Google AdWords Tracking for Marketo… That Doesn’t Suck.

google-adword-trackingI recently spoke at the Marketo Summit on ‘Creating Gorgeous Marketing Dashboards that Your Executives Will Love’. Analytics has been a topic that has been near and dear to my heart ever since I started my marketing career at Cognos, a Business Intelligence software company that was acquired by IBM.

It was engrained as part of our company culture at Cognos to track everything, and show how it was contributing to the business. In one memorable all-hands meeting, our Chief Operating Officer at the time said ‘activities don’t matter, results do’. That line will stick with me forever.

I find as Marketers, it is very easy for us to get caught up in all the ‘activities’ we are doing. How many emails we are sending out, how many tradeshows we are exhibiting at or how many ‘leads’ we are driving. But, what really matters at the end of the day, is:

  • What is my return on my marketing investment?
  • Are my ‘leads’ turning into customers?


If you are using Marketo chances are you are likely doing search engine marketing through Google AdWords, and you have inevitably found out that it is difficult to track the effectiveness of this channel. If you are advanced, you may have created hidden fields to capture URL parameters, or maybe you have even created dedicated Google AdWords programs for each of your campaigns. But even if you are doing these two activities (and congratulations – most people are not this advanced) there is still potential for leakage and reporting discrepancies.

Most Marketers struggle to determine which campaign, keyword or source drove the traffic, lead, and then have even less of an idea of if that lead then turned into a customer or revenue.

The problem with Google AdWords is that it is very hard to control the visitors behavior once they come onto your site. Even if you have dedicated Google AdWords landing pages, prospects can still find ways to not convert on that initial page and convert later down the road. Or, they can come back at a later date and you lose the source of their original visit… the Google AdWord!

Also, you may be getting conversion metrics from Google AdWords, but that is only showing you people who have reached a conversion page. You can generate a million conversions, but if none of them convert into customers, it’s not worth the investment. It’s no longer about measuring leads, but measuring customers and revenue generated.

So, how do you track people who don’t convert on your initial landing page, and track them all the way to becoming a customer? Here are 3 steps to improving your Google AdWords tracking in Marketo:

1. Add hidden fields to capture data to all of your Marketo forms

Google will automatically append a URL parameters to the links in your Google AdWords. This URL parameter contains data about the ad they just clicked on (learn more about auto-tagging). You can get a bunch of different information from this, including term, source, medium and keyword. By adding this and other hidden fields to your Marketo forms, you can capture the data that is coming through on these ads and append it to the lead record.

2. Implement an Original Lead Source field

One of the most common issues that we help our clients solve, is the best way to track the initial source of a lead. Using acquisition program does not always work, since someone could come in on a Google AdWords, and then convert on a completely separate offer on your website. By creating a new field to capture ‘Original Lead Source’ and a data management campaign, you can block field updates so that this field is written to only once, and will contain the very first source of the lead.

3. Implement code to store your URL parameters in a cookie

Block the leakage of when leads come to a Google AdWords page and then convert on a separate page. Without a solution for this, you completely lose that they originated from Google AdWords. However, with custom code, you can store the URL parameters in a cookie and then pass them through whatever Marketo form they ultimately submit, keeping the history, and giving credit where it’s due.

With the 3 steps above, you can expect to be able to track and measure on the following:

  1. Which sources (Google, Bing, Social, Retargeting, Third-Part Ads, etc…) are driving the most leads, and which of those leads are ultimately converting into customers
  2. What keywords, ads and terms are most profitable for your business
  3. Moving away from cost-per-acquisition, and towards cost-per-customer
  4. Getting accurate and reliable numbers on whether your Google investment is actually paying off


If you’re ready to move from activities to results and want to start figuring out if all that money you are spending with Google is helping (or hurting) your bottom line, get started with the tips above. If you need help getting started, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you.



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