When you set up a direct response online ad campaign, you want to be able to measure its success. Success would be defined by the number of sales, leads or transactions that are completed on your site in comparison to what it cost you to garner those transactions. The ability to track the productivity of your marketing/advertising spend is referred to as Return On Investment (“ROI”).
One way to measure online ROI is to implement conversion tracking tools. There are multiple software applications you can purchase and implement to help you do conversion tracking, but when it comes to paid search campaigns, Google and Overture have come up with conversion tracking tools of their own that they currently offer for no cost. Is free necessarily a good thing, however? You might want to review the pros and cons before leaping at a complimentary offer.
Google’s Conversion Tracking Tool
In order to implement Google’s conversion tracking system, you must already have an approved Google AdWords campaign running. Google’s conversion tracking system only works with Google AdWords campaigns. Google not only offers basic conversion tracking to determine general conversions, but it also has more customizable options for advertisers who are tracking different measurements. There are four customizable tracking options called “Labels”:
1. Purchases/Sales – For commerce sites tracking purchases and sales to determine ROI.
2. Leads – Appropriate for sales organizations interested in tracking lead generation, e.g. a request for a follow-up call.
3. Sign-ups – Enables measurement of subscription sign-ups.
4. Page Views – Helps sites track how many pages an ad-generated visitor has viewed or the length of a visit.
Google conversion tracking works by placing a cookie on a searcher’s computer when s/he clicks on an ad. If the searcher makes it to the confirmation page containing the tracking image, the cookie sends a notification to Google’s server that makes the connection between the ad click and the final transaction.
Overture’s “Conversion Counter”
Overture’s Conversion Counter is available only to Overture advertisers and like Google, Conversion Counter only works with Overture campaigns. Conversion Counter tracks overall conversions for your Overture campaign as well as for individual keywords and match types. (If you don’t understand about match types, read our archived article, URL at bottom.)
The set-up process works like Google’s, though Overture doesn’t offer the various tracking options that Google does and Overture only provides a line of HTML code to embed in the confirmation page. And Overture’s tracking works in the same way.
Pros of Google & Overture Tracking
By utilizing conversion tracking tools, an advertiser can truly get a better handle on the impact of their campaign and ad spend. Using the data provided by conversion tracking, an advertiser can both determine what keywords to invest in for the best results and the overall ROI for its particular ad campaigns. If you are running an AdWords campaign, for example, you will not only be able to see how many clicks you are getting on each keyword (data that’s provided in the AdWords advertiser dashboard), but you will also be able to see how these keywords perform in terms of sales.
Just because you have a lot of clicks or a strong click-thru rate doesn’t mean that you’re making money or generating the desired end result from the clicks you’re paying for. In fact, the very opposite might be happening and without a means to measure your conversions, how would you know?? That’s why, if you don’t have your own means to do conversion tracking, considering these free options from Google and Overture might be a good idea.
Cons of Google & Overture Tracking
What could be wrong with using free conversion tracking, right? How about exposing your visitor and sales data to an organization who is also marketing to your competition?? Let’s explain.
With Google’s Site Stats image apparent to the site visitor, the visitor is informed that their actions are being tracked — not everybody is comfy with that fact, even though most Internet users now realize their online actions are 100% trackable.
Furthermore, Google and Overture are theoretically able to access every advertiser’s private sales information. Google and Overture are huge marketing companies who just love crunching numbers and identifying sales opportunities and trends. If you are marketing in a category without much competition and getting fantastic results, might Google and Overture want to start promoting your category to other companies like yours? What will this do to your competitive market conditions then? And how do you feel about Google and Yahoo (which owns Overture) knowing your private sales information?
A separate drawback about using these propreitary conversion tracking tools is that while they work fine for the individual campaigns, they ONLY work for those campaigns. So if you have both a Google and Overture campaign going on, you need to implement two tracking systems and the information cannot be consolidated in one place. Nor can you track any non- Google or non-Overture campaigns.
And with Google’s and Overture’s click-only tracking system, one big potential loss of information occurs: if your potential customer sees your ad but doesn’t click at that moment (or ever) and goes to your site directly instead, the Google and Overture systems don’t have a means to record and track this “impression.” If this person does a transaction on your site some time in the future, you’d have no way of knowing.
Definitely weigh the pros and cons to these free conversion tracking systems. If they’re not right for you, there are always others, but in the words of department store tycoon, John Wanamaker, “Half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” If conversion tracking was around then, he might have a better idea!