ch6 - Fun with ecommerce analytics - Part II - Adwords

(NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF format at the very bottom of this page.)

Fun with Analytics

Chapter 6: Fun with eCommerce Analytics Part II: Adwords


Welcome to Fun with Analytics. If you’ve come across this material on its own – it has two homes – one is a site where you can download copies of the chapters or read them online, at - the other is a LinkedIn Group, Learning Google Analytics, where you can discuss the material and ask questions:

In This Chapter

This is part 2 of a 2 chapter series, whose goal is to capture the “full life cycle” of analytics, and take a close look at ROI (return on investment). The goal is to shed light on an elusive quarry – when you are spending money on ads, how can analytics help you know how much money you are making? And the exciting thing is that Adwords provides a way to do this. Shopify provides a foundation for ecommerce, and Adwords provides a way to advertise a site, and then track conversion. If you haven’t read chapter 5 yet, I highly recommend it. If you haven’t ready chapters 1-4, I recommend starting at the beginning.

eCommerce and Adwords are entire billion dollar industries, but with the right approach, anyone can explore this world in a microcosm, and as part of learning analytics, and Google Analytics, I think it’s worth the effort.

So how does Adwords relate to Google Analytics? When you’re in an ecommerce situation, you can use Google Analytics to track behavior on your shopping site, just like you can track any other kind of site, in terms of visits, how much time people are spending on the site, etc. And platforms like Shopify can connect directly to analytics, for this kind of information. But what Adwords brings to the table is the ability to track conversions – that is, being able to trace things all the way from an ad, to a purchase. This is a reason why Adwords is so important in generating information for analytics, and why search engine marketing is a desired skill, and important for online marketers to know about.

So let’s dive in!

.Part Deux: Adwords

To get started with Adwords, you can just follow along in this chapter, if you want to dive right in – I’ve tried to cover the bases as best I can, in a way that allows you to move along and try it directly.

If you’d like some background information, there’s also some resources you can review, which are also included at the end of the chapter in the Learning More section. - general information, links for learning more - the learning center, including guides - a free ebook on Adwords I wrote a couple years ago, with info on basic concepts. The interface has changed a bit, but the fundamentals are the same.

(If you come to see the value of having Adwords as a skill, I encourage you to explore Google’s learning material, and consider getting Adwords Qualified – it’s free, and it can help your career in a direct way.)

So to get going, the first step will be to start an account. Woohoo!

Note: if you’ve been following along, but don’t have anything to try and sell -- if you actually want to use the sample file (the Social Media Marketing Primer ebook), it’s fine, but just clear it with me, ok? Tekelsey [at] gmail [dot] com

TIP - Free Adwords Credit – if you’ve been following along and made a Shopify site, there are ways to get free Adwords credit – basically free money. Or free ad budget at least.

.Start Account / Get Tracking Code

To start an account, go to

Feel free to wander around – the “How it Works” and “Success Stories” links may be of interest. When you’re ready, click “Get started now”:

NOTE: You may want to write down the toll free support number. 1-800-919-9922 – it’s in Google’s best interest to help you succeed, and they have pretty good support.

When you have an account started, go to Tools > Conversions:

And click Conversion:

This process is setting up a connection between Adwords and your eCommerce site. It results in a bit of code that you can bring into Shopify, etc., and it’s what allows Adwords to track what’s going on in your site.

For example, the scenario you are setting up is that a person sees your ad – they click on it, then they reach your site, and ideally buy something. This “conversion code” you’re creating allows Google to make a connection between the ad, and your site. Basically when the visitor hits the order confirmation page, or “Thank You” page, the code is there, and Google can say, ok, this specific ad was clicked on and resulted in a purchase.

And this is basically what allows you to know that for spending x $ on Google, it resulted in making x $ in revenue on your eCommerce site. Adwords does not magically sell things for you – there’s an art and science to it, but the fundamental opportunity is significant for any business, and it’s very solid, compared to traditional forms of advertising.

If you’re planning on connecting Adwords and Shopify, you may want to review this link as well, which provides an overview and additional information around connecting the two:

So after clicking the conversion button, enter a “Conversion name”:

And click Save and Continue.

