Show Resources:

Install event tracking tutorial on YouTube

How to set up event tracking in Google Tag Manager walkthrough

LinkedIn Learning course about LinkedIn Ads by AJ Wilcox: LinkedIn Advertising Course

Contact us at with ideas for what you’d like AJ to cover.

Show Transcript:

LinkedIn Ads conversion tracking is confusing and technical, and hungry and delicious. I must be recording this around dinnertime. This is the LinkedIn Ads Show.

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. Conversion tracking is something that I get a lot of questions on. How do you set it up? How do you troubleshoot it if it’s not working? How do you track separate conversion events through the funnel? So the whole episode is all about that. We’ll cover the basics and we’ll go super geeky deep because I’m sorry, I just can’t do it any other way. In personal news, I’m on vacation this week. So this is obviously recorded before then, we’re headed to Southern California. And I have to say COVID vacations aren’t very much fun. My wife and kiddos absolutely love the beach. But my poor ginger skin doesn’t. So wish me luck, and sunscreen. I wanted to highlight a review from Abby Kelsey, who’s a social media and branding strategist. She says, “Hands down the best podcast for LinkedIn Ads. After listening to just a few episodes, I was able to optimize the campaign, reducing the cost per click from $14 to $15 down to $4 to $5. AJ is great at simplifying strategy. I look forward to every new episode.” Abby, thanks so much, I’m so glad that our advice was able to help you get your CPCs down that much. Because as you know, when you reduce your costs down to a third of where they were, then your ROI can be three times as much. So great job to you and actually taking the advice and making changes in your account. And you, yes, you! I want to feature you as well. So go and leave a rating on whichever podcast app that you like or prefer that or that you know, has ratings. And I’ll love to shout you out and share your experience with the general listeners public here. All right, with that being said, let’s hit it.

Conversion Tracking

I remember sitting down with the VP over LinkedIn Marketing Solutions back in 2014. I remember this conversation very well. He asked near the end of our discussion, if I had a magic wand and I could wave it and change any feature or add any feature to LinkedIn ads, what would it be? And I told him conversion tracking. He sat back and folded his arms defensively and asked, “Okay, why do you think advertisers would want that?” From his reaction, you could totally tell that he and the product team at that time had already discussed conversion tracking many times. And they had already come to the conclusion that it was a feature that they didn’t need. I explained that all the popular ad platforms had conversion tracking. That it really was table stakes as a feature at this point. And I also knew of affiliate marketers who worked out of their moms basements that had built their own tracking tag. So it really couldn’t be that hard. He explained that according to LinkedIn, the most sophisticated advertisers had already devised systems for tracking conversions, and the less sophisticated ones weren’t even asking for it. I agreed that we’d already implemented our own workarounds. But that having conversions in the platform would allow us to pivot faster rather than just exporting add data to excel and marrying it up to conversion data later on. It’s not a horribly long process, but it did take time. And it wasn’t nearly as immediate as if we had conversions just right within the platform. And to LinkedIn, of course, when advertisers can pivot faster, it means finding success quicker, which leads to larger investments in ad budget. So it made a lot of sense to me. Now, I must have been incredibly convincing to him, because LinkedIn, of course did implement conversion tracking a short three years later. But the principle stands, the more visibility you have into what works all the way down the funnel, the faster and with more confidence you’re going to move. Having conversion tracking directly within campaign manager means that you can monitor whether a new offer is converting within hours of launching the ads. It really adds confidence that you’re spending your precious dollars, where they’re being best used. Most of us experienced marketers have probably felt the searing pain in your stomach when you launched everything perfectly. And then realize hours later that there was some crucial piece that you left out and either wasted a bunch of money, or made you look like a moron to your boss. Heaven knows I have. Conversion tracking allows us to keep tabs on an account and have the confidence that you’re not wasting money or going to look like a moron to your boss or client.

How Does Conversion Tracking Work?

