Google AdWords recently launched an integration with Salesforce that connects AdWords data with Salesforce. Because of their messaging and the fact that it integrates with Salesforce, it can sound pretty similar to Bizible attribution if you don’t pay close attention to the details.
We will sort through those details and unpack the impact of this product for B2B marketing measurement.
What is Google’s new Salesforce integration product?
AdWords Conversion Import for Salesforce is a conversion tracking product that allows marketers to connect the data from AdWords conversion measurement to Salesforce. The benefit of the integration is that it allows marketers to define conversions not by form submissions, but by actual lead conversions or opportunity conversions in Salesforce.
It works by tracking AdWords ad clicks to the landing page with a form via unique tracking parameters that are appended to URLs, called GCLIDs. Then, within the form on the landing page, a hidden field pulls the GCLID data from the ad. When the form is submitted, it sends the data to Salesforce, where lead and opportunity data is held.
Essentially, it’s conversion tracking that goes one step further than conventional conversion tracking -- it’s not just form fills, it’s actual leads and opportunities.
What is it good for?
This product is great for small businesses that are currently using conversion tracking or if AdWords is their only paid marketing channel.
Why is it useful? The product is free and it takes existing conversion tracking to the next level by delivering on slightly deeper-funnel metrics like leads and opportunities.
Most conversion tracking analytics count conversions based on form submissions -- but we all know that form submissions are not the same thing as leads. Existing leads can fill out forms, unqualified people can fill out forms, people can fill out fake information in forms, etc. AdWords Conversion Import for Salesforce ensures that conversions are actual lead conversions or opportunity conversions. It’s an important step forward from previous conversion tracking analytics.
What are some limitations?
While it is better than previous conversion tracking analytics, there are still many limitations for marketers who want full-funnel attribution. Here are a few.
Double-counting due to isolated attribution processes. AdWords conversion tracking runs into the problem of double-counting leads and opportunities because it is not aware of any other touchpoints. If you engage with these leads through other marketing channels, like LinkedIn or email, their impact is not considered by AdWords. So if you engage with a prospect on AdWords, LinkedIn, and Email, and then the lead converts into a lead, each channel will claim full credit, making it look like you generated three leads when in reality you only generated one.
It’s not multi-touch. AdWords Conversion Import for Salesforce uses a single-touch model (last AdWords touch) to distribute credit and ignores other contributions from non-search marketing. This limitation is emphasized by the B2B buyer journey that is long, complicated, and typically requires a number of touchpoints. By using a single-touch model, most of those (potentially influential) touchpoints are ignored. On top of that, because it only tracks AdWords ads, it completely ignores the impact of non-paid search efforts altogether.
It’s not a particularly accurate representation of marketing’s true impact on the customer journey.
Furthermore, the tracking cookie has a 90 day expiration. That means that if the deal closes more than 90 days after the conversion, the revenue will not be attributed to the ad click. For many B2B companies, the combined marketing and sales cycle often exceeds the 90 day limit.
It’s conversion tracking, not attribution. Even though it integrates with Salesforce, the ROI component is still based on the estimated value of proxies for revenue, rather than using the actual value.
AdWords will tell you whether a visitor filled out a form that converted her into a lead or opportunity. It’s a binary ‘yes or no’ situation. Did the visitor convert to a lead? Yes or no. Did the lead convert to an opportunity? Yes or no. From there, you can say that an ad generated X amount of leads and each lead is worth $X. Or the ad generated X amount of opportunities and each opportunity is worth $X. The problem is that not all leads are actually worth the same amount and neither are opportunities. You’re using rough estimates to create a rough ROI.
This is the next step in conversion tracking, but it is still not attribution.
Issues due to hidden fields in forms. AdWords conversion tracking relies on hidden fields in forms that take the GCLID (a unique ad identification number) and push it to Salesforce upon form submission. Hidden fields, however, have their own set of limitations.
For one, that means that marketers have to manually edit each form that they want to track. This is fine if you only have a couple forms, but it is a huge pain to manage when you have a lot of different forms and landing pages to track.
Another issue is that the GCLID tracking falls apart across multiple domains. This is a bigger issue for larger companies and enterprises, where there might be multiple domains. For example, Salesforce might run an ad that directs to a salesforce.com domain. If someone clicks on that ad and then navigates to one of their sub-companies like desk.com or pardot.com, and then converts, the GCLID tracking will fall apart. As a result, the ad won’t receive any conversion credit.
If you are a small company and AdWords is your only marketing channel, this tool is great for helping you make faster optimizations. If you’re growing and investing in multiple marketing channels, keep using the conversion tracking from your marketing automation platform as a substitute for attribution. Marketing automation is still preferable because it’s digital channel agnostic -- they’re not just for Google products.
Where Google’s attribution product can outperform standard marketing automation conversion tracking, however, is when it comes to slightly deeper-in-the-funnel conversion tracking for quicker optimizations. As we mentioned earlier, the integration with Salesforce ensures that conversions are actually leads or opportunities, rather than just a form submission.
When it comes to performance reporting, though, both fall short. When you are investing significantly across multiple marketing channels - both online and offline - it’s time to consider Bizible’s B2B attribution solution for centralized, omnichannel, and multi-touch attribution.
An advanced attribution solution first and foremost connects marketing efforts to actual revenue. It tracks the entire funnel, not just the top or middle. Second, it’s omni-channel and has a centralized attribution process. This allows for data from every marketing channel to communicate with each other, avoiding double-counting. And finally, a multi-touch attribution solution allows for fractional credit, which is far more representative of the actual buyer journey.
When you are investing in multiple channels, this level of attribution is necessary to ensure efficient use of the marketing budget.