Then click “The value of this conversion action may vary”. This allows for you to set different prices.

Next, set the Conversion category to Purchase/Sale:

And check to make sure the Markup Language is set to HTML:

Then click Save and continue:

In the next section, click “I make changes to the code”:

And click the Done button.

.Next, Google will give you the code, and you can copy it into memory (CTRL+C):

Connect Adwords to Shopify

Now, back in Shopify, go into Settings:

Click Checkout:

.And paste the code into the “Additional content and scripts” area:

And click the Save button:

If you haven’t yet, you’ll probably want to glance through this article:

.To Modify or Not to Modify

So in terms of actually changing the code, Google says you should do it:

And the shopify documentation provides a way to do it:

So I guess what I’d say is that if you are just approaching this as a learning experience, I wouldn’t worry about it – just remember that when you try the ad out and get someone to click on it and buy your test product (Even if it’s a friend) – you’ll get a conversion value, but it will be $1.00. If you actually want it to represent the price of the products, you’ll want to replace the code.

Don’t be alarmed about code, just think about it as if it was a recipe.

For example, a recipe might say:

Get some bread

Put some peanut butter on a slice

Put the other slice on

And Google is just giving you a recipe for Shopify:

Here’s some code

Shopify, the value we place on the items will be 1 unless they change the recipe

Have a nice day

So it might look a little different (everyone has their own lingo, right?)

var google_conversion_label = "ntvnCPWE5goQu92B8gM";

var google_conversion_value = 1.00;

var google_remarketing_only = false;

But the relevant part of the recipe is in red.

So you go to the shopify article and select the relevant recipe replacement:

And you replace the particular part of the “code recipe” with something new:

var google_conversion_label = "ntvnCPWE5goQu92B8gM";

if ({{ subtotal_price }}) { var google_conversion_value = {{ subtotal_price | money_without_currency }}; }

var google_remarketing_only = false;

And if we bring it back into the kitchen, all you’re really doing is saying that instead of peanut butter being decided on, you can choose what to put in the sandwich. So that instead of this:

Get some bread

Put some peanut butter on a slice

Put the other slice on

You end up with this:

Get some bread

Put some [whatever you want] on a slice

Put the other slice on

All code is doing is having one computer speak to another, or one program to another, etc. It’s basically just a set of directions to do something.

So given the fact that you have the article, Google Support, and Shopify Support, I think you can do it. And the advantage would be – then it’s real. And that could be exciting, to know you’ve done it. And to be able to say you’ve done it.

But don’t feel bad if it seems like too much – at least you’ve learned about the concept, and you can always come back later and try it for “real”.

Even if you don’t “modify the code”, you’ll still end up being able to test the connection between Adwords and Shopify, and all your wildest analytics dreams will come true.

What’s Going On

So to come back to earth from the galactic analytics kitchen, we can just consider the order confirmation page. That code that Google gives you, a “snippet” of code, which you can either use as is or tweak – Shopify ends up putting it on the Thank You page.

So when someone 1) clicks on your ad, 2) purchases something, 3) checks out, they end up on the Thank You page, and when it displays, it says “Hey Google! There was a purchase!”.

FUN: If you don’t believe me, you might like to test the shopping cart process out (after you’ve added the conversion code), and then right-click on the page (Windows) or CTRL+click (Mac), and choose “View Source”. And pretend you’re looking at a recipe book, and see if you can find something that looks like the conversion code that Google gave you. And then you’ll win a prize! Um – the prize is the knowledge that you’ve discovered the code you planted there.

.Make an Adwords Campaign

Now that you’ve connected Shopify and Adwords, you’ll probably want to want to create an ad, so that you can try it in real life. Remember that there are sample files to play with, and if you want to actually sell the PDF of the social media book – be my guest – even if it’s just to get a friend or two to find the ad, click on it and buy it. The money will go to you, and you can give it back to them. Or you could try and sell it “for real” – be my guest. Just touch base with me, ok? Tekelsey [@] gmail [dot] com.

Alternatively, you might enjoy getting something a friend wrote and selling it as a digital product, or finding a physical product. But to keep the momentum going, all I’m saying is there’s options.

In short, the world’s your oyster!

