How to Track Your Google Clicks Like an Expert
by Bryan Todd
There’s one crucial number, one critical metric that you’re looking to improve when you split test – whether you’re trying out new Google ads or pages on your website. Know what that number is, and then get solid, statistically reliable data before you declare a winner. When you do that, the profitability of the traffic coming through your site can’t help but grow and grow.
Everybody agrees on the importance of a solid CTR, or clickthrough rate. After all, you want as much traffic as possible. But there’s a number even more critical than that.
(1) The single most important number that you always want to improve on, is your visitor value, or VPV.
Visitor value is the average dollars-and-cents amount that each click is worth to you. You calculate it by dividing your total sales amount by your number of clicks. If you had 7,500 total clicks to your site this month and you sold $4,500 in products, your visitor value is $0.60.
When you take the clicks that come through your site and make them worth more, they’re worth more not just to you but to all of the affiliates and joint venture partners who send traffic to you. Which means that more of them will come jumping on your wagon, and you get a bigger share of the pie in the end.
Folks often ask what a reasonable cost per click is. That depends on your market and, even more importantly, how profitable your sales process is. If you can grow your visitor value, then you can pay more for your clicks.
(2) You can – and you should whenever possible – track VPV as far back as your Google click.
The idea of “split testing” advertising copy is a hundred years old. But Google has made it faster and easier than at any time in history to put up two ads, rotate them evenly and get clear results … sometimes within a matter of hours.
This, of course, is something you do in your Google campaigns as a matter of habit. Always run two ads at the same time and play the age-old marketers’ game of “beat the control,” where you delete the loser and try to come up with a new ad that will outperform your current winner.
For some folks this spells the difference between bankruptcy and six-digit profits. And it’s all because Google’s setup makes split testing so simple.
What most folks don’t realize, though, is that you can split test two Google ads for a lot more than just clickthrough rate. Third-party tracking services such as Hypertracker (www.hypertracker.net) will let you track visitor value from your opt-in or squeeze pages and from your various sales pages. But Google has a way to do this as well.
With their own built-in conversion tracking system you simply paste some code on “success” pages or “thank you” pages on your site for people who have just done a signup or purchase. Google’s system then connects clicks to conversions and tells you which keywords – and which ads – are turning out the most signups and sales.
If you want to see how well two ads are converting – not just attracting clicks – you can click on the “Reports” tab and choose the report type called “Text Ad Performance.” Check the appropriate boxes below next to “conversions” and “conversion rate” and Google will generate a report that tells you how each ad is doing.
Plus, if you sell products at more than one price point and you’ve got separate “success” or “thank-you” pages for each one, you can generate special Google conversion code for each of those price points and then run reports to see how each ad is turning into dollars.
At that point you’re no longer merely tracking clicks, important though they are; you’re tracking visitor value. You discover that you can write better ad copy that actually influences sales on the other end.
(3) Make sure you’ve got solid numbers before you declare a winner.
How many clicks do you need on two ads before you’re sure that one has the better clickthrough rate? Or how many sales do you need on a pair of pages you’re testing, before you’re absolutely sure that one is going to generate more sales in the long run? Is one or two, or five or six, enough?
Not by a long shot. If you’re just counting clicks and clickthrough rates on two ads, the magic number is thirty clicks – on each ad – at the absolute minimum. Trends change and traffic fluctuates from hour to hour, day to day and week to week, and with the first ten or twenty clicks on a pair of ads their relative clickthrough rates could vary wildly.
So give it time, and let the numbers flesh themselves out naturally. This is what the experts call statistical significance. www.SplitTester.com is a kindergarten-simple online tool you can use to compare clicks and clickthrough rates and find out if you’ve hit the point of statistical significance yet or not. It gives you an answer in seconds.
If you’re measuring sales, however, that rule-of-thumb thirty number may need to double, even triple. Especially if you’ve got traffic flowing in from multiple sources, or if that minimum thirty comes in quickly, over the course of a couple of days, and you need to take weekly fluctuations into account.
When you know what number you’re aiming for – namely, visitor value – that yanks away the fuzz. All of the other numbers become secondary. Tracking visitor value, even (when it’s possible) as far back as the Google click, brings a singularity of focus to all of your online work, all of your testing. And when you’ve waited and watched that extra amount of time up front to be absolutely certain that you’ve got statistically significant numbers, then every step forward you make will be a permanent one.
Bryan Todd and Perry Marshall co-authoredThe Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords,available in bookstores.