Conversion Tracking and its Amazing Benefits on Nonprofit Ad Campaigns

Written by Mate Tagaj

10 min read

Published on Jun 12, 2024

Updated on Jun 17, 2024

If you work in nonprofit communication and marketing, you might have heard about the concept of conversion tracking. But what is a conversion, what is the conversion rate, CPC and why do we need to track these?
Lady in a glass viewing a screen and then making an action
With so many organisations battling for awareness online, it can be difficult to break through the noise and get in front of your target audience.
Paid advertising platforms like Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads or Google Ads are great options for organisations trying to stand out online, especially for those who are trying to connect with potential supporters and drive action. 
You might not have a large paid ads budget, so it’s crucial to make the most out of your investment. But how can you make sure that your ads actually deliver results? Don’t worry, it’s not a trick question. The answer to this all-important question lies in conversion tracking.
Let’s start with going over the basics of what ad campaigns are.

What is an Ad Campaign, and Why Should Nonprofits Use Them?

An ad campaign is where you choose a message that you want to put out into the world and create a strategy on how you’re going to deliver these messages to a specific audience across various channels. 
In the context of nonprofits, these campaigns could aim to raise awareness, support a campaign, sign a petition, or even encourage event registrations or individual donations. You could also have paid social ads that leverage the power of Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to reach a wider audience than what organic reach allows.
Social Media Advertising Platforms - Logos of Social Media Channels in a Grid View including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or X, Mastodon, LinkedIn and YouTube
Here’s why we think paid advertising is a must for nonprofits:
  1. Social media channels are businesses. Their interest is that page owners spend money on advertising. These days, if you don’t spend money on ads, social algorithms don’t allow you to grow organically at the same speed (or at all) like those who invest in regular advertising campaigns. Even if your budget is limited, investing at least the bare minimum into awareness ads will allow your channel to grow at a much higher rate than your competitors, who only rely on organic outreach.
  2. Paid ads allow you to laser-focus your organisation’s message on the specific demographics, interests, and behaviour of target audiences.
  3. You can collect valuable insights from paid campaigns, which will later allow you to optimise spending & targeting for maximum impact. The longer they wait to start investing in paid ads, the bigger their disadvantage and knowledge gap will be.

What is Conversion Tracking?

Before we move ahead, we need to define what is conversion tracking. After your campaign is up and running, conversion tracking is where you measure how effectively your campaign is driving the actions you want your audience to take.
The conversions are the things we mentioned above: signing up for your newsletter, sending a donation, submitting a form etc. It happens when someone visits your site and converts from a visitor into an action taker. This action or set of actions should be the ultimate objective that you need to decide first.
Whatever the aim, if you can track these actions, you will be able to understand better how your ads perform. This should go beyond the usual clicks and impressions (which don’t always tell you very much).

Conversion Tracking and Conversions on Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

If you have been using Universal Analytics to track your campaigns, you may already be used to the term ‘conversions’. However, things look a little different when we talk about conversions on Google Analytics 4.
GA4 Changes Conversions to Key Events Popup Notification
GA4 has done away with conversions and now refers to them as ‘key events’. It’s essentially the same thing so you don’t need to worry too much about it. Just get used to the lingo. If you’d like to learn how to master GA4 for your campaigns, contact us to inquire about our GA4 training.

What’s the Benefit of Conversion Tracking for Nonprofits

If you’ve been spending money on paid ads and have no idea if it’s actually bringing in any results, think of conversion tracking as the missing puzzle piece. Here’s how it empowers your nonprofit:

1. Measure ROI (Return On Investment), Conversion Rate and Cost Per Conversion (CPC)

Conversion tracking is not just about the number of clicks your ads get. In reality, it allows you to calculate the true return on the hard-earned money you’re spending.
Let’s look at some examples.

How to Measure ROI

If a Google Ad campaign for your fundraising drive generates €10,000 in donations at a cost of €2,000, you will have an investment gain of €8,000. This is four times more than what you initially invested. You haven’t only generated enough donations to cover your ad spend, but you also had 400% return. 
Return on Investment (ROI) Formula

How to Measure Conversion Rate and Cost per Conversion (CPC)

If you’re trying to track the number of people who signed up for a petition, a newsletter or an open event, things can be a little trickier as you’re not measuring in monetary terms. In such case, for future projections it’s also essential that you follow your conversion rate closely. What’s more, to accurately track your return, you will need to decide how much one conversion is worth to you. This will be your Cost per Conversion (CPC).
For example, you may have spent €1,000 on your campaign, which resulted in 50,000 views and 500 new newsletter signups. In this case, you can see that 1% of people who viewed your ad signed up. This 1% is your conversion rate. You can use this next time to calculate the expected result of your next campaign. If you know that with the same targeting, for €1,000, you can expect 50,000 views, and 1% of those people convert, you can easily calculate your expected results if you have a different amount available for next time.
Conversion Rate Equals Conversions Divided by Impressions or Views and Multiplied by 100
You can also go one step further. Since for €1,000 you registered 500 signups, you will know that each signup will probably cost you €2 in the future. You can use this as your general Cost per Conversion (CPC) for your next campaign. Your goal will be to ensure this number is lowered as much as possible. In other words, you must generate more newsletter signups for the same amount of investment. This can be achieved by optimising your targeting, ad copy, format and assets.
Cost per Conversion is Calculated by Dividing the Ad Spend by the Number of Conversions

