Tracking Offline Conversions in Google Ads

This article is in conjunction with the article ‘Tracking offline conversions in Google Analytics‘ where I explained in great detail how you can optimize your online marketing campaigns for offline conversions by tracking website form leads and phone call leads through CRM and call tracking solution.

In this article, you will learn to optimize your Google Ads campaigns for offline conversions via offline conversion actions and Conversion Data Import.

Many businesses use Google Ads to promote and sell their services. But since services usually have long sales cycle and no fixed price, the majority or all conversions tend to happen offline over the course of days, weeks, or even months.

Since neither Google Analytics nor Google Ads track offline conversions by default, advertisers who promote their services via Ads, have a hard time understanding the performance of their Ads campaigns and where their money is being spent.

This problem is also very common for businesses that rely on Google Ads to sell products that can’t be purchased online (like properties, cars, heavy equipment, construction machinery, swimming pools, etc).

In order to optimize your ad campaigns for offline conversions, Google provides a feature in Ads called ‘Conversion Data Import‘.

I will talk more about this feature, later in the article.

The two most common types of leads for a website are web form leads and phone call leads.

These leads can be further classified into qualified leads and won leads (the leads which converted into actual sales).

In order to optimize your Ads campaigns for offline conversions, you need to learn to track qualified and won leads, for both lead generation forms and phone call numbers embedded on your website.

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There are two methods to track Web Form and Phone Leads as conversions in Google Ads:

#1 Traditional Method – you import web form and phone leads as conversions from Google Analytics into Google Ads.  Here we are assuming that you are already tracking form and phone leads as conversions in Google Analytics. 

You can learn more about this traditional method from the article Tracking offline conversions in Google Analytics

#2 Creating offline conversion actions – through this method you import offline conversions directly into Google Ads. No need to first create and track offline conversions in Google Analytics and then later import the conversions into Google Ads.

In the present article, I am going to explain the second method in great detail.

Tracking phone call leads as conversions in Google Ads

Here is how this system works:

#1 User clicks on a Google Ads ad.

#2 Google Ads automatically appends GCLID (Google Click ID) parameter to the landing page URL (provided auto-tagging is enabled). 

Some information about GCLID

When you enable autotagging in Google Ads, a unique ID is appended to the end of the destination URL of your Ads landing pages at run time. This unique ID is called GCLID.

You can see GCLID parameter in the address bar of a browser window by clicking on an Ads ad:

gclid
Each ad click has its own GCLID value.

GCLID parameter is used to share Ads campaign data with Google Analytics. Without GCLID parameters, your Ads data won’t pass into Google Analytics.

#3 Phone Call Tracking Software (PCTS) automatically collects GCLID as a custom parameter (provided you are using a commercial phone call tracking solution like ‘Call Tracking Metrics‘)

#4 The user browses the website and then see your special phone call tracking number for Ads.

#5 The user calls the tracking number.

#6 As soon as the call is made, PCTS assigns the user’s website usage data to the call and sends phone call data as a lead along with the GCLID value to your CRM software (provided you are using a CRM which can integrate with your call tracking solution).

#7 You or your staff, qualify and categorize the phone call lead via the CRM. So if a qualified lead turns into sales then it is labelled as ‘won’ and a monetary value is assigned to it.

#8 Your CRM stores all the lead data along with the corresponding GCLID values.

#9 You download (or submit a request to download) the phone call lead data from CRM once a week or so.

#10 You prepared the downloaded data for import into Google Ads according to the conversion data import format outlined by Google.

#11 You import phone call lead data along with GCLID value into Ads.

#12 You correlate the imported offline conversion data with Ads clicks and impression data in order to optimize Ads campaigns for offline conversions.

Tracking web form leads as conversions in Google Ads

Here is how this system works:

#1 User clicks on a Google Ads ad.

#2 Google Ads automatically appends GCLID parameter to the landing page URL (provided auto-tagging is enabled)

#3 You capture and store the GCLID value in a cookie.

