Adwords Conversion Tracking: The Complete Guide For 2017


The number 1 mistake that I see Adwords users making is not using Adwords conversion tracking properly

In fact I recently saw an account with £3mil in ad spend without proper conversion tracking.

Thats right £3 mil in ad spend and they didnt know if they were generating profit from their Adwords campaign.

Thats absolutely insane!

In this guide I’m going to be showing you exactly how to accurately track conversions using Adwords Conversion Tracking  which is essential for good PPC management.

Generally readers of our blog fit into one of two categories. They either use Adwords to generate leads or they use Adwords to generate sales (ecommerce).

So I have segmented this guide into a section for lead generation accounts and a section for ecommerce accounts.


Lead Generation

For Adwords accounts were you are aiming to generate leads you will the 7 following types of Adwords conversion tracking:

  • Website conversion tracking pixel
  • Live chat conversion tracking
  • Website call tracking
  • Calls from ads tracking
  • Mobile click to call tracking
  • Offline tracking from clicks
  • Offline tracking from calls

I want you to go into your account right now and do a mini audit of your Adwords conversion tracking.

If you don’t have all 7 I can guarantee that your leaving money on the table.

In this guide I’m going to be showing you exactly how you can implement all 7 Adwords conversion tracking goals step by step.

Website Conversion Tracking Pixel

The website Adwords conversion tracking pixel should be used to track when somebody enters their details into a contact form on your website or downloads a brochure or white paper for example.

It needs to be placed on the thank you page that people are redirected too once they submit their details.

You need a new website conversion tracking pixel for every contact form, brochure or white paper download on your website.

Here is how to setup this type of Adwords conversion tracking.

Setup Website Conversion tracking (Click to expand)


Live Chat Adwords Conversion Tracking

Does your website have live chat?

Then you need to implement live chat tracking so that you can track when a user opens a chat and when they become a lead.


This works by linking Adwords and Analytics together so you can import Analytics goals into Adwords.

If you haven’t already linked your Adwords and Analytics accounts you can do by following these instructions

Linking Adwords with Analytics (Click to expand)

Once you have linked Adwords and Analytics you should then ask your call tracking provider for the respective instructions on tracking live chat opens within Analytics as this will vary widely depending on the provider.

Website Call Tracking

There are two ways to track phone calls with Google Adwords, which is more commonly know as call tracking.

  1. Track them using Googles free tool Adwords Conversion tracking tool
  2. Use a third party tool and then import the conversions into Adwords via Analytics.

Call tracking works by adding a piece of code to your website which generate a unique number for each of your website visitors.

When somebody calls that number google then attributes that number to a keyword and advert in your campaigns.

Here is a simple diagram showing you how it works.


Image Credit

Why you might be wondering should you pay for a 3rd party tool when Adwords has a free one?

Adwords free conversion tracking works well and allows you to track which keyword generated the call, but 3rd party tools will give you a lot more.

3rd party call tracking will allow you to:

  • Track calls across several different channels such as organic search and social.
  • They allow you to record phone calls to determine the quality and purpose of the call
  • They allow you to use local numbers which can double the number of phone leads you generate.

Being able to record the call is a important as a study by Marchex showed that the vast majority of calls are not new enquires.


For a detailed comparison between third party call tracking and Googles free tool check out this article by Jillian Zacchia.

Here is how to set up call tracking using both Googles free tool

Call tracking with Googles phone call tracking


Setting up 3rd Party Call Tracking

There are many great 3rd party call tracking solutions available, but the one that we generally use is Reaponse Tap as it is very affordable and has enterprise class offline tracking available.

Each different call tracking solution will have its own documentation, however they all generally work in the same way.

You add a piece of code to your website and this generates a page view every time somebody calls your business.

This page view is then tracked by creating a goal in Google Analytics, which the call tracking company will generally help you with setting up.

Once you have done this follow the same steps that you would to import any other Google analytics goal into Adwords

Linking Adwords with Analytics (Click to expand)


Clicks on a number on your mobile website

The third type of phone call tracking allows you to track when a user clicks on your number on your website and calls you.

So if you have a button on your website like the one below, or if you have the phone number displayed on your mobile website you need to be using this type of conversion tracking.


To lear how to implement this type of Adwords conversion tracking follow the steps below.

Call tracking click to call on mobile devices


Offline Tracking From Clicks

Offline tracking allows you to effectively integrate your CRM system with AdWords, so you can see which keywords generate leads.

If you like most advertisers only track the number of leads and then divide the number of leads by the value of the sale to determine the value per lead you are wasting money.

What this fails to take into account is that not all leads are born equal, some will generate a lot of leads but will generate very few closed deals.

Take this example:

explanation of how offline tracking allows you to generate more profit

Image credit

If you were only tracking leads you would only get half the picture. You would see that you have generated 39 leads, 3 sales and £104,000 in revenue, but you would not know which keywords actually generated the leads.

The worst part is that because you see the keyword PPC management is generating the most leads you will start distributing more budget towards that keyword and take budget away from the keyword “Enterprise PPC Agency” that is generating by far the most revenue.

By linking your CRM with AdWords you can start seeing the full customer journey. You will be able to see that even though the keyword “PPC Management” is generating a lot of leads, the revenue per lead is just £500 compared to the keyword “Enterprise PPC Agency”, where the revenue per lead is £13,140.

You will see that the leads that are being generated from the keyword “PPC services” are not generating any revenue of profit and that you should stop bidding on this keyword.

