If you’re running Google Ads campaigns to generate leads, there’s a good chance you’re overlooking a crucial aspect.

When auditing accounts, we regularly observe that advertisers only track actions on the website. Online actions for lead gen advertisers are typically a form submission, like a free demo or quote form, and phone calls.

While it’s vital to collect data on online signals, they do not provide any information about the quality of the leads. And let’s face it, the large majority of leads you capture either don’t fit your ideal customer profile or aren’t even legitimate.

This is where your marketing spend may not operate as efficiently as you think. You may be optimising for keywords, audiences, demographics etc., that are generating large lead volumes but never resulting in qualified leads or, better yet, customers.

Fear not!

Offline conversion tracking (OCT) is where you can measure the signals that matter most towards meeting your business objectives.

Today, we’re going to be covering:

  • What is Offline Conversion Tracking
  • Types of offline conversion tracking
  • Benefits of implementing OCT
  • Methods for implementing OCT
  • Best practice for optimising towards OCT

Big call alert 🚨– If you’re not utilising offline conversion tracking, this may be the best article you read all year on paid ads…



What is Offline Conversion Tracking?

Offline conversion tracking is a method of measuring actions that occur outside of your website.

Examples of offline conversion tracking include:

Lead Stages - Marketing Qualified Lead

Most advertisers only track the first stage of a deal cycle.

🤔 Picture this: a potential customer clicks on your ad, but instead of purchasing online, they visit your physical store or call your sales team. While this scenario may seem like a dead end for measuring the impact of your ads, it doesn’t have to be.

By incorporating offline conversion tracking into your Google Ads strategy, you can gain insight into the entire customer journey, from the initial ad click to the final purchase, even if that purchase takes place in the offline world.

By importing offline conversions, you can accurately measure the impact of your ads beyond online sales, giving you a more comprehensive understanding of your campaign’s effectiveness. So, whether your customers make purchases in-store, over the phone, or through other offline channels, you’ll better understand how your ads contribute to your business’s success.


Offline Conversion Tracking Benefits

Tracking offline conversions in Google Ads can provide many benefits for your business. By gaining insight into the entire customer journey, you can better understand the ROI of your ad campaigns and make informed decisions about where to optimise to improve performance. 

One of the primary benefits of tracking offline conversions is the ability to measure marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), and deals closed won. This information lets you see which campaigns, ad groups, keywords, demographics, audiences, days of the week, time of day, etc., drive the most valuable leads and closed deals for your business.

We often see keywords that are high drivers of leads but low drivers of qualified leads. If you didn’t implement OCT, you would likely start optimising the campaigns to scale up that keyword. You think it’s crushing it, but all it’s doing is bringing in dud leads that are most likely pissing off your sales team.


How Does Offline Conversion Tracking Work?

Ever heard of something called a GCLID? Probably not…

A GCLID (Google Click Identifier) is a unique tracking parameter added to a URL when a user clicks on an ad in Google Ads. It allows advertisers to track the performance of their campaigns by recording information such as the ad group, keyword, and campaign that led to the click. Here’s what it looks like:

An example of GCLID

An example of what GCLID looks like within a URL string

This GCLID enables advertisers to measure offline events. It gets passed into your CRM or lead spreadsheet with the contact details, and when you change the lead stage cycle from lead to MQL, for example, you can push that back into Google Ads manually or automatically.

Most Google Ads accounts will have this tracking enabled by default, but if you want to double-check, this is how you do it.

  1. Log in to your Google Ads account
  2. On the left-hand bar, click ‘Settings’ then ‘Account Settings’.
  3. Locate ‘Auto-tagging’ and ensure this is set to “Yes”.

Methods of Implementing Offline Conversion Tracking

🥳 I have a good news story for those using HubSpot or Salesforce the CRMs have a direct integration making the set-up of offline conversion tracking seamless. But let me get to that shortly. 