#4 The user browses the website and then see your lead submission form.

#5 The user fill out the lead submission form and submit it.

#6 As soon as the form is submitted, all the lead information along with the GCLID value is passed to your CRM (provided you are using a CRM like salesforce and it provides web to lead functionality). 

#7 You or your staff, qualify and categorize the form lead via the CRM. So if a qualified form lead turns into sales then it is labelled as ‘won’ and a monetary value is assigned to it.

#8 Your CRM stores all the lead data along with the corresponding GCLID values.

#9 You download (or submit a request to download) the form lead data from CRM once a week or so.

#10 You prepared the downloaded data for import into Google Ads according to the conversion data import format outlined by Google.

#11 You import web form lead data along with GCLID value into Ads.

#12 You correlate imported offline conversion data with Ads clicks and impression data in order to optimize Ads campaigns for offline conversions.

Now let us go into the gory technical details of the implementation.

Importing form and phone leads as conversions in Google Ads

Prerequisite

#1 You use CRM software like salesforce.

#2 Your CRM provides ‘web to lead’ functionality so that you can send lead generation data from your website, directly to your CRM.

#3 You use a phone call tracking software (like CallTrackingMetrics) so that you can track phone call leads from Ads ads.

#4 Your phone call tracking software can integrate with your CRM so that you send phone leads data directly to your CRM

#5 You have got an active Google Ads account with auto-tagging enabled.

#6 Your sales cycle is less than or equal to 90 days. This is because you can’t upload offline conversions more than 90 days old into Ads.

To import form and phone call leads as conversions in Ads, follow the steps below:

Step-1: Create new offline conversion actions in Google Ads

Step-2: Capture and store the GCLID value in a cookie.

Step-3: Retrieve GCLID value from the cookie and send it to your CRM along with other lead information.

Step-4: Prepare your CRM data for import into Google Ads.

Step-5: Upload data from your CRM into Google Ads.

Creating new offline conversion actions in Google Ads

Offline conversion actions (also known as import conversion actions) are those conversions which are tracked in Google Ads through conversion data import.

Create following six offline conversion actions in Ads:

#1 Conversion action for phone call leads

#2 Conversion action for qualified phone call leads

#3 Conversion action for won phone call leads

#4 Conversion action for form leads

#5 Conversion action for qualified form leads

#6 Conversion action for won form leads

Here is how you can create conversion action for phone call leads:

Step-1: Login to your Google Ads account and then go to Tools menu > Conversions

Step-2: Click the ‘+import’ button and then select the ‘Import’ action:

import conversion action

Step-3: Now create a new offline conversion action with following specifications:

new conversion action

Make sure that:

# The conversion name matches in spelling and capitalization to the corresponding field name used by your CRM. Otherwise, your offline conversion data import will fail. For example, if a new phone lead is referred to as ‘ABC Phone Lead’ in your CRM then name your conversion action as ‘ABC Phone Lead’ in Google Ads’.

# Conversion count is set to ‘unique conversions’

# Conversion category is set to ‘signup”

Repeat step 1 to 3 for creating each new offline conversion action. However keep following settings in mind:

To create a new import conversion action for ‘qualified’ web phone call leads in Ads use the following specifications:

# The conversion name matches in spelling and capitalization to the corresponding field name used by your CRM. Otherwise, your offline conversion data import will fail. For example, if a qualified phone call lead is referred to as ‘ABC Phone Lead Qualification’ in your CRM then name your conversion action as ‘ABC Phone Lead Qualification’ in Google Ads’.

# Conversion count is set to ‘unique conversions’

# Conversion category is set to ‘Lead’

 

To create a new import conversion action for ‘won’ web phone call leads in Ads use the following specifications:

# The conversion name matches in spelling and capitalization to the corresponding field name used by your CRM. Otherwise your offline conversion data import will fail. For example, if a won phone call lead is referred to as ‘ABC Phone Sales’ in your CRM then name your conversion action as ‘ABC Phone Sales’ in Google Ads’.

