Google AdWords is great at giving you raw data like costs, clicks, impressions, and conversions. You can see directly how well a keyword or campaign is performing for your business.
But what happens in between a click and a conversion? How did they interact with your site and landing page? What stopped them or convinced them to convert on your offer?
It’s impossible to answer those three questions using AdWords alone.
You need to be able to answer those questions if you want any shot at optimizing your conversion rate and ad spend.
If you don’t know how users interact with your site or any deeper, non-surface level data, you’re missing out on massive potential.
Here’s how you can combine the efforts of Google AdWords and Analytics to make the perfect pair of data.
How To Link Google Analytics With AdWords
Start by connecting Adwords to Analytics to get the best of both worlds.
By linking the two, you can start to see different metrics in both Google AdWords and Analytics for things like time on site, pages per visit, conversions, and bounce rate.
Each keyword can provide a different story on how interactions were on site.
For example, you might find that keyword X produces a 95% bounce rate, meanwhile keyword Z produces a 50% bounce rate with a longer time on site.
When you compare the conversion data of both, you might notice that keywords with higher time on site and lower bounce rates convert better.
This would show you that your offer is matched perfectly to the user, and they proceeded to read everything on site.
Conversely, you might find the opposite. Keyword X might have a high bounce rate and a low time on site but tons of conversions.
That might mean that your landing page is concise yet impactful. Users don’t have to waste their entire day on your site to get the information and convert.
Either way the cards fall, this data can be critical when informing future landing page design, budget and bidding decisions.
To get started, head to Google Analytics and navigate to the Admin section:
First, select the account that you want to make changes on. Then, in the property section make sure to select the website that you use for your AdWords campaigns.
Lastly, select the AdWords Linking tool:
Now select your AdWords account, confirm the authorization and you’re good to go:
Now that you’ve got the basics down and the setup work complete, it’s time to combine these two data centers to bring it full circle.
Google AdWords Acquisition Data In Analytics
Linking your Google AdWords account to Analytics opens up a plethora of acquisition data that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you.
Want to see how different keywords and campaigns impacted time on site or bounce rate?
Or where those users went on site after your landing page?
Here are three of the best ways to dive into this data and use it to improve your campaign performance.
Tip 1. See how keywords perform on site
Seeing how keywords perform beyond metrics like impressions and clicks is important for performance.
It can tell you things like how well that keyword resonates with the landing page.
How well you’ve matched the message of your ad to your content.
For example, if the time on site is low, you probably can conclude that the landing page didn’t match the search query well.
To uncover this data, locate the AdWords Keywords report under the Acquisition tab:
Here you can analyze different keywords in more detail than the Adwords dashboard can offer:
You can see bounce rates and even establish multiple goals on-site through Analytics.
If you wanted, you could get extremely detailed in your Goals section to tie this data back to AdWords even further.
For example, you could set micro-conversion goals for link clicks or engagement elements on your landing pages.
Then you can track those as conversion goals to see how people interacted on site or if they converted on smaller tasks.
Another place to grab data from is the Behavior reports section under “Landing Pages:”
This report packs some seriously useful data on your sessions that originated from AdWords.
Data like new users, % new sessions, pages per session and the average duration give you insights into landing page success:
Notice how some of these campaigns at the bottom have a low average session duration?
That’s probably an indication that the landing page isn’t performing well, or that the message match is off.
People are expecting something specific and aren’t getting it, causing them to leave fast.
But the first and third landing page have high average session durations, meaning they are working great.
This tells me that I can now emulate those landing pages to increase performance on my lagging content.
Another key metric to focus on here is the bounce rate and pages per session.
This could be either a good or bad thing depending on your goals. For example, more pages per session could be distracting the user from converting.
But it could also serve as a useful tool to get them to convert on a lower intent offer like a consultation rather than a sale.
If you notice that landing pages have low-performance indicators, compare that data with AdWords’ conversions to see if specific landing pages need to be fixed.
Tip 2. Run a behavior flow report for AdWords
The behavior flow in Google Analytics is one of the best ways to visualize your on-site funnel.
It can tell you everything from how that user arrived, to where they ended up before converting.
It shows you what pages were critical in retention and which ones were key drivers of sales.
And by integrating AdWords and Analytics, you can now run behavior flow reports for your AdWords campaigns.
To get started, head to the Behavior Flow report section:
To filter the right data, you can select a few different options here.
The first is sorting the results by landing page, and making sure to select paid traffic as the only segment of focus:
This will show you all of the user flow data for PPC traffic on your landing pages.
You can now visualize what a typical buying journey looks like directly on site specifically for PPC traffic.
This is key to understanding what users are interested in, and even how to go about remarketing them.
For example, you can use the data from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd interaction to assess levels of intent for a remarketing campaign.
Did they visit three times and land on your pricing page?
