AdWords Conversions – why aren’t you getting enough?

Posted by Aaron WeinerEmergency, Google AdWords

You’ve just logged into your AdWords Account and you notice that while there are plenty of clicks, you’re not receiving any actual conversions.

Experience tells you this isn’t normal behavior, and you fear that something may have gone terribly wrong.

Why this is happening will depend on your particular situation, and figuring it out can be rather time-consuming.

To make the entire process easier, I’ve put together a list of seven possible issues that I’ve encountered over the years.

1: Have you given AdWords enough time to collect data?

Confirm that your date range is set for at least seven days and that you’re not looking at a small sample of data. If you’ve only received a few clicks within that amount of time, you need to be patient and wait for more clicks.

Also, keep in mind that conversion data is not immediately reported into the AdWords system. If you’re using AdWords conversion tracking, it can take a few hours for the data to show up. If you’re using imported Google Analytics goals, it can take sometimes longer than a day.

2: Your targeting is wrong.

The next possible issue depends on your targeting and how well you understand it.

Imagine that you just set up a new campaign or ad group. It’s received plenty of clicks and impressions but no conversions. It’s entirely possible that your targeting is completely wrong and that people who clicked on your ads would never have converted in the first place.

To confirm that this isn’t happening, have a look at the keywords that trigger your ads. In case you weren’t aware of this, the keywords that you bid on from within AdWords aren’t necessarily the keywords that people use when they search Google.

To see the real keywords, you’ll need to have a look at the Search Terms report. Visit the keywords tab and check the box next to the keywords that received most of the clicks in whatever date range you happen to be looking at. Then click on the search terms button to see the real keywords.

Next, make sure that your location targeting has been set up properly. It’s possible that you’ve targeted one location only to receive clicks from outside of it.

To see if this is happening in your case, visit the dimensions tab, and review the user locations report. That report will provide you with a breakdown of all the locations that you’re receiving clicks from.

If you would like to know why this happens and what you can do to prevent it from happening, have a look at this blog post which explains this issue in more detail.

3: The people that clicked on your ads aren’t the same people that convert.

For example, let’s say you’d like to track conversions when people sign up for a free demo on your website. People click on your ads and then sign up – sounds simple, right?

If multiple people are involved in the sign up process, conversion tracking won’t work. That happens because the person that clicked on your ad was not the same person who eventually performed the conversion.

This means that you’ll never get 100% accurate reporting of all conversions, and you won’t even know how inaccurate that data is.

Even if you see some conversions, it’s a false sense of security. Imagine that you have one week with a number of conversions and the next with absolutely none. It’s possible that in week one, you had sign ups from one person companies and in week two you had sign ups from larger companies with much bigger budgets to spend on your products or services. In week one, you would see conversions, however, in week two you would not because there were multiple people involved in the purchase process.

If that’s your situation, you could be misinterpreting the data.

4: Different devices.

The old way of visiting Google, searching for something and then clicking on an ad is so early 2000s. In days gone by, we had one, maybe two devices that would connect to the internet. Nowadays, we each have so many different devices that we use online that it’s made a mess of tracking. We might be on a train traveling to work, sitting at our desk browsing the web or watching TV while searching Google on our tablet.

The problem is that once we interact across multiple devices, tracking is less reliable. Sure, Google say that they can sometimes see people’s behavior across devices, but within our own testing we have not found this to be reliable.

If that’s your situation, you might be misinterpreting the data.

5: The window of opportunity has passed.

If your prospective customers are taking a while to become actual customers, conversion tracking might not work in your case.

This is because AdWords conversion tracking is unreliable beyond a few days. The entire system hinges on browser cookies which expire after a set amount of time. By default, that’s 30 days. If conversions tend to take longer, you can try to change your conversion window from 30 days up to 90 days, but will that help?

Just keep in mind that even with a longer conversion window, expiration dates might not be the only problem. This will make more sense in a moment.

6: You’re dealing with the paranoid.

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but nowadays you don’t need to manually delete your cookies to avoid being tracked online. Security software, browser add-ons, and third-party tools all offer easy ways to stop advertisers from tracking your behavior.

Also, there can be an added benefit from using an ad blocker. Many websites are simply littered with ads which makes them difficult to browse on mobile devices.

What this means is that by the time someone closes their browser, your ability to track them is much more difficult. Even if they eventually come back to your site.

7: You didn’t set it up correctly.

If you’ve added the AdWords conversion tracking code to your site as instructed, I would recommend that you double check how you set it up. Over my 10+ years of managing AdWords accounts, I’ve seen tracking codes removed or accidentally modified so many times. It happens.

Google have a Chrome browser extension that helps identify issues with your conversion tracking configuration. It’s called the Google Tag Assistant, and it’s extremely useful.

Hopefully these seven possible issues will help you identify what’s really going on with your AdWords conversion tracking. If not, drop me an email to see if I can help solve your AdWords problem.