What Are Google Offline Conversions?

Find out what Google offline conversions are and how you can upload them into Google Ads.

By Craig Dennis on July 6th, 2022Data

$209,490,000,000.

That’s how much marketers spent on Google Ads in 2021.

The return on investment on that Google Ad spend? Well, that depends on several factors like your ability to ultimately convert your customers. However, you might find the number higher than you’d think, given Google’s enhanced ad targeting, machine learning, and optimization technologies.

If you’re a marketer looking to generate qualified leads or purchases, you know how important audience quality is. For example, if you’re a business selling children’s toys and your paid media ads are shown to young people without children, you might as well start setting fire to your ad dollars, as it’s unlikely you’ll get any conversions.

Burning money gif

Burn That Ad Spend

To help improve your bidding strategy and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, Google has a suite of features to track a combination of online and offline conversions. Conversion tracking allows you to provide a feedback loop of all your successful conversions to help Google, with the power of AI and ML, optimize who sees your ads to increase the likelihood of driving more valuable leads and conversions.

What Are Website Conversions?

Web conversions are used to help you see which ad clicks are leading to valuable customer activity on your website and they include events that you define which Google can track natively and associate back to specific users. Generally, this is done by using a conversion tracking solution or placing a snippet of code on your website to capture specific events which can then be fed back to Google.

How do Website Conversions Work?

For capturing web conversions Google offers a feature known as “conversion tags”. Once you’ve added a web pixel or snippet of code to your website, you can simply paste that same code into Google Tag Manager to create tags for your different events (e.g. item added to cart, page view, sign-up, etc.) Once a user clicks on an ad, Google assigns a temporary cookie to that specific mobile device or computer and this allows Google to record conversions.

What Are Google Offline Conversions?

Regardless of your business model, not all conversions are captured automatically through traditional conversion tracking methods (e.g. code snippets and web pixels). Usually, there are additional data sources housing valuable customer data. And this missing data could seriously help Google's targeting capabilities drive more conversions.

Offline conversions include any events you know are driven by your ad investment that cannot necessarily be captured with conversion tracking methods. For example, phone call conversions, form submissions, and all of the data captured natively in your various SaaS platforms like a CRM (customer relationship management) platform or a lifecycle marketing tool occur offline. You might even have a brick-and-mortar store where you capture even more sales events.

The different types of offline conversions

Examples of Offline Conversions

Ultimately, a lot of actions happen in the customer journey that Google can’t track natively. In the world of big data that we live in, a small amount of valuable conversion data can give your company a competitive advantage. For example, the information from just 100 offline sales could potentially boost your target ROAS by a couple of percentage points which could be the difference between spending at break-even or driving meaningful value for your business.

How Do Google Offline Conversions Work?

When a user clicks an advertisement on Google, that click is assigned a Google Click ID or a “GCLID.” Then, as that user navigates through your sales funnel or marketing funnel, you pass back events and offline conversion actions captured in your other platforms. (ex. Lead Submitted) with that original GCLID for Google to understand which customers are converting, the type of conversion that occurred and attribute that information back to the original advertisement click.

Linking this data to the original GCLID, Google can understand which customers are converting and attribute conversions back to the original advertisement click, leading to higher quality conversions and better targeting for you. Now that you know how uploading conversion data into Google Ads can have massive benefits for your ROAS let’s walk through how to set up offline conversion imports. These are the steps we will cover.

With the additional conversion insights uploaded into your Google Ads account, Google further optimizes your ads with its massive computing power. Google uses its Smart Bidding tools to find better audiences, lower your CPA, and ultimately spend your advertising budget more efficiently.

By associating offline conversion events with GCLIDs you can gain visibility into which ads are generating the most leads and which leads are translating to actual sales – thus further informing your bid strategy to optimize your ad spend.

One thing to bear in mind, even though it’s called Google offline conversion tracking, it’s not limited to only non-digital sales. So you should be uploading ALL high-quality sales data from anywhere you can, as long as you can connect the GCLID to the customer’s various conversions because you can also analyze this data in Google Analytics as well as optimize your ad targeting and spending.

Pro Tip: In cases where you may not be able to tie a conversion to a GCLID, Google also offers Enhanced Conversions, allowing you to upload offline conversion data using first-party customer data. This method is a bit easier than using conversions from clicks using Google Click ID since it doesn’t require you to modify your lead forms or backend systems to tie your conversions to a GCLID. Instead, it uses the first-party customer information already being captured to match users and measure conversions.

An adwords conversion import diagram

Google enhanced Conversions

Source: AdWords blog

Importing Data Into Google Ads

Now that you know how uploading conversion data into Google Ads can have massive benefits for your ROAS let’s walk through how to setup offline conversion imports. These are the steps we will cover.

  1. Initial Setup
    1. Turn on auto-tagging
    2. Create an import conversion action
    3. Enable your website and lead tracking system
  2. Uploading Conversions
    1. Prepare your data
    2. Import your data

Initial Setup

Before uploading conversions, you must ensure that your website and Google account are ready to begin tagging and receiving conversions. The first step is to turn on auto-tagging, which lets Google add the parameter called GCLID to the URL when a user clicks on an ad.

Next, you must ensure that you create conversion actions in your Google Ads account for each kind of offline conversion your business wants to measure, such as “lead submitted” or “deal won.” There is no limit on the number of conversion actions you can create. Here's the step-by-step implementation guide.

The last step is ensuring that your website or lead management systems capture and store the GCLID. Upon an ad click, Google will pass the GCLID into the URL string – your team should store this GCLID to provide an easy means to tie back that conversion to the ad click. In most scenarios all of your customer data already lives in the data warehouse, so the main problem is figuring out how to sync that data directly to Google Ads.

Uploading Conversions

When uploading conversions to Google Ads, each conversion should include the following parameters:

  • Conversion Name: The conversion action (ex. “lead submitted”, or “deal won”)
  • Conversion Time: The date and time that the conversion occurred
  • Transaction ID (optional): A unique ID that can be used to help de-duplicate conversions
  • Conversion Value (optional): A number that identifies the value you place on your conversion
  • Conversion Currency (optional): The currency your Conversion Value Field was provided in

While you could manually prepare and upload offline conversion events in a CSV file, doing so is a pain and by no means a scalable solution for modern marketing and sales teams. Instead, teams can use a data activation platform like Hightouch to handle automatically uploading offline conversions to Google Ads.

A meme about manual csv uploads

No more manual CSV uploads!

Using a technology coined Reverse ETL, Hightouch can sync conversion data directly from your data warehouse right into Google Ads and over 100 other business, marketing, and sales applications.

The workflow from source to destination using Hightouch

Sending data into Google Ads with Hightouch

Setting up your scheduled conversion uploads is as simple as connecting your data warehouse, defining a data model (with SQL), creating a sync, and setting a recurring sync schedule.

A sync from a source to a destination field in Hightouch

Hightouch’s sync field mapping

And that’s it! The data from your warehouse syncs automatically, so you don’t need to think about it. And if you’re worried about sync failures, you can set notifications to tell you exactly when there’s a problem using sync notifications.

Thanks to Hightouch, I no longer have to wake up on Saturdays and Sundays to upload manual CSV files. With Hightouch, we can trust that the same data that lives in our internal reports is the same data that is getting passed to our ad platforms.

Mallory Reese-BagleySr. Marketing Operations Manager at Lucid

If you want to upload Google offline conversions the easy way, you can get started with a free Hightouch account for free in under 5 minutes today. You can also learn more about the integration by visiting our Google Ads documentation or requesting a demo.

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