So how does conversion tracking technology work? Well, it really is a simple technology. The way it works is that you tell the ad platform a web page that the only way that someone could get to it is if they filled out a form or converted. Oftentimes, we call this page a thank you page or a success page. There’s no link to it from the website. There’s no other way to get there. It’s what we call an orphaned page. And then you make it so as soon as someone submits the form, it redirects them to that thank you page. Then when the ad platform sees that one of the people that referred hit that page, it knows that someone filled out a form and gets to call it a conversion. So how does LinkedIn know what the members doing when they’re not on LinkedIn anymore? The answer is the insight tag. This is a piece of JavaScript code that you put on all the pages of your website. It’s really similar to Google Analytics code. And it’s going to track all the basic activities of a visitor, and it radios them back to LinkedIn, like a second set of eyes for LinkedIn to see what happens to their traffic after it leaves. It also places a cookie in the visitors browser to identify them. And consequently, this is also why LinkedIn doesn’t report a conversion, when you click on the ad preview to convert, LinkedIn knows that this ad wasn’t actually served to you because your browser doesn’t have the cookie. So it knows it’s not really game time yet, and doesn’t need to report that conversion. And then it gets really simple. LinkedIn knows from the cookie who the visitor is, and which ad they clicked on, or even saw, which we’ll talk about later. And then they made it to the thank you page. Easy peasy, jot one down in the conversions column. So of course, you’re going to need the insight tag installed.

Set It Up

Here’s a quick rundown of how to set it up. Inside of campaign manager, you go to account assets, and then click insight tag. I won’t belabor you with all the instructions, just follow whatever instructions you see on the screen to get access to your tag. And then once you havenit, you want to install it by having your web developer or if you’re geeky like that, it can be you. Go and paste that JavaScript into the head section of the HTML on every page of your website. For the uninitiated, you can paste it into each page manually, but that’s obviously a huge pain, especially depending on how many pages you have. The better option is to place it in your website’s global template, which is just one piece of code that loads on every page of the website. If you can do that, it’s a one and done. But then the even better way to do this is through a Tag Manager like Google Tag Manager, which is free. This way you put the JavaScript code for Tag Manager on the website once or have the web developer do it. And then you’ve got this interface where you as a marketer can log in anytime you want. And you can paste all of your tracking tags whenever you want, then they’re going to magically populate across the whole website. So you can throw your LinkedIn insight tag, and your Google Analytics tag, and your Google ads, and Facebook ads, and Twitter tags, everything you want, you can change in and out. Once the tags installed, it starts sending signals to LinkedIn. And that’s whenever a LinkedIn member loads a page of your website, the JavaScript fires, and it radios that information back to LinkedIn. And then back in campaign manager, LinkedIn will show you your domain name with a green light showing that it’s actively receiving signals. If it’s still showing a red light next to your insight tag domain name, then there’s probably something wrong with the way that the tag was implemented. So check on that. Once the tags installed on your website, then you go into campaign manager and set up your conversion. This is that part where you define to LinkedIn, which web page when someone lands on, it means that they converted. So you go to account assets, then conversions, and then click create a conversion. Name something descriptive of the conversion like contact form lead or content download. And then in section one with the settings, just take all the defaults for now. Section two, select all the campaigns that you would want to actually be tied to this conversion event. And I say pick them all, why not. And then section three is the most important part. This is where you tell LinkedIn which page or pages to count as a conversion. And there are three different ways that you can define what this page looks like. There’s equals, starts with, and my personal favorite, contains. So with equals, you can say, hey, here is the exact single URL that anytime someone lands on this, nothing extra after it or before, it’s just this URL, then you know they converted. Starts with would be if you have the beginning of a URL that does stay the same, but maybe some dynamic parameters at the end can change. And then contains, this is where you get to pick one element of the URL that’s common among several pages. And it doesn’t matter if the beginning or the end changes. As long as it has this one piece, then you know, it’s a conversion. And that’s really it create the conversion. And if you set it up correctly, it should be tracking conversions from here on out. Now I know what you’re gonna say. You’ll say I went to ask my web developer to have our lead form redirected to a thank you page and he laughed at me and then announced to the whole team that I just asked for a thank you page. He asked me if I got stuck in the 90s and if I still code HTML in tables. He even went and slashed my tires in the parking lot and put his lunch leftovers in my garbage can every day, so it would smell. And then he even blatantly refused to help, and told me that I have to find another way because that quote unquote, just won’t be possible. Trust me, I feel your pain. We’ve all been there. Now there is a way around this, which we’ll cover here right after the sponsor break.

