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How to Track the ROI of Your Online Advertising Campaigns

You just started a new AdWords campaign.

You’re trying to drive some easy, instant sales to your site.

But you quickly realize that you have no idea how to tell if those visitors are converting. No clue if you’re wasting your hard-earned budget without a return.

You’re not alone.

76% of marketers are still struggling to track the ROI of their campaigns.

Even worse is when marketers think they’re tracking the effectiveness of their campaigns, but they’re doing it in the wrong way.

So it looks and seems and feels like they’re on the right track. All while budgets get squandered, and results continue to lag.

Here’s how to get started tracking your return on online advertising campaigns.

Outline What a “Conversion” is For Your Campaign

Conversion tracking can be complex.

It’s not cut-and-dry like most people think.

The first step to tracking the return on investment for an online advertising campaign is to outline what your campaign goals are.

Are you trying to build brand awareness? Are you trying to drive e-commerce sales? Consultations?

Set up Google AdWords Tracking

Setting up Google AdWords conversion tracking correctly is critical for measuring your ad ROI.

It helps you track data on how your campaigns are performing and whether or not you are finding success.

To get started, open up your AdWords account and navigate to the conversions section:

Here, you can begin setting up conversion tracking elements for multiple parts of your campaigns.

From basic call data to website conversions, you have a few different options:


Depending on your campaign, you might need more than one of these elements to track conversions.

For example, if you decide to run AdWords ads with call-based extensions, you’ll want more than just website tracking.


To get started, click on the element that you need to track.
The most common one will be your website conversions, or the people who buy a product or convert on your site.

Select the tracking type and give it a name and a category to recognize it:


Next, under “Value,” you’re going to want to input some basic numbers.

Remember that equation in the section before?

If your product/service isn’t a direct sale like e-commerce, you want to set your lead value as the conversion value here.

This will give you some insight into ROI fast without having to dig through each conversion.

Once you’re ready, save the conversion tracking element, and it’s time to install your tag.

I can tell you’re already jumping for joy. Tone it down, I know it’s exciting stuff.

Now you can scroll down to the box called “Event snippet” where you can select between two options:

The most common one will be the Page Load option.

This simply means that whenever someone lands on a page, AdWords will mark it as a conversion.

So, the key here is to place this tag on the right page.

If you place it on your landing page, your conversion data won’t make sense.

You need to place it on a thank you page that a user will land on after they’ve converted.

So, if someone fills out a form somewhere on your site, they need to be directed to a thank you page. That’s where you want to place the tag.

Simply install the code into your thank you page header, and you’ll have live tracking for your campaign.

If you want to double-check your tag installation, use the Google Tag Assistant to make sure it’s installed correctly:
That’s it.
Now you can start to track the fundamentals of ROI on AdWords.

But that’s not all. This is just the first step of tracking your advertising ROI.

Conclusion
When you’ve started a new online advertising campaign, what’s your first step?

If it’s not setting up conversion tracking, you might be making a big mistake.

Tracking return on investment is critical to understanding how well your online campaigns are doing.

First, you need to start by outlining what a conversion means to your campaign.

Is it a direct sale via e-commerce, or is it a consultation?

The idea here is to tie your efforts directly to ROI and understand that a conversion isn’t necessarily money in your pocket.

Next, set up tracking scripts with the top advertising outlets.

You need these to collect critical data.

Be sure to take advantage of UTM codes to get insight into where your traffic is coming from.

Lastly, track your phone calls. People often forget how important call tracking is for getting an understanding of ROI.

Want to prove that your campaigns are worth it?

Clicks don’t tell you that. Neither do leads, opt-ins, or consultations. Only revenue does.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to KissmetricsUnbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.