Unfortunately, we all know it but here it is. Not all clicks generated on your Adwords campaign are turning into website sessions.
Don’t worry though, there are ways to avoid this and improve your conversions.
If you are asking — Why are the two subjects (conversions and sessions) connected? — Let me help.
When we are running an Adwords campaign, Google charges us for clicks and not visits/sessions on our website, so that is what we pay, the amount of clicks. Since conversion rates and conversion costs are important variables for our campaign optimization, when we improve the amount of sessions generated from clicks, we improve our chances of converting (conversion rate) and our costs (CPA).
How to know if clicks are actually turning into sessions?
Google Adwords does not make it easy. In fact, in order for you to find this information you will need a Google Analytics account (or any other website analytics tool) to check the clicks to sessions rate.
The easiest way I found — let me know if you have other ideas for this in the comments below — was to connect both Google Analytics and Google Adwords accounts giving your Google Analytics a complete view of your Adwords accounts performance.
This connection will allow you to check your click to session rate by Adgroup, Device, Banners, Keywords, etc. You can access this report on Google Analytics section, Acquisition/Adwords/Campaigns. After you can download the report (export option) and discover your cost per session and click to session rate.
Cost Per Session=Cost/Sessions
Clicks to Sessions Rate= Sessions/Clicks
Note: It is also possible that, due to Google Analytics predefined configurations, your campaign can generate more sessions than your clicks, mainly when you are analysing a campaign that lasts more than 30 days (here’s why).
How big is this issue? (Example)
As you can see in this Adwords example (image above), even though I got a $0.19 cost per click, the cost per session on my website ended up being $0.45. The difference between the cost per click and the cost per session is $0.26.
In this case if I had improved my Click to Session Rate, I could have payed much less for sessions (down to $0.19 per session) and, therefore, pay less for conversions.
Difference between Search Campaigns and Google Display Network Campaigns, and why it happens.
Even though this Click to Session Rate is particularly worrying in Google Display Network campaigns (display campaigns) it also happens in Adwords Search Campaigns (example above).
I found that in Adwords Search Campaigns this might happen, mainly, because of three reasons*:
Website loading speed
The website takes too long to load and the user gives up, returning to the Google page.
Google analytics does not load
The user clicks the ad and immediatly regrests it, returning to the Google search.
In Adwords GDN campaigns the problem can be more complex. Despite having some of the same issues as Google search campaigns, since Google does not control the websites/apps where the ad is showing up, you also have to deal with click fraud and clickjacking.
“Click fraud is a type of fraud that occurs on the Internet in pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising.” — Clicks that are not actual clicks (bot clicks, for example).
“Clickjacking (User Interface redress attack, UI redress attack, UI redressing) is a malicious technique of tricking a Web user into clicking on something different from what the user perceives they are clicking on, thus potentially revealing confidential information or taking control of their computer while clicking on seemingly innocuous web pages.”
How to improve your Click to Session Rate and convertions
To improve the Click to Session Rate on Search Campaigns it’s less complicated because you mainly need to do two things: improve your website’s loading speed and analyze your keywords’ Click to Session Rate.
If you have a keyword that has a Click to Session Rate considerably below the average, check if your ad is relevant to that search and if you can go below first position.
To improve the Click to Session Rate on Google Display Network here are some things you can do:
- Get out of mobile
- The first thing I noticed, as seen in the image above, was that my Click to Session Rate was way lower on mobile devices. My belief is that people on mobile devices (including apps) are more exposed to clickjacking.
- Banner format (Mrec vs. Leaderboard for example)
- When you have both Google Analytics and Adwords connected you’ll be able to easily check what your Click to Session Rate is by banner format. Be sure to make this analysis by device type as well so you are not crossing both variables.
- Placement targeting
- Find out which are the placements that are relevant to your campaign and validate that you are getting a good Click to Session Rate. You can also create a whitelist of placements that I know are trusted so your banners are not subject of Click Fraud.
- Adwords conversion tag
- The idea here is for you to fire an Adwords conversion tag whenever a session/visit happens. This would allow the system to optimize for conversions or, in this case, sessions.
By having this knowledge, you will be able to control your campaign. A user session is a key element so that a conversion occurs, so force yourself to insure it to the max.
Disclaimer: this sample data is completely made up and it serves only as an example based previous campaigns I’ve seen.
*Google’s answer: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/4588315?hl=en