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You Are Wasting Facebook Ad Dollars Unless You Understand Conversions

You Are Wasting Facebook Ad Dollars Unless You Understand Conversions

You Are Wasting Facebook Ad Dollars Unless You Understand Conversions

The expectation of most people is that when they see a sales conversion in a report, it means “my customer clicked on this ad and then immediately bought my stuff or joined my list.”

Sometimes this is true, and sometimes it isn’t.  Understanding why makes all the difference between treading water on your advertising ROI or scaling your business to geometric growth.

Some ads are the reason you got the sale, some ads assisted on the sale, and some ads report conversions but really had little, if anything, to do with the sale.  You don’t want to make decisions to increase ad spend on ads that report false conversions.  Those people are the ones posting on Facebook “How come I can’t scale my ad campaign?”

Much like ice hockey, some assists are critical to a goal being scored, and other assists barely contributed to the puck finding the back of the net.

To make decisions that scale your company growth using paid Facebook advertising, the more you understand conversion tracking, the more money you will make, and the less money you will waste.

The other option is to continue to “spray and pray” ads while using data that only somewhat represents what you think it is.

To win any game, you need to understand the rules.  And you need to know what constitutes winning.

Winning Sales Conversion Tracking = Discovering Insights about How and Why Customers Buy

You want to be able to make decisions using data as evidence.  Conversion data should be able to answer these questions.

  • How do my customers find me?  — This tells you where to go find more customers.
  • What makes my customers first join my email list?  — This tells you where to go find more customers, and what compels prospects to finally hand over their email address.
  • What makes my existing list re-engage with me? — There are a couple of possible ways to measure this. I prefer to measure when an existing lead re-optins to your list. It’s a clearer indicator of interest.
  • What makes my customers buy? — This is the implied result of conversion tracking, although it’s not always the case, as I explain further in this article.

Here are the rules on when Facebook awards a conversion to an ad.

When Facebook reports an ad had a conversion, they really mean one of three things:

  1. A user clicked on an ad, and then hits your conversion URL.
  2. A user clicked on an ad, and then, days or weeks in the future, hits your conversion URL and has not clicked on any Facebook ads in the interim. There could be many reasons for the user hitting the conversion URL (email, AdWords, webinar, organic search, or, perhaps, the memory of the Facebook ad they clicked in the past)
  3. A user watched a video ad and then hits your conversion URL within a day.

Why should you care about Facebook conversion definitions?

At Wicked Reports we probably spend more time analyzing clicks and retracing customer click patterns than anyone else.  We do this so that we can decide which clicks are most critical to helping businesses make more money.

A flood of data comes at business owners and marketing teams.  The challenge is to separate the meaning, and the decisions that can be made, from the noise. The 80/20 principle comes into play.  Out of all the clicks it takes to create a customer, some of those clicks are more important than others.

Online marketers today often engage in a tactic we call “spray and pray” marketing: creating, posting, and promoting lots of ads, blogs, tweets, fan page posts, pins, and emails. Some of these marketing activities will hit the mark, and some won’t.  It’s the nature of the beast.

The critical question for all of those actions is “Which marketing activities leads to customers?” Answering that question has led to the field of conversion tracking, which is our area of expertise.

Digging behind the scenes of how an ad platform judges a conversion is very eye opening. Sometimes new Wicked Reports customers are confused by having more conversions than actual sales for a given reporting period. This is common!

Why does this occur? The answers , and how you should interpret the data you are seeing, can lead you to greater customer understanding, and, ultimately, more sales.

Just what is a conversion, anyway?

Let’s start with the word “conversion.”  It’s worth repeating the definition held by most people that conversion means “my customer clicked on this ad and then immediately bought my stuff or joined my list.” Here is what Facebook says about “conversions.”

(Read for yourself here on FB  or read below, The underline and bold text is my emphasis)

Facebook Conversion Definition

A conversion is an action that a person takes on your website such as checking out, registering, adding an item to the shopping cart, or viewing a particular page. Virtually any page on your website can represent a conversion, and you can create and add the Facebook pixel code on any page of your website.

“Only idiots would set up conversion tracking to track things other than actual conversions.” – Ralph Burns, Facebook Ads University.

