How Google Analytics attribute conversions to Direct Traffic?

Today I am going to reveal one of the most kept secrets in Google Analytics which will fundamentally change the way you look at revenue and conversions generated through direct traffic.

What you probably don’t know is, how Google Analytics attributes conversions to Direct Traffic.

Direct traffic is a SEO killer which I have said and proved several times through various case studies and conversion segments:

Truth about direct traffic (The old news)

All untagged or improperly tagged marketing campaigns from display ads to emails can be treated as direct traffic by Google.

Whenever a referrer is not passed, the traffic is treated as direct traffic by Google.

Mobile applications don’t send a referrer, word/PDF documents don’t send a referrer. 302 redirects sometimes caused the referrer to be dropped.

Sometimes browsers don’t pass the referrer.

During http to https redirect (or vice versa) the referrer is not passed because of security reasons.

All such traffic is treated as direct traffic by Google.

Source: You are doing Google Analytics all wrong. Here is why

For all the avid readers of my blog, this is an old news.

So, what is the new news then?

Google Analytics Attribute Conversions to direct traffic in TWO ways

1. In case of non-multi channel funnel reports in Google Analytics, the conversion is attributed to the previous non-direct campaign/traffic source if there is one.

For example:

If a person clicked on an organic search listing to visit your website and then later returned to your website directly and made a purchase then Google will attribute conversion to the organic search and not to the direct traffic.

Lets say a user visit your website through a keyword ‘excel for seo‘.

A few days later, he came directly to your website.

Now in Google Analytics non-multi channel funnel reports, you will see the user’s activity in your report like this:

Keyword “excel for seo” – visits: 2
Direct – Visits: 0

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2. In case of multi channel funnel reports in Google Analytics, the conversion is attributed to the direct traffic (provided direct traffic is the last interaction) even if previous campaign/source is non-direct.

For example:

If a person clicked on an organic search listing to visit your website and then later returned to your website directly and made a purchase then Google will attribute conversion to the direct traffic and not to the organic search.

Lets say a user visit your website through a keyword ‘Facebook Analytics‘.

A few days later, he came directly to your website

Now in Google Analytics multi channel funnel reports you will see the user’s activity in your report like this:

Keyword “Facebook Analytics” – visits: 1
Direct – Visits: 1

So Google attributes conversions to direct traffic in 2 ways and not just in one way.

Feel free to confirm my findings yourself.

Takeaway

When you are analysing the impact of direct traffic on your business bottom-line, it is wise to look and draw conclusions from the non-multi channel funnel reports rather than the multi channel funnel reports, as non-multi channel funnel reports present true customer buying behavior in case of direct traffic.

Related Article: Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

 

What is the difference between Digital Analytics and Google Analytics?


99.99% of course creators themselves don’t know the difference between Digital analytics, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM).

So they are teaching GA and GTM in the name of teaching Digital analytics.

They just copy each other. Monkey see, monkey do.

But Digital analytics is not about GA, GTM.

It is about analyzing and interpreting data, setting up goals, strategies and KPIs.

It’s about creating strategic roadmap for your business.


Digital Analytics is the core skill. Google Analytics is just a tool used to implement ‘Digital Analytics’.

You can also implement ‘Digital analytics’ via other tools like ‘adobe analytics’, ‘kissmetrics’ etc.

Using Google Analytics without the good understanding of ‘Digital analytics’ is like driving around in a car, in a big city without understanding the traffic rules and road signs.

You are either likely to end up somewhere other than your destination or you get involved in an accident.


You learn data analysis and interpretation from Digital analytics and not from Google Analytics.

The direction in which your analysis will move, will determine the direction in which your marketing campaigns and eventually your company will move to get the highest possible return on investment.

You get that direction from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.


You learn to set up KPIs, strategies and measurement framework for your business from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

So if you are taking a course only on 'Digital Analytics’, you are learning to use one of the tools of ‘Digital analytics’. You are not learning the ‘Digital analytics’ itself.

Since any person can learn to use Google Analytics in couple of weeks, you do no get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing GA.

You need to know lot more than GA in order to work in digital analytics and marketing field.


So what I have done, if you are interested, is I have put together a completely free training that will teach you exactly how I have been able to leverage digital analytics to generate floods of news sales and customers and how you can literally copy what I have done to get similar results.

You can sign up for the free training here: https://learn.optimizesmart.com/registration-web-class

I truly hope you find it helpful.  

My best selling books on Digital Analytics and Conversion Optimization

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Attribution Modelling in Google Ads and Facebook
This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling in Google Ads (Google AdWords) and Facebook. It will teach you, how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to understand the customer purchasing journey and determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

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 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 which 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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