How I scale Google Ads with micro conversions?

micro conversions in google ads

Conversions are key to any campaign’s success. You can’t run a campaign without having conversions. Well, you can physically, but you shouldn’t. You need to understand if your campaigns are driving actions that are important to you. And this is basically what defines a conversion. Any action you deem the most important for your business is your main conversion.


Of course, there can be several conversions, and that’s fine. But usually, when running campaigns, you usually want a specific outcome that is directly related to conversion, for example, more purchases or leads. Or it’s indirectly related,  for example, ROI. It’s not a conversion, but it requires a conversion (a sale) to see the revenue and to calculate ROI.


Since Google Ads are moving towards automated strategies, which I’m not the biggest fan of, having conversions will be even more important. The new Performance Max campaign basically relies on the data you provide, conversions being among it.


And the key factor in making automated bidding work is providing a lot of data to it’s algorithms (machine learning, AI) so it can learn from the data and adjust your campaigns. And I’m not talking about Googles recommendation of 30 conversions per month. This won’t get your far. You need several hundred per campaign, per month.


But what to do if you’re just starting out and you have 0 conversions. Or your business just can’t have hundreds of conversions due to it’s nature. Enter Micro conversions.


Let’s explore what they are and how you can use them in your campaigns.



What are Micro conversions?


The name it self hints on what it is. Micro conversion is a younger brother of your main conversion, often called Macro conversion, due to their larger impact on your business. Micro conversions are less significant actions that users perform. For example, an email sign up for an e-commerce site is a micro conversion. Because their main or macro conversion is a sale. Sales bring revenue, and revenue use to buy goods, pay salaries and buy that Lambo.


But micro conversions also have to have some impact on the business. Maybe indirect or small, but they contribute to the main goal. That’s why clicks are not micro conversions.


Sometime ones businesses micro conversion is another businesses macro conversion. Conversion is defined by you. If for your business the most important action is email subscriber, then this is your macro conversion. It’s very subjective.


I might run a campaign on Facebook with a main goal (or macro conversion) to get email subscribers. But at the same time I can run Google Ads campaign to sell my book.


Let’s look at some examples. Starbucks.



Their macro conversion can be Gift cards, as this is probably the only thing you buy online. They also, can run a campaign, selling gift cards.

As for micro conversions they might choose Find a store and Join now. Starbucks wants to know how many people visiting the website choose to find the nearest store and maybe buy something there.

They also want to know how many people create accounts. Even a Sign in can be a micro conversion.


If we take a software service like HubSpot, we might see different Micro conversions conversions.



Get started for free is their Macro conversions as you would have to sign up, and add your credit card.

Get the demo is more like a Micro conversion as there is no payment involved and the sale is somewhere down the funnel. And it might not happen at all.

But this example is a bit trickier than it seems. Can you guess why? [I imagine you stopped here for a minute to think].


OK, times up. In HubSpot instance conversions can be reversed. And the reason is that when users get the demo, there is a chance they are sold a more expensive version AND those users make up most of the HubSposts revenue. And users from “Get started for free” drop off quickly, without becoming a paid member.


As you can see it all depends on the business. But micro conversions are actions that are completed a lot more frequently.


How do you track Micro conversions in Google Ads?

You can track almost anything online. You can use GA4 to track those conversions and import them to Google Ads or use Google Ads pixel. There is a difference and my last post was actually about it.


Let’s stay within Google Ads this time. You will need GTM or a developer for this one. I would recommend using Google Tag Manager or GTM as you can do most of things yourself, no need for a developer. I wrote a post on how to set up GTM for Google Ads. Give it a read. Or just tell developer what to do.


So I will assume you have GTM set up. Some actions like clicks can be tracked easily. GTM has a built-in variable that tracks all the clicks. All you have to do is enable preview mode in GTM and click on the link, buttons, etc. you want to track. Let’s take my newsletter subscription landing page. There is an email input there.



Depending on your GTM set up you can track when some fills out this form and submits it, or just a click on a “Try it” button. Obviously the latter one is less accurate. But it’s easy to show on GTM.


Enable preview mode and go to the page you want to track stuff. Then click on a button. You should see a bunch of events on your left. Find click and go to Variables tab.