Ralph is correct.  Unfortunately, in my time working the Infusionsoft Accelerator programs, I got to see behind the scenes of a lot of ad campaigns and analytics.  A lot of people track conversions that didn’t actually convert anyone to do anything.  They are literally just tracking URL clicks.

Action Step! Go check your Facebook ad conversion settings. Make sure the URLs are only for actual successful conversions.  I won’t tell anyone if you had some other stray URLs.

The activity column in the Conversion Tracking Tab of the Ads Manager

Let’s say you have an airtight configuration for your conversions (FYI: This is rare,).  Shouldn’t be an issue should it?  I found this doozy in the Facebook Help, though (click here to read on Facebook, or read below, The underline and bold text is my emphasis):

What does the activity column mean in the Conversion Tracking tab of Ads Manager?

The Activity column in the conversion tracking section of Ads Manager shows the number of conversion events over the past 7 days. The activity from the current day is updated hourly. Keep in mind that the activity column reports all conversion events regardless of whether these events are associated with an ad.

I’m not saying that you don’t want to know everything that’s happening on your Facebook accounts. But when you are looking at conversions, and seeing activities that aren’t related to your ads, it is confusing. It can lead you to think that your ads are performing better than they are actually doing.

Did the sale actually happen?

Assuming you and your marketing team have not configured conversions to mean any non-sales activity, the next challenge arises.  Did the sale actually take place?

The major consideration for conversion accuracy involves whether you are using the old Facebook conversion pixel or the new URL-based custom conversion tracking.  A fair amount of people are still using the old pixel, so let’s look at that first.

Possible tracking issues with the old Facebook conversion pixel

Old Facebook conversion tracking involves a pixel.  This means that a page loads, there is a code (referred to as a pixel) that loads along with that page and it tells Facebook, “Hey, we have a sale.”  Seems all well and good, right? But things can go wrong:

  • Sometimes people refresh pages and the pixel loads multiple times.
  • The person leaves the page before the pixel loads because their internet crashes or something.
  • Your marketing funnel’s credit card processing rejects the order, but your order Thank You page still loaded. (This happens more than you’d think.)
  • I have about 10 other scenarios, but it would be boring to list them all.

Suffice it to say that “phantom orders due to a pixel” are a real problem for anyone doing online sales. That’s part of the beauty of the internet, and the frustration of getting 100% accurate analytics. On the internet, stuff just happens sometimes!

Did the sale actually happen, part 2

The only way to truly know a sale happened is when it hits your payment processor, the credit card is processed successfully, and the sale shows up in your CRM (or Stripe account) as paid.  That’s why at Wicked Reports we take sales from those systems and use them as the gospel of conversion truth.  If we can’t find the sale in the system of record, we can’t count the sale.

Conversion Tracking

With conversion tracking, you can see which of your ads led to your website conversions. Ad reporting breaks it into 1-day, 7-day and 28-day attribution windows. We also break up this infrmationo by click-through conversions (a customer clicked your ad and converted) and view-through conversions (a customer saw your ad, didn’t click it, but converted).  Here are things to keep in mind:

  • If a customer clicked an ad, a conversion can only be attributed to the click. If that customer never clicked an ad, but still converted, a conversion can only be attributed to the view. Conversions cannot be simultaneously attributed to both.
  • Clicks take precedence over views, even if the view happens after the click.
  • Conversions are attributed to the most recent ad someone clicked. If they didn’t click, it’s attributed to the most recent ad they saw.
  • Any events outside the maximum conversion window (28 days) are not considered.

Attribution Windows

Attribution windows are defined as how far back in the past you go to track conversions.  The time duration to look back SHOULD depend on the type of conversion you are tracking. In Facebook’s case, they are tracking sales, and they have time window settings of 1, 7, and 28 days for click conversion events.

The Facebook time durations are solid.  But it makes for more confusion when you don’t know what type of conversion you are counting in that time window. In my expert opinion, whenever a sale occurs in your business, you want to know how you first found that person, where you found them, why you found them, and what time you found them.

You want to know that information no matter how far back in the past it was.  In the event of lead-generation advertising, and if your business has customers who take longer than 30 days to buy (pretty much every business on earth), you want to know the ads that get people to optin who eventually become customers.

