To get the most from your advertising campaigns, you need to give the platform’s machine-learning capabilities data to work with. The best data you can feed them are sales and conversion data. This will help guide budget and bid strategy recommendations to meet your campaign goals. Setting everything up can be tough, but after reading this article, you will be well on your way to success.

Determine What Actions Are Conversions

Think about the actions a user can take that are significantly beneficial to your business. It can be signing up to a newsletter or making a purchase or phone call. Try not to include minor actions like clicking on a link or scrolling down a page because your bid strategy is going to use your conversion metrics to determine what audiences to go after. It’s best to think of actions that will contribute monetary value to your company.

Setting Up Conversion Tracking

After you have a list of actions that can be defined as conversions, you’ll need to figure out where conversions are recorded and stored. If you’re already using Google Analytics, it’s best to use conversions from your account and import them into Google Ads.

If you don’t use Google Analytics, then you’ll need to create a conversion action within Google Ads and install a script on your website so they can be tracked.

Under “Tools and settings” is the “Conversions” section. At the top of that page, you’ll see a blue “+ New conversion action” button. Clicking on that will give you four options for setting up conversions:

  • Website
  • App
  • Phone calls.
  • Import

For today’s article, we’re going to focus on the two most common conversion options: website and import.

Website Conversions

Selecting “Website” will bring up a domain scanner that’ll see what conversions are already set up. You’ll likely have nothing prior set up, so the next step is creating a conversion manually.

Click “+ Add a conversion action manually” to get the process started. Category and name are up to the conversion action you’re setting up. Once you select a goal, you’ll choose between labelling it as a primary action or secondary. For all conversions, I would select primary and for non-conversion actions, I would select secondary. The difference is whether the conversion action will influence the bid optimization.

I recommend assigning a value to a conversion. For the most important conversions, I stick with a value of 10. For the least important, I use a value of 1. Anything in-between can be a value of 5.

Count is based on what type of conversion you’re tracking. Typically, purchases should be counted every time, while leads should only be counted once. Everything else can be left as the default value unless you see something that doesn’t align with your goals.

Once you select “Done,” you’ll be brought back to the creation screen with your conversion action listed. Before you continue, review the enhanced conversions option. It’s not necessary for you to agree to this, so unchecking it is fine. Click “Save and continue” and you’ll be given options on how you’ll track your conversions.

  • Set up with a Google tag means you’ll go through Google Analytics 4.
  • Email instructions to your webmaster requires you to provide an email. Google will send instructions on how to install the tag on the website.
  • Use Google Tag Manager means creating a tag within Tag Manager using the provided Conversion ID and Conversion labels. Additionally, you’ll need to set up a Conversion Linker tag.

Clicking “Done” will bring you to the conversions page where you should see your new conversion listed.

Import Conversions

The import option lets you connect conversion data from another platform like Google Analytics 4 or SalesForce. This means conversions will need to be recorded at those locations before that data can be imported into Google Ads. To keep things simple, we’ll cover the most common option which is “Google Analytics 4 properties” and then selecting “Web.” Hitting “Continue” will bring you to a table of analytics events that exist in the GA4 account already. Check which conversions you want to import and click “Import and continue.” Note: the “Google Analytics (UA)” is no longer considered viable due to the analytics platform shutting down.

Once you have your conversion action imported, click on the name of the conversion which will let you see the settings. We’ll want to edit the settings to make sure the conversion has a value. The exact conversion value only matters if you’re dealing with purchasing products on a site, in which case, the value should come from Google Analytics 4. Otherwise, assign a value based on how important the conversion action is. For example, I have 3 conversion actions I want to use to optimize my bid strategy for:

  • Form completion – I value this conversion action the most, so I will assign it the highest value: 10.
  • Phone call – I value this conversion action more than sign-ups, but less than forms, so I will assign it a value of 5.
  • Newsletter sign-up – I value this conversion action the least, so I will assign it the lowest value: 1.

These values are based on my own account’s priorities, so adjust them to meet your needs. If you only have one conversion action, you can just assign it the value of 10.

You can also adjust the “Count” setting to either count every instance of the conversion or just once per click or interaction.

If you only want to track the number of conversions and not have it be used for bid strategy optimization, you can adjust that with “Action optimization.” Primary actions count towards your bidding optimization, secondary actions do not. So, if you want to include non-conversion actions in your campaign, they can be set as a secondary action.

Optimizing Your Campaigns for Conversions

Other than tracking success, the most important reason for setting all this up is to use the data collected to let Google optimize your bidding and targeting. Now, most people are reluctant to turn over decision-making power to Google Ads’ algorithms. But the machine-learning behind bidding and targeting with conversion data has proven to be dependable in most cases.

Going with a conversion-related bid strategy is an easy recommendation to make. Here are the different options available:

  • Maximize Conversions – gets you the most conversions based on your available budget.
  • Target Cost Per Acquisition – gets you conversions close to the target cost per conversion you’ve set. Available only under the “Maximize Conversions” bid strategy.
  • Conversion Value – goes after conversions that have the highest value.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend – gets conversions that have a value that’ll total to an overall position return on ad spend. Available only under the “Conversion Value” bid strategy.

For the first 30 days of the campaign, Google recommends sticking with maximize conversions or target cost per acquisition. And you likely won’t see positive results until the end of the 30 days. You might also see Google recommend using broad keyword targeting to go along with this. I tend to stick with phrase match targeting since broad match leads to a lot of wasted spend. Phrase match is a good balance of relevance plus volume where you won’t have to be on top of negative keywords all the time.

I would also recommend experimenting with different strategies to see what gives your campaigns the best return. Rarely does one bid strategy work the best for everything I’m managing.

Google Ads Management Services

If you’re not seeing the results you want from digital advertising or are lost in the process of setting things up and maintaining an account, contact DiscoverTec today to see how we can help you get a positive return on ad spend.

Published on: February 13, 2024 by Ryan Brooks, Senior Web Marketer