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Optimizing AdWords with Google Analytics: Google Best Practices

Pull Google Analytics metrics into AdWords for deeper insights

You’ll get high-performance insights into your ads and your website when you integrate your Google Analytics account with AdWords.

Introduction

Like sunshine and the beach, or dogs and tennis balls, Google AdWords and Google Analytics are great by themselves but even better together.

Google Analytics does a vital job in this pairing: it shows you the AdWords traffic that didn’t lead to a conversion. If you assume that the average site conversion rate is around 3%, that leaves 97% of traffic that can be understood better. A lot better.

You can start gathering those detailed insights now by linking your accounts. We’ll begin with working with Google Analytics metrics in AdWords, then we’ll move on to working with AdWords metrics in GA. Across both platforms, remember that these strategies should be used in tandem for maximum success.

You can get a deeper understanding of the interactions your customers have with your site by working with Google Analytics metrics within the AdWords interface. That means insight into detailed conversion behaviors, clearer audience profiles, and a better sense of the customer’s journey from their first ad click right through to the conversion you want. Let’s look at some places to start.

The Importance of Linking AdWords and Google Analytics Accounts

This video references the previous version of AdWords. Learn how to check which version you're using.

The Importance of Linking AdWords and Google Analytics Accounts

By linking AdWords and Google Analytics together, you’ll get deeper understanding of the interactions your customers have with your ads and your website.

Import goal completions and ecommerce transactions

A conversion is usually a purchase completed or a lead captured, but a goal can be many things: a visit to a given page, a certain amount of time spent on a site, or a host of other things you find valuable.

Google Analytics provides you with flexible goal tracking, and those goals can be imported into AdWords as conversions. This helps you perform richer analyses, and also create goals that double as profiles for specific audiences.

Tip

You may find minor discrepancies in data because AdWords tracks clicks and Analytics tracks sessions. (A click is a user’s interaction with your ad; a session is a group of interactions that take place on your website in one time frame by one user.) Keep that in mind as you dive into your data.

Those goals can be certain actions you consider important. For instance:

  • Destination: A visit to a specific page on your site, like a visit to a new /blog page on your site if you’re trying to build a community with your customers.
  • Duration: The time someone spends on your site. You might use this if you want users to engage deeply; or, on the other hand, if you want them to find information as fast as possible.
  • Pages or screens per session: How many pages each user visits—useful if you’d rather measure engagement by page visits instead of by time on site.
  • Event: The moment when someone watches a video, adds a product to a cart, shares a page through a social button, or takes any other action. Helpful if you want users to complete a specific action beyond a destination page view.

All these goals can be imported into AdWords as conversions, so you can see and measure the actions your ads created.

Additionally, you can track the value of your conversions in AdWords.

Do it now: Understand your conversion tracking data

 

But did you know that you can go even deeper with that tracking in Google Analytics? Ecommerce tracking in GA includes detailed information about products (including revenue generated by each), transactions (revenue, tax, shipping and more), and time to purchase (number of days and sessions it takes to finish a sale). In AdWords, you’ll be able to see the number of transactions and their associated revenue by importing your GA ecommerce transactions, and from that you can connect your account’s performance directly to your sales data.

Tip

It’s a good idea not to track session duration alone. Session duration is measured by adding the time it takes between the different interactions a user may send to Google Analytics; those interactions can be pageviews, events or ecommerce transactions. If all interactions aren’t measured on the website, or if users spend long periods of time in one page before leaving your site, you may not get the full scope of that session duration.

Define micro conversions

Micro conversions are small (but valuable!) actions that users take on your site. They may add something to their cart, for instance, or download a newsletter.

These things may not have the value of a $2,000 purchase, but they capture user actions from different parts of the research and buying process—and show you how best to speak to that audience.

Once you import these Google Analytics goals into AdWords, you’re free to customize them further. You can decide how to count them, or what the conversion window should be.

You can monitor these different conversions and micro conversions using the 'Segment' feature to see reports by conversion name.

Create custom remarketing lists

Remarketing lists help you stay in front of users who have expressed interest in what you offer. Combine AdWords and Google Analytics and you’ll be able to build smarter remarketing lists to use in your campaigns.

