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Practical Guide to Offline Conversion Tracking

Are you fully capturing your customer’s journey? See how offline conversion tracking can complete your analytics picture and boost your campaign performance.

When you run online ads, it’s easy to track clicks and visits to your website. But what about actions that happen offline, like someone calling your Sales team after clicking on a banner ad? If you’re not tracking these offline conversions, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle.

With offline conversion tracking, you get to see the full effects of your ads, including the real-world actions they inspire. This helps you fine-tune your strategy, improve your return on ad spend, and create a stronger link between your online and offline marketing efforts.    

The initial setup might seem daunting, but this guide aims to simplify the process for you. Continue reading to explore the offline conversion tracking solutions available and learn how to kick-start your efforts.

What are offline conversions?

Offline conversions are the actions that potential customers take in the real world after interacting with your online advertising.

Examples include:

  • Visiting your business to chat with Sales Reps
  • Calling to book an appointment or get a quote
  • Buying something from your brick-and-mortar store

Since they don’t happen digitally, these offline actions aren’t tracked automatically by systems like Google Ads.

However, you can record offline conversion events by either uploading the data to Google Ads or setting up its system to monitor sales calls. If you qualify, you might even be able to track when people actually visit your store after they see your ads online.

Reasons to track offline conversion data

Understanding how your online ads drive offline conversions can help you get the most out of your advertising campaigns. It’s the secret to knowing how to minimize your ad spend while maximizing results. Here are some ways tracking offline actions can help you reach your goals.

Clearer view of keyword and targeting success

By linking your online ads to actions people take offline, you can see which keywords and targeting criteria people respond to most. For example, if you see that ads with certain keywords get more calls, use those terms and phrases more often to drive results. This helps ensure that your ads not only get clicks but also bring in real customers.

Better customer journey attribution

Tracking from online ads to offline sales shows you the whole story of a customer’s path to purchase. You can see how early online interactions lead to phone calls, store visits, and other valuable customer actions. This helps you give the right amount of credit to each part of your advertising that brings in sales.

More automated bidding opportunities

If you track both online leads and offline sales, you can tell Google Ads the value of each conversion type. This helps the automated bidding system understand your sales process better and make smarter bids. Doing so ensures your advertising budget goes to efforts that genuinely contribute to your bottom line.

Different ways to track offline conversions

Google Ads offers several ways to track offline conversions. The best choice for your brand depends on your business model, sales funnel strategy, and specific tracking requirements.

Offline conversion imports

The offline conversion import system lets you upload data about various real-world marketing and sales activities. You can do this manually using a Google Click ID (GCLID) or the enhanced conversions for leads.

It’s also possible to automatically import offline conversion data from your customer relationship management (CRM) and sales management systems. The setup process for importing sales and CRM data varies depending on your preferred platform.

If you have a large business, you might appreciate how this method connects detailed online ad views to offline sales and conversions. For example, it can track when call centers schedule appointments after someone sees or clicks on an ad. It can also link in-store purchases to initial digital ad clicks weeks later. This is especially helpful if your brand primarily advertises online but sells offline.

Phone call tracking

Google Ads allows you to track phone calls in 2 ways. You can use these methods separately, but they work best together.

The 1st method tracks calls from mobile ad clicks or website visits after ad exposure. This happens when you create a conversion event for automatic tracking using a Google forwarding number.

The 2nd method captures details about calls that resulted in offline conversion actions, such as reservation bookings, sales orders, and consultation requests. You manually track details on these calls through your existing systems. This data can then be imported into Google Ads whenever you need it, either right away or on a set schedule.

Linking phone calls to Google ad interactions is incredibly valuable for brands that rely on personalized sales calls. This includes financial planning companies, IT consultancies, and law firms. It’s also a wise choice for businesses looking to drive foot traffic to physical locations, such as restaurants and auto dealerships.

In-store purchases

Google’s in-store purchase tracking feature connects online ads to sales at physical stores. It uses location data from mobile devices to see if people visit your brick-and-mortar stores after seeing your online ads. When these visits lead to purchases, that information is sent back to your Google Ads account.

