Ready for your best enrollment year yet?

The Education Industry Guide to Granular PPC Lead Tracking

Table of Contents

Why is Proper Tracking Important?

Let’s begin by clarifying what kind of tracking we’re talking about here. In the PPC case, the user journey begins with an ad click. Then, the user fills out a lead form and is most often brought to a “thank you” page. This counts as a conversion in Google Ads or Bing Ads, and is also regarded as front end tracking, which we will not be covering in this guide. From there, the lead gets populated in the CRM, or the back end. We will focus on optimizing how leads are tracked there: the back end.

So why does it matter?

The more accurately we can track our leads, the more accurately we can calculate their profitability.

Let’s suppose we’re getting a holistic $100 CPL and around 1000 leads per month. From those 1000 leads, 50 enroll as students, which gives us a cost per enrollment of $2000. This is great but now we want to see exactly which leads drove those 50 enrollments.

Once we have that information, we will be able to allocate more budget towards those targets and instead of getting 950 leads per month that do nothing, we’ll be able to significantly reduce the number of wasteful leads. This also reduces our cost per enrollment, even if our CPL remains at $100. Once we find the leads that work, we can even look to spend more per lead because the leads that we’re getting have a higher CVR and our cost per enrollment can stay low.

What is Considered Granular Tracking?

There are 3 main levels of granularity:

  • Channel (Search, Display, YouTube)
  • Campaign
  • Keyword / Target

Getting to Level 3

We want to be able to see exactly which keyword (or target for Display & YouTube) is responsible for getting the lead. Keyword level tracking is considered granular tracking by our standards.

Having this data reveals the true drivers of enrollments and will ultimately determine what generates profit as well.

Additional Lead Specifics

There are more options for further granularity which vary on an account by account basis. However, we can generally assume that it’s always better to have more granular data to track.

For example, if we have a geo location breakout of local leads, national leads and international leads, we can look to track which geographic location the lead came from, which will play a huge role in CVR.

Setting Up Back End Tracking

Next Steps

In order to begin tracking keyword level data in our CRM, we must first set up the functionality. There are many different CRMs out there, all of which have their own way of setting up functionality. However, we will cover the exact steps for the two most popular options: Pardot & Salesforce.

Installing in Pardot

Pardot has the ability to create custom fields in which keyword level data from Google Ads and Bing Ads can populate. Activating this ability, however, is extremely complicated and either requires coding, constant changes to all of your forms, or both. This guide will show you a much simpler method that we’ve invented; a hack of sorts.

Google Analytics Connector

This is a short task requiring just a few steps in Pardot. Adding the Google Analytics connector can simplify the flow of information between GA and Pardot and allow us to place code free keyword tracking.

  1. Open the connectors page
    • In Pardot, select Admin and then Connectors.
    • In the Lightning app, select Pardot Settings, and then Connectors.
  2. Click + Add Connector.
  3. Click Google Analytics.
  4. Click Create Connector.

UTM Parameters

Now that we have the GA connector installed, Pardot will automatically start pulling five GA tags, each of which can be associated with our leads / prospects. Any one of them can be used to track keywords via a tracking parameter in Google Ads and Bing Ads.

  • Campaign name
  • Medium
  • Source
  • Content
  • Term

We should use the field “Term” because it makes the most sense for tracking keywords. Now, using a tracking template, we can start tracking keywords into Pardot as well as other value track parameters that we chose. This will be covered next in the guide.

And we’re done in Pardot without having to write a single line of code or alter any forms!

Installing in Salesforce

If you’re using both Pardot and Salesforce and are transferring your leads from Pardot to Salesforce, then you’re all set. However, if you’re only using Salesforce, we need to set it up so it can receive keyword level data from Google Ads.

You’re ready to track!

Audience Studio Control Tag

The Audience Studio Control Tag allows us to add information to the URL which will help us track keywords and whatever other parameters we want to add. When it sees the parameter it will collect the data.

1st – Linking your SF account to the Audience Studio

You’ll have to reach out to the Customer Success team and create a support ticket to enable this functionality.

2nd – Implementation

  • Implementation here requires a little bit of web dev work.
  • First, we need to generate the tag which we can do by going to Manage >> Sites in the top navigation of SF Audience Studio Konsole.
  • At the top of the site click + Create Site.
  • Retrieve the tag by visiting Manage >> Sites and clicking </> (Actions) button.
  • Choose JavaScript and Copy.

Now that we have the tag, we need to paste it directly on the pages that we want to track in the <head>

You’re ready to track!

Tracking Templates – What They Are


Google Ads supports tracking information being passed to other systems through what is known as a tracking template. When an ad is clicked, the tracking template is combined with the URL, and the added parameters are what is being tracked. A tracking template can be applied as high as the account level or as granular as the keyword level.

Here is how this action looks in practice:

  • Final URL:
  • URL after ad is clicked:
    • The highlighted part was added dynamically by our tracking template
    • This information will be passed to Pardot or Salesforce

Useful Variables To Consider Tracking – Value Track Parameters

Variables which can be tracked using tracking templates are called Value Track Parameters.

Below are a few which we recommend for lead generation, education accounts:

  • {keyword} – Tracks the keyword which triggered the ad. This is a must have!
  • {matchtype} – Shows the match type of the keyword. This is very important as well because of the search query differences between exact match and broad match. Exact match leads are most valuable because we’re 100% certain of the query that led to success! The values that this parameter returns are “e” for exact match, “p” for phrase match and “b” for broad match.
  • {device} – Tracks which device the user was on when they clicked the ad. “C” is for computer or desktop, “m” is for mobile and “t” is for tablet.

These are the 3 core Value Track Parameters which we recommend for every case. However, there are more options you can choose from, which you can see on the next page.

You can also choose to manually track your own parameters. For example:

Practical Examples

Tracking Templates

1. {lpurl}?utm_term={device}-{matchtype}-{keyword}

Example result in back end
c-e-law school

What it means
The keyword [law school] in exact match was clicked on desktop.

2. {lpurl}?utm_term={device}{matchtype}{keyword}_{_local}

Example result in back end
m_p_law school_local

What it means
The keyword “law school” in phrase match was clicked on mobile and it came from a local campaign, which is a manual parameter we inputted.

3. {lpurl}?utm_term={_display-desktop-interest:film}

Example result in back end

What it means
Completely manual parameter that does not use dynamic value track parameters. We’re stating that this lead came from a display campaign (desktop) that is targeting people interested in film.

Table of Contents
Get education digital marketing content straight to your inbox
Related Articles
Latest Podcasts

Subscribe to the Grow Enrollments Podcast