How To: Track Facebook Ad Goals with Google Analytics
Facebook Ads give marketers fantastic options for reaching their audience. And with their Offsite Conversion Pixels, you can track how your ads are performing, regardless of on which website your goals occur. Offsite Conversion Pixels tell you not only who has clicked your ads and then converted, but also whether users who viewed your ads have later converted.
The latter feature, View-Through Attribution, gives advertisers powerful insight into the full value of Facebook Ads. Both post-click and post-view attributions are tracked in 1-day, 7-day, and 28-day windows.
But what if you’re concerned with last-click attribution and want to know how many users completed goals directly after clicking a Facebook ad? And what if you want to track performance beyond 28 days? For that, you’ll need a different analytics solution.
One popular (and free) solution is Google Analytics. Over the years, it has developed into a robust and reliable way to track many aspects of a website’s performance. In this article, I’ll walk you through setting up a Google Analytics Goal for your website, and then creating Facebook Ads to drive conversions towards that goal.
Step 1: Pick your goal
Let’s use my company, adMixt, as an example. We want more companies to contact us about helping with their Facebook ads. We can run Facebook ads to any page on our site that might get a user’s attention. But the ultimate goal is to get them to visit our contact form and submit a request. To track that goal, we identify the page the user visits after completing the goal. In this case, it’s this link:
This is also the page where I would place my Facebook Offsite Conversion Pixel.
Step 2: Configure your goal in Google Analytics
When you log in to Google Analytics, you’ll be presented with a list of all your Accounts. Click the ADMIN button in the upper right corner, and then make sure the correct account is selected from the list on the left.
Now click on the Goals link on the list on the right.
Click the Create A Goal button and let Google guide you through the set-up process. In this example, we’re going to create an Inquiry goal and check the radio button next to Contact Us.
Next we’re going to confirm that this is a Destination-based goal.
And lastly, we’re going to take the link we identified in Step 1 and enter it into the Destination entry field. Note that you don’t enter the full link. You enter the portion after the “.com”. In this case, we enter:
We click the Create Goal button, and this completes the process. Google Analytics now knows that whenever a user visits that link, a goal has been achieved.
Step 3: Set up your Facebook Ads
To run a campaign and measure your performance against this new goal, you will set up your ads just as you normally would. The important difference is to add extra parameters to your ad destination link to help Google Analytics differentiate between each of your ads. This is important so you can measure which ad achieved the most goals at the lowest price.
The way we do this is by adding tracking parameters called UTM codes to the end of the link. (Fun Fact: UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module – Urchin being the company Google acquired in 2005 that became the basis for Google Analytics.) There are four main UTM codes we’ll work with for this type of campaign:
utm_source: The website the ads ran on. For this example, our value will be “Facebook”
utm_medium: The type of ad that ran. This could be “social”, “newsfeed”, “righthand”, “mobile”, or some other value you’d like to use.
utm_campaign: The name of your campaign. For example, “Contact Goal 1”
utm_content: The name of your ad within the campaign. For example, “Funny Ad” or “Serious Ad”
These parameters get strung together at the end of your URL like this:
utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=righthand&utm_campaign=Gontact Goal 1&utm_content=Funny Ad
All of this gets added to your ad destination url like this:
Google provides a free tool to help you build these links properly:
You can measure goal completions using any of these UTM codes. As long as you differentiate at least one of them in each ad you create, you can measure your performance.
Let’s say I run two ads, sending traffic to a page on our website. I give each ad a different utm_content value.
After each ad spends $50 – $100, I look at Google Analytics and see which ad generates the most contact requests.
To view your performance, click on Conversion > Goals > Overview in the left-hand menu:
Then click on the listing for the Source / Medium report:
Next click the View Full Report link in the lower right corner.
This takes you to the main Explorer reporting window. From here, click on the Goal Set 1 link at the top to set your report columns:
Finally, set your Secondary Dimension to Ad Content. This allows you to see your data, grouped by the utm_content code you passed from your ads.
Here we see that while the Funny Ad drove more visits, the Serious Ad had more than double the Goal Conversion Rate. This is a common trend. Ads that get a lot of attention don’t always attract the most qualified prospects. Often an ad with more limited appeal will drive better performance. This is a key reason why it’s dangerous to judge campaign success by click-through-rate, and why it’s so important to measure campaigns all the way through to a conversion event.
While this process might seem difficult to implement, it’s vital to properly measure your advertising investment. With the Facebook Offsite Conversion Pixel and Google Analytics, I get a complete picture of post-view, post-click, and last-click attribution for all my ads.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the post: advanced techniques for exposing even more valuable data!