Four methods are available: Google Ads Conversion Import, Google Ads Conversion Import for Salesforce, Hubspot Events tool and Zapier offline conversion tracking import. 

Google Ads Conversion Import

With Google Ads Conversion Import, you can import conversions that you track in any other system into Google Ads, including conversions that started with a click or a call from your ad. There are two methods to set this up depending on whether you want to import conversions that start with a click or a phone call.

  • For conversions that start with a click, you can use GCLID as discussed. 
  • You can use the Import phone call conversions option to import phone call conversions that start with a phone call.

The Google Ads conversion import is a manual method, so depending on your ad budget and conversion volume will dictate how often you should manually import the data. We recommend automating this process to get the most up-to-date data within the account. 

Salesforce Sales Cloud

If you use Salesforce’s Sales Cloud to track your sales data, Google Ads Conversion Import for Salesforce is your best option. It allows you to automatically track sales events that started with a click on an ad. This is a more advanced setup than HubSpot, and we will release an article explaining how to do this in the coming months. 

Hubspot Events Tool

HubSpot’s Google Ads events tool is arguably the easiest method (sorry everyone else) and lets you sync your CRM data with Google Ads. Here is how you set this up:

  1. Click on ‘Marketing’ then ‘Ads.’
  2. On the top right, click ‘Create Event.’ 
  3. Select the Lifestyle stages you want to measure, then click ‘Create Event’. 

Creating Hubspot Events for Google Ads

This is what it looks like within Hubspot when you create events for MQLs, SQLs or deal closed.

When you check the Google Ads conversion tracking page, you will notice the Hubspot events sitting there – it’s that easy! 


Zapier offline conversion tracking is another option that enables you to automate the import of your offline conversion tracking information from various customer relationship management (CRM) systems to Google Ads.


OCT Best Practices

When you create your new offline conversion tracking events, we recommend switching the action optimisation to ‘Secondary’. Typically, the default is primary. 

If a conversion action is set to primary, your account will start recording and reporting on conversions in the primary conversion columns (conversions, cost/conv, conv. rate , etc). Primary conversions are also considered within automated bidding strategies. 

Secondary conversions are not visible within the main reporting columns, and the conversion action gathers data in the background. By starting with secondary first, Google will learn the types of keywords, demographics, audiences etc, that are more likely to result in these new conversions. When you inevitably switch to primary, the chances of stable and improved performance within your ad account are considerably higher than if you were to start completely fresh.

While these new conversions are secondary, you can still view how your campaigns perform against these conversions by opening up the “all conv.” column and segmenting the data by conversion action. 

Here is an example of what that looks like:

Google Ads Secondary Conversions

Secondary conversions within Google Ads Conversion setup

When you switch to primary, make sure you review your bidding strategy targets.

For example, you may currently operate at a Target CPA of $150 when optimising towards online leads. But if you want to start optimising towards SQLs, you would need to increase your target as only a portion of leads will progress to become a SQL. 

Using the example above, for every 31 free trials and 5 demos (36 leads), we generated 10 SQLs, a conversion rate of 32%. We would need to adjust the target to $450 if we only moved to optimise towards SQLs. 

If you left the target at $150, you would likely strangle the delivery of the campaigns as Google won’t be able to meet your KPI. 


Get Started with OCT Today

It is critical to track all conversions, even those that happen offline, to understand the true ROI of your digital marketing campaigns.

Optimising for only online leads can be a vanity metric if most leads are not qualified.  

By implementing offline conversion tracking, you’ll gain invaluable insights into how your Google Ads campaigns drive business outcomes. It’s here you will be able to drive sustained success with your paid ads budget by optimising towards what matters most.

We hope this has helped explain the importance of offline conversion tracking and how to set it up in your Google Ads account. 

Please contact us if you have any questions or want help setting up offline conversion tracking for your business. 


Josh Somerville

Josh is the co-founder of Farsiight and has spent the past 12 years scaling PPC campaigns.