WooCommerce: How To Set Up Accurate Paid Advertising Conversion Tracking

This is a guest post by Mark Koemans of W+B. If you like the content, make sure to thank him in the comments!

As a former WooCommerce store owner, I had the pleasure of growing it together with Rodolfo Melogli, from 50K to over 2 million in annual sales.

With paid advertising, we ate our way into the existing sports equipment market in Switzerland. However, our biggest problem was proper tracking.

This led me to work with (and now to work for!) the Digital Marketing agency W+B, which develops and sells one of the most accurate tracking plugins for WooCommerce: the Pixel Manager for WooCommerce.

With this guest post, I hope to be helpful to WooCommerce store owners who are currently considering whether paid ads are a potential revenue stream or not, and those who are not happy with their current results.

You see, the bottom line is this: when you can run a profitable paid ad campaign for your business, you can scale up. And to do so, you need good ads, a decent website, and accurate conversion tracking.

So, let’s take a look at some data, some tips and the Pixel Manager plugin for your WooCommerce website. Enjoy!

Why paid ads are necessary?


Sales and visitors in your WooCommerce shop come from various sources. The most common is a search engine e.g. Google.

Visitors can search on Google and find an “organic” (non-paid) search result, leading to a page on your WooCommerce website.

The amount of organic visitors, and with that your sales, depends on factors that are partly out of your control.

For example, the number of daily visitors of a friend’s website dropped from 3000/day to 100/day just because of a Google search algorithm update. The effect of it was a huge drop in sales.

Visitors can also come after clicking on an ad: they search on Google and find a “paid” search result – your advertisement – leading to a page on your website.

In this case, the number of visitors, and with that, your paid ads sales, are under your control, because you define your budget, you hopefully know your sales conversion rate, and can calculate your return on the investment (ROI).

Are your paid ads profitable?

Let’s say you spend $10 on Google Ads. Google shows your product to thousands of people. A part of them click on your ad and go to your site. A part of those convert and buy. At the end of the day you make $80 in revenue from those ads. That leaves you with a $70 gross margin.

But is that $70 gross margin enough?

Well, the answer depends on your business operations.

If $70 covers your costs of goods sold (purchasing the product, shipping, etc.) and still leaves you with enough profit, then you are running profitable ads. You can increase your advertising budget and scale up.

Otherwise, you’re losing money.

In this case you need to optimize your advertising campaign, or hire someone who can help you with that. Which means 3 things: improving your website, your advertisement settings, and – possibly – your product.

1. Optimizing your WooCommerce website

Optimizing your paid advertisement can also mean getting back to the drawing board. Is your WooCommerce website up to date, does it contain any obstacles that need to be handled? Is the checkout page well designed? Is there enough helpful content for the potential buyer to make a decision? Does the site load fast enough?

2. Optimizing your ad campaign

Once you’re 100% sure your website is able to convert visitors into customers, you also need to revise your campaign. Is the ad on Google correct? Have you defined the right keywords or search terms? Have you picked the correct audience and the correct bidding strategy?

3. Optimizing your product

Are you advertising the right products? For the right price? What are your competitors doing?

For example, when your niche is very competitive, you may want to advertise your “best priced / most discounted item” only, so that Google users are enticed to click on it, and then try to convince them to upgrade to a more expensive product

How to properly track conversions?

In your Google Ads account you can view the revenue from paid ads, the advertising budget, and the Return on the Investment – but only once your WooCommerce website and your Google account can “talk to each other.

And in order to connect your Woo store to Google so that you can track your campaigns, you have two alternatives: installing a plugin such as the Pixel Manager for WooCommerce, or – if you have some coding skills – installing the Google Tag Manager script.

1. Pixel Manager for WooCommerce plugin

This plugin connects your WooCommerce shop with the Google Ads platform. When a user clicks on your ad, Google records this action. Besides, if they purchase from your WooCommerce shop after clicking on the paid ad, this is also recorded (i.e. a “conversion”).

In the case you have multiple ads, all conversions coming from a single ad are recorded in Google Ads. This enables you to identify which ads performed well (and allocate more budget to those) and which did not (and reduce budget accordingly), ultimately increasing your bottom line.

Once the plugin is installed, you simply need to copy & paste your Google Ads account ID and it’s all done for you. The plugin automatically starts tracking and reporting.

What about other paid plugins, such as Monster Insights? The issue is that these plugins are written for WordPress. And later enhanced for WooCommerce. So, they tend to not track as accurately as the Pixel Manager plugin.

And is there a free version of the Pixel Manager? Yes, there is a free version of the plugin available on WordPress.org plugin repository. This comes with basic functionality, which is enough for small stores. When it comes to the paid version, please consider that this plugin helps you set the paid advertising budget correctly. You will spend hundreds if not thousands of $$$ on advertising as your shop grows – allocating the budget correctly is essential for your business. And without accurate conversion data, that is impossible.

2. Google Tag Manager script

Google Tag Manager is free, however, it will still cost you a lot of time and resources to set up properly. If it isn’t set up correctly, it will give you inaccurate conversion data.

  1. If you don’t have an account, sign up at https://tagmanager.google.com/ and create a new container for your WordPress site.
  2. Google Tag Manager will provide you with two code snippets: one to insert in the header of your site and the other in the body.
  3. To ensure GTM has been installed correctly, visit your site and use the GTM Debug Panel to verify that your tags are up and running.

By placing the GTM script directly in the header and body of your WooCommerce website, you have full control over its placement. This way, you can be sure that GTM works properly and that your changes are always aligned with the latest Google recommendations.

However, without knowing which campaigns and ads are performing well and which aren’t, you can’t allocate the advertising budget effectively. Ultimately, this can lead to higher costs, missed opportunities, and lost income.

Conclusion

If you are not currently using paid ads to grow your store, and solely rely on sales from organic results, my advice would be to do a test.

Install the free version of the Pixel Manager, set up a search ad with Google (there is a great free course by Google itself that lets you do it without mistakes), and calculate your profitability as mentioned earlier.

If you’re currently using paid ads, but are not tracking the results, you should start doing so. There is no big obstacle – with the Pixel Manager plugin the setup is immediate. Even the free version of the Pixel Manager would be tremendously beneficial.

Finally, if you have an active paid campaign, but you wonder if the results could be improved, you should consider a dedicated tracking plugin for WooCommerce such as the Pixel Manager. This gives you more accurate data, you can see which ads perform and which do not, and ultimately allows you to make better advertising budget allocation decisions.

If your advertising budget is $20+/day using the pro version of the Pixel Manager, through its increased accuracy and additional features, it will essentially pay for itself.

If your advertising budget is $200+/day, you should also consider hiring a specialist to run your ads. Running a profitable paid ad campaign on a larger scale is not an easy task.

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Rodolfo Melogli

Business Bloomer Founder

Author, WooCommerce expert and WordCamp speaker, Rodolfo has worked as an independent WooCommerce freelancer since 2011. His goal is to help entrepreneurs and developers overcome their WooCommerce nightmares. Rodolfo loves travelling, chasing tennis & soccer balls and, of course, wood fired oven pizza. Follow @rmelogli

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