I can see a variable click text and it says “try it”. I can use that to trigger anything, or in our instance a Google Ads conversion. Using click text is not always good, if on your website there are more buttons with the same text. The key here is to find a unique identifier of an action you want to track. Some buttons have unique IDs. Other times your website can have a unique from ID and an event that is displayed on the left and is called Form submit. This might sound confusing.


I don’t have a form submit event, and I just use a thank you page instead. It’s easier for me to create in Word Press since I don’t have a developer. And I can use that page to fire my Google Ads pixel.


The reason I showed a click event is for you to know that anything that is clicked can be tracked and used as a trigger for any conversion.


All you need now is to create a conversion in your Google Ads account. Return to GTM and just create a Google Ads Conversion tag.




Primary or secondary macro conversions?


I mentioned that I wrote a blog post above, it also includes how to create conversion in Google Ads. So I won’t get into this here.

But I do want to stress one point. In Google Ads, when you create conversion you can select Primary or Secondary. By default your conversions are created as a Primary conversion.


What’s the difference?


Primary conversion is used for bidding and optimization, that’s why it should be your main or macro conversion. It is reported in the Conversion column.


Secondary conversion is only displayed near your campaigns and keywords. You have to add All conversion column and use Segments to see your other conversions. I will come back to that.


Ideally, you have one primary conversion and the rest of conversions are marked as secondary. You don’t want Google optimizing your campaigns to a conversion that is not bringing you business.


But there are exceptions. As always, right.




How to optimize your campaigns with Micro conversions?


There are two ways you can do it.


First, is when you have your macro or main conversion in the account as well. In this case your campaign are optimized towards that conversion and your other conversions are there for data. You might see something like this:



You have a list of your conversions on the left and then how many conversions you received. You can see it on the account level, campaign, keywords, etc. This is done by using segments. Select segments in the menu above your results and find conversions. Then select Conversion actions.



It will give you a breakdown of all your conversions. Since Google is ignoring that data you will have to get dirty here. What I do is I try to understand what campaigns and keywords are driving those micro conversions. Then I get their value from to business, from the client. Let me explain how.


Let’s say you have an e-commerce website with the main conversion as sale. Which is great as your want your campaigns to be optimized towards getting more sales, revenue, whatever. But (after reading my super amazing post) you have set up a micro conversion, which is email sign ups. Most e-commerce sites collect emails offering discounts for your next purchase. So, what I do here I ask the client how much revenue on average their email subscriber generates. That is not hard to calculate. They come back with a number, say $5. I take it and when presenting results on the main conversion, I include value from emails as well.


You might ask, “so what”? But if we all agree, I can take that additional value and use it to optimize campaigns. For example, I can increase bids, knowing that the campaign not only generates sales now, it also attracts user who convert later. I can also, see keywords that attract only email signups (micro conversions). I can use different approach here as well. Adjusting bids, changing ads, maybe even separating into a different campaign.


Second approach is different. It involves changing my macro conversion from secondary to primary. Obviously you should do it if your not receiving any main conversions. In this case you don’t risk anything. All you have to do is go to your Google Ads account, find Tools & Settings in the top menu, click Conversions. Find your micro conversion click Edit.



Find Goal and action optimization, expand it and change it to Primary. Make sure to make your previous primary conversion, secondary.


Now all your campaigns will be optimized towards your new primary conversion. Depending on how long your had your account on other primary conversion, it might take time for the AI to switch. You might see weird bids, costs go up and so on.


But later on you should be seeing more conversions in your account as algorithm learns how to optimize.


What you should also do is review your negative keywords as now those keywords might convert. Depending on the business with previous primary conversion some of the users might not have been ready to commit. With slightly easier action (micro conversion) this can change. For example, user might have not been ready to buy your product or service, but will be willing to subscribe to your newsletter, or jump on the demo call.


Also, rethink your budgets and most importantly your CPA (cost per acquisition). Obviously it will be lower as you don’t want to pay the same amount for a micro conversion.


The best part is that now you can better utilize the automated bidding strategies. Even Performance max campaigns. Now that you have a lot more conversions coming in,, you can test those strategies and see if it has an impact. Sometimes scaling micro conversions is a lot better than micro conversions.



How to measure success?