NOTE: Remarketing may necessitate an update to your Analytics tracking code, along with some other requirements.

Use Smart Lists to automatically group your site users that are most likely to convert

Smart Lists are a good option if you don’t have time to segment your audience yourself. Google Analytics will automatically build a list of users on your site who are most likely to convert, and you can then use remarketing to bring them back to your site.

If you prefer to create your own custom remarketing lists, try to find your ideal audience using Google Analytics segmentation capabilities like pages viewed, location, on-site activity and goal completions. You can pick from predefined lists, or create your own, and instantly see the estimated size of the list that results.

Your goal is to create groups that you can reach effectively in the future: groups like homepage visitors, product page viewers, conversion abandoners or past converters. All of these, and others like them, are groups you can speak to with specific remarketing messages that will bring them back to your site.

For example: people who first came to your site through a non-paid link on another site haven’t clicked your ads, so they may have different expectations when they see your remarketing ad. Or, if users have watched a video on your site once before, you may send them to a landing page with a video on it.

You can use any of Google Analytics’ 250+ dimensions and metrics to build these kinds of highly-specific remarketing lists. The sky’s the limit, and the power is yours: you decide what’s most valuable for your site and your business, and build your audiences to match.

Tip

Get ideas for your own remarketing lists by heading over to the Google Analytics Solution Gallery. Import a remarketing-related solution or use one as inspiration for your own account.

 

Optimizing AdWords with Analytics Goals and Audiences

Optimizing AdWords with Analytics Goals and Audiences - Google Best Practices

Analytics gives you more insight than is offered within AdWords by itself. You can use GA with AdWords in a lot of ways, but for this video we’ll cover three things in particular: (1) Import goals as AdWords conversions, (2) Create custom remarketing audiences in GA, and (3) Use Smart Lists for automatically generated audiences

Understand which AdWords campaigns, ads or keywords drive on-site engagement

With your accounts linked, you can add Google Analytics metrics directly to your AdWords reports. Adding Analytics’ site interaction metrics to standard AdWords metrics like CTR and conversion rate will take things to a higher level.

Most clicks don’t turn into conversions. (This is that 97% we spoke of earlier.) Google Analytics metrics can help you see what happened when things didn’t turn out quite the way you hoped—and test ways to change that outcome.

For instance, you might try out:

  • A new call to action in your ads. How does your message prepare users to interact with your site? Does their pages viewed or session length change when you change your call to action?
  • A new set of keywords. Do your keywords deliver on users’ expectations? Are bounce rates in line with your core keyword base…or better?
  • A new campaign landing page. Does a different landing page draw users deeper into your site? Is their average session getting longer?

More data is better when you’re analyzing performance, as long as that data is really relevant. Keep the focus on the metrics that matter most to your account. Then use Google Analytics when the primary metrics in your account don’t give you enough insight to make effective decisions.

Monitor ‘% new sessions’ to learn which keywords attract new users

To see and understand where your campaigns reach customers in their journey, the % new sessions metric can be a big help.

This metric can be a proxy for new customers to your business. You may have a general idea of which keywords are driving new customers to your site, but % new sessions will help you prove or disprove your hypothesis. Try it when you’re setting goals for your account and also when you’re gauging the success of a keyword or a campaign.

Certain keywords will bring new users your way. Those users have a different value than someone who is returning to re-engage with your site. So plan your messaging and bids appropriately.

As you learn more about how familiar each user is with your site or brand, you can improve the overall strategy for your account.

Tip

Want to know even more about how customers find you? Take a look at Multi-Channel Funnels and Attribution Modeling in Google Analytics. You’ll see how different channels interact with one another as they bring new users to your site.

 

Using Google Analytics Metrics in AdWords Reporting

Using Google Analytics Metrics in AdWords Reporting - Google Best Practices

When your accounts are linked you can add GA metrics directly to your AdWords reports. In this video we’ll talk about what you can do with that, specifically (1) Understand which AdWords campaigns, ads & keywords drive on-site engagement and (2) Monitor ‘% New Sessions’ to learn which keywords attract new customers

 

Tip

Want even more tips about how to create great reports in AdWords? Check out this guide to finding actionable insights through AdWords Reporting.

 

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