Why Do I See So Much Direct Traffic in Google Analytics?
Over the years, one of the most baffling and frustrating things to see in my Google Analytics reporting has always been the amount of Direct Traffic which doesn’t tell me a whole lot about how someone got to my website.
When a visitor lands on your website, they reach it by performing one of many actions. They either:
- Know your URL because of your killer marketing and advertising which has generated so much brand awareness that they just type it directly into the browser
- Love your site, so it is bookmarked in their browser
- See one of your ads in their search results for something related to your product or service
- Receive an email from your marketing team that has an attractive CTA that they click
- Follow you on social media and click on one of your latest updates about a new blog post on your website
- Click on the link in your bio or from a conversation in your favorite Slack group
- Click from a link in your software they have installed on their machine
- Receive a text message from you with a link to go to a special landing page with an announcement just for them
- Maybe someone from your team or someone who if a fan of your company shared the link to your website with someone in a chat window on Skype
Which of these are the Direct Traffic culprits?
If your URL is visited from numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and they aren’t tagged to tell Google Analytics otherwise, they have the potential to show up as Direct Traffic in your acquisition reports. Crazy, right?
What’s the big deal though?
Direct Traffic is kind of like this:
You work your butt off to plan the biggest, most fantastic Christmas party that your team has ever had. Everyone is absolutely raving about it. You have left no detail unplanned. You even thought to get holiday scented soap for the restrooms.
Your co-worker gets up to give a toast to you for doing such an amazing job. But you can’t believe your ears. Did he seriously just take credit for this whole party?
That’s Direct Traffic. Ok – maybe it isn’t Hulk Smash worthy, but you see where I’m going. Direct Traffic will take the credit for all the work that you invest into your campaign if you don’t tell GA to associate it with the campaign you are building.
Let’s start changing the amount Direct Traffic and see better data
It is actually pretty simple. It’s nothing new or magic, it just takes a little time to add a few tags to the end of the links you share and you will start to see that not all traffic is what GA says it is.
The 5 UTM tags that will help you solve this mystery are:
Ok – but what do you mean I just need to add UTM tags?
With a link builder and management application like oogur.com, you can pretty easily add these tags to the links you’ll use in your next Tweet or newsletter.
It is wise to do some planning before you get started though.
First – think about your next campaign. Will you be promoting a sale on swim suits? What will you call it in your CRM? Do you have other platforms where you track your campaigns? If so, try to be consistent in what you use in your naming conventions so it is easy to visibly see how your campaign is performing when you login to Google Analytics next time.
Once you decide the campaign name, you can use that for the utm_name, or Campaign UTM.
Where will you share the links you are building? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Cool. More than likely, you’ll be using those over and over. Oogur can store those for you so you don’t have to type them in again.
The utm_medium is that general bucket of where you are sharing your links. In this case, we’ll call the medium ‘social’. As a rule of thumb, if you’re going to call it social now, call it social forever. That way, you’re able to look back a year later and get consistent reporting for that medium. If it performs well, maybe invest more resources into that medium. Makes sense, right?
The utm_keyword is not necessary unless you are building a link for a Google AdWords campaign. Otherwise, if where you are sharing is organic, you can skip this one.
This is where you can have a lot of fun. Let’s say your team is really competitive. Sally is confident that her graphic is going to stomp Marcus’ ad. Alright Sally – it’s your time to shine. When you build your links, build one for Sally and one for Marcus and when you share the link, be sure to share the corresponding graphics so you can announce the winner at the end of the campaign.
What I mean with this is that you can track your A/B tests using the utm_content parameter.
Sounds fun, right?
- Date - May 8, 2018