I get asked that a lot if we start focusing on a micro conversion. And that’s a valid question since we’re not going after the main hero, but rather optimizing for a sidekick. This concept of micro and macro conversion is old, but still not a lot of business owners understand it. So you need to explain how your campaign success will be measured.


Of course, there are many ways to do it, but I will write about two most common.


First, for me is the easiest if you can get enough data from the business. Remember the example with an e-commerce store and email subscribers. I mentioned that most e-commerce site do email marketing and whoever does it will 100% know how much revenue on average each subscriber generates. They might also know the lifetime value. So you take that number and run with it. No integrations needed. You can adjust those numbers once per quarter.


If you want to take a step further, you can integrate emails with Google Ads passing information back and forth, which updates almost in real-time. That is possible with simple Google sheets. There are other CRM integrations like Salesforce and less expensive versions. I would say, that if you can think of an integration, most likely there is a service for that already. The downside is that it will be paid. So that’s additional cost for the business.


If you can get data like with an email example, you try to guesstimate the value from that micro conversion. Take the Starbucks example.



One of the micro conversions can be clicks to find the local store. You can do rough calculations on how much value each visit to a Starbucks store generates. Obviously not everyone who clicked to find the local store actually went there. So take the “cup half empty” approach. This will protect you from overestimating the micro conversion value to the business. This would be my train of though:


  • How many customers per day Starbucks has? I googled 500.
  • Not every visit is a customer, but it’s probably majority, because why else would you go to Starbucks, right? Let’s assume that 70% of people who visit, buy something.
  • How much on average people spend there? Google says it could be $300-$600 per year. Let’s take $300, divide by 365 days and we get $0.82. That’s a customer, we need a visit.
  • We said that around 70% convert, this means that visits are 30% less valuable. $0.82*70%= $0.57.


So each visit to a store on average brings $0.57 of value to the business. Now if I track clicks on the “Find a store” I know the value of this micro conversion. I know how much I can pay to drive store visits.


You might be thinking that $0.57, in US, that’s a low even for a cost per click, not to mention CPA. True. But with Starbucks, there are more conversions, so it is only an additional value they get, not the only value. So they can bid more.


This example is just to illustrate how you can approach value calculation for a micro conversions. You can always get some estimated data, to understand the value. Sometimes it will be guesstimates, othertimes you will have integrations with bunch of tools that will do everything for you.


One more thing. If you use a guesstimated value always double check with the business if they see any change in revenue. Even though you are bidding on micro conversions, your efforts still need to contribute to the main goal. I worked with smaller business that can’t afford fancy tools. And the only way to measure if were heading in the right direction was talking with the business to see if they see an increase in clients.


I know that it is not scientific, but if you switched from macro conversion to micro conversion and after a month of running a campaign, your client comes and says. that they saw an influx of new clients and revenue, that’s a great sign to continue. And after a month you ask again, and then again.



Micro conversions in Google Ads: main points


  • You can’t have a good campaign without. Conversions.
  • With Google Ads moving towards automated strategies, the importance of conversions, especially for new Performance Max campaigns, will only increase.
  • Effective automated bidding requires substantial data, much more than Google’s recommended 30 conversions per month.
  • For businesses starting out or those unable to achieve hundreds of conversions, micro conversions can be a lifesaver
  • Micro conversions are less significant actions that indirectly contribute to the main business goal. They differ from business to business and are not universally defined.
  • Different businesses have varying micro and macro conversions. For instance, Starbucks might consider ‘Find a Store’ and ‘Join Now’ as micro conversions, while gift card sales are macro conversions. In HubSpot’s case, ‘Get the Demo’ might be a micro conversion, with potential to influence major revenue.
  • Micro conversions can be tracked using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) or Google Ads pixel, with the help of Google Tag Manager (GTM) for more detailed tracking.
  • In Google Ads, conversions can be categorized as primary (for bidding and optimization) or secondary (for informational purposes).
  • Campaigns can be optimized using micro conversions by understanding their business value and adjusting strategies accordingly.
  • Success measurement can involve calculating the business value of micro conversions, like estimating the revenue generated per email subscriber in e-commerce, or estimating the value of store visits from online clicks for a business like Starbucks.
  • Every business has a micro conversion, yours too. If you’re having trouble scaling your Google Ads, try adding micro conversions and see where it takes you.