Google Analytics Versus Google AdWords Conversion Tracking

June 19th, 2009 by Nikki Kuhlman

Lately I’ve been getting asked by Google AdWords clients for help with Google Analytics and the need seemsLearn why Google Analytics and Google AdWords tracking data sometimes differs to be increasing rapidly. More and more of my ppc advertising clients are wanting information about their site, bounce rate, exit pages, revenue and more (Google Analytics is a free tracking program offered by Google). I’m not a Google Analytics expert by any means, but I do know the basics of how to create an account, how to implement the code, how to setup goals (which is critical for tracking conversions) and how to analyze results.

Google Analytics provides great information, but one issue that can arise is when Google Analytics transaction numbers and the Google AdWords conversion tracking numbers don’t jive. I know that different packages are not going to track exactly the same, but most of the time, they are close enough that it’s not a big deal. However, a big issue arises when you have an e-commerce site and a decent percentage of people don’t order on their first visit, but come back and order at a later date.

Here’s the problem: Google AdWords tracks “first touch” – if someone searches on a term, clicks on your ad and comes to your site, does not order at that moment, but comes back a week later, AdWords will log the conversion back that first date and attribute the sale to AdWords. Analytics on the other hand tracks “last touch.” In our same scenario, if someone were to search, click an ad, visit the site and leave, then come back a week later, Analytics would attribute that search to organic or other, unless they did a search and clicked on an ad again. Not a big deal if a majority of visitors order on the first visit, but if you have a large amount of people who order at a later date, this can be present a huge problem.

I have two clients who have this issue. For one of them, 40% of visitors don’t order on their first visit, and the other is 50%. And you guessed it, there’s a 40% and 50% difference in AdWords conversions and Analytics transactions. They can’t get a true picture of their PPC ROI with Google Analytics because they only see the revenue for anyone who ordered the first time they visited the site.

The big question is why is that? You would think that, both being Google products, they would track the same way, or at least have an option to track that way, but they don’t. Frustrating for both me and my clients!

But, I’ll explain how to get around this dilemma in my next Blog.

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