You may have reporting set up to track your conversion data, but the numbers you’re getting may not be the full picture.
Have you checked how your conversion tracking is working lately? If not, it’s time to investigate. Regular conversion tests can help make your digital marketing tracking more accurate.
What We’ll Cover:
- Why Conversion Testing is Important
- How Often You Should Test Conversions
- Why Reports Aren’t the Full Picture
- How to Conduct a Conversion Test
- Common Conversion Tracking Problems
What Is Conversion Testing in Digital Marketing?
According to Study.com, a conversion could be anything like:
- Opening an email
- Opening a link within the email
- Examining the content of a webpage
- Purchasing a provided good or service (typically the ultimate goal of marketing departments)
Conversions can refer to leads or sales. In order to achieve the intended action from a potential customer, websites must optimize various conversion paths.
Your digital marketing strategy depends on these conversion paths. Even if these conversion paths are functioning correctly, the data that tracks it may not be.
Conversion testing refers to checking that conversions are operating correctly on the front end and that conversion tracking is functioning as intended on the back end.
With these two pieces of the puzzle linked, companies can get a better idea of where they stand in the digital landscape.
What Conversion Testing Is Not
Sometimes, people use conversion testing to mean testing how different types of conversions compare to one another. For example, digital marketing teams may perform A/B testing (aka split testing) to see which copy or conversion path wins.
However, this isn’t the full picture. Conversion testing is really making sure the tracking is set up in a way that provides accurate, holistic data.
Many times, companies will be tracking so many key performance indicators (KPIs) that they don’t even know what they’re tracking. Or they’ve updated their website and haven’t tested the conversion tracking code since.
Regular tests fight this complacency and the skewed information that stems from it.
Why Conversion Testing Is Important
One wise writer on SmartInsights wrote, “Even if things are going well, it’s still important to carry some form of preparation. Otherwise, how will you know when you’ve hit your targets?”
This rings true for conversion paths and tracking.
Recently, the Ignite Visibility team had a client tell us, “You know, we’ve made so many updates to the site lately that I’m honestly not sure if all of our conversions are even working properly. Would you be able to audit them for us?”
We were stoked for our client—this is the perfect attitude to have in regards to your conversion tracking. In fact, it’s amazing how much people overlook this.
Testing is usually an afterthought. But when you stop to think about it, it’s really one of the most important things you should be paying attention to on your website.
If your conversions aren’t working properly, it directly impacts your bottom line. Marketing strategies of the modern-day are extremely complex. Often, the operations within them can get seriously expensive if there isn’t regular monitoring. Setting goals and targets as you go and performing regular testing, ensures you’re in control of your expenses and your success.
Plus, failing to test means problems can linger, which can throw off the accuracy of your digital marketing efforts. This means a conversion test is a form of conversion rate optimization (CRO), though an undoubtedly underused one.
Paid campaigns work especially well when they can calibrate themselves to accurate conversions. After all, you are spending money on the campaigns—so why not make sure the conversions are operating as intended?
How Often Should You Perform Conversion Tests?
The regularity of a conversion test really depends on your conversion timeline (aka how long you expect customers to take getting through your conversion path). Still, there are some standards you can stick to that will help guide the way.
Any time you make a change to code on a page with conversion tracking, you should test the conversion tracking on that page. It’s possible that the code changes you made had unintended consequences and are affecting additional pages.
That’s why it’s vitally important that someone in your organization has a thorough understanding of how your conversion tracking works. That person is likely to know what code changes may be causing issues.
In addition to testing whenever you make a change, you should also have a general testing schedule. A good bare minimum would probably be to audit everything once per quarter.
This is a good rule of thumb if you don’t make a lot of changes to your site. The more changes you make, the more often you should schedule your regular tests.
Here’s what Adalysis says about auditing conversion tracking for pay-per-click (PPC) accounts:
“A PPC account audit is the first step a PPC manager should take when working on a new Google Ads account. The audit results in a clear action plan for how to boost the results as fast as possible. It is recommended to audit PPC accounts regularly, at least once every 3-6 months, depending on account size, to make sure nothing has slipped the manager’s attention.”
You Should Test Even If You Can See Conversion Data In Your Reports?
Frankly, it’s possible that the tracking data in your automatically generated reports could be picking up just a portion of the conversions, or even too many. While you’re still seeing data, it might not be accurate.