An unlimited attribution time window is a terrible idea if you are trying to determine why someone made a sale.

An unlimited attribution time window is a fantastic idea if you are trying to determine why someone joined your email list.

Once you convert prospects to customers, you start wondering where you can find more of those prospects that are likely to buy, once they are in your sales machine! t’s like fishing, you go back to your favorite fishing hole, use the same bait, drink the same beer, wear your lucky overalls or whatever, and see if you can continue to pull in a ton of fish.

We see this all the time: Old ads and adsets that brought in a ton of leads that never bought.  Then a new Facebook campaign, email campaign, AdWords, whatever, starts converting people.  Now the question becomes, where did I find these great leads?

With a limited attribution time window, you have no idea.

Contrast this with conversion data about what actual ad triggered someone to pull out their credit card and hand over their hard-earned cash to you.

You need a limited attribution time window to measure this event.

When you can’t match the time window with the type of event, it forces us to look more critically at the time window.

A 28-day attribution window means that if someone clicks on a Facebook ad 27 days ago, and they do not click on another Facebook ad, and then you send them a dozen emails and they buy on the 27th day, the Facebook ad that your customer clicked on 27 days ago shows the conversion.

When tracking the conversion event of a sale, to determine “what is making people actually buy,” you need to be strict.  Did that click directly lead to the sale?

If that customer was already on your email list for 3 months, and had clicked on a number of your emails, was the 27-day-old Facebook ad click the converting click in that customer journey?

No, it wasn’t.

But the opposite, when a customer buys, if that 120-day-old Facebook ad is what got them on your email list, that is very juicy intel.

View-Through Conversions

A view-through conversion means that someone watched a video, or saw an ad, did not interact with that ad (such as clicking on the link in the ad), but the viewer of the ad hit a conversion URL after viewing the ad.

I used to think a view-through conversion was just about the most bullshit thing I’d ever heard of.

My thinking was based on the Google Display Network view-through conversion settings.  Google sets a 30- to 90-day window for attributing a view-through conversion event.

This means that if you view or watch an ad, do not click on it, and then go to the advertiser’s site 29 later and make a purchase, the ad that you viewed or watched 29 days ago claims to have converted you!

It’s ridiculous, if the view-through attribution window is kept at 30 days.  Google display network does this, Facebook does not.

To Facebook’s credit, they have set their view-through conversion window to 1 day.  This means if you watch a video ad on Facebook, you have to hit a conversion URL of the advertiser within 24 hours to be counted as a conversion.

I’ve seen cases among Facebook advertisers that show very clear correlation between Facebook video view-through conversions and massively increased sales.  And I’ve seen very unclear situations where there are Facebook view-through conversions and no firm, direct way to attribute the increased sales.  It depends.

We will dive into common conversion paths later on in this post.

Facebook Custom Conversion Events Based on a URL (“the new pixel code”)

Facebook took steps to upgrade from the old pixel to the new way of tracking, and it’s a significant improvement.  The new tracking allows you to define a URL that means a conversion, and when the Facebook tracking code detects that URL loading up for a person that clicked or viewed one of your ads, the ad gets awarded a conversion.

When someone clicks on a Facebook ad, and then immediately optins in to your email list, or buys your stuff, this is the purest and cleanest conversion that gets tracked.

The reason we need to dissect this definition further is because in the hundreds of customers of Wicked Reports, which include the biggest marketers in the $250k-$25M world, and the hundreds of customers I consulted on prior to Wicked Reports, everyone assumes the above definition.

People see the word “conversions” and ALWAYS (not their fault) think that because Facebook reports a certain number of conversions, it was because the new lead/customer clicked on the Facebook ad and then immediately took the desired action.

Facebook is reporting on the last ad clicked within a 28-day timeframe before the conversion URL.  They are not in the business of looking across all of your advertising platforms and sources (email, AdWords, Youtube, direct mail, radio, automated webinars, etc., etc.) and determining if the Facebook ad was the last click across all of those sources.

So it stands to reason that some of those Facebook conversion events either helped the other marketing sources along, or the conversion events are the trigger that made the other marketing sources work. In some cases it means Facebook is claiming credit when it is not deserved.

The devil is in the details.

