that all your new pages will automatically have the code and be able to capture GCLIDs.

  2. Modify your site's prospect lead information submission page — usually, a lead submission form — to read the GCLID from the cookie and pass it along to your lead management system, along with the lead's contact information.

    You can retrieve the GCLID value via your choice of client- or server-side languages. Once retrieved, it's a good idea to pass the GCLID through your lead submission form as a hidden field element.

    Here's an example form with a hidden field for collecting the GCLID. You should insert the highlighted <input> tag in between your <form> tags.:

       <form action="" name="myForm"> 		
             Name: <input type="text" name="name"> 		
             <input type="hidden" id="gclid_field" name="gclid_field" value=""> 	 	
             <input type="submit" value="Submit Form" name="btnSubmit"> 	
       </form>
           

    Here's example JavaScript code you can use to retrieve the GCLID value from the cookie and update the value of the hidden form element. It's important that you insert this code after the GCLID collection code we provided you in the previous step (Step 2.1) and before the closing </body> tag.

      <script> 
      function readCookie(name) { 
      var n = name + "="; 
      var cookie = document.cookie.split(';'); 
      for(var i=0;i < cookie.length;i++) {      
          var c = cookie[i];      
          while (c.charAt(0)==' '){c = c.substring(1,c.length);}      
          if (c.indexOf(n) == 0){return c.substring(n.length,c.length);} 
      } 
      return null; 
      } 
    
      window.onload = function() {      
          document.getElementById('gclid_field').value = 
      readCookie('gclid'); 
      } 
      </script>
    

    This example assumes that you have a hidden field called 'gclid_field' in your form. If your field has a different name (for instance, if you have to use the name your CRM system created for you), then simply replace 'gclid_field' with that name.

  3. Modify your backend customer data management system so it can store the GCLID along with the prospect's information. For example, if you're using a lead management system, add a custom field to your lead object so this ID can be stored and retrieved easily and reliably.

    Marketo, Mongoose Metrics and SugarCRM have published integration guides for their customers, which are available in their online help centers. You can also read our FAQ on Importing AdWords conversions from Salesforce.com

Tip

If you have a Google Tag Manager account, you can use it to implement your GCLID collection JavaScript by following these steps:

  1. Log into your Google Tag Manager account at http://www.google.com/tagmanager.
  2. Under Accounts, click the name of the account with the container you use for your AdWords tags.
  3. Under Containers, click the name of the container you want to use.
  4. Click the New button, then select Tag from the drop-down menu.
  5. Enter a name in the "Tag Name" field (you might want to use something like "AdWords Click ID Collection for Conversion Import.")
  6. Under "Tag Type," select "Custom HTML Tag" from the drop-down menu.
  7. Copy the JavaScript from step 2.1 above and paste it into the "HTML" field.
  8. Under "Firing Rules," click the +Add button. Check the box next to "All pages" and click Save.
  9. Click Save.
  10. Click the Create Version button.
  11. Click the Publish button.

Import your conversions into AdWords

There are two ways you can import your data in to AdWords: by uploading it as a CSV or Excel file, or by transmitting the data to our API. If you'd like to transmit the data to the AdWords API, then you can skip the steps below and instead read this help article from our API Developer's Guide.

When you're ready to import your conversions, follow these two steps:

Step 1: Prepare your data for import
  1. Download our conversion upload template (download: Excel or CSV).
    • Be sure not to remove the rows that begin with "Parameters" and "Action," otherwise your import will fail.
    • Make sure your data doesn't include additional columns or any personal information.
  2. Once you've downloaded and saved the template, update the "TimeZone" value in the "parameters" row of this file so it reflects your AdWords account's time zone. (You can see what time zone your account is set to by signing into your account and checking the footer.)
    • To set your account's time zone, enter your GMT offset by indicating + or - and then the 4 digit time difference. (For example, New York's offset is -0500, and Berlin's is +0100). If you use Greenwich Mean Time, then simply enter +0000.
  3. Next, add a new row for each offline conversion, filling in the columns as follows:
    • Action: always enter the word "add" — in English, without the quotation marks — in this column for every new conversion. Capitalization doesn't matter, but "add" should always be in English, regardless of your account's language settings.
    • Google Click ID: the GCLID that led to the offline conversion
    • Conversion Name: the name of the conversion type (ex. "lead qualified" or "contract signed"). It's important that you use the exact same spelling and capitalization that you did when you created this conversion type.
    • Conversion value: (optional field) a number representing the value that you place on the conversion. It could reflect a currency value, or you could simply choose to enter relative values of 0-10 (negative numbers are not accepted). If you leave this field blank, AdWords will automatically apply the "conversion value" that you defined in Step 2.8 when you created your new offline conversion type.
    • Conversion Time: the date and time that the conversion occurred. Here's a list of acceptable date formats (e.g. MM/dd/yyyy HH:mm:ss):
      Format Examples
      MM/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss aa "08/14/2012 5:01:54 PM"
      MMM dd,yyyy hh:mm:ss aa "Aug 14, 2012 5:01:54 PM"
      MM/dd/yyyy HH:mm:ss "08/14/2012 17:01:54"
      yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss "2012-08-14 13:00:00"
      yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss "2012-08-14T13:00:00"
Imported conversions can't be removed once they are imported. So, be sure that the data you enter is accurate.
Step 2: Importing your conversions
To import your offline conversions to AdWords, you'll need to upload your conversion file into your AdWords account, MCC account. (Keep in mind, imported conversions can't be removed once they're imported.)
  1. In AdWords, click the Tools tab, and select "Conversions." If you're using an MCC account, navigate to the upload page by clicking Conversions.
  2. Click the Upload button.
  3. Click Browse to locate the template you've filled out and saved with your offline conversions information.
  4. Click the Upload button.
  5. A yellow box will appear reminding you that uploading the report will immediately update your account. (Keep in mind, there's no "undo" option after this point.
  6. Click Yes, I understand to start adding new conversions to your account.