What you’ll find very shortly is that Adwords ads do cost money – surprise! But that’s fair. In order to make money, you have to spend money. And analytics is what allows you to see if you’re spending money effectively. Did my ad work? If people clicked on it, did they buy anything?

So to be clear, Google charges you when people click on their ad – this provides you visitors, and they leave it up to you about getting them to actually buy something.

And there’s competition – so when you’re paying Google for the clicks, it’s like a kind of eBay auction. If you are a basketball company and there’s another basketball company, and you both want to get people to click on your ads, when they type in “basketball” on google – then there’s a bidding situation.

This is where it can be helpful at some point to review some of the background info:

And on the good side, sometimes you can get free ad credit:

But if you want to try things out, and limit your “Ad spend”, you can always bid very low, and make your product price very low, and just get some friends to find the ad, click, buy the product, so you can test things out. Then you can always come back and try the finer points by experimenting with different prices and bidding, to get “real” customers. And that can be exciting. Think of that – an exciting analytics learning experience.

Yes, it can take money – but it can be exciting. Especially if you’re doing it for a client, a friend, or for an employer. At that point, I’d definitely recommend getting Adwords Qualified, so that you can increase your chances of selling effectively.

At any rate, when you’re ready to try Adwords out, go into Adwords and click Campaign:

And for the moment, click Search Network only.

Next, give the campaign a name:

Next you will be given a chance to set a budget – ignore everything else for the moment.

I’d suggest $5.00 a day for learning. It doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily spend $5.00/day – it’s only if people actually click on the ad. But you can limit a budget, and change it, and that’s the important thing to remember.

.(And feel free to click on the little question mark icons wherever you see them.)

Then click Save and continue:

Next, the wizard will ask you to enter your landing page:

And you can get this from going into Shopify, and clicking on the little icon on the left side, at the bottom, middle of the three, to see your site:

And technically this could be your landing page – that is, the page where people get to after they see the ad:

Like other aspects of adwords, there is an art and science to landing pages, which is part of the way you increase the chances of someone buying something (by telling the value proposition, etc.)

But just for learning purposes, you can copy that link from your browser and bring it back into Adwords.

Next you can give your Ad group a name if you like.

What Adwords is doing is giving you an opportunity (by scanning your “landing page”), to get some ideas on keywords.

When doing an ad, ultimately you have to try and “go for” a particular keyword or set of keywords, related to your product. You can just ask yourself, what would someone type in google if they were interested in my product?

And this screen is giving you the ability to get some ideas, by clicking on the little arrow icons on the right:

NOTE: at this point, if you’re getting confused or need some advice, try calling Google: 1-800-919-9922

So you can use the “automatic ideas” wizard, but you can also type in phrases of your own:

And then you can click “Continue to ads”:

My advice is, especially if your head is swimming – is just try making an ad, don’t worry about the particulars or keywords too much – just for the learning experience. Then delete or cancel the ad as soon as you like. And then come back and try again. It may be more important to try the “full life cycle” of making an ad, without worrying about getting it exactly right the first time.

So this is the core of making the ad in Google, whether you follow the initial “wizard”, or create a campaign first, and then an ad group, and then an ad.

The Destination URL is the link to your ecommerce shopping page.

Remember you can click on the little question mark icons.

Then you can try entering a headline. Try it, you won’t hurt anything – and look at what happens on the right:


So try experimenting a bit with headlines, and the text for the ad. Try to think of something that would get someone to click.

Think creatively. Dream wild! Then click Save:

Next, you may need to click Review campaign:

Here’s where you can bid. Just like eBay, there’s an art to bidding, but you can always just put in $1.00 to start:

.Google may try to convince you to spend more, bid more:

And the fact is my example has it’s limits. My hope was to have a cheap/free way to try things out that could result in you actually selling something (woohoo!) even if you used the free social media marketing book as an example.

But for better or worse, especially in social media, there’s . . . .


So there happen to be a lot of trainers, schools, consultancies, etc., who are all interested in people who want to learn more about social media marketing. And the prices of their products and services are much higher than a little social media marketing book, so they can afford to bid more on the keywords.

