The idea of conversion tracking is simple, but setup can be tricky. Here are some common issues and how to make tracking more accurate and less work.
Tying your web analytics tool to your website so it records each time a visitor acts on your offer is a straightforward concept. However, the reality of conversion tracking is much trickier – You have to carefully consider both the back-end functions of your website, and the front-end your website visitors see.
Beyond the record-keeping value of knowing when a visitor acts on an offer, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Google Analytics data can be used by ad platforms to improve your ad targeting. I’ve compiled some of the most common issues I see with conversion tracking. If you notice any of these things on your website and fix them, your tracking will be more accurate and require less work.
Fixing Back-end Analytics
Proper tracking of web activities requires us to dig into our analytics software. For most websites, this is Google Analytics (estimated to run on 30+ million sites). While it’s great that Google gives away its industry-standard tool, it does put some responsibilities on you, such as Analytics script updates, defining how much data to collect and what actions constitute a conversion.
Updating Google Analytics Script
Google has changed their script several times over the years, allowing increasingly better tracking of site visitors. It’s always worth checking if you have the latest version: if it’s not “Universal Analytics,” then it’s time to update your script, so you have Google’s latest tracking technology working for you. As well, many marketers also have their IT specialists install Google Tag Manager on their sites. IT needs only go into a site’s code once – after that, marketers can make changes to marketing tags without any further IT help.
How Much Tracking Data Do You Need?
Once you’re running the latest script, you should ask yourself whether you’re tracking your site thoroughly enough. For sites with simple goals, you can get by with simple tracking. However, if your site has complex goals, requiring conversion tracking on multiple pages (or even multiple times on the same page), Analytics must be specially configured to collect this granular data. For example, if the call-to-action is positioned more than once on your site or on a page, you may want to trace exactly which place on the screen the visitor clicked. Did they click the call-to-action button in the center of the page, or on the text link in the navigational footer?
Another situation where you may want granular-level tracking is when the same call-to-action appears on multiple pages. For example, if you have three product pages that all use the same form to sign up for a demo, you will need to distinguish each to know from which page the conversion came.
Track All the Conversions!
While it’s obvious that major conversions, like purchases or getting contact information, should be measured, it’s also important to consider setting up tracking in cases where visitors stop short of making a major conversion but complete a micro-conversion including:
- Spend more than X minutes on your site
- View more than X pages during visit
- Use your site search to find something
- View a video on your site
- Use a calculator or interactive widget
- Download an openly-available PDF
Tracking these ‘tripwires’ can tell you how far visitors got, perhaps indicating how well your content holds their interest, as well as why they didn’t complete a major conversion.
With today’s complicated sites, conversions aren’t as simple as tracking who reached a thank-you page. For conversions handled by a Content Management System (CMS) and/or a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP), you need to create events (like a redirect to a virtual page or a postback) that give Google Analytics a clue that a conversion has happened.
Enhancing Your Front-end Experience
There are a few ways you can improve the experience of someone visiting your website, while simultaneously making them easier to track. By far the easiest, and one that I often find to be a big issue for many sites, is the contact page.
Hire Me, Contact Me, Or Buy What I’m Selling
One of the simplest ways to get a website conversion is to make it easy for them to contact you or take the next step. Gone are the days of simply listing an email address on a contact page – direct emails can’t be traced back to your website and tracked, and with the many email platforms people use, there’s no guarantee that clicking a hyperlink will open an email.
While our focus is having trackable forms, we should stop and ask why we’re asking people to fill out a form in the first place. At its most basic, a form can ask people to tell you what they need. But forms with a specific purpose (sales vs. service, purchase question vs. product return) perform better than a one-size-fits-all form. Michael Gass, author of the acclaimed marketing blog Fuel Lines, recommends using “a dedicated landing page that identifies an initial step for a new client. If you’re looking to generate leads, a landing page is the critical tool you need to find success.”
Contact pages should use a short form that allows someone to enter all desired contact information, plus space to express what they want from you, be it more information, your product or service, or to book a future meeting. Avoid using Captcha widgets or similar “I am not a robot” tests, unless you need to (if spam becomes a serious problem), as they are likely to deter people from finishing their conversion.
Finding What You’re Looking For
If the conversion is the needle in the proverbial haystack, once you have set up your tracking, your analytics tool will know what the needle looks like and it will use its resources to look for more needles. With a properly set up back-end that sees everything your visitors do, and a front-end user experience that readily shows visitors what they’re supposed to do, you are well on your way to learning how well your conversions take place.