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Effective conversion tracking is critical to every school’s recruitment strategy. As schools continue to embrace different digital channels and software programs, it becomes more important than ever to track conversions accurately. After all, it’s this data that allows your school to understand its prospects’ enrollment journeys—revealing the impact of your calls to action along with key trends and opportunities. Without it, you won’t have the insight you need to make key marketing decisions for better recruitment.

Read on to discover how your school can use conversion tracking to understand where its prospects are coming from and how well they’re converting!

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Knowing Which Conversions to Track

Wondering what is a conversion in the first place? Conversions are desirable goals that users complete. In the case of a school website, conversions occur when visitors complete key web actions. These actions encompass anything from a form submission to a newsletter subscription. 

Nichollas Saucedo, HEM’s Manager of Search and Analytics, recommends tracking all actions that can occur on your school’s website—including form submissions, email and phone call clicks, purchases, and anything else your school views as a valuable interaction. This can be set up as a conversion action in your school’s Google Ads account. 

“In the case of schools, usually the conversion action is a lead, which includes information about students who are interested in taking a program or course,” Nichollas explains. To make conversion tracking easier for schools, “we recommend having a Thank You Page (TYP) that can be used to fire conversions whenever users load that page. This would be a very reliable way of tracking online conversions.” That’s because Thank You Pages can be set up in your Google Analytics as a goal, making it possible for schools to record new changes and better track their prospects. 

Example: The International Institute for Management Development has created a landing page calling for users to download a program brochure. Once the CTA is clicked on, users are redirected to the Thank You Page below:

Source: International Institute for Management Development

Here, the URL automatically changes to reflect the Thank You page destination. The user’s email address also appears in the URL, creating an opportunity for more accurate tracking.

Why Consider Conversion Tracking for Your School?

What is conversion tracking? Conversion tracking refers to the monitoring of valuable actions that prospects complete to determine how well current marketing campaigns are performing. By tracking these interactions, you can find out whether you’re successfully ushering prospects into the next stage of the enrollment funnel.

Why is conversion tracking important? Because it gives you the opportunity to analyze your performance and make data-driven decisions. As Nichollas puts it, “You can only understand something if you can measure it.” With conversion tracking, you can:

  • Learn more about your audience and what resonates with them
  • Discover which channels, keywords, ad groups or campaigns drive the most valuable activity
  • Capitalize on opportunities to optimize your website and/or ad, improving user experience
  • Understand your school’s ROI so you can make better decisions about ad spend
  • Identify actions that can be tracked for more accurate and comprehensive reporting
  • Using Google Analytics, understand how many prospects may be interacting with your school’s ad across devices and browsers

Thinking of getting started with conversion tracking? Reach out to our team of industry experts for personalized education consulting, providing your school with the support it needs. 

How Conversion Tracking Works in Search Engine and Social Media Ads 

For conversion tracking to work, you must begin by deciding what you want to track. Nichollas adds, “The first step is identifying the right KPIs for your school. Each school and each marketing strategy can have different KPIs, so not everyone will look at the same metric as a conversion.” This means you’ll want to focus on your school’s unique objectives before getting started with your analytics.

Generally speaking, marketing platforms and channels have their own tracking codes and applications. When it comes to Google ads conversion tracking, you’ll need to configure a Google tag on your school’s website and set up your attribution model once you define your conversion. The Google tag, a snippet of code, makes it possible for your website to relay conversions back to your Google Ad account, while the attribution model dictates how these conversions are counted in the first place. You can also set up your conversion value, which can impact your bidding strategy and help you discern the overall value driven by your advertising across different conversions.

Here’s an example of what your Google tag might look like. The “TAG_ID” is a placeholder, standing in for the tag ID that’s unique to your Google Ads account:

Source: Google

If you’re looking at social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, then you’re working with the Pixel (also known as the Meta Pixel) to track users. You’ll also need to apply Google’s UTM tracking code on the destination URL of your ads so that data is properly attributed in Google Analytics. 

Discover New Opportunities with Conversion Tracking in Search

Today’s digital marketing platforms make it possible for schools to monitor key actions that drive their prospects closer to enrollment. Read on to learn what conversion tracking in search can help you measure and how it can provide your school with new opportunities.

Track Web Conversions from Google Analytics 4

Your school can track web conversions by setting up its Google Analytics property and then linking it to a Google Ads account. This step allows you to measure data from your website and can also help with managing your ad campaigns, especially when it comes to retargeting and bidding in Google Ads. Since Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) solution will sunset in July of 2023, schools need to set up their Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property before that date. Not sure how to get started? Reach out to our team of analytics experts to help your school smoothly transition to GA4.

Schools using an eCommerce model can manually add eCommerce events to their website or in the Google Tag Manager container. “For eCommerce accounts, our ultimate conversion action is ‘purchase,’” says Nichollas. “However, we also track some other important actions along the purchase funnel, such as Add to Cart, Initiated Checkout, Abandoned Cart, Viewed Product, etc. Tracking all those actions allows us to improve our conversion rate by detecting and improving bottlenecks [as well as] by taking action and retargeting users who stop along the way.”

Tracking how prospects navigate through the funnel and ensuring that conversions use the right attribution model enables your school to gather extremely valuable insight. Through this Google Analytics conversion tracking approach, you can begin to understand your audience and optimize your digital marketing strategy.

Monitor Phone Calls in a Conversion Tracking Audit

Schools can track all kinds of conversions, including phone calls. Through Google Tag Manager, you can track different types of phone calls, assessing the significance of phone traffic to your school. “A simple inquiry over the phone, finding out how the user found that contact, can be helpful and can generate insights for marketing strategies,” explains Nichollas. 