And when you don’t put quotes around a keyword, Google will automatically make variations, taking something like:

Learning social media marketing

And making a variation like

Social media marketing

So that you end up in competition with someone who is selling social media marketing as a service, and charging a lot more money, and bidding higher, than someone who is selling a service to learn about social media marketing – or a book.

This is just a little taste of how eBay – I mean Adwords, works.

.And the way it relates to analytics is that there’s data around the competition for keywords, their average bidding price, and so on. So there are analytics within Adwords, in addition to the information that Adwords generations. And at the end of the day, it can help your career and business.

So you can try putting quotes around words:

And ultimately to play the game a bit better, you can use a tool called the Keyword Planner.

Keyword Planner

To try the Keyword Planner, go into Adwords > Tools > Keyword Planner.

This is the toy you can play with to figure out keywords.

I mean, this is the tool you can utilize to attain clarity on keyword potential.

.So I played around with it, and found that the competition is pretty high.

And I dug a little deeper, and found that the average “CPC” (cost per click) of “social media marketing training” was $7.00. So I thought, ok, I’ll try an ad where the bid is $7.00, and I’ll set the price of the product to $7.00 in Shopify.

And I adjusted the ad:


And then I made a couple more ads, trying different “copy”:

And all this is to say that you can experiment, and leverage analytics, try things out, and see what works.

Adwords’ tricky timing settings

The other really important thing to remember when playing with Adwords is to keep track of when a campaign starts and ends. For whatever reason, Google has made a couple extra steps for actually ending a campaign. You could say that it is because many campaigns are ongoing. Or you could say that they are doing this because they are apt to make more money.

Either way, I recommend reading this:

Basically, when you create your campaign, be aware that you will want to go into Campaign Settings, and click Edit next to the Campaign Type:

.Then you will want to click the All Features radio button:

And then click Save.

In my opinion “All Features” should be enabled by default, or there should be an easier, more apparent way to set the schedule (Start and End Date). But until that happens, these are the steps to take to make sure Google doesn’t drain your bank account every day, if you are just learning.

Next, after enabling this “feature”, go into “advanced settings” (cough, which should be a basic setting)

And click Schedule:

Doh! Google has decided your campaign of giving them money has no end date:

So click the Edit button and set an end date.

.Ah! Much better. Just be aware of this.

It’s Not Quite as Simple as That

So yes, I’ve covered a lot of ground, but I think it’s worth trying things out, to get a sense of how tracking conversion works.

And yes, it’s not as simple as that. Because clicks don’t necessarily mean conversion. Someone might click on the ad, but not actually buy something.

So the art and science of Adwords involves working with a variety of analytics. But in theory, if someone buys something, you can track ad budget against revenue, and that is the primary basis for 40-50 billion dollars of Google’s revenue each year, representing a very large amount of revenue made by businesses.

.So here was the competition I was up against in my little test:

And where oh where was my ad?

Eventually I did find it, on the 2nd or 3rd page of results. And I had a friend click on it, to test things out.

So depending on what your goal is – to learn or to actually sell something, you might want to give yourself the freedom of not worrying too much about the keyword, not worrying too much about the bid, but just setting things up live, and getting a friend or two to search on google for your keyword, until they find the ad – then buy your product (at a low price!), and then give yourself 24 hours to look back in Adwords to see the results.

And what you’re hoping for is to be able to see “1 or more” in this column:

And that is the magic of Shopify and Adwords, and pretty much at the core of 50 billion dollars of Google revenue each year, and maybe a trillion dollars of ecommerce revenue around the world.

And you don’t have to be a big company to do it.

You, could in fact, as an analyst or online marketer, help people to explore this kind of thing, even if you hire an Adwords specialist and just review the information.

In short, it’s a technique that millions of businesses use, large and small, and it’s a really solid approach, which can be fun as well.

Learning More

My apologies if your head is swimming. Here are some of the links that were mentioned, in this chapter and the next, which you’ll probably want to review.


(connecting to adwords)

(free adwords credit)



Congratulations on making it through this wild ride of the last two chapters! Have I convinced you to try things out? Did you have a good experience? Was it intimidating? Inspiring? Inquiring minds want to know. I invite you to share your experience at

(NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF format at the very bottom of this page.)
Todd Kelsey,
Aug 15, 2014, 8:54 AM