Last week fellow PPC Hero Emma Franks wrote a great article about Google’s decision to retire its converted clicks metric. The paid search industry has shifted away from strict adherence to a last click attribution model to more flexible models that consider the entire customer journey. Tracking this journey has led Google to take the step of consolidating all conversion types into one master conversion column. Removing the converted clicks column tells us that Google is de-emphasizing the last click and is forcing advertisers to consider all touch points when creating their bidding and optimization strategies.
In this post, I’m going to examine how to assess account performance so lead generation advertisers can make the most informed optimization and bidding decisions.
Lead Gen 101 And The Converted Click
Lead generation can be a complex beast. For many businesses, the lead funnel contains multiple touchpoints both between channels and within Google itself. Many lead generation funnels also generate mini conversions along the way.
For instance, an IT solutions company selling enterprise software might begin their conversion funnel with getting people to download a whitepaper or viewing a video. Once that little victory has been achieved, the prospect might be remarketed to another set of downloads, videos, or even a landing page where they’ll be asked to take another action such as downloading a price sheet or contacting a sales rep.
The point I’m trying to make is one person may complete multiple conversion actions and those actions are valuable. Because of this dynamic, converted clicks can be a misleading metric that undervalues little wins that happen along the way. Multiple conversions might happen over time by the same person but if you are you only optimizing according to converted clicks, which are unique clicks, those mini wins are not recorded and factored into the overall account management strategy.
Bidding Considerations And Valuing Your Conversions
By removing converted clicks as a metric, Google is essentially saying that basing bids solely off of unique visitors is undervaluing key areas of the conversion funnel. Accounting for all relevant conversions provides the ability to:
- Bid higher
- Get into more auctions
- Grow your business more rapidly
However, computing your CPA bidding targets or what your max bids should be is contingent on having a full and complete understanding of what makes sense to count as a conversion in the first place and how to best value those conversions. For instance, your lead funnel might value form fills as a full conversion yet downloading a white paper might only count as half a conversion. Coming up with the right valuations and factoring them into your bid analysis and strategies is key to arriving at targets that make sense for your business.
Understanding the complexity of your lead funnel and what’s important to track and report is important to deciding whether or not it makes sense to count every conversion or just count unique ones. When migrating from converted clicks to conversions, be sure to carefully analyze your conversion types and their importance so you can make informed decisions. Your bid and optimization strategies depend on it.
Importance Of Back Office Systems
I believe the move away from converted clicks reinforces a need for advertisers to track performance through either a business intelligence or CRM system. While AdWords reporting is important, these reports were never intended to be an organization’s end all be all determiner of lead volume or quality. The sole purpose of an AdWords report (or any advertisers’ reporting platform for that matter) is to provide the necessary information for advertisers to make smart optimization decisions.
For instance, one of the accounts I manage has a complex lead funnel that can take many months for a prospect to progress from research and consideration to becoming a customer. Just because a conversion registered in Google doesn’t mean it’s a quality lead and should be counted as part of the lead volume total. After all, a conversion in Google’s world means a certain set of criteria was met, a pixel fired, and a conversion recorded.
Basing decisions solely off of AdWords reporting could lead to incorrect performance assumptions that could lead to chasing poor quality leads, lower conversion rates, and a higher cost per lead. Additionally, conversion pixels tend to over or undercount from time to time which can skew performance. Using CRM or BI data provides a check and balance against technology issues skewing performance and injects another level of reliability into your analysis.
As a paid search marketer who mostly manages lead generation accounts, I’ve learned it’s important to consider performance throughout the entire funnel, not just a narrow slice of it. By properly leveraging our backend systems, we’ll be able to measure overall performance more accurately and adjust tactics accordingly. Including all relevant conversion types will give a much better sense of what part of the funnel is performing well and what areas require deeper optimization.
Google’s move away from converted clicks is not a bad thing provided you’re absolutely clear on what needs to be tracked as a conversion and how it’s being valued. The converted click metric provides a narrow view of funnel activity and fails to account for the mini victories that occur throughout the lead generation process. Those who take a 360-degree view analysis approach to their lead funnel, are willing to factor in all necessary conversion types, and value them properly will be better positioned to grow their accounts. Those who blindly focus on unique users are missing an opportunity to fully connect with their customers. Providing advertisers a choice of including the metrics they deem important as conversions leads to a more informed account management strategy and better overall performance.