Linking ROI, CPC and Conversion Rate

Your Cost per Conversion will also help you calculate your monetary return, even though there might not be any financial commitment involved by your target audiences, like in the case of a donation. For instance, if for €1,000 you manage to acquire 2,000 signups and for you, each had a value of €2, the total value you generated will be €4,000. Using our first calculation from above, this is an investment gain of €3,000, which is a 300% return.
Finally, we already know from above that for €1,000 we received 50,000 views. Since you generated four times more signups with the same investment, your conversion rate also went up from 1% (500 signups) to 4% (2,000 signups). This is an increase of 300% or 3pp (percentage points).

2. Optimise Your Campaigns for Maximum Impact

Conversion tracking reveals which campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and even ad copy are driving the most conversions for your nonprofit. This can help you to optimise your campaigns in the future as much as possible.  
For example, if you have a Facebook Ad campaign promoting your latest annual event, by tracking registrations you can easily identify which ad variations resonate. You can then stop spending money on the variations that don’t convert visitors and spend more on those that work.

3. Identify Some Hidden Gems

Sometimes, seemingly underperforming campaigns can actually be hidden gems. 
You may have an ad that isn’t doing well in terms of clicks but is driving high-value conversions. 
If you had been basing your tracking on clicks, you may have discarded this ad prematurely and lost out on vital opportunities.
Example of Two Ads with One That Has Low Impressions But Very High Conversion Rate and Another One with Very High Number of Impressions But Much Lower Conversion Rate

4. Empower Your Team to Make Data-driven Decisions

When it comes to ad campaigns, you can’t just base your decisions on guesswork. It will lead you to spend too much time (and money!) on campaigns that don’t generate any value.
With accurate data on what works and what doesn’t, you can make informed decisions. What’s more, you can stop wasting money by not paying for ads whose effectiveness is unknown.
How would you know whether to continue investing in Facebook Ads if you don’t know how much impact your campaigns are having? Data is always the answer! 

5. A/B Test Different Strategies

Conversion tracking allows you to experiment and see what works best, so you don’t have to put all of your eggs into one basket.
A/B testing is where you try out different targeting, ad variations, landing pages, graphics, ad copy and call-to-actions to see which combination drives the most conversions.
You should be able to clearly see which variation generates the most conversions, increase your spending on the most valuable variations, and reduce your spending on the others.
Pro tip: Never change more than one variable when you A/B test. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to find out what actually caused the change in performance.

How to Get Started with Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking can be a bit of a long process, but here are some simple steps to help you get started. They are by no means exhaustive but should help point you in the right direction.
1. Identify your goals: What do you want your target audiences to do after seeing your ads or visiting your website? 
2. Choose your tracking platform: Google Ads may be the most appropriate for your nonprofit, or you may think social is where your target audience is going to be. You won’t really know until you try. Make paid advertising a part of your communication strategy and time will tell which platform you should primarily rely on to reach your target audiences and to achieve the best outcome.
3. Set up your tracking: The platform you’re using should have instructions on how to set up conversion tracking for your goals. You may have to add code snippets to your website to allow tracking, but most probably you will need some help from your developer and/or a digital marketer to set this up for you. We recommend starting this process as early as possible in your campaign planning.
4. Keep track of your data: Once tracking is in place, regularly monitor your conversion data so you can see which campaigns, ad variations, and demographics are driving the most conversions.
5. Don’t forget about optimising: Based on your data insights, keep optimising your campaigns for the best performance possible. This could be through refining your targeting, adjusting bids, or trying out different ad variations.
If you don’t think you’re ready to set everything up yourself, feel free to reach out to us, and we can help talk you through the process or even set everything up for you if needed.
How to Get Started with Conversion Tracking Step By Step Guide

Grow Your Confidence in Paid Ads with Boostern

Making the investment into paid ads can be a big step, especially when budgets are tight.
However, don’t forget that you don’t really need a separate budget for ad spend to get started. The famous Google Ad Grants offers $10,000 per month to nonprofits for FREE to launch Google Search Ads and help them invest in paid ads to increase their visibility online despite budget constraints.

Discover Our Paid Ad and Google Ad Grants Services

At Boostern, we specialise in helping nonprofits nail their paid ad campaigns to get maximum results without overspending. Additionally, we also assist with applying to the Google Ad Grants, reactivating suspended accounts managing Google Ad Grants accounts in an ongoing basis. Book a meeting with us to discuss your needs.

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