However, it’s important to note that setting up this tracking system isn’t something you can do on your own. Instead, you must meet specific eligibility criteria outlined by Google, such as:

  • Ensuring your Google Profile is up-to-date with all your store locations fully verified
  • Enabling location extensions to enhance your ads with details such as your store’s address and contact information
  • Showing substantial activity, including high numbers of clicks and impressions

If your brand qualifies for this program, Google will automatically begin tracking and reporting data about store visit conversions.

Any business that sells products or services at a physical location can benefit from this tracking method. Whether you run a grocery store, hair salon, or auto repair shop, knowing how online ads affect in-store purchases can help you see how well your marketing works.  

How to track offline conversion events in Google Ads

To begin tracking offline conversions in Google Ads, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Log in to your Google Ads account
  2. Click on Tools and settings in the top menu bar
  3. Select Conversions in the dropdown menu
  4. Click on + New conversion action

Once you’ve completed those steps, you’re ready to use the import feature to track offline sales data or set up phone call tracking.  

Save offline data using Google Ads Conversion Import

Using the GCLID method allows you to quickly begin importing data from offline sales events. Google Ads assigns a unique GCLID when someone clicks on your ad. You’ll store these IDs in each customer’s record in your CRM platform or database to track conversions on a case-by-case basis.

As you do that, also monitor offline sales to identify which ones came from people clicking on your ads. Google Sheets or a similar program can help you neatly record the offline conversion data in a format ready for upload.

When you want to manually upload your data, you’ll first need to create a conversion action. To do that, select Import on the Start tracking conversions page. Then, click Manual import using API or uploads, choose Track conversions from clicks, and press Continue.

After that, configure the following settings:  

  • Goal and action optimization: Group the conversion action under a specific category for easier segmentation and tracking.
  • Conversion name: Type in a unique identifier for each conversion you want to track. 
  • Value: Assign a dollar value to each conversion or decide to opt out.
  • Count: Determine whether to track every conversion or just once during a set period.
  • Click-through conversion window: Decide how much time should pass before tracking subsequent conversions from a user.
  • Attribution: Select between the data-driven and last-click attribution models.

Click the Create and continue button, and then select Google click identifier as your method for measuring offline conversions. Finally, select the Upload option to tell the system how you’d like to import conversions and click Done.

Once you’ve finished setting everything up, go to the Uploads tab to import your spreadsheet data. Confirm your format matches the templates offered on this page before uploading. You can also schedule uploads to happen on a regular basis if you prefer to automate this process.

Import phone tracking data into your Google Ads account

Google Ads allows you to track sales calls made through offline phone systems. You must set up Google forwarding numbers before importing your phone call data.

Once you have that set up, you will need to:

  1. Click Import data from Google Analytics or another source on the Start tracking conversions page.
  2. Select Track conversions from calls and hit Continue.
  3. Configure the settings to choose your goal, create a name, and select from the other options like conversion value and attribution type.
  4. Click Create and continue once you’re done making your selections.

On the next screen, choose how to add the tag to your website. You can install the tag yourself or email it to your webmaster, but you cannot use Google Tag Manager for this step. Follow the instructions for your selected tag installation method, then click Send and continue.

On the final page, you’ll receive confirmation that you’ve set up your phone call conversion action. Additional notes will let you know what to expect and how to confirm that your tag works as intended. Click Done to complete this process.  

Record in-store conversions in Google Ads  

Once you’re eligible for in-store tracking, the data will automatically appear in your Google Ads account. Just go to your campaign reports or the Conversion summary page to view it.

In campaign reports, look for the data under All conversions. If you’re running YouTube or display ads, you might find it in View-through conversions as well.  

On the Summary page, you should see a conversion entry called Store visits. If you don’t see it, simply add it yourself. You may want to adjust the conversion actions for in-store visits to improve your data collection methods.

To do this, click Edit settings and then make changes to the various options on the page, such as conversion value and attribution model. Then, click Save and then click Done to finish changing your settings.

Enhance your insights by tracking offline conversions

Offline conversion tracking links online ads to real-world actions like store visits, phone calls, and sales. It might take some work to get it set up, but the benefits are well worth the trouble. Knowing which online ads drive results can improve your marketing efforts, minimize your ad spend, and ultimately boost sales and revenue.

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