By linking your CRM data with Adwords you will be able to reduce wasted spend and start to generate more high quality leads that will convert into sales offline.

Heres how offline Adwords conversion tracking works:

Offline Adwords conversion tracking works by adding a hidden form into your contact form called GCID.

Users won’t be able to see this but a piece of code will enter something called the GCID that will be submitted into your CRM software along with the contact details of the person enquiring.

Once you have closed a deal you then need to upload the GCID that was submitted with the contact details for that deal.

Google will then map the offline conversion to the specific keyword and advert that triggered it using the GCID.

Here is a diagram that explains it.

offline tracking

So how do you set up offline Adwords conversion tracking?

Setup Offline conversion tracking


Offline Tracking From Calls

Offline call conversion tracking works in a similar way to offline conversions from clicks. However this time you are instead going to import the phone numbers into Google as opposed to the Google click ID (GCID).

To use this form of tracking you must have the 3 standard call tracking options in place which use the Google Forwarding Number.

  • Website call tracking
  • Calls from ads tracking
  • Mobile click to call tracking

If you don’t have the thee call tracking options implemented go up the page and implement them.

To use this type of tracking you must have a CRM system where you keep track of the phone number and the stage that the customer is in within the sales cycle.

You will then need to import the phone number of closed leads back into Adwords.

AdWords then matches the call info in your file with the calls tracked through your AdWords conversion tracking  action. You can now see which of your campaigns, ad groups, ads and keywords are leading to calls that include sales or other conversions.

Setup Offline call conversion tracking




For Adwords accounts were you are aiming to generate online sales you will need these two types of Adwords conversion tracking:

  • Adwords ecommerce conversion tracking pixel
  • Offline footfall tracking (Advanced for physical stores)

If you accept orders over the phone then you will need these 4 types of Adwords conversion tracking too.

  • Website call tracking
  • Calls from ads tracking
  • Mobile click to call tracking
  • Offline tracking from calls

These 4 have already been covered in the lead generation section so I will not cover them again here.

Adwords Ecommerce Tracking Pixel

If your website sells products which vary in value then you should be using ecommerce conversion tracking.

Ecommerce tracking allows you to track the varying cart value using Analytics and pull this data into your Adwords account.

You will also end up with a dashboard in Analytics that looks something like this


Image Credit

To do this you must first link your Analytics account with your Adwords account and import the goal from there.

Linking Adwords with Analytics (Click to expand)

Once you have done this you need to setup Ecommerce tracking in Analytics and Import it into Adwords.

Setting up ecommerce tracking within Analytics is fairly complex and there are already several very comprehensive guides to this online so I will not cover it here.

I would suggest reading “E-Commerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide” by the analytics experts over at Optimise Smart that will explain how to set it up in great detail.

Offline Footfall Tracking (Advanced)

The most difficult conversions to track are ones that occur offline at your physical store as there is no way of tagging them with a cookie.

There several solutions for trying to estimate the effect of adwords on your in store purchases.

Wijnand Meijer wrote a great article that covers offline conversion tracking as a guest post over at certified knowledge.

He suggests looking at the location extensions data to see who is finding your store which is still a very good viable option.

To do this you should look at the ‘Get direction’ click type by segmenting by click type.

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 03.37.35

Wijnand Meijer also summarised the 7 stratagies from Avinash Kaushik from his article Multichanel analytics: tracking offline conversions 7 best practices, Bonus Tips . The 7 suggestions are:

  • Track data from you store locater on your website and directions pages
  • Use unique 800 numbers on your website
  • Use unqiue coupons online and then upload the data back into Adwords
  • Compare online and offline data
  • Use exit surveys
  • Conduct controlled experiments
  • Use primary research

A second more advanced option for tracking offline conversions comes from Justin Cutroni which use Google analytics measurement protocol.

I highly recommend reading his article, how universal analytics will drive strategic marketing and to give you a better idea of how you can track offline conversions using universal analytics


If you were unsure which types of Adwords conversion tracking you should have setup then you should now have a clear picture of the different types required depending on whether your are an ecommerce or lead generation user.

Take a moment now to do a mini audit of your Adwords account and make sure that you have all the different types of Adwords conversion tracking setup and if you have any gaps take action to plug them.

If you have any questions about this article please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

wesley parker
About wesley parker

Wesley is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages a £6 Mil Adwords portfolio across a range of different sectors. He regulally features in leading search publications such as Econsultancy, Campaign Magazine and Search Engine Land. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

4 thoughts on “Adwords Conversion Tracking: The Complete Guide For 2017

  • “Live chat conversion tracking” — Many PPC specialists frown-upon tracking live chat as successful conversion. Do you find that general live chats actually turn into business?

  • Thanks again Wesley for your detailed article. Good stuff!

    So there’s a lot of tracking options to choose from here. If you get the following case, what would you do with a client who do NOT sell anything offline in order to track conversions?

    Say your customer is a chiropractor who can only get paid when customers are visiting their clique (i.e. the chiropractor don’t sell anything online). And the customer (the chiropractor) is not very tech savvy so they can’t/won’t buy and install any offline conversion tracking 3rd party tools and they don’t have a developer on staff.

    How would you measure if the chiropractor get a good conversion rate here? Or rather, how would you measure if AdWords is worth spending money on? Which (if any) of the conversion tracking options would you use? Or is there another smart/creative way to measure conversion tracking in this case?

    Thanks in advance!

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