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Event Based

Alright, let’s jump into what to do if you just have no choice, but to have a form on your landing page that when submitted, that URL stays the same in your browser and it just pops up a modal saying thanks. We’ll reach out to you shortly. Now if this is the case, it is still possible to track conversions. And the way it works is this, LinkedIn will give you this little snippet of code that you can attach to a button on your page, that as soon as the button is pushed, it executes the JavaScript and sends a conversion right back to LinkedIn. So sounds simple, right? Well, for me, as a non coder, I don’t know hardly anything about JavaScript, it really isn’t. This isn’t just a piece of HTML code that you can paste on into the page, it’s JavaScript, and it breaks my poor ginger brand, just thinking about it. If you have Google Tag Manager installed, this is a lot easier. And you don’t need to go and start a war with your web developers. in the show notes below. I’ve linked to a helpful walkthrough video by my friend Joe Martinez of Clix Marketing. That’s right, Joe, I just named dropped you. I’ve also linked to a great written guide by Brandon Green on the B2Linked blog, if you’d rather work with a post that you can follow along to rather than a YouTube video. The way it works is this, when you’re creating the conversion, you click the option, use an event specific pixel to track when there is no unique URL, for example, a button click. Then as soon as you create the conversion, it will give you this little snippet of code to attach to the button. If your developer is worth half the lunch, he keeps dumping in your trash can, he’ll know exactly what to do with it when you send him the code and point to the button that you wanted to attach to. But remember, you do still need the global Insight tag across your whole website anyway. So this doesn’t replace that. The reason why web developers feel so strongly about this is because redirecting to a new page, just to show success is the old way of doing things. And they claim it’s not the best user experience. But I’m a fairly technical marketer. And if I can create a thank you page in raw HTML from scratch, but I can’t figure out how to set up event tracking without Google Tag Manager, I’ll tell you what I would recommend. I can troubleshoot thank you page conversion tracking perfectly, but I’m absolutely useless setting up event tracking, without looping in a web developer. So sure, I’m advocating an old way of doing things that provides a poor user experience. But there is one big benefit of using thank you pages. And that is thank you pages are the most underutilized real estate on the whole internet. Think of this, someone just filled out a form and gave you their contact info, maybe because they wanted to download a piece of your content or join a webinar. They’ve already identified who they are. And you can use this opportunity to cross sell or upsell them on something. So let’s say you’re pitching people to join a webinar, because you know, that’s what they’re willing to do. But what if you had a call to action on your thank you page that said, great, you’re signed up for the webinar. By the way, if you haven’t already, grab a time on our calendly and we can walk you through something? Sure, not everyone’s going to take you up on that. But if anyone does, you just took your lead from a content download to maybe even an MQL or an SQL just like that. So if you’re using thank you pages, definitely try to leverage them a little bit more to help get multiple conversions happening.

