Without exception the end goal of all PPC campaigns is conversions. This may be sales, this may be leads, this may be emails….regardless of what actually constitutes a conversion the end goal of all that keyword and market research, of ad copy crafting, of ad extension creating, of landing page optimization…is to generate it.

Yet so many PPC accounts are failing to track many if not most of their conversion channels.

Here’s an example. A client that shall go unnamed – whom I recently did some work for – was tracking form submissions. That’s all well and good. But they were not tracking phone calls and this was the type of business where it is far more likely that someone in need of their service is going to pick up a phone and call rather than take the time to fill out a form, submit and wait for a response. This company was neither tracking clicks to calls from PPC ads nor tracking phone calls generated by someone calling the phone number displayed on their website. They also had a chat but were not tracking that.

So out of the four “points of contact” available – form submission, click to call, calls from website, chat – they were only tracking the one that was most likely getting the least amount of use. Because of this it appeared on the surface that the campaign was failing badly with very few conversions and a hugely expensive CPA.

They were considering pulling the plug.

The first thing we did was start tracking Calls from ads using call extensions which took all of about six seconds and required no effort on the part of the client (clients love no effort required on their part).

We then also started tracking Calls to a Google forwarding number on the client’s website. This did require a bit of effort where the client needed to add a bit of javascript to their site to display a forwarding number to people who clicked on their ads

By putting both these conversion tracking methods in place we were able to track clicks to call and manually dialed calls made by someone who saw one of the client’s ads and called the call extension number shown. We were also able to track those searchers who clicked on an ad then called the number shown on the website.

We also tracked chat sessions that were generated when someone clicked on a PPC ad and then engaged in a chat session. At this point in time Google does not offer a way to track chats but there are a number of third party companies out there and all allow you to pass their data back to Google Analytics and AdWords for tracking purposes.

We also asked the client for a target CPA – that is how much were they willing to spend on a conversion and made that our short-term target CPA goal. In addition we also asked for an estimated LTV or Life Time Value of a customer. They were able to tell us that the average customer made 1.5 purchases each year once they had made that first purchase and they also provided the average value of said purchases. This number was also factored into the CPA goal.

The end result was that conversions that previously had not been tracked were now visable and what had appeared to be a campaign that was failing miserably was actually doing fairly well. With a target CPA to guide us we were then able to further tweak the campaign resulting in a happy client.

Point being that if you are not tracking all points of conversion then you are operating at best half-blind managing your campaign with poor if not outright bad data. Bad data in…bad results out.