If you’re paying for an online advertising campaign of any kind, then you’re no doubt aware of the importance of tracking the success of your ads. What you might not know, however, is quite how to go about it.

track your Google AdsOnce you’ve gone to the trouble of setting up a new PPC campaign on Google, it’s essential to track its progress. This will not only help you ensure your investment of time and money is put to the best use, it will also ensure you have the chance to make any adjustments as required throughout your campaign. There are several ways to track your Google Ads, but the ones explored in this article are some of the most popular tools and tricks at your disposal, helping to bolster your progress as you set your sights on increased PPC success.

Why do I need to track my ads?

Tracking your ads is a cornerstone of great PPC management, as failure to do so prevents you from making the right decisions about all elements of your advertising activity. From your keywords right through to your target audiences, there are many different factors which help contribute to your success, and can also be your downfall if not implemented properly.

Google Ads works to provide you with all the information you need to see how many times your ad has been clicked, and you can also monitor things like how many impressions your ad has received. This will help to strengthen your advertising presence and build stronger campaigns, no matter the level you’re at when you begin.

The process of keeping track of your ads needn’t be complicated. Thanks to tools like Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, it’s surprisingly easy to find all the metrics you need for a successful online ad campaign.

First, let’s look at the key areas you need to focus on for real Google Ads success.

Conversion tracking

First things first, setting up conversion tracking is essential as it allows you to effectively see how many clicks lead to your customer engaging in a valuable activity. The way this is defined differs from brand to brand, but commonly-used metrics include things like making a purchase, downloading an app or signing up to your newsletter or e-mail marketing campaign. Since there is so much variety under this tag, it is important to define the purpose for your campaign and the reason why you are tracking this online activity in the first place. This will help ensure your resultant data is meaningful when it comes time to analyse and assess your strategy.

Remarketing tags

Google’s remarketing tag is designed to help you create remarketing lists with purpose. Once you’ve placed the tag on your website and calibrated it to your ads account, you are free to create a remarketing campaign via Google Ads which takes into account the activities and actions of your web visitors during their time on your site. Using this tag, you’ll be in a great position to make dynamic ads which make sense for your visitors and for your business.

Implementing your tracking strategy

The great thing about online marketing is its efficiency and traceability. Every time a customer visits your site, this information can be stored and re-used later to either nurture sales or for your own data purposes.

However, this is only the case when you have already set up the facilities to capture the data. Websites which do not keep track of who visits, how they got there and what they did when they were on site, have no real way of knowing whether their current strategy works.

There are a few different ways to harness this data, but Google’s Tag Manager provides the most comprehensive and user-friendly tool for all levels of ability and purposes.

Google Tag Manager

This handy tool was created by Google to help make managing your ads much simpler. It allows you to track the HTML and JavaScript tags which are a key part of the analytics on platforms like AdWords, and since its initial launch in 2012, it’s been refined to make it more user-friendly.

Getting started

To get started, you’ll first need to open a Google Tag Manager account. This can be done by heading to the tag manager website and inputting the details which are requested. During set-up, you’ll be walked through the process of setting up a container for your website – essentially a tiny piece of code which will be pasted into your web pages to help you track your activities. This should generally be restricted to the domain name of the site you are monitoring, so all the data you have is correct and consistent. Simply type your URL into the indicated bar to proceed.

Installing Google Tag Manager

After inputting this data, you’ll be presented with two boxes of code to add to your website, as well as instructions on where to place each snippet. The first must be added as high on your webpage as possible, while the final box of code needs to be pasted into the site after the opening tag.

If you’re a WordPress user, there’s also a plugin for installing GTM. An increasing number of CMS platforms have also added GTM integration as standard, which will help simplify the process if you’re unsure. Be sure to take your time with this stage as it’s crucial to the success of your next steps. Your CMS provider will be able to offer guidance as required, so get in touch with them if you’re struggling through the process.

Check your installation has been successful by adding Google Tag Assistant as an extension on your browser (if using Chrome). Here you should be able to see GTM listed alongside other Google products, and a ‘smiley face’ icon will demonstrate that the code is functioning as it should. In the event of blue or red symbols, click on the tag and troubleshoot.

Implementing conversion ad tags

You can use GTM for both conversion and remarketing, though the process for each differs a little. To add a conversion tag, select ‘Add a New Tag’ from your GTM account and container. A new window will appear, where you need to select Tag Configuration and select the appropriate tag type. Choose Google Ads Conversion Tracking from the list, then return to your Google Ads account using a separate window, click on Tools, and choose Conversions from the list. Creating a new conversion can be done with a few clicks, or you can choose a pre-existing one for editing. Select Use Google Tag Manager from Tag Setup.

Copy and paste the Conversion ID and label which appear on your screen, adding them to the appropriate fields in your GTM tag. You will need to add a ‘trigger’ and decide where the conversion tag is fired within your website. How you define conversion differs from site to site, so setting up this functionality will be just as diverse. You may define it as simply a page view, or opt for a more complex system. You can also adapt this as your campaign develops. Once you have made any changes, remember to submit and publish.

Installing remarketing tags

Remarketing tags require you to select the Google Ads Remarketing tag (found in your Google Ads account). Select Audience Sources from the menu on the left-hand side of your screen, and create your tag. On the page marked Details, scroll to Tag Setup and expand Use Tag Manager. This will bring you to your Conversion ID, which you should then copy and paste into the correct GTM box. You don’t need a label for remarketing tags, so don’t be concerned when you can’t see one listed.

Again, you need to decide on the appropriate trigger for your tag. For site-wide ‘triggering’, opt for ‘All Pages’. If you prefer, you can choose to only use the code on selected pages; if you’re running a precise campaign targeting one section of the site, this could be a great option. Save your tag and click publish when you’ve completed any changes.

Additional usage for Google Tag Manager

Google’s Tag Manager can also be used to set up ad tracking on additional platforms like Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – with either direct integration or plug-ins dedicated to this purpose. Whatever you’re using it for, the GTM platform is one of the best ways of monitoring your progress with online ads and conversion tracking.

Using Google Tag Manager

If you haven’t worked with Google Tag Manager yet, then it’s free to open your account and begin adding tags to your accounts. Adding a few pieces of code to your site will help make tracking visitors and your ads a breeze. By assessing what you’re doing and where things are going wrong (or right), you can continuously build on your successes and minimise your problems. For those more advanced at online marketing yet still not adept at GTM, there’s lots of great new functionality which improves on earlier versions of the platform for better implementation.

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