Cross-Platform Attribution

Cross-platform attribution is looking at Facebook ads, Google Adwords and display ads, emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest posts, and deciding which click converted your prospect to a customer.

This last topic is not Facebook’s fault at all.  They are not in the business of worrying about your customer’s buying journey.

All the systems I’ve tracked, integrated with, and researched, they are black-box closed systems.  They look at clicks from their system, URL hits on your site, pixel counts, and don’t consider all the other marketing activities you are undertaking.

It’s not Facebook’s responsibility to look at your customer’s email clicks after their Facebook ad clicks (that’s our job actually).

The more marketing you are doing, particularly remarketing, the more you are going to have clicks and views from a multitude of systems.  And your email/CRM is always going to be generating clicks. We typically see a variety of clicks from emails, lead gen advertising, remarketing advertising, and then direct clicks to your website, all mixed together in a complex blend called the customer journey.

If you are using multiple ad platforms and strategies to grow your business, as you should, then you need to be aware that only a holistic unbiased view can give accurate conversion data you can act on.

Common Conversion Paths We See

To understand this, let’s look at some typical click paths of customers, and the challenges with traditional last-click conversion tracking.  You will be the owner of a fictitious company called “Wicked Good Juice.”.  Let’s look at a lead, called”Maximus” that your online marketing efforts convert, in four possible journeys from prospect to buyer.

Customer Path #1 – A lead for a few months that finally buys after a hodgepodge of advertising and email

A company marketing with Facebook ads to website, Facebook ads to lead gen pages, Facebook video ads, AdWords display ads, and emails all jumbled up over 10 weeks.

  • January 1 2016 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is 20 years old, male, and likes the Boston Red Sox. He clicks on the ad, goes to Wicked Good Juice’s website, clicks around for a minute, and leaves.
  • February 5th 2016 – While on ESPN.com, a Google Display ad shows an ad for Wicked Good Juice in the top left corner. Maximus is busy reading how the Bruins shut out the Canadians, does not even see the ad.
  • February 14th 2016 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is being retargeted because he visiting WickedGoodJuice.com within 90 days. The ad says “Free Report – Top 5 ways Wicked Good Juice is Wicked Good”.  Maximus jumps at the chance to get this life-changing information, and gives WickedGoodJuice.com his email.
  • February 17th 2016 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is a male and live in the USA (adset name “US-Male-All”) with the ad “Juice Webinar – Look 10 years younger, 1 glass of juice is all you need”) and he gives his email for this incredible webinar.
  • February 21st 2016 – Maximus gets an email from WickedGoodJuice.com on their buy one get one offer, opens it, and does not click.
  • March 1st 2016 10pm – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is part of a custom audience of “Wicked Good Juice Email List” with a video ad “20% off great juice” that tells him how great the juice is, and that there is a 20% off sale right now, just click on the link in the ad. Maximus does not click on the ad but watches the video.
  • March 2nd 2016 noon – Maximus wakes up after dreaming of Wicked Good Juice all night. He has an email that morning from Wicked Good Juice called “Today is a good day for juice”.  He clicks on it.  But then, he recalls he had a good sale email from Wicked Good Juice.  He searches his email for “green juice”, finds the February 21st 2016 email for the buy one get one email, clicks on it, and makes a purchase.  (I see this type of behavior on customers a LOT, FYI)
For customer path #1, which ads are reporting conversions?
  • The Google Display network ad on ESPN.com shows a sales conversion.
  • The Facebook video ad “20% off great juice” for the adset “Wicked Good Juice Email List” shows a view-through conversion.
  • Maximus’ email service provider will show a conversion if it tracks those things.

The problems is that all three conversions are representing themselves as the last-click sales conversion event.

Last-click attribution is supposed to tell you the last click your customer made before the sale.  In Maximus’ case, he clicked on two emails the day of his sale.

Watching the Facebook video ad very well might have contributed to Maximus finally making the purchase.  The AdWords display ad that he ignored definitely did not contribute, but it still claims credit.  The email was the actual last click before the purchase.

So let me ask you a question at this point.

Based on customer path #1’s conversion data, what will you do to find more customers?