You can create specific custom audiences based on this data to bring back sales.
Another great option is switching the landing page metric to overall campaign performance:
Select the “Campaign” option under “Advertising” and you’ll be able to visualize the funnel for each individual AdWords campaign you run.
Take a deep look at the various interaction points and try to scout trends:
In this example above, people often looked at service-based pages, then moved to a contact page or a specific consultation page.
You could take this typical user flow and turn that into a powerful remarketing funnel that delivers customized content each time a user lands on these pages.
AdWords has impressive data alone, but it can’t deliver the specificity of funnel visualization without Analytics.
Speaking of funnels…
How To Use Custom Funnels In Analytics For AdWords Success
Behavior flows aren’t the only type of funnel analysis you can conduct once you’ve connected AdWords and Analytics.
If you have Google Analytics Premium, you can create custom funnels based on AdWords traffic.
One of my favorite custom features in the premium version of Analytics is seeing how your AdWords video ads perform:
For the first time, using a custom funnel analysis you can tailor the settings directly to fit your campaigns.
You can see what percentage of your traffic watched to the end of your video, giving you the opportunity to remarket them based on engagement.
Just by selecting a specific segment of engaged watchers you can quickly create a new remarketing audience right inside Analytics:
AdWords alone will only tell you how well the ad performed.
What clicks it had, how the CTR was or how many conversions it generated.
But creating custom funnels in Analytics will help you visualize it, even giving you specific actionable tips on getting more customers:
Analytics will automatically analyze your AdWords data and give you direct ways to take advantage of any unclosed gaps that could be big for revenue.
It’s never been easier to create powerful custom audiences with AdWords.
Instead of using the audience section of AdWords, try analyzing your funnel with custom reports and creating specific audiences directly from Analytics.
How To Eliminate The Last Touch Bias
Google AdWords data can sometimes be deceptive.
You’ve got a stellar landing page, amazing ad copy, a high click-through rate yet no conversions.
How is that possible?
It’s usually not because your landing page message match is off.
And it’s usually not because you click baited a bunch of traffic.
More than likely it has to do with last touch bias.
If you’re not familiar with the term, last touch bias is the bias in conversion reporting data that credits a conversion to the last touch point a user took before converting.
For example, let’s say that user found you via social media, then clicked on your PPC ad, then converted via an email campaign.
In your conversion data, your email campaign would get the credit.
Why? It’s the direct touch point that drove a conversion, otherwise known as last touch.
But that data is biased.
Take a look at the typical buyer’s journey as outlined by HubSpot:
Does it look like it’s a simple, one-off step that leads to a conversion?
Nine times out of ten it’s not. People bounce around on multiple channels before pulling the proverbial trigger.
And this happens countless times with AdWords, especially when you’re using the search network.
Why? Non-branded terms on the search network that drive clicks for you are almost always going to be cold traffic.
They’ve never heard of you. Otherwise, they would have searched for your brand.
Instead, they searched for “SEO agency” and clicked your ad.
And if the buyer’s journey tells us anything, it’s that people don’t convert on the first visit.
Meaning you probably had a great ad and landing page offer, but the person simply wasn’t ready to give you money or information.
They are still browsing options.
This is problematic for two reasons:
- You pay per click in AdWords, so the data shows that you’re spending money with no conversions.
- That PPC ad was likely crucial in the conversion process, yet gets no credit in the end.
Last touch bias might show that emails drove the conversion. But what if they first discovered you via the search network ad?
Killing your ads because of low conversions could sabotage your entire funnel.
You’d have nobody to send that email campaign to later down the road if they didn’t find you via PPC.
Just because it isn’t getting direct credit doesn’t mean the conversions aren’t driven by it.
Thankfully, you can start to uncover some of this data right within Analytics.
Head to the Model Comparison Tool and run a report using the Linear function:
Linear reporting will give you equally-weighted conversion credit to all of your channels involved in the conversion process.
If you notice that conversions aren’t showing up on your AdWords dashboard, but show up as partial credits in the comparison tool, you now have a clearer picture of AdWords performance.
Try running this comparison using the different models that Analytics offers. You can also check out the rest of the models.
Google AdWords And Analytics: Final Thoughts
Google AdWords alone is great for surface-level data.
For analyzing conversions, clicks, and impressions.
But what about the in-between? The real meat and potatoes that explains the most critical piece of the pie:
Why did they convert? What pushed them over the edge or stopped them in their tracks?
AdWords alone simply can’t explain it.
That’s why you need to connect AdWords and Analytics. If you want better, more specific and actionable data they need to be used hand in hand.
Connect your Google AdWords and Analytics accounts and set up UTM tracking codes.
Use custom funnels in Analytics to visualize your PPC buyer’s journey.
Be sure to eliminate last touch bias and uncover any conversion mysteries.
Want better data? Combine them both.