# Conversion count is set to ‘All conversions’

# Conversion category is set to ‘Purchase / Sale’

Similarly, create new conversion actions for web form leads, ‘qualified’ web form leads and ‘won’ web form leads in Google Ads.

Capture and store the GCLID value in a cookie

Whenever a user clicks on one of your Ads ad, the Google Ads automatically append the GCLID (Google Click ID) parameter to the destination URL of your landing page.

You need to capture and store the GCLID value in a cookie so that later it can be sent along with lead information to your CRM software.

To store the GCLID value in a cookie named ‘gclid’, add the following JavaScript code to all the pages of your website, immediately before the </body> tag: 

<script type="text/javascript">
function setCookie(name, value, days){
    var date = new Date();
    date.setTime(date.getTime() + (days*24*60*60*1000)); 
    var expires = "; expires=" + date.toGMTString();
    document.cookie = name + "=" + value + expires;
}
function getParam(p){
    var match = RegExp('[?&]' + p + '=([^&]*)').exec(window.location.search);
    return match && decodeURIComponent(match[1].replace(/\+/g, ' '));
}
var gclid = getParam('gclid');
if(gclid){
    var gclsrc = getParam('gclsrc');
    if(!gclsrc || gclsrc.indexOf('aw') !== -1){
	    setCookie('gclid', gclid, 90);
	}
}
</script>

Retrieve GCLID value from the cookie and send it to your CRM along with other lead information

To do this you need to do 3 things:

#1 Configure your CRM

#2 Modify your lead generation form

#3 Retrieve GCLID value via a script

#1 Configure your CRM => Set up custom fields for storing the GCLID value in your CRM.

Create one ‘read only’ custom field on each lead object (qualified web form lead, won web form lead, qualified web phone lead, and won web phone lead). Check your CRM documentation or contact customer support for more details regarding creating custom fields.

#2 Modify your lead generation form – Add following hidden field to your form’s HTML code between the <form> and </form> tags:

<input type=”hidden” id=”gclid_field” name=”gclid_field” value=””>

So the final code may look similar to the one below:

 <form action=”” name=”webFormLead”>
        Name: <input type=”text” name=”name”>
        <input type=”hidden” id=”gclid_field” name=”gclid_field” value=””> 

        <input type=”submit” value=”SubmitWebFormLead” name=”btnlead”>
  </form>

This hidden field will be later used to send GCLID value to your CRM.

# 3 Create a client-side or server-side script to retrieve GCLID value from the cookie you setup earlier and to update the value of the hidden form field you just set above.

Alternatively you can use the following JavaScript code to retrieve GCLID value from the cookie:

<script> 
  function readCookie(name) { 
  var n = name + "="; 
  var cookie = document.cookie.split(';'); 
  for(var i=0;i < cookie.length;i++) {      
      var c = cookie[i];      
      while (c.charAt(0)==' '){c = c.substring(1,c.length);}      
      if (c.indexOf(n) == 0){return c.substring(n.length,c.length);} 
  } 
  return null; 
  } 

  window.onload = function() {      
      document.getElementById('gclid_field').value = 
  readCookie('gclid'); 
  } 
  </script>

Add this code immediately after the code you used to capture and store the GCLID value in a cookie but before the </body> tag.

Prepare your CRM data for import into Google Ads

If your CRM can integrate with Google Ads, you then don’t need to manually prepare your CRM data for import. It will automatically be converted according to the conversion data import format outlined by Google and imported to Ads on a regular basis.

For example, Zoho CRM can integrate with Google Ads. Salesforce can also integrate with Ads with the help of some third-party tools.

If your CRM can not integrate with Google Ads, then follow the step below:

Download (or submit a request to download) lead data from your CRM at least once a week. This lead data should contain Google click ID, conversion name, conversion time, conversion value, and conversion currency.

If you ask your CRM support team that you want the lead data for importing into Google Ads, then they are most likely to understand your requirement and send you data in the conversion data import format outlined by Google.

