Google Ads aren’t free — but they’re only worth the money if you can use them to actually generate more conversions and grow your business!
With Google Ads conversion tracking, you evaluate your ad campaigns by tracking user interactions on your website. When you compare this data to your budget, you’ll be able to allocate your resources more effectively. This is a great way to track your conversion goals!
In this guide, we’ll learn how to set up conversion value tracking using Google Ads and Google Tag Manager.
An overview of what we will cover:
- Why install Google Ads conversion tracking?
- Setup inside Google Ads interface
- Setup inside Google Tag Manager
- Optional – capture conversion value using the Data Layer
So let’s get started!
Why Install Google Ads Conversion Tracking?
Google Ads conversion tracking helps to analyze how the audience for a particular campaign is behaving on your website.
In Google Ads, conversion tracking measures the success of ad campaigns by tracking newsletter signups, app downloads, product purchases, and more. Any conversion you specify can be traced back to an ad campaign higher in the funnel.
One way to track ads conversions is by importing data from Google Analytics to Google Ads. However, we’ll learn to track conversions from Google Adwords explicitly. (More on Google Ads conversion tracking vs. imported Google Analytics goals here.)
To track conversions within Google Ads, we’ll install the Google Ads tracking code with Google Tag Manager. GTM will then collect and send this data back to the Google Ads account.
This is a more sophisticated and controlled way of tracking Google Ads conversions compared to importing goals from Google Analytics. In this method, the data is gathered by the conversion pixel, which is made specifically for Google Ads.
Thus, the attribution of the data will be different from the tracking in Google Analytics.
Different in this case doesn’t mean better or more accurate data. Attribution is just a different perspective of looking at the data.
Let’s begin by installing conversion tracking on a demo eCommerce shop.
Setup Inside Google Ads Interface
For this example, we have the Google Tag Manager already set up on our website. But you can install Google Tag Assistant Legacy on your website for linking Google Tag Manager to the website page.
Additionally, we’ll also be using our Google Ads account along with Google Tag Manager. Link your email IDs to both of these accounts so you can install and import data easily.
Let’s open our Google Ads account. From the home screen, go to Tools → Conversions.
This section will show us all the conversion tracking data over the past few weeks linked to this account.
Let’s understand how to set up the data in this section!
4 Ways to Set it Up
Depending upon the goal of your conversion tracking for a campaign, the method to set up the tracking will also differ.
For example, you can choose App or Phone calls tracking mechanisms if these are some of the primary tools for your marketing and growing your business. But for this tutorial, we’ll demonstrate how to use the Website conversion tracking mechanism.
Once done, you’ll need to add a new conversion action for this method.
Let’s see how!
🚨 Note: The Import option is for adding conversions from your Google Analytics goals or another system. This process is very different from the Website, App, and Phone calls mechanisms, so the rest of this guide won’t apply to the Import method. However, if you do use this method, you can link it to the conversion tracking data in Google Analytics.
This method is particularly useful when you already have the correct eCommerce tracking and the transaction goals set up on the website. This way, you’ll be able to track conversions without explicitly adding any more tracking methods.
Create Conversion Action
First, you’ll need to add a Conversion name.
Then, we’ll choose a Category for this conversion data. This is very important for the Google Ads model, as it will attribute the conversion to a source in accordance with your chosen category.
As our demo website is an eCommerce shop, we’ll choose Purchase/Sale.
Next, we’ll set up the Value of the items we’re selling on our website. We recommend choosing the option to Use different values for each conversion.
Additionally, in case you’re not using dollars as your currency on the website, you can also add the default value of your currency in accordance with a dollar.
We’ve kept the default value as 1 in this case.
Next, you can choose the conversion Count. This option is useful when a user converts multiple times within a single session.
You can choose an option to either count that conversion once, or you can count it every time. In this case, we’ve chosen to count it Every time.
There are some more conversion configurations that we need to set up.
The Conversion window is the duration up to which conversion is considered valid.
For example, if a user clicks on the ad, and comes back to the website after 20 days, and then makes a conversion, it can be considered.
You can keep it as any value from 1 day to 90 days. In our case, we’ve kept the original Conversion window of 30 days.