For example, we’ve seen situations where clients had tons of different conversions in their account that had built up over many years. They lost track of the details of which ones were which. When we audited them they were tracking the same thing multiple times but under different names, essentially inflating their conversion numbers.
In another situation, we saw different prices being sent to different platforms. One price was being sent to Google Analytics and another was being sent to Google Ads for the same conversion, throwing off the accuracy of the data.
These anecdotes are clear examples of why it’s important to dig below the surface. Numbers don’t lie, but teams can set up metrics to report in a way that doesn’t tell the real story.
How to Conduct a Conversion Test
1. Identify the KPIs and conversions that are the most important for you to test.
These are often lead form submissions, purchases, appointment schedulers and phone calls. You’ll want to make a complete list of the metrics you want to track. Prioritize the list in order of importance so you know what’s most crucial to you.
2. Identify which platforms should be receiving information about these conversions.
To keep things organized, you’ll want to identify which platforms ought to be working in tandem with your tracking. Some of the most common platforms include Google Analytics, Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook and Salesforce. Refer to your marketing team to get a full list. This will help you stay on top of things through the rest of the process.
3. Get your testing tools ready.
Each platform you are sending information to usually has some sort of browser extension that can tell you if data has been sent to the platform from the browser. If your conversions were set up in Google Tag Manager (GTM), you would also want to use its debug mode in addition to the browser extensions while testing.
4. Test the conversions on the front end.
Go through all the steps of performing the conversion to get an understanding of how the process works. For lead forms, this would be fully filling out the form and submitting it. For purchases, you would make a test purchase.
When you reach the final step of the conversion process, you want to look at your testing tools and make sure that all necessary events have fired. If using GTM, you should see that the appropriate tags have fired successfully without errors in the preview/debug mode.
You should also see in your platform’s browser extension that the browser picked up the conversion event. Then, you can usually see additional details of the event (like revenue or order ID). You’ll want to check and make sure that these details are accurate.
5. Check if conversion data came through on the platform.
PPC expert Michelle Morgan says, “Accurate conversion tracking is a huge cornerstone to seeing success.” She adds that we want to make sure that we have the conversions populating in the campaign interface so we know what’s working well, what’s not working, and make adjustments to see the best performance out of those campaigns that we can.
This advice leads us to step 5.
If everything looks good on the front end, you want to check if the platform you are using has received the data. Most platforms have a dashboard for conversions that shows whether or not the platform has received the data. Depending on the platform, it can take up to 24 hours to update.
If data has rolled into the platform properly, you’re good to go! Re-work through all the steps with a developer to see if there’s anything that has been missed. If things still aren’t working, you may need to involve support from whatever platform you are using as a final option.
6. Document the process flow.
This step is often neglected, but it can be really invaluable for saving time and money in the future.
Documenting the process flow almost always feels like a pain while you’re doing it. However, down the line when you inevitably make changes to your site, your documentation becomes a great resource for developers and other team members. It will help get them up to speed on how things work.
Common Conversion Tracking Problems to Know About
There are plenty of things that can go wrong with your conversion tracking. This is especially true if you have updated your website recently or forget to test your conversions on a regular basis.
If you went through the conversion test steps above one by one but are still having issues, you may need to work with a developer or platform to help you fix the issue. Here are some of the most common problems you may run into:
- Incorrect code
- Code on wrong pages
- Extra code added during implementation
- Multiple analytics code on the same page
- Inclusion of the remarketing code instead of the Analytics code
- Having Analytics code hardcoded on the site as well as in Google Tag Manager
- Tracking code not set up properly for cross-domain tracking
You may have this issue or another, but the above list is a good place to start.
Bottom Line: Don’t Leave Money on the Table
Making sure your conversions are tracking properly has a direct impact on your bottom line.
A lack of testing can lead to inaccurate data, which can cost business owners money.
Perhaps you have inaccurate lead information, which means you’re losing information on potential customers. Or maybe you have inaccurate paid campaign information causing you to spend money on the wrong campaigns. Whatever it may be, a kink in the system could cause you to think you’re doing much better or worse than you actually are.
Ignite Visibility’s Analytics team can help bring certainty to your conversion tracking. We can help you audit, document and test to make sure that everything is working as it should. Our ultimate goal is to make sure our clients’ digital marketing efforts are getting them the biggest ROI they can get.