the importance of tracking the origin of your traffic and your conversion goals

So you’ve decided to run a Google Adwords or a Facebook Social Ads campaign to acquire leads and ultimately customers. Fair enough but what about tracking the results of your efforts ?

You can easily set up a campaign on those networks and on other services but it’s crucial to make sure you collect data to analyse the ROI (return on investment) of your advertising endeavour, since you can very quickly wire $$$ to Google or Facebook without any proper sense of what’s going on. One thing is for sure: they will always make money even if your efforts don’t convert into sales.

The easiest way to track conversions is probably to use a service like Mixpanel or Heap Analytics which you can integrate via a snippet of javascript inserted just before the head tag on your website (if you’re not sure where to insert the code, ask a developer to do it for you, it will take him/her 2 minutes). You can use those services in conjunction with Google Analytics, the tracking codes won’t interfere.

Then, when you share a URL leading to your home page or to a specific landing page, simply add UTM parameters at the end of the URL. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module, a method to track specific parameters to determine the origin of your traffic. Here is the nomenclature for those parameters (for more details, visit Google’s website)

I would say that the most important one I’m using all the time is “?utm_source=” For instance http://adsy.me/?utm_source=adsyblogarticle to track a visitor coming from an article on this blog. The UTM parameter doesn’t affect the target page but it’s captured by analytics software like Google’s GA or Mixpanel, Heap Analytics and a bunch of other ones to determine the origin of your traffic.

That way, you can easily filter by UTM and see how your traffic converts (analysing what we call a “conversion funnel”). See the example below where I named Googleapps5 one of my sources, converting pretty well (44.44%). If I had multiple GoogleappsNN tags running, I could easily choose UTM_SOURCE containing Google from the Mixpanel menu to aggregate the Google results. This source was named after a small Adwords campaign. I could have used both ?utm_source=google and ?utm_campaign=createapps to separate the two tags. I was just a little bit lazy. Here is a full example, as it should be: http://www.adsy.me/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=createapps You understand how far you can go in the granularity of your traffic definition.

Using UTM_tags along with a good analytics software will give you a sense of what converts and what not.

But if you want a real time display both on Adwords and Facebook platforms of your conversions, along with conversion costs calculated on the fly, you need to insert a “conversion pixel” on what we will call the “success pages”. This might be the page your visitors will see after signing up or the page they will get after completing a sale. The pixel isn’t a tiny black snippet (I originally thought it was) but a snippet of Javascript code you will insert in the HTML of the page you where you want to trigger the conversion event. Here is the explanation from Facebook and the one from Google. Once inserted this conversion pixel will tell Facebook or Google when your ads are converting (hopefully they will). This will enable you to buy ads on a CPA basis (cost per action) instead of CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) or CPC (cost per click). It’s ultimately the smartest way to invest your ad $$$ since you’re certain to get a positive return on investment. But this requires you to have a flow ending with a success page. The issue is that some web apps are currently single page apps which don’t make a difference between opening & exit pages (we addressed the issue re: Typeform in a previous article). You can assign a monetary value to your conversions (which will display your profits on Adwords or Facebook) or make the calculations on your end based on the number of conversions reported by the advertising platforms.

Additionally, Google Analytics offers you the possibility to set “goals”, which you can also easily track on their platform. Those goals won’t necessarily be registrations or sales, but simply events you want to track. You can for instance say that a goal is “user spends 5 minutes” on my site or “user views the contact page” or anything relevant. Using those goals, you’ll be able to create conversion funnels in Google Analytics dashboard, helping you to make sense of your users’ online behavior. Here is the full tutorial to set those goals.

For lead generation purposes, conversion pixels are very easy to integrate in landing pages creation platforms like Unbounce.com You can insert as many Javascript snippets on the landing page & the success pop up as you want, in a snap. Moreover, Unbounce provides basic stats on their dashboard, showing you how many conversions you got, depending on the goal you set (clicking on a button, signing up,…).

Have fun with tracking & happy conversion ;-)


Originally published at blog.adsy.me.