You then don’t need to manually format your lead data according to the conversion data import format outlined by Google and can move straight to importing it in Ads.

If your CRM support team, can’t provide you ready to import CRM data then follow the steps below:

Step-1: Download the Google Conversion Upload template.

Conversion Upload Template

Step-3: Open the template file and update the timezone value (HHMM) by your Ads’ account time zone.

Step-4: Add a new row for each offline conversion by filling in all the columns for: Google Click ID, Conversion Name, Conversion Time, Conversion Value and Conversion Currency. You can get this data from your CRM.

Make sure that

Conversion name matches in spelling and capitalization to the corresponding conversion action in your Ads account. Otherwise your data import may fail.

Conversion value can not be a negative number and it is an optional field.

Conversion currency – use this field if your conversion values is in multiple currencies. This is an optional field.

Conversion time – it is the data and time when the conversion happened. It should be in acceptable format like MM/dd/yyyy HH:mm:ss. For example: 09/02/2015 3:49:54 PM

The template file should not include any personally identifiable information and/or additional columns.

Double check your entered data before you start the import. This is because offline conversions once imported can’t be removed later.

Upload data from your CRM into Google Ads

To import offline conversions to Ads, follow the steps below:

Step-1: In your Ads account, go to Tools menu > Conversions

Step-2: Click on ‘uploads’ under ‘Conversion Actions’:

conversion import

Step-3: Choose your file to upload, click on the ‘Upload and preview’ button and then ‘Upload and apply’ button:

uploads

That’s how you can import offline conversion data into Ads.

Other articles on specialized tracking in Google Analytics

  1. Ecommerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  2. Event Tracking via Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  3. Event Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  4. Guide to Google Analytics Store Visits Tracking
  5. Offline Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  6. Implementing E-Commerce Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  7. Tracking Virtual Pageviews in Google Tag Manager – Tutorial
  8. YouTube Video tracking via Google Tag Manager
  9. How to Use Keyword Hero to Reveal Not Provided Keywords in Google Analytics
  10. Virtual pageviews in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  11. Google Analytics and YouTube Integration Tutorial
  12. Google Analytics for Facebook Tutorial
  13. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking Explained Like Never Before
  14. Using multiple Google Analytics tracking codes on web pages
  15. The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list
  16. Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics – Tutorial
  17. Creating your own Google Analytics Tag Auditing System
  18. Tracking Site Search without Query Parameter in Google Tag Manager
  19. Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways
  20. Phone Call Tracking in Google Analytics and Beyond
  21. Learn to Track Qualified and Won Leads in Google Analytics
  22. Introduction to Postbacks in Google Analytics
  23. Google Analytics Recurring Revenue and Subscriptions Tracking Tutorial
  24. How to track the impact of cookie consent on website traffic in Google Analytics
  25. Tracking Offline Conversions in Google Ads
  26. Implementing Scroll Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  27. Scroll Tracking via Scroll Depth Trigger in Google Tag Manager
  28. Site Search Tracking In Google Analytics Without Query Parameters
  29. Video Tracking via YouTube Video Trigger In Google Tag Manager
  30. How to Correctly Measure Conversion Date & Time in Google Analytics
  31. Google Analytics Social Tracking – Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn
  32. Google Analytics Cross Domain Tracking (ga.js)
  33. Tracking Twitter and Linkedin Social Interactions in Google Analytics
  34. Creating Content Group in Google Analytics via tracking code using gtag.js
  35. Tracking Site Search in Google Analytics with Query Parameters
  36. Understanding site search tracking in Google Analytics
  37. Creating and Using Site Search Funnel in Google Analytics
  38. Learn to Setup Facebook Pixel Tracking via Google Tag Manager
  39. Setting up & Tracking AMP Pages in Google Analytics
  40. Setting up Sales Funnel across websites in Google Analytics
  41. Regular Expressions (Regex) for Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager – Tutorial

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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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