How Other Channels Work with Conversion Tracking

The way that conversion tracking works on LinkedIn is pretty similar to how other channels are. Facebook conversion tracking is a lot more complex because to set it up, you actually have to modify the base tag on any page where a conversion occurs. At least the last time I did it, the documentation sucked. And so it was really confusing, but it is very cool because it can pass dynamic signals back to Facebook, like for instance, the purchase amount from an ecommerce store. So if you’re running Facebook ads for ecommerce rather than than just saying, oh, the average order value is about $30, it will actually pass back the exact amount. So at the end of the day, you can see exactly what your return on adspend was. Google Analytics, goal tracking is similar to LinkedIn, where you put the tag on every page, and then you go into the interface and tell it what counts as a conversion action. It’s much more full featured, and a lot more confusing, too. But one really cool feature it has that I really wish we could do on LinkedIn is that when you define a conversion, you can click a button, and it will tell you what the conversion rate of that page would have been in the last seven days, I think it’s seven days. So basically, if you’re setting up a conversion, that isn’t going to work, because you messed something up, you can know right, then without having to launch it, and then watch and see that conversions aren’t happening, and then go back and try to fix it. So please, LinkedIn implement this to help us understand when we create a conversion, whether or not it’s working immediately.

Is Conversion Tracking Not Working? Check These Things.

So what about if your conversion tracking isn’t working properly? Well, here are my steps to actually check and make sure every step of the way and find out what’s broken. First, go and make sure that your insight tag is installed on the landing page. If it was pasted right into the HTML, that’s really easy. You just go inside your browser, when you’re looking at the page. On PC, you just click Ctrl+U that shows you the source. And then Ctrl+F allows you to search on the page. And you can just type in the word LinkedIn and search through. And as soon as you find the actual insight tag, verify that it matches the insight tag that LinkedIn gave you in campaign manager exactly. And I’m telling you, it has to be exact if it’s missing a comma or something, it won’t work. Now, if the tag was implemented through Tag Manager, this is a little bit harder, because you won’t actually see that tag in the HTML. So I use the ghostery plugin in Chrome, because it’ll show me what’s happening with the JavaScript on the page, which is exactly where Google tag manager or any other tag manager is going to put it. My geeky friends telling me that this is because it’s on the event layer in JavaScript, I have no idea what that means. Step two, go and do exactly the same thing on your thank you page, open up the source or ghostery, look to make sure the tag is there. And if your tag is in both places, you’re looking good so far. Step three here is go and actually check and make sure that your conversion was set up properly in campaign manager. So you go back to account assets, conversions, and then make sure that the thank you page is entered into the conversion settings in campaign manager. And sometimes just to be sure, I’ll stack the conversion triggers, like maybe one line says it starts with you. And then you can add an or and I can say, or it just contains the word thank you. And then if one of those two wasn’t set up properly, maybe the other one will still pick up the conversion. That’s like my little conversion insurance policy. Step four here is that just realize that conversions can take like two to four hours to register inside of campaign manager. So give it a little bit of time, if a conversion just occurred, and you’re watching it, you don’t see it, don’t just assume it’s broken, wait two to four hours. And unfortunately, there isn’t a great way that I found to test conversions in LinkedIn, you really just have to set it up and then watch and campaign manager with high hopes while you wait for conversions to start displaying. So if anyone knows of a way to do this without just sitting around, crossing your fingers and hoping, please let me know, I would love some kind of trick or hack around this. Now, sometimes your conversions you might see are double counting, maybe they’re counting more conversions occurring, then you’re actually getting leads in the CRM for and this is often because you defined a URL in your conversion and campaign manager that has something in common with another web page. Or maybe there’s a sub page that someone can click on from your thank you page that adds into the URL. So every page load after that counts as a conversion. Like, for instance, if we had you/epic, or something like that loading that epic page would count as a second conversion after they hit the thank you page.

