Marketers and companies have been struggling to match Facebook conversions to Google Analytics data, with no luck. And they won’t succeed so easily.
Now, marketing problems arise due to huge discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics. Given the clear inconsistency, you can’t present the data to your stakeholders without justifying how Facebook Ads correlate to users’ path to purchase and improve overall traffic.
The massive challenges posed by Facebook and Google Analytics attribution models can be corrected by understanding how they differ so you can better design and drive brand visibility.
Clicks vs. impressions
Google uses last click attribution model. In other words, it credits the last place a user clicked on before buying the product. So, a user may see your Facebook ad, go offline, do a direct search later, click on a PPC ad to land on your site. In this instance, Google will attribute this conversion to the PPC ad.
Besides, Facebook Insights tracks impressions via view-through and click-through tracking. For example, if a user clicks or views your ad and takes desired action within a default 28-day or 24-hour attribution window (respectively), Facebook considers it as a conversion.
Tip: To get the bigger picture of your ad campaign impact, disable view-through attribution in Facebook. You can also analyze multi-channel funnel reports in Google Analytics to pinpoint how Facebook is guiding visitors’ path to purchase conversions.
Google Analytics tracks user conversion path by assigning a unique client ID to each visitor. Ergo, it can identify new vs. returning visitors. Here Google acknowledges single device as a touch point for tracking. Suppose if a person used a tablet and later their smartphone to access the same site or landing page, then they’ll be given two unique IDs.
Facebook tracking operates on multiple touch points and multiple devices.
It can do that because it tracks the user’s social media activity since they have to be logged in to browse. Thus, it can use a nonlinear conversion path to follow user journey and show a better set of tracking data.
Sessions vs. clicks
One issue marketers face is the disparity seen in Facebook clicks and Facebook-referred Google Analytics sessions. What you need to understand is clicks are not the same as sessions.
Facebook records every click (post, ad or page link). Google defaults to a 30-minute session.
Let’s say, a visitor clicks on the Facebook post more than once within a 30-minute window and comes to your site. Now in this single session, Google will record only one conversion (and Facebook two) although the visitor may take multiple actions — download an eBook, read a blog, etc.
Furthermore, the visitor may leave the site before Google Analytics fully loads the tracking code. Or they become inactive once they’re on your site, i.e. clock out for 30 minutes and re-engage with your site. If so, Facebook will count one click and Google two.
Such as, the webpage takes a long time to load. The user clicks by mistake. Or else, they visit the page later (they’re accessing the site during work hours). In such cases, Facebook counts this click as a conversion but Google can’t.
Tip: Make sure you place Google snippets in the header of each webpage, not in the body or footer. This way, you’ll have a higher chance to capture the user’s path to purchase before they bounce off.
Wait, there’s more
Is this all you need to bridge the gap between Facebook Ads and Google Analytics data to delight your stakeholders? Certainly not.
There’s no doubt these elements are crucial. But you must consider a few other Facebook and Google attribution variations to improve your analytics game.
- Google may show sampled data if your sessions reach 500,000 or more in volume. In simple terms, it creates an estimate of the full raw data. To review all data points, access server log files.
- If you’ve enabled filters for company-related IP addresses on Google, then internal traffic (say, employees) coming from Facebook gets excluded.
- Facebook records the time of the click (or view) that led to a conversion, whereas Google considers the time when the user acts (like purchasing the product).
- While your Facebook fans may belong to different demographics, there’s a chance only small percentage of them is engaging with your ad. In that case, revise and tailor the content to boost interaction and streamline analytics.
Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel conversions will never match since they both serve distinct goals. Google Analytics helps optimise your website traffic, and Facebook provides a robust platform for advertisement.
This contrast can prove useful once you know how to exploit independent strengths of Facebook Insights and Google Analytics before rushing to connect the dots. And, if you want to integrate them (despite their differences) to inspire brand awareness, get in touch with a Windsor.ai champion today!