Google Ads Offline Conversion Tracking Explained
17th March 2021
What Is Offline Conversion Tracking And Why Is It Useful?
Offline Conversions is a conversion function in Google Ads and Microsoft Bing Ads which allows advertisers to import offline actions, tracked in a CRM system or similar, back into paid search accounts as conversions. The purpose of offline conversions is to measure the impact that the online campaigns have had offline, beyond the website activity and interactions, and to see the full picture in terms of what value Google Ads is driving for the business.
Offline conversion tracking is useful for businesses with lead generation websites where enquiries, contact forms and quotes are handled online and the eventual sale is completed offline within the business’s own systems.
Importing these actions back into Google Ads can add context to conversions which could impact your level of bidding and budgets, by allowing you to get an appreciation of ROI rather than just cost per lead. This is especially useful if you are importing conversion value, or sales value, and this differs on a case-by-case basis.
If you use smart bidding, and you really should be by now, it also gives Google’s machine learning algorithms another signal for smart bidding to go after, improving the usefulness of Google’s machine learning to provide you with more relevant audiences to target.
Above all, though, it leaves no second guessing about the impact of Google Ads on business performance. Having another layer of data to work with can help to clearly attribute results to paid search activity – if PPC is driving more results than first anticipated, then this could lead to a renewed emphasis on online channels and budget growth may follow.
To give an example:
You are an insurance provider which uses its website and quote engine to generate online quote conversions, with PPC being a main driver of traffic to do this. Whilst the option to buy a policy online is available, you see far more joy selling policies over the phone by contacting potential customers once they have completed their quote. Therefore, traditional online-only conversion tracking is blind to these sales.
Using offline conversions imported back into Google Ads allows you to see, down to the keyword and search term level, which clicks led to the sales and crucially how much the policy value was.
This gives more context to performance. Suddenly keywords with an above average cost per conversion, which may have been tweaked down or even paused, are viewed in a different light because they are driving high value sales and therefore you can adjust bids and budgets accordingly.
Similarly, those keywords driving low policy value sales can also be viewed more critically, asking questions around ROI rather than just cost per conversion to ensure that your business’s bottom line is sound.
Who Should Be Using Offline Conversion Tracking In Google Ads?
The main type of advertiser who would benefit from offline conversion uploads is those operating lead generation websites, who use their website for online enquiries but complete sales offline or over the phone as a follow up action.
Additionally, advertisers who mainly drive call conversions via calls from ads or website calls would also benefit from using offline conversions, as long as the call details are also tracked in their internal systems with data available to upload back into Google Ads.
When Is Offline Conversion Tracking Not Useful?
Despite all the benefits of offline conversion tracking, it’s not a good fit for everyone. If you aren’t capturing the Google Click ID/GCLID (explained more in the guides below) and storing information in a CRM or internal system within your business for Google to refer back to, then the data can’t be paired up and the offline conversion process won’t work.
Another example where offline conversions wouldn’t work is for a business with long lead to sale times. A long lead time beyond the 90-day click window would not show up in Google Ads conversion statistics, so it’s worth running some analysis on your lead times to understand if offline conversions would be right for you.
How Do I Set Up Offline Conversion Tracking In Google Ads?
Google has a comprehensive set of guides around offline conversion tracking setup on its Help Centre – key guides are as follows:
- About Offline Conversion Imports
- Setting Up Offline Conversion Tracking
- Importing Conversions Into Google Ads
- About Importing Call Conversions
What About Offline Conversion Tracking For Microsoft Bing Ads?
Offline Conversions are also available for use in Microsoft Bing Ads alongside Google Ads, which is great news for advertisers running accounts across both networks. The process is largely the same as Google Ads, albeit with one key difference - the Microsoft Click ID, or MSCLID, needs to be stored with the user information rather than a Google Click ID, or GCLID.
To find out more, including how to set up offline conversion tracking for Microsoft Bing Ads, read Microsoft Advertising’s guide.