The buyer's journey consists of awareness, consideration, and decision. That final conversion to the decision-making stage is a fan favorite.
It’s a huge success to turn someone from a spectator to a customer. But if you ask a marketer how they achieved those conversions and they can’t answer that question, they might as well be waving a red flag around.
Because if they can’t tell you how they helped move someone along the pipeline, they’re almost definitely not tracking their conversions.
What is conversion tracking?
Conversion tracking occurs when a brand watches the actions that consumers take toward the goal of a business. These steps can range from signing up for your newsletter to making a purchase on your website, depending on your business goals. Conversion tracking helps marketers see the effectiveness of their copy, design, and overall marketing campaigns.
The ultimate goal of the marketing department is to capture the attention of their brand’s audience, increase engagement, and eventually turn audience members into customers.
The efforts that marketers put into these conversions can be measured with a wide array of marketing metrics, but only conversion tracking can tell them the journey that the customer is taking.
Without knowing the customer’s journey, it’s impossible to improve the customer experience.
What is a conversion?
If you and your team don’t have the buyer journey in mind, can you even call yourselves marketers?
The buyer’s journey begins with awareness, then consideration, and finally, a decision (conversion) is made.
When your team runs a digital campaign, you’re creating awareness. You may get a few clicks, which indicate that the consumer may be considering your product or service. But there’s nothing more sure than when a consumer actually takes action on your site.
Any event that contributes to the success of your campaign could be considered a conversion. Some examples of conversion goals could be:
Make a purchase
Contact your business
Subscribe to your newsletter
Persuading your audience to take action is half of what marketing is all about. The other half is knowing exactly what you did to persuade them so you can optimize your strategy for the future and make the next marketing campaign you launch your best one yet.
How does conversion tracking work?
The best way to measure the results of your marketing campaign is with conversion tracking. Conversion tracking works in a few steps:
When a user sees your ad campaign, a cookie is placed on their computer to collect actions taken post-impression. Cookies are designed for websites to record a user’s browsing activity.
When a user clicks your ad campaign, an additional cookie is placed on their computer to collect actions taken post-click.
When the user visits the page that has a conversion pixel on it or clicks a button that has a pixel, a conversion is recorded in the ad server.
Once the conversion is recorded, marketers are then able to view that data on the ad server that recorded their journey from impression to conversion, otherwise known as their conversion path.
An example of a conversion path could be a user clicking your ad, which is posing as a CTA. From there, they may be taken to a landing page on your website. The user may fill out your form and be redirected to a thank-you page.
The thank-you page is the page that hides the pixel, indicating to your ad server (and therefore you and your team) that this user has converted.
4 common types of conversion tracking
Every marketer defines a conversion differently, depending on their marketing goals. While tracking one type of conversion is possible, there are multiple tools that are capable of tracking the following conversions and more simultaneously so that you can get the most out of your data.
1. Website conversions
Website conversions are the most common type of conversion that businesses track.
Tracking online conversions could involve tracking clicks on a button, newsletter signups, submitted forms, or amount of downloaded gated content. Setting this up can be as easy as adding that pixel to your thank-you page that users see after submissions.
2. Online sales
Within tools like Google Ads, it’s also possible to assign a conversion value to online sales transactions. Doing this will allow you to track your revenue data alongside additional data so that other important metrics can be tracked.
Conversion value: a numerical value assigned to your conversions to demonstrate the impact they have on your business.
Assigning conversion values helps you to track your return on ad spend and make more knowledgeable decisions based on the amount of leverage that certain keywords, campaigns, or ad groups hold.
3. Phone calls
If you’re putting out an ad that provides a phone number, the amount of phone calls received (and their source) are all capable of being tracked.
Whether that phone number is exclusive to your website, an advertisement, or a mobile site number, all can be tracked and filtered so that the data being collected is only from the most relevant sources.
4. Offline conversions
If you’re not an e-commerce business, it’s still very possible to track offline conversions. For example, Google Ads has a feature called Google conversion import as a conversion option.
While it’s not as simple to set up as online conversions, it’s worth your while to learn about. Things like store visits and offline purchases are just as important as any action a customer takes online.
3 benefits of conversion tracking
Conversion tracking is the key to identifying your success – literally. Conversion tracking helps marketers pull out the campaigns, ads, and keywords that are the most influential for generating revenue, awareness, or other goals your marketing team may have.
Below is a list of some of the many benefits that conversion tracking brings to the table.
1. Encourages more effective ad copy
Weak copy isn’t going to cut it for your creative team, and it’s not going to cut it for your audience, either.
Conversion tracking can indicate the strength of your ad copy and allude to whether or not your landing page may need an update. Something as seemingly simple as experimenting with the language you use in your ad copy can have an enormous effect on your conversion rate.
2. Helps your team make more effective decisions
Conversion tracking doesn’t result in isolated metrics. In other words, the numbers that result from conversion tracking don’t lead to a dead end.
Those results can be used to make more informed decisions about the content you’re providing your audience, the channels you’re marketing on, and so on. The more informed decisions you’re making, the better you’ll be able to allocate your budget.
3. Tracking conversions leads to...conversions
Tracking conversions leads to more conversions. It sounds simple, and it is.
The benefits listed above, along with many others all lead to this one: the more you learn how to improve your keyword choices, your copy style, your design decisions, and marketing mediums, the more conversions you’ll see as you apply those learnings in your future campaigns.
3 conversion tracking mistakes to avoid
Conversion tracking is necessary, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fool-proof. Below are some mistakes that marketers are prone to making when trying to track their conversions.
1. No conversion tracking
Rule zero of conversion tracking is: track your conversions.
The basis of any business is its customers, and failing to take the time to understand their behaviors, priorities, and pain points is what can lead to closed doors.
The benefits of conversion tracking listed above are few, but mighty. Platforms like Google Ads and Facebook provide the capability to set up conversion tracking front and center, meaning there’s no excuse not to take the leap.
Conversion tracking should not be a weak point in your marketing strategy; it should be the peak.
2. Tracking the wrong pages
The pixel is priceless, and placing it in the wrong spot can do irreversible damage to your metrics. For example, if that pixel is placed on a landing page instead of the page that appears after a form is filled out, conversions will be counted before anyone really “converts”.
Unless your conversion goal is getting eyes on that landing page, pixel misplacement like this could be giving you unintentional vanity metrics.
3. Messing up your code
Code is a tricky and delicate thing, meaning that mistakes made within it aren’t hard to do. If you’ve implemented your code and aren’t seeing conversions after your campaign has started, there are a few different things to check:
Is your code entered correctly?
Is your code implemented on the correct page?
Has additional code been added to interrupt the original code?
Are there multiple analytics codes on the same page?
Luckily, these mistakes are as easy to correct as they are to make, as long as you catch them.
It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey
Bringing your customer down the funnel is the goal of any marketer, but failing keeping notes of how you do it is going to bring much more harm than good to your team.
Conversion tracking can give insight into more than just who’s clicking and who’s calling – it’s a door to why those people are making those choices. Once the “why” is understood, the real work begins.
Conversion tracking is the key to excellent customer analytics that you can use to improve your marketing strategy to the max.
Daniella Alscher is a content marketer for G2. When she's not reading or writing, she's spending time with her dog, watching a true crime documentary on Netflix, or trying to learn something completely new. (she/her/hers)