The one thing that you don’t know about PayPal.com and the referral exclusion list

Many businesses use PayPal to accept online payments. But this can create tracking issues in Google Analytics.

Whenever a customer leaves your website to make payment via PayPal and then return to your website, Google Analytics often attribute sales to paypal.com instead of to the original traffic source.

You can often find paypal.com appearing as a top referrer in Google Analytics referral report:

When you add paypal.com to the referral exclusion list, people who arrive at your website from paypal.com, do not trigger a new Google Analytics session and the traffic from the paypal.com is reported as direct traffic by Google Analytics.

So adding paypal.com to the referral exclusion list will not help you track the original referrer.

The best way to track original referrals while using paypal.com is to use one of the direct payment gateways solutions provided by PayPal like: ‘PayPal Payflow Pro‘ or ‘PayPal Payments Pro‘.

When you use direct payment gateway then your customers can complete transaction without leaving your website and Google Analytics do not attribute sales to paypal.com but instead to the original traffic source.

Note: The referral exclusion does not work retroactively.

So any visit/sales attributed to paypal.com before adding paypal.com to the referral exclusion list will still be attributed to paypal.com in GA reports.

Therefore you need to make sure that once you have added a domain to the referral exclusion list, you look at the referral report from the time period when you first implemented referral exclusion.

Related Article: Tracking true referrals in Google Analytics when using PayPal and other payment gateways

   

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Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence. The Digital Analytics Association is a world-renowned not-for-profit association that helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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