How to Track Your Facebook Advertising Conversions in Google Analytics

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  • Magda Baciu

    Magda Baciu

    Founder & Head of Strategy

Poor tracking makes optimizing impossible. And nowhere is this more obvious than when it comes to analyzing your Facebook ads performance. As you may very well know, Facebook and Google Analytics just can’t seem to meet eye to eye when it comes to data.

How are you supposed to grow when you consistently switch a top-performing campaign off and scale something that doesn’t work? Because that’s inevitably going to happen when you’re making decisions based on unreliable data.  

This doesn’t sit well with us. Which is why, for this post, we’ll focus on how to align your Facebook data with Google Analytics without having to pay thousands of dollars on third party tools

Not only  will this result in a better understanding of how customers interact with your paid Facebook campaigns, but you’ll finally be able to  enhance ads performance and improve your ROI significantly.

Here’s a quick peek of what you’re about to discover:  

  1. Why you should never count on Facebook Reporting alone 
  2. How to approach Custom Channel Groupings like a top 1% marketer 

Over the last few years, we’ve invested tremendous resources to build our own data analysis methodologies and develop best practices for extracting actionable insights. Our goal was to simplify the process of finding behavior patterns throughout our research by creating a template of questions we could use time and time again.

After working with multiple clients and repeatedly running into the same problems, we realized one of the most important questions to ask is: Am I tracking the correct online data? 

After being 100% sure of your data accuracy, you can start leveraging it to boost campaign results. But, don’t worry if it isn’t, because this guide will also give you some pointers on how to track it better. 

Enough chit-chat, and let’s get to it! 

What’s the Deal With Facebook Reporting?

Here’s the thing with Paid Facebook campaigns. If you don’t put in the effort needed to optimize them, you’ll see a higher bounce rate compared to what you’d see in other marketing channels. 

Sure, your traffic will go up. But that’s because Facebook is a master of spending your money on unqualified leads.

Chances are, you’ve seen it first hand. You may already be testing and optimizing your Facebook campaigns. Yet, if you’re only relying on Facebook’s performance reports, you’re missing out on what’s happening on your website.

Facebook Reporting Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story

Credit is given where credit is due. Sure, Facebook does a decent job of informing you about your campaigns’ performance. It even gives you a few details about your target audience. However, you can never rely solely on this tool because of its incapacity to provide in-depth information about what people do once they land on your website. This is crucial information for helping you understand what to optimize and get more bang for your buck.

That’s where a Custom Channel Grouping comes in to the rescue. As opposed to the limited information Facebook provides (Conversions, Reach, Budget Spent, etc.), Custom Channel Grouping lets you attribute any type of micro and macro goal to your ads campaigns.

Now that you get the complete picture of why you can’t rely only on Facebook Reports, let’s see how you can set things straight between Facebook and Google Analytics.   

How to Approach Custom Channel Groupings Like a Top 1% Marketer

The image you see above is a sneak peek of how most advertisers use Google Analytics. 

Don’t get this wrong – it’s better than nothing! Plus, it’s even more helpful if you’re not looking at all the website data lumped together, but only at Facebook Campaigns or Facebook Campaigns compared to other sources.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t pay close attention, you may lose your ship. So let’s look below the surface and make sure we don’t cause a catastrophe, shall we, Captain? 

When looking at all our website traffic, Google Analytics informs us it’s coming from multiple channels. Paid Traffic is one of them.

This channel, too, is split into Paid Search, Paid Social, and Display. They might sound alike, but they’re very different advertising channels with unique needs of their own. 

Let’s analyze Paid Search. 

In a nutshell, this type of traffic comes from people who used Google Search Bar to find something, came across one of your ads and clicked it. This person knows what they want, and she intentionally searched for it (as opposed to someone who saw a promoted ad without asking for it). 

Someone searching for something specific on a search engine is in an advanced awareness stage. This person knows her pain and is actively trying to solve it. This means she’s more likely to convert than those who only see promoted ads on Facebook, Twitter, and other such platforms. 

As a result, this segment of people behaves differently on your website than those from Facebook (Paid Social). 

Let’s see how you can separate this channel in Analytics to form a clear understanding of the results you can expect from it. 

The Correct Approach to Custom Channel Grouping

You might have heard that if you want to track which of your links brings what leads, you need to add UTMs to your Facebook campaigns.


TIP:

We strongly recommend creating a custom channel for your Paid Social traffic and analyzing it separately from your Paid Search traffic.


A good UTM structure allows you to pinpoint which of your campaigns brings the best leads. This makes it much easier to understand what’s happening in Google Analytics. Here’s what we experience has taught us the best UTM structure looks like:

Preferred

source=Facebook, medium=paidsocial

Not recommended

source=Facebook, medium=ppc

Let’s see why by looking at how Google defines the Paid Search channel.

This means if you tag your Paid Social traffic with medium PPC (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, etc.), it will, for example, get lumped up in the same channel as your Paid Search traffic from Bing or Google Adwords. Choosing this UTM structure might render your optimizing efforts useless. 

Setting the UTM medium to paidsocial lets you go ahead and build your custom segment. 


TIP:

If you’ve already created a custom channel from Facebook Paid Traffic, well done! If not, remember two things:

  • Create a Custom Segment to get data from the past
  • A Custom Channel lets you better organize your data and create reports much easier

Custom channels are magical tools for helping you understand your customer’s wants and needs and spotting behavioral patterns on your website. 

Think of them as magnifying glasses. The more you zoom in at a more granular level, the better you begin to understand what you’re looking at. That’s where you can start writing down hypotheses and extract actionable and meaningful insights. It might sound tedious, but when done right is all you need to get to the valuable data that powers growth.

This is why it’s essential to isolate your Paid Social traffic. Once separated, simply apply this custom channel to your reports and start mining for insights.

Conclusion

There are many different reasons why so many businesses struggle to get their Facebook advertising to perform. So, it’s no wonder that some have started comparing social ads with slot machines. Just when they think they’ve got the hang of it, disaster hits, and everything falls apart. 

We’re not surprised to see this happen time and time again. What else can you expect when Facebook’s conversion and click metrics completely contradict those from Google Analytics? When this happens, any decision you take is like a coin toss (or even worse, since you’ve got way less than a 50% chance of anticipating the right outcome). 

Marketing managers, CEOs, and business owners have gotten so desperate at solving this issue that they’re willing to pay thousands of dollars for third-party tools. An unnecessary expense if you ask us – especially since we’ve demonstrated you can get the same results without spending a dime.

You, too, can align Facebook data with Google Analytics once you follow our Five-Step Guide. Just add your email address in the box below, and we’ll send you a copy ASAP. 

Want to take your social media ads to the next level? Drop us an email and let’s schedule a free strategy call to see how we can help elevate your business.

Get Our 5-Step Template for Setting Up Your Paid Custom Channel Grouping via Email

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