Written and contributed by Angela Bartels, VP of Marketing at Qualaroo
When understanding your web traffic in tools such as Google Analytics, there will always be that “I don’t know where this user came from” channel known as “Direct Traffic.”
It’s particularly annoying when running paid marketing campaigns because you’ll always wonder how many people were actually influenced by your ad and went on to type your domain name into a browser. Of course there’s view through conversion tracking but it won’t paint a clear picture from source to user.
When we turned on some new paid campaigns earlier this year, I was curious to know more about the users coming into my direct channel so I set out to find out and wanted to share my process and results.
For a deep dive into understanding direct traffic, check out this post on the Moz blog.
Assuming you’ve done what you can to debunk direct traffic, you probably still have a good percentage of traffic within your direct traffic channel. If you have a user dashboard or portal that lives on your main domain name, make sure to omit that traffic from the data that you analyze. For example, our users log into app.qualaroo.com so my segments exclude traffic that lands directly into app.qualaroo.com or lands directly on our homepage and clicks “log in” as their first interaction with our site.
After I’ve done everything to ensure I’ve narrowed my direct channel to the smallest percentage it could be, I wanted to understand where the remainder of the users in this channel were coming from.
Just in case you’re worried on whether or not you’re tracking your campaigns correctly, the best way to find out is to see which landing pages your “other” channel visitors are landing on. If you are promoting a landing page for a campaign that is not in your navigation, you’ll be able to quickly see if users are landing on this page as an entry point and can quickly allocate them to the correct paid marketing channel.
I ran a Qualaroo onsite survey targeted only to users that came in directly to our website. I designed the survey questions around what I thought might be how they found our website and I left an open ended question to allow users to give us the answers.
As you can see from the data, 10% were influenced by an ad and 2% downloaded our content. With a 10% response rate over the course of 30 days, we could assume that had 100% of the visitors responded to this survey, the allocations would remain pretty consistent with these percentages.
Of those that said they were influenced by an ad, I was able to see which network they came in from. I can then take these percentages and re-allocate them into our channel overview percentages. For anyone that selected LinkedIn or Facebook, I would add them to our Paid Social channel. We’re only running ads to promote content so it was important to me to figure out what which channels were more accurately promoting paid content.
The biggest takeaway here is to realize how much your paid marketing efforts are actually having an affect on all incoming traffic and see new opportunities for growth that you wouldn’t have realized before.
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