More about imports

Click the sections below to learn more about tracking your offline conversions

Timing your uploads

Offline conversions uploaded more than 90 days after the associated last click won't be imported into AdWords, and this means it won't show up in your conversion statistics.

Uploading multiple conversions for the same click

The same conversion won't be imported more than once. So, if you try to upload a conversion with the same combination of GCLID, "ConversionName," date, and time, AdWords will ignore it.

But if you want to upload multiple conversions of the same type — several offline purchase conversions, for example — for the same click, you can. AdWords will record them as separate conversions as long as they have different times (the GCLIDs and conversion names can be identical).

Tip

It's a good idea to re-upload any conversions that occurred shortly before your last upload, just in case some of them were too recent to be processed. AdWords needs 4-6 hours after the ad click before a conversion can be successfully uploaded. (If you upload a conversion too soon after the click, you'll see an error message that says "We're still processing this this click's information, please try again after 4-6 hours.")

For example, if you upload your conversions daily, you'll want to make sure you upload all conversions from the last two days, just in case some of the conversions from two days ago weren't processed. Don't worry about double counting — AdWords won't count the same uploaded conversion more than once.

Viewing the status of your upload

Once your file is uploaded, you'll see a new entry for that file at the top of the table. Check the "status" column to see if your job is complete.

Importing the file may take several minutes. Once it's complete, you'll see a summary in the status column with the following updates:

  • Records uploaded
  • Actions found
  • Successful
  • Failures

This summary will also contain a link to "Download results" which will give you a copy of your uploaded file, including any error messages. This link will be removed 30-60 days after your initial upload.

What to do if there are errors

 

  1. Download the results file from the "Download results" link.
  2. Scan the new "Errors" column to find all the rows that are marked with an error.
  3. Make the necessary corrections, save the file, and then re-upload the file. It's OK to upload the whole file again, including the previous changes (since AdWords will ignore those rows that have already been imported).
Sometimes there might be a problem that prevents the entire file from processing. If this happens, you'll find the error message in the first row (if it's a .csv or .tsv file) or in a new "General Errors" worksheet (if its an Excel file).

 

Viewing your imported conversions in AdWords

It takes about 3 hours for your imported conversions statistics to show up in your AdWords account. When they do, they'll appear in your conversions columns.

See how performance varies by conversion type

You can to add the Conversions (many-per-click) column to your report. Just click the "Columns" button, select "Customize columns" and then "Conversions" from the menu. Then apply the "Conversion action name" segment by clicking the "Segment" button, selecting "Conversions" from the dropdown menu, and then choosing "Conversion action name."

The longer the delay between your clicks and your conversions (online or imported conversions), the longer you will have to wait to see the most complete conversion metrics.

Example

If you want to see conversion statistics for Monday, your clicks take three days to convert, and you upload your conversions nightly, then you'll have to wait until Friday morning before you can see Monday's accurate conversion statistics.

Using bid automation with offline conversions

You can use AdWords bid strategies to optimize for offline conversions. If you do, it's a good idea to do the following:

Example

If you track both online conversions (ex. leads) and offline conversions (ex. final sale) using ROAS, you can assign different values to different conversion types (ex. the value of a lead is $10, and that of a sale is $500). This gives AdWords more insight into your sales funnel. And the more insight AdWords has into your sales funnel, the better it can optimize your bids for you

If you decide to use bid automation, it's a good idea to import offline conversion data frequently (daily is best), and also wait a full lead-to-conversion cycle (ex. one week, one month, etc.) from when you start importing conversions to when you enable the Target ROAS strategy.

  • Import offline conversion data frequently (daily is best)
  • Begin uploading conversions and then wait a full cycle before you turn on bid automation
  • If you're tracking a combination of online and offline conversions, try the target ROAS bid strategy. With target ROAS, you can better optimize for online and offline conversions by assigning different values to different types of conversions, such as leads and offline sales.

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