Next, we’ll fill the View-through conversion window. This parameter will track conversion if a user sees your ad, but doesn’t click on the ad or make a conversion instantly.
We’ll keep this parameter also to its default value, 1 day.
Next, we’ll have the option to Include in “Conversions”. Enabling this option will show our data on the conversions column on the Google Ads account. Let’s keep this as the default, Yes.
The last option is to choose the Attribution model. This option depends upon your campaign, but the Last click model has been the default for a long time. As most of the databases still use this model, we’ll go with the default choice.
Once done, click on Create And Continue.
Our next step will be to set up this method in Google Tag Manager.
Let’s see how!
Set Up Inside Google Tag Manager
First, we’ll need to choose a method to install this conversion data. For this example, we’ll choose the option to Use Google Tag Manager.
Upon clicking, we’ll see the account data on the screen.
Let’s keep this tab open for future reference and open Google Tag Manager to install our conversion data on that page.
Install Conversion Linker Tag
We’ll start by creating a new Conversion Linker Tag. This is a Tag type that you need to explicitly install because of the tracking mechanism of the browser.
This Tag enables the website to encrypt the information in the form of a cookie that search engines can easily pick up.
Once done, we’ll also add a trigger to this Tag. Our trigger type will be All Pages.
You can give this Tag a Name and Save it once done.
Let’s see how this Tag works by going into preview mode.
Let’s test the Tag now!
First, we’ll refresh our website in preview mode and verify if the Tag fired correctly.
Once the Tag is successfully set up, the next step would be to plan which page load should trigger our conversion.
Plan Which Page Load Should Trigger Your Conversion
Let’s purchase a product from our page to verify a successful conversion.
Once we’re on the thank you page, we can see that the URL string (order-received) suggests that the conversion occurred successfully.
Thus, we can use a URL trigger to track a successful conversion.
Let’s see how to create the URL trigger!
Create Your Trigger
Create a Page View new trigger in Google Tag Manager.
Since we only want the trigger to fire on successful conversions, we’ll set it up to fire on Some Page Views.
Next, we’ll keep the conditions for the trigger to fire as the Page URL contains order-received.
We’ll save the trigger once done.
In order to successfully deploy the conversion tracking, we’ll also need to set up a Tag.
Create Your Tag
We’ll create a new Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag.
Next, add the Conversion ID and the Conversion Label. You can copy and paste these from Google Tag Manager.
Once done, you can leave all the other labels to the default settings.
Finally, we’ll add a trigger to this Tag. This will be a pageview trigger for the order received in a category that we just created.
You can save the Tag and refresh the page to preview it again in debug mode.
And verify if it is working correctly.
We’ll go back to our website page and open the order confirmation page. Next, refresh the page to see if the Tag fires.
If the Tag is installed correctly, you’ll see the conversion tracking Tag fire on our order confirmation page.
Additionally, you’ll also be able to see this on your Google Tag Assistant extension from the browser.
If you click on the Tag in your Tag Assistant, you’ll also see how the tracking conversion data was deployed.
Lastly, Submit this setup as a version in order to see these changes on your live website.
With this step, the conversion tracking is deployed on all the order-received pages on our website.
However, if you check the table for conversion actions from the Google Ads home screen, you’ll notice that the status column for our tracking will be Unverified.
The column will verify itself once the actual conversions take place on your website.
This means, when a person watches your ad, clicks on the product link from the ad, and then purchases that ad, Google Ads will consider it as a conversion.
However, If you simply reload your order confirmation page or purchase a product directly from your cart, this won’t be counted as an effective conversion.
Once you have conversions coming to your website, you can also add that conversions column to your reports of ad groups.
On your home screen of Google Ads, go to Ad Groups → Columns → Conversions.
This will add a Conversions column to your reports.
Limitations of This Setup and Conversion Value
This method shows the total number of conversions done on the website. However, this setup can’t show us the total amount that the conversions generated.
Hence, you won’t be able to analyze the amount of money you spent on a campaign versus the amount of money it generated.
These calculations are very important when it comes to your ROI analysis.
But there is a workaround to this problem — you can add a conversion value to your setup.