There are different ways to capitalize on this conversion tracking feature. “If the calls come from an online platform such as Google Ads, we can set up a conversion action based on the duration of the call,” explains Nichollas. This works when you’re tracking calls from ads or calls made to a phone number on your school’s website. 

Alternatively, your school can also look into tracking clicks on phone numbers on its mobile website and clicks on call ads and assets. In the first scenario, clicks are counted as conversions since the calls themselves aren’t being tracked. In the second, clicks are counted as conversions if Google determines that a meaningful phone call occurred after a user clicked your ad. 

Example: The EC English mobile website below makes it possible for users to make a call by clicking the phone icon, which is linked to a phone number. Schools can use a similar approach and create a conversion action around that click to monitor the value of this interaction.

Source: EC English

Pro Tip: Phone calls count as offline interactions, and they can be a big part of your prospects’ enrollment journey. Schools using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can get ahead by importing call conversions into Google Ads—especially if they regularly help leads make the decision to apply over the phone. Doing so gives schools more control over which calls count as a conversion. This way, they can focus on calls that include “sales” and refine their tracking data, giving them more accurate insights into which ads drive the most valuable calls.  

How to Effectively Set Up Conversion Tracking for Your School

You can start with ad conversion tracking by creating a conversion action, which you can do by navigating to the settings (wrench icon) in your Google Ads account and clicking on Conversions under “Measurements.” Once you paste in your school’s website domain, you can trigger a scan to detect whether or not you have a Google tag. With a Google tag in place, you’ll be able to set up conversion actions through two different methods: 

  1. Set up with a URL – intended for tracking simple page loads as conversions (fast and easy)
  2. Set up manually – for customized control, using value tracking, transaction IDs, and for tracking clicks on buttons or links

Below is a preview of how this process might appear in your Google Ads account:

Source: Google

Choosing the right marketing funnel setup for optimal conversion tracking largely depends on your school’s KPIs and strategy. “In the case of schools that are focused on generating leads, the best way to increase conversion rate is making it simple for the users,” explains Nichollas. As a result, prospects would typically start their enrolment journey with a search or social ad, leading them to a landing page with only one call to action—submitting an information request form. Once this action is completed, they’re redirected to a Thank You page that is properly configured in the school’s Google Analytics account.

Example: Fulford Academy has embraced this approach by creating a landing page that directs users to follow through on a single action: filling out a form.

Users who complete this CTA are then directed to a Thank You Page with relevant links and information:

Source: Fulford Academy

This two-step process is a key part of effective conversion tracking for schools. By configuring these pages in Google Analytics, your school can begin to gather clean and accurate conversion data.

Pro Tip: When adding new forms to your school’s website, make sure to use different Thank You pages. This way, your data won’t get muddled and you can avoid inaccurate reporting. It’s also worth taking the time to ensure that your Thank You pages are well-designed and written, creating a positive user experience.

Tracking Your Social Media Conversions for Maximum Impact

“Conversions on Social Media can vary according to the type of campaign,” says Nichollas. “It could be an RSVP for an event, a pagelike, submitting a form, making a purchase, etc.” However, as with everything else, defining the marketing strategy and KPIs is the first step. With that step taken care of, you can begin evaluating the options provided to you in each digital marketing channel or platform.

Schools using social media sites like Facebook and Instagram will rely on the Meta Pixel, a snippet of code on the school’s website that monitors how users interact with the brand on and off these sites. The data it gathers can be found in the Facebook Ads Manager and the Facebook Events Manager, allowing schools to analyze the success of their conversion funnel and calculate their return on ad investment. Facebook conversion tracking is especially valuable since it can also help school marketers optimize ads by enabling them to define custom audiences, targeting more users who are highly likely to convert. 

There are three ways school marketers can track conversions using the Pixel. All of them, however, require school marketers to have already installed the Pixel’s base code on each web page they want to track:

  1. Standard Events: Working with preset visitor actions that you report using a Pixel function
  2. Custom Events: Working with custom-made visitor actions that you report with a Pixel function
  3. Custom Conversions: Working with automatically-tracked visitor actions via the website’s referrer URLs

Knowing which key actions are most valuable to your school and which ones to track can help guide you toward the method that best suits your school. Once you choose a method, you can begin implementing changes by editing the Pixel code, taking full advantage of social media conversion tracking to enhance your overall advertising efforts. 

Refine Your Marketing Strategy After a Conversion Tracking Audit

The best thing about collecting data is being able to use it to identify areas for improvement. The same goes for conversion tracking—giving schools the ability to discover strengths and weaknesses in their online presence and enrollment funnel. By analyzing your conversion data and conducting a conversion tracking audit, you can gain valuable insights that lead to a better conversion rate. 

An effective conversion tracking audit analyzes all interactions between a school and its prospects, honing in on web analytics and reporting. Looking at your Google Analytics configurations can help you discover key insights on conversions. Here’s an excerpt of an HEM Google Analytics audit, sharing general observations around conversion actions and tracking to give you an idea: 

In addition to impacting your analytics and reporting settings, a conversion tracking audit provides a complete picture of your brand’s online presence and marketing strategy, delving into different platforms and channels for a more comprehensive analysis. Here, the aim is to identify any issues that are decreasing the website’s conversion rate—such as non-targeted content, ineffective UX design, or poorly-configured tracking settings, to name a few.

By taking active steps to collect conversion data and audit your efforts, you can make sure that your school’s marketing strategy runs smoothly, helping you achieve your business goals and boost recruitment. 

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