Some Things to Watch Out For

Now some things that you’ll want to watch out for. If you’re watching your conversions column within campaign manager, be aware that this number is a liar. It counts both post click and view through conversions. So I’ll define what these are. Post click conversions actually means that someone clicked on my ad. And then within the clicks window that you set in the settings of your conversion within campaign manager, the default 30 days, they ended up on that thank you page. So they clicked on your ad, and they eventually converted within 30 days. That one makes a lot of sense to me. But then view through conversions are simply when your ad registered an impression on their browser and then they ended up on the thank you page through some other channel, you literally have no idea if the impression even had an influence on their converting, they could have just scrolled right past your post and missed it entirely. So all of our client reporting is done with the post click conversions number, rather than just using the easy conversions. Because I’ll tell you, nothing is more embarrassing if you’re a highly specialized LinkedIn ads agency than when your account manager reports the client that there were six conversions. And the client says, Oh, I only see four in the CRM. And then you realize that you just read the conversions column. And it added in the view through conversions, or so I’ve been told.

Other Cool Uses of the LinkedIn Insight Tag

Conversion tracking isn’t the only thing that you’ll want to use the LinkedIn insight tag for. Once it’s on the website, it enables two other cool features. The first is the free web demographics that LinkedIn provides. And it should have been called LinkedIn analytics to pair with Google Analytics and Facebook analytics, because it is a free analytic tool to understand how people are using your website. But once it’s installed, you can see a breakdown of the makeup of your website users. And these are from any source, even unpaid. You can see if your website traffic tends to be of a certain seniority, or even which companies tend to be frequenting your website the most. The other great benefit to your insight tag is it enables website retargeting. So now you can set up something like, hey, if someone visited any page of our website, follow them around and remind them to come back and convert.

Cool Conversion Hacks

Now there are a couple of cool little hacks or tricks that I like to use with the conversion tracking here. The first is if you have multiple conversion events, like let’s say you have a white paper and a webinar, I don’t want to go and create an individual conversion for each one of those. Because that means every single new piece of content that we come out with, we have to go and create a new conversion for. And that’s just a lot of work and it’s probably something that you’re going to forget. And then you’ll lose the conversion tracking until you fix it. So instead, I create a convention on all of my assets, that maybe they all have a separate thank you page. But I put something in the URL in common among all thank you pages. And maybe that’s just the term thank-you. And so it doesn’t matter in the future, how many different assets we run, as long as all the thank you pages have thank-you in the URL. This one conversion event that I set up where I said it contains thank-you, call that a conversion, it’s always going to work. So that’ll save you some time. Another little hack here is it’s kind of hard if you have a funnel, where someone can convert multiple times down your funnel to actually see all the different conversions. Just by default, LinkedIn is going to show you the conversions column. And you can go to break down and break it down by each individual conversion. But I found a way I like even more. In the conversion value. When you’re setting it up. You get to tell LinkedIn how much you think each conversion is worth? Well, if I had a two step funnel, something like a webinar, and then that triggers a phone call. What I’ll do is, if someone signs up for the webinar, I’m going to say that’s worth one cent. And then if someone signs up for the phone call, I’m going to say that’s worth $1. And then when you go to your columns, and you look at just all of your performance by conversions, you’ll see one column that is your conversion value. And let’s say it says something like $3.12 cents, you can look at that intuitively and say, oh, that means 12 people converted on the webinar, and then three of them turned into phone calls to our sales team. So that’s a cool little hack that we’ve found when you have multi step funnels that you want to track quickly and easily. All right, I’ve got the episode resources coming up for you. So stick around.

Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.

All right down in the show notes links, you’ll see the YouTube video about how to install event tracking by Joe Martinez. And then you’ll also see the guide the blog post on that walks you through how to do it if you want a written guide as well. If you’re new to LinkedIn Ads, or have a colleague who’s getting trained or something like that, definitely check out the course the links down below as well. And that’s on LinkedIn Learning. So it’s either $25 or free, depending on your subscription to LinkedIn. Also look down at your podcast player right now. Make sure that subscribe button is hit so that you never miss another episode like this. And if you liked it, please do rate and review. And if you do leave a review I’m going to shout you out. And then of course with any suggestions, feedback, or just telling me how you don’t like gingers. Email and we’d love to hear from you. With that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.