How did your customers first hear about you

Out of luck on this question, because the ad that made Maximus aware of your site is from the January 1st ad.  It will not show a conversion.  It is outside of the Facebook attribution time window and Facebook conversion rules value the closest click to the sale.

What made the customer join your email list?

Too bad, so sad, the ad that made Maximus join your email list is from the February 14th ad.  There is no indication of that in the conversions either. Facebook uses last-click attribution, and there is a Facebook ad click closer to the sale.

Since this was a 10-week nurture cycle to get the sale, it would also be nice to know if any ads motivated your customer to give their email address again (reoptin)?  The February 17th webinar ad accomplished this with Maximus, but yet again, this is not indicated.  This is because the video ad was viewed 1 day before the sale. If you happen to be looking at the 28 day attribution window, THEN this click would override the video ad view.

What finally converted Maximus to make the sale?  Well, it’s complicated.  He watched a Facebook video ad on March 1st, then clicked on a March 2nd email, then clicked on an email that was sent February 21st.

In my professional opinion, I give the last click conversion to the February 21st email.  I’d give a sales assist to the March 2nd email and the March 1st video ad.

But it’s obvious that the February 21st email, while being the last click before the sale, had all sorts of help in acquiring and nurturing the customer to take that final step of purchasing.

Customer Path #2 – Over a two-week time frame, a Facebook user sees an ad for your best content first, then an ad to join your list, then a video ad, and then Googles for the domain and buys.

  • January 1 2016 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is 20 years old, male, and likes the Boston Red Sox. The ad is “
    – How Juice Saved My Life and Made Me Fit”. He clicks on the ad, goes to Wicked Good Juice’s blog, reads it, and leaves without opting in.
  • January 5 2016 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is being retargeted because he visited com within 90 days. The ad says “Free Report – Top 5 ways Wicked Good Juice is Wicked Good”.  Maximus jumps at the chance to get this life-changing information, clicks on the ad, and gives WickedGoodJuice.com his email.
  • January 10 2016 6am – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is part of a custom audience of “Wicked Good Juice Email List” with a video ad “20% off great juice” that tells him how great the juice is, and that there is a 20% off sale right now, just click on the link in the ad. Maximus does not click on the ad but watches the video.
  • January 10 2016 630am– Maximus finishes a huge stack of pancakes with syrup and whipped cream for breakfast, realizes he really needs to get healthier and googles “Wicked Good Juice” and makes a purchase.
For customer path #2, which ads are reporting conversions?

Facebook will show a different conversion based on the attribution window settings you use when viewing your conversions per ad.  This is one of the many reasons you need to understand what you are looking at before making decisions based on your data.

If you are using a 1-day conversion window, the January 9th Facebook video ad “20% off great juice” will get a view-through conversion.

If you are using a 7- or 28-day conversion window, the January 5th Facebook video ad ” Free Report – Top 5 ways Wicked Good Juice is Wicked Good will get a conversion.  This is because when you are using an attribution time window, clicks take precedence over views.

There is no actual last click prior to the sale.  It’s an organic search.  But the video ad clearly stimulated Maximus to make his Google search.

Based on customer path #2’s conversion data, what will you do to find more customers?

This customer path is a lot clearer than customer path #1.  The video ad obviously provided the converting ad, but has no click to report off.  Let’s look at the questions we want our sales attribution to answer.

How did your customers first hear about you?

Unfortunately, the content ad “

– How Juice Saved My Life and Made Me Fit” on Facebook is how Maximus first heard about Wicked Good Juice.  It shows no conversions.

What made the customer join your email list?

The ad that made Maximus join your email list is the January 5th Facebook ad “Free Report – Top 5 ways Wicked Good Juice is Wicked Good”.  Depending on your conversion attribution windows, you may have noticed the conversion, or it may not have been given the proper credit.

