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What is conversion tracking?

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Andy MacLean

Blogger at Andy-MacLean.net
I'm Andy MacLean, blogger & SEO consultant. If you like this blog post (pretty) please leave a comment below or share it. Thanks for reading!

Over the years i’ve had many conversations with prospective clients who I can tell from the glassing over of their eyes when i’m talking to them in person or the extended silence if speaking over the phone that ‘conversion tracking’ is a fairly alien concept to them. Of course it sounds fairly nerdy but essentially all we’re talking about is measuring the desired outcome or outcomes of their site i.e. purchase, if the site is e-commerce or lead if the service promoted is service based e.g. Solicitors. Many other things can be tracked as a conversion if desirable e.g. brochure download or contact us page view.

A conversion is measuring the desired outcome or outcomes of a site e.g. purchase.

So what is conversion tracking exactly?

Cost per conversion is the big metric in pay per click campaigns. PPC gives advertisers the ability to spend a chunk of money and know in detail what elements of the campaign lead to a conversion. What’s more the cost per conversion data is also clearly presented. Here’s an excerpt of a PPC report to make this clearer.

What is conversion tracking example

This report shows a selection of keyword data for a company that sells novelty cheese products online. A conversion in their case is someone buying one of their products online. The report shows e.g. the keyword ‘cheese gifts’ generated 587 clicks, which cost £134.72. These 587 clicks generated 27 conversions (sales) at a cost of £4.99 cost per conversion (or cost per sale). The maths there is 134.72 / 27 = £4.99. At this point i’d like to point out that with PPC campaigns you don’t need to work this out long hand, the data is there for you.

This kind of information is available for other key campaign items e.g. ads, time of day and location so you can understand what variables affecting your campaign produce favourable conversion rates and cost. This is important as all these variables are controllable within your PPC campaigns.

So how do I setup conversion tracking?

Don’t panic, this isn’t as tricky as you might think. Within your PPC campaigns you can grab a snippet of code which needs to be pasted into the page which is equivalent to the conversion. For example with an e-commerce site you need to put the code into your ‘thank you for your order’ or ‘receipt page’. More detail on how to do this is available here.

Know your desired cost per conversion

So now you know how to measure conversion you’ll need to figure out what is an acceptable cost per conversion for you. This is more straightforward for e-commerce sites selling products but less so if you’re tracking enquiry form fills as a conversion e.g. is £50 per enquiry form fill acceptable to you?