Optional Step – Capture Conversion Value Using the Data Layer
Let’s open the conversion tracking Tag for the received orders we installed on our Google Tag Manager account.
We have an option to add the Conversion Value and the Order ID of the received order in our Tag.
We want this value to be equal to the total amount we’ll generate from any particular order.
There are a lot of methods to do this, such as tracking the conversion values with Google Tag Manager.
However, let’s use a more robust method — setting up a Data Layer.
Let’s see how!
Inspect Your Data Layer
We have set up a plugin on our eCommerce store that allows the transfer of the data from the shop system into the order-received page and makes it available to Google Tag Manager.
Hence, once a customer places an order, the information is stored in the Data Layer that can be accessed through Google Tag Manager.
This space contains all the different data values including the revenue as well as the product ID of the order.
Adding the order ID will help us tremendously because if a user reloads the order confirmation page, then Google will track the conversions with the same order IDs and discard the replicated ones.
However, if you notice that the order details aren’t seen in the Data Layer even after setting it up, then it means the data layer isn’t correctly configured.
You might need to contact a technician or your web developer to install it correctly using a plugin.
Next, we’ll create Data Layer variables.
Create New Data Layer Variables
Let’s create a new Data Layer Variable on your Google Tag Manager account.
Data Layer variables are interlinked with a considerable amount of information. Hence, we’ll need to find the correct key for the corresponding value.
The Data Layer example below shows information for the order of ecommerce.purchase.actionField.revenue.
So we’ll add it in this exact order in the section of Data Layer Variable Name.
Once done, we’ll save it and create another Data Layer Variable for order ID. In this case, we’ll use the order ecommerce.purchase.actionField.id.
We created variables for collecting information. As the variables are already a part of Google Tag Manager, we can directly use the information from these variables in the triggers and Tags.
Add Variables to Tag
Let’s reopen our Tag for conversion tracking of the received orders.
We’ll choose the Conversion Value as div – revenue, and the Order ID as div – orderId.
Then, we’ll need a trigger to attach to the Tag.
Create a Trigger Using a Custom Event
We’ll add a custom Data Layer event to the Tag so it can be deployed in accordance with the need of the information.
We have a custom event gtm4wp.orderCompletedEEC already set up.
This event is a preferred choice. It uses smart techniques to identify when the conversion actually takes place, and it differentiates when the order-received page is simply reloaded.
So we’ll add this event to a new trigger to attach it to the Tag. Let’s remove the previous trigger that we added to the Tag, and we’ll create a new trigger to replace it.
The Trigger type will still be Custom Event, and the Event Name will be gtm4wp.orderCompletedEEC.
We also want the trigger to fire on All Custom Events.
As different plugins produce different results, you can do an implementation to control the events you send into the Data Layer.
Once the trigger is added to the Tag, we’ll save it.
Let’s see how it works by placing an order on the website again.
If the Tags and triggers are correctly installed, we’ll be able to see the correct information for the ordered products on the fired Tag.
You can also verify this information from the Google Tag Assistant plugin for browsers.
So that’s how you can set up custom conversion tracking for your website through Google Tag Manager.
Now let’s take a look at how Google Ads reports this data.
Seeing Conversion Value in Google Ads Reports
Open Campaign settings in your Google Ads account. Go to Columns → Modify columns to see all conversions in your Campaigns report.
Under the Conversions tab, check the Conv. value option. Then, click on Apply.
Thus, you’ll be able to see a column of Conv. value as well!
This helps you analyze the data about who clicks your ad, who converts from your ad, the value of those conversions, and the amount of money you can spend on your future campaigns.
This data will also be reflected in your conversion ads reports.
However, accurate data will only be available once you publish your version. Then, the changes go live on the website and Google Ads will track your conversions.
So that’s how you can install Google Ads conversion tracking with the help of Google Tag Manager.
You can also configure the value of conversion in your reports to have a better idea about the ROI analysis for finding the amount you spent on campaigns versus the revenue a campaign generated for you!
Additionally, once you’ve installed the conversions on your Google Ads account, you can also import and analyze the assisted conversions in Google Analytics.
Did you have difficulty setting up your own custom Data Layer? Where do you install Data Layers on your own website? Let us know in the comments below!