What finally converted Maximus to make the sale?  If you are using 1-day attribution windows, you will correctly see that the Facebook video ad made the sale. If you use a 7 day attribution window, you will miss the fact that the video is what made Maximus buy.  This is because clicks take precedence over views when they both occur in the attribution time window you are looking at

Customer Path #3 – A lead for 6 months buys from a webinar that was promoted on Facebook and email

  • November 1 2015 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus likes the Boston Red Sox. The ad is “[Free Report] – How Juice Made Me More Handsome”. He clicks on the ad, goes to Wicked Good Juice’s landing page, and joins your email list.
  • November 1 2015-February 1 2016 – Maximus goes through a 60 day automated email sequence, occasionally opening and clicking, but never buying anything.
  • April 10 2016 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is part of a custom audience of “Wicked Good Juice Email List” with a video ad “20% off great juice” that tells him how great the juice is, and that there is a 20% off sale right now, just click on the link in the ad. Maximus does not click on the ad but watches the video.
  • April 25 2016– Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is part of a custom audience of “Wicked Good Juice Email”, with an ad “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th”. Maximus clicks on the ad, does not optin.
  • April 28 2016 – Maximus gets an email “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th“, opts in for the webinar.
  • April 30 2016 – Maximus attends the webinar.
  • May 1stMaximus gets an email “webinar juice offer ends in 24 hours”, clicks on the link, and buys.
For customer path #3, which ads are reporting conversions?

Facebook actually helped quite a bit on this customer, but the credit went to the wrong ad.

Facebook will report that the April 25th ad for “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th” got a conversion.  This is because Facebook detects a click within 7 days, and the person who clicked on the ad also ended up on your conversion URL.

Too bad that it wasn’t the reason you got the prospect on your list, or got the prospect on the webinar, or turned the prospect into a customer.

This is unfortunate for your ad budget.  You might invest more in this webinar campaign when it really didn’t cause the webinar registration, and was not the cause of Maximus finally buying his juice.

The email on May 1st actually was the marketing that converted Maximus from a prospect to the customer.  If you were using proper tracking on your emails, with proper naming conventions, you could detect that the webinar email campaign with price scarcity really worked this time!

Where did Facebook actually help?

Based on customer path #3’s conversion data, what will you do to find more customers?

There is some gold in the data, if you are tracking, capturing, and attributing it correctly.

How did the customer first hear about you?

How did the customer first join your email list?

No help on these two questions: The customer first heard about Wicked Green Juice, and joined the email list, from the Facebook adset “likes the Boston Red Sox.”  The ad “[Free Report] – How Juice Made Me More Handsome” converted Maximus to the Wicked Green Juice email list.

However, it shows zero conversions.

That’s too bad, because you would have known exactly where you found the customer Maximus (On Facebook, and he likes the Boston Red Sox).  You also would have known that showing those future customers the ad “How Juice Made Me More Handsome” is what interests future customers enough to hand over their email address.

That’s a powerful ad, because it was the first exposure to your brand, AND, the prospect was already convinced enough to join your email list right away.  This doesn’t happen so easily anymore.

What makes my existing list re-engage with me?

The email on April 28th got Maximus to optin for the webinar.  However, that optin triggered the Facebook conversion event for the ad click on April 25th.

What made my customer buy?

Facebook will report that the April 25th ad for “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th.”  We’ve covered why that is simply bad info.

However…Facebook can sometimes CRUSH IT for people using webinars.  Let’s look at that example.

Customer Path #4 – A lead for 6 months buys from a webinar that was promoted on Facebook and email, opts in with a different click than Path #3

  • November 1 2015 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus likes the Boston Red Sox. The ad is “[Free Report] – How Juice Made Me More Handsome”. He clicks on the ad, goes to Wicked Good Juice’s landing page, and joins your email list.
  • November 1 2015-February 1 2016 – Maximus goes through a 60 day automated email sequence, occasionally opening and clicking, but never buying anything.
  • April 10 2016 – Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is part of a custom audience of “Wicked Good Juice Email List” with a video ad “20% off great juice” that tells him how great the juice is, and that there is a 20% off sale right now, just click on the link in the ad. Maximus does not click on the ad but watches the video.
  • April 25 2016– Maximus is on Facebook and a Wicked Good Juice ad gets triggered because Maximus is part of a custom audience of “Wicked Good Juice Email”, with an ad “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th”. Maximus clicks on the ad, opts in for the webinar.
  • April 28 2016 – Maximus gets an email “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th“.
  • April 30 2016 – Maximus attends the webinar.
  • May 1stMaximus gets an email “webinar juice offer ends in 24 hours”, clicks on the link, and buys.
For customer path #4, which ads are reporting conversions?

