A Non-Digital Guide to Conversions

By Melanie Coleman

Of all the buzzwords circling the marketing sphere, conversions is the one that gets the least amount of attention. Sure, it may not be as flashy as personalization, omnichannel or marketing automation, but it can—and does lead to higher ROI.

So why does no one talk about it? Many bank marketers tend to think of a conversion as someone opening an account or applying for a loan, which is certainly one definition, but it’s not the only one.

Let’s break it down.

More simply put, a conversion is when a user completes a key action.

For example, say you are running a checking campaign in Google Ads, and on your landing page, you have a button that says “Open an Account.” That’s your key action! It’s key because it means it’s the action with the highest likelihood of helping your bottom line, the main goal of marketing.

So now that we know what conversions are, let’s talk about how and when to use them. Google differentiates between paid and organic key actions by using the terms conversions and goals.

Conversions refer to key actions completed due to paid or advertising efforts, whereas goals refers to key actions completed on your site by organic audiences—meaning you did not pay to drive them to your site. (Goals are super important, but that’s a conversation for another time.) Conversions should be used anytime you are running an advertising campaign. It doesn’t matter what your campaign is, even if it’s just branding focused to drive people back to your community page. You should always be ensuring your campaigns are not just driving eyeballs but encouraging action.

So now that we know what conversions are, and when to use them, how do we go about implementing them? This is where it gets a little technical, so we’re going to focus on implementing conversions for Google Ad campaigns. For this, you need Google Ads, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Let’s dig into these products a bit further.

Google Ads allows you to show your ads to users searching on Google and YouTube, as well as run display (image) ads across the Google Display Network, and video ads on YouTube.

Google Analytics enables you to see user engagement within your site and your landing pages. This includes seeing most viewed pages, how long users typically stay on your site, if they click on any buttons, etc.

Google Tag Manager is a means of connecting Google Ads and Google Analytics (among so many other things). The best way of visualizing Google Tag Manager is as a toolbox. When you first set it up, it is referred to as a container, which is empty until you add in tags. Tags allow you to track a whole variety of things, but for the purposes of this article, it links conversions happening in Ads to Analytics to allow those two accounts to talk to each other, while also giving you the ability to tell both accounts what your key actions are.

You will need a developer to add GTM container code to your site, and then a developer or a marketer with more technical experience to add tags within GTM. Once you have your GTM container, Google Ads provides step by step instructions for how to add conversions.

Finally, conversions are set up, but that doesn’t mean you’re done. The next thing to do is to update your bidding strategy, which indicates to Google Ads what they should be optimizing your spend for. There are so many different types of bidding strategies, but when using conversions we recommend choosing “maximize conversions.” By leveraging maximize conversions, you are telling Google to find people, within your targeting parameters, who will click on your key action.

All of this to say, “Google, find people who will apply for my checking accounts!” and Google gives you the thumbs up and gets to work. What could be better?

Not convinced this is worth the effort or how effective Google can really be at increasing conversions? Here are a few key stats from two campaigns after implementing conversions (campaign structure and spend remained consistent, conversions was the only change):

We know the world is in a crazy time, and rates are lower than they’ve ever been, but both clients shared in the results above are still seeing record numbers of key actions taken on their landing pages—and the new accounts to go along with it. Landing page optimization is a whole other topic, but regardless, conversions need to be on your priority list for any paid effort, helping you drive ROI more definitively than any other buzzword you take on.

Melanie Coleman is a digital strategist at Pannos Marketing based in Manchester, New Hampshire. Pannos Marketing is an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions.