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Set Up Conversion Tracking in Parse.ly

Parse.ly conversion tracking enables your team to see when and where conversions occur throughout your site. What’s more, you can also see the content journey that led your readers to convert. This guide will walk you through how to set up conversion tracking in Parse.ly.

What is a conversion exactly? A conversion is the completion of a desired action by a customer or visitor on a website, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a contact form, which aligns with the marketing objectives of the business.

The Parse.ly Dashboard with the Conversions page open and tracking.
The Parse.ly Dashboard following conversion tracking set up

Before you begin

Ensure that you’ve purchased Conversions Tracking by reviewing your contract. Contact your Relationship Manger, or value@parsely.com, with questions.

Terminology

Organization

  • Allowance – we typically sell conversions in bundles of 20 labels. You could use one label to track thousands of affiliate links scattered throughout your site or you can use one label to track one link on one specific url. The choice is yours. The same concept applies to all conversion types: link clicks, newsletter signups, purchases, subscriptions, and lead captures.
  • Managed – describes whether your team or ours is setting up your conversions
    • Parse.ly managed – conversions set up mostly by Parse.ly Support
    • Self managed – conversions set up entirely by your own development team

Code

  • Allowed Urls – sometimes, you only care about conversions that happen at a specific location. For example, we might use "allowedUrls": ["/thank-you-for-subscribing/"] to ensure that a load event triggers a conversion for your thank-you page.
  • Event – an event can be triggered by the user action or programmatically (MDN Web Docs). Parse.ly supports the following events:
    • Submit: used when your reader signs up for a newsletter, makes a purchase, or fills out a lead capture form
    • Click: for outbound links, downloading files, social share buttons, links indicating intent, calls to action, and anything else that’s important to click
    • Load: for confirmation pages that follow a successful signup or purchase
  • Label – a short, user-friendly, description of the conversion. For example: “Amazon affiliate link”.
  • Selector – conversions rely on accurate targeting. It’s unlikely that you want to track every hyperlink on your page as a conversion. By using CSS Selectors, we can reliably track the intended items. See this reference list for ideas.
  • Type – a category used to help you group similar conversion labels:
    • Lead Capture: when a user fills out a form to indicate interest in your products and services, a lead.
    • Link Click: when a user clicks on a link (or a linked element) that directs them to an outbound site (e.g., affiliate link) or that downloads a file from your site.
    • Newsletter Signup: provision of an email address into a form to subscribe to email content
    • Purchase: a one-time purchase or donation
    • Subscription: a recurring purchase or donation

Limitations

Before setting up your conversions, please read the following list of limitations:

Tracking without tracking code.

  • Hosted by a 3rd party: Whether it’s an iframe, subdomain, or subdirectory. All such places are unlikely to have Parse.ly tracking unless you have the ability to install it there.
  • Other domains, of yours, tracked under a separate Site ID.
  • Urls excluded from integration. You may host subdomains and subdirectories in multiple places and could have forgotten to install tracking code everywhere. Not sure if we’re tracking a specific url? Try our Open in Parse.ly bookmarklet. Drag and drop to install. One click to use.

Inefficient tool for job

  • Article-exclusive component: We recommend product analytics tools like Mixpanel or Amplitude for tracking elements such as comments, games, and other components specific to a single article.
  • Impressions: We do not track events such as the loading of a paywall or popup.
  • Internal Referral Link Clicks: We do not track internal link clicks as conversions. This data can best be found by looking at internal traffic in the referrers tab on your dashboard. Additionally, you can add ITM parameters to track this data as a campaign.
  • Logging into an account: Reading a page or blog post often has little to do with why a user logs in. Logins can be attributed to browser caches expiring, computer switches, or a user just forgetting to log in again after a while.
  • Tracking interactions with UI elements: We recommend product analytics tools like Mixpanel or Amplitude for testing the effectiveness of UI elements (like recommendation modules or pop-ups or slide-outs).
  • Tracking user progression through a funnel, form, or flow: We recommend product analytics tools like Mixpanel or Amplitude for understanding how users move through a pre-defined funnel (e.g. 80% of users made it to the offer page, 60% to the payments page, 20% to the order confirmed page).

Unsupported methods

  • Conversions on channels other that website: We cannot track conversions which occur in channels outside of web traffic (AMP, FBIA, APN, mobile app).
  • Frequently changing and indistinguishable elements : Our conversions objects use specific selectors to target just the right element(s) on your site. If the target of the conversion doesn’t fit into a consistent and long-lasting pattern, then it’s unlikely to work for long.

Getting Started

Purpose

The five available types of conversions, defined above, should provide a good start of ideas. Think of the business outcomes you’re trying to achieve on your website. What do you want people to do while they’re there? Use conversions tracking to measure the effectiveness of your content for driving those results.

Planning

Regardless of which team sets up tracking, you may benefit from the organization of our conversions spreadsheet. Make a copy of the file and share it with us or your developers.

Set Up Conversion Tracking

There are a few ways to set up conversion tracking. In all cases, you may either set them up yourself or you can request Parse.ly Support to do most of the work. Parse.ly-managed conversions are easier for teams with few technical resources. Whereas, self-managed conversions provide you the ability to implement conversions just the way you want. We encourage you to self-manage your conversions when you can, but if you need help, we’re happy to assist.

Google Tag Manager (GTM)

The easiest way to set up conversion tracking in Parse.ly is to use our GTM conversion tracking tag. This is especially helpful if you’re already using GTM to track conversions on other platforms.

Need additional help?

  1. Grant Edit permission for your GTM container to app@parsely.com. This level of access means “The user has rights to create workspaces and make edits but not create versions or publish.” (Source)
  2. Email Support with a list of your requested conversions. We will aim to duplicate your pre-existing conversions set up for other platforms. This will increase parity in your analytics.
  3. Review our proposed edits and publish a new version of your container.

Parse.ly Managed

  1. Email Support your conversions spreadsheet
  2. Support may need your help to target elements on your page with unique selectors
  3. Support will update your Parse.ly tracker to include the requested conversions object.
  4. Once we’ve updated your tracker, you may view the conversion in your console by running PARSELY.config.customizations.conversions

Self Managed

See our instructions on self-managed conversions for sample implementations.

Testing & Troubleshooting

Now that you’ve set up conversion tracking on Parse.ly, it’s time to test everything. Regardless of who set up the conversions, we recommend that you test them too. We offer several testing options:

  • Debug mode: conversions only appear in the Dev Tools console, not in your dashboard.
  • Logged conversions in your sandbox: this would allow you to see conversions in a Parse.ly dashboard to provide higher testing fidelity.
  • Logged conversions in production: this option is the real deal. The drawback is that there’s no way to delete conversions from your dashboard.

If you have unexpected results, follow our troubleshooting guide for:

Conclusion

Now that you have a better understanding of how to set up conversion tracking in Parse.ly, you can start planning. If you would like assistance with developing a conversion tracking strategy for your site(s), contact your Relationship Manager. Or if you need technical assistance, contact Support.

Additional Resources

Last updated: January 04, 2024