Facebook gets this one just about right.

Facebook will report that the April 25th ad for “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th” got a conversion.  This is because Facebook detects a click within 7 days, and the fact that the person who clicked on the ad also ended up on your conversion URL.

In this case, it did get your lead re-engaged enough to optin to the webinar.  And the webinar led to the sale.  So while the conversion actually took place a week later, without Facebook the webinar attendance does not happen.

You’re still in the predicament of not having the conversion data tell you where to go find more Maximus leads…damn, I keep sounding like Debbie Downer…

Based on customer path #4’s conversion data, what will you do to find more customers?

You won’t be able to answer either of these questions based on the same reasoning as path#3:

  1. How did the customer first hear about you?
  2. How did the customer first join your email list?

However, Facebook does tell you how people got on the webinar in this case, which is due to the April 25th ad for “Super Juice Webinar on April 30th.

If you have a large existing list, and path #4 happens, you are tempted to dramatically scale your spend on the Facebook ad campaign.  I’ve been there, and I am sure I would increase my spend also.  After all, you finally have a lead gen-to-conversion path that is clear. Congrats!

But what would be more Jedi is to know where those leads came from, and then go find more of them, but point them to the webinar.

What the hell should you do if you aren’t using Wicked Reports?

Wait, you are still reading this?  Holy crap!  Time to stop being part of the problem, and start being part of the solution.

There is a lot to consider when making decisions based on conversion data.

  • Am I using the right time window?
  • Am I picking the right click?
  • Did the order really happen?
  • Did this marketing activity assist on the sale, or actually make the sale?
  • What exactly is a conversion?

Am I measuring the right click, in the right attribution time window, using the correct sales attribution model for my advertising goal, with real orders?

You really can’t maximize your marketing ROI without cross-channel attribution. But there are some steps you can take to frame your existing Facebook data in the most optimal framework for decisions.

To evaluate ads that are trying to get sales right away, there is hope.  Set up Facebook custom conversion URLs that are sales thank you pages, use a 1-day conversion window, and look at the conversion counts on ads that link directly to sales page.

When evaluating ads that lead to optins and email follow-up sequences, and looking at sales conversion counts, realize you can only confidently know that you are looking at “sales assists” of varying quality.  Those “conversions” might be critical to the sales process, might just be a mild helping hand, or might have absolutely nothing to do with the sale.

Ads that you use for lead generation need to have 1-day conversion windows, and a Facebook custom conversion URL that is for your optin thank you page.

Realize that when you are evaluating lead gen ads for sales conversions, you are not getting the complete picture of your email nurture campaign.

As for the questions of “how did my customer first hear about me?” and “what made my customer first join my email list?” plus the more important questions of how all the different ad platforms and social channels contribute (or not) to your lead and sales efforts — that’s why we exist.

Wicked Reports Tracking vs. Facebook Tracking

Wicked Reports will not match up with your Facebook conversion data because we look at all marketing activities holistically to determine which actions can answer these four questions.

  • How do my customers find me?
  • What makes my customers first join my email list?
  • What makes my existing list re-engage with me?
  • What makes my customers buy?

The larger your email list, and the more marketing you do, the higher likelihood your Facebook conversions will not and should not match Wicked Reports.

If you run a Facebook ad to your entire email list about a webinar, and also email your entire list about a webinar, whenever anyone on your list clicks or view the Facebook ad, and then clicks on the email, and then opts in to the webinar, the following will happen:

  • Wicked Reports will show an email re-optin.
  • Facebook will show an optin conversion.

In this situation, Facebook really assisted on the optin but was not the last click before the optin. Given our cross-channel view of attribution, we award the optin conversion to email.

But answering the questions of “Where did my customers first find me?” and “What made my customer join my list?” is where we can focus your energy from “Why is my conversion tracking a disaster?” to “How do I take this killer converting offer to the exact people that want to hear it?”

You have to evaluate marketing based on activities that led to the leads that led to sales at a profitable spread.

When your sales cycle takes longer than 30 days, and you start bringing in sales, the ROI on campaigns that brought in the leads in the past goes up.  Suddenly you know exactly where you found your customers, and how to convert them.  Then your business gets fun.