Understanding ‘Traffic Sources’ in Google Analytics | Practical Ecommerce

The Google Analytics “Traffic Sources” section can help ecommerce marketers understand how well campaigns are working and how better to invest in site content, advertising, or other forms of engagement.

Google Analytics is a free service that uses cookies — which we explain in “Cookies Make Shoppers Feel Welcome” — to monitor how visitors are interacting with a particular site. The Traffic Sources overview and its various sub-menu items describe how visitors are getting to your site.

3 Basic Traffic Mediums

The Google Analytics Traffic Sources section categorizes your site traffic as “direct” traffic, “referring” traffic, or “search engine” traffic.

The Traffic Sources report places each visit in one of three mediums.
The Google Analytics Traffic Sources
  • Direct traffic. Direct traffic represents those visitors that arrive directly and immediate on your site by: (1) typing your URL into the browser’s address bar; (2) clicking on a bookmark; or (3) clicking on a link in an email, SMS, or chat message. Direct traffic is a strong indicator of your brand strength and your success in email or text message marketing. Direct traffic can also be an indicator of offline marketing success. We offer our views on the benefits of direct traffic at “Direct Traffic is Better than Google Traffic.”
  • Referring traffic. Referring site traffic, which is sometimes called referrer traffic or referral traffic, counts those visitors that click a link on another site and land on your site. Referral traffic can be indicative of social media marketing success.
  • Search engine traffic. Search engine traffic is that traffic that comes from visitors clicking on links on a search results page for any search engine — whether Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Blekko, or similar. This traffic source is divided into organic or non-paid search engine traffic — meaning that the visitor clicked on a so-called natural search result — and CPC or paid search engine traffic, which is the traffic you purchase (via pay-per-click ads_ from search engines. Search engine traffic usually indicates that you have good or at least reasonably good content. It also can mean that you have chosen a good software platform. Be sure to learn which keywords are driving this traffic. Multi-channel merchants, as an example, may find that their brand name is a key search term. When this is the case, offline marketing is usually the real traffic driver.

In the default table for the Traffic Sources report Google Analytics shows a source followed by its medium.

In the default table for the Traffic Sources report Google Analytics shows a source followed by its medium.

Selecting “All Traffic Sources” from Google Analytics left-side navigation will show you a table listing the most active traffic sources and their medium. Direct traffic, as you would expect, has a medium of “none.” Traffic from Facebook, as an example, will have a medium of “referral.” Search engine traffic will have a medium or “organic” or “CPC” as described above.

Sometimes you will see a search engine domain, like Google.com, with the medium “referral.” This indicates that the site sent you traffic from a page other than a search engine results page. This could be a link from a Google+ account or some other Google service.

Interpreting the Traffic Sources Report

Of course, data — not interpreted and analyzed — will be unable to inform your marketing planning or investment. So take the excellent information found in the Traffic Sources section and discern what it says about a website and that site’s marketing.

Put another way, looking only at the sources that drove the most traffic will not tell you anything about why visitors are coming or whether the site is meeting expectations or making sales. Rather, you need to look at traffic sources in context in order to properly interpret them.

Using Bounce Rate with Traffic Sources

Start by navigating to the “All Traffic Sources” sub-menu. Notice the site’s “bounce rate” for the selected time period.

Bounce rate is a good indicator of visitor engagement on ecommerce sites.

Bounce rate is a good indicator of visitor engagement on ecommerce sites.

The bounce rate measures the percentage of site traffic that resulted in a single page visit. A visitor landed on the site and left without clicking to any other page. Comparing a source’s bounce rate to other sources and the site average can be a good indicator of a source’s compatibility, and it will help with some marketing campaigns.

To see this in your Traffic Sources section, switch your analytics view from “table” to “comparison” by selecting the comparison icon on the right side of the page.

The comparison views shows how individual sources perform relative to the site average.

The comparison views shows how individual sources perform relative to the site average.

Set the “compared to site average” drop down to “Bounce” so that a source’s visits and bounce rates are compared to the site average for bounce rate.

Compare site visitors to the site average for bounces.

Compare site visitors to the site average for bounces.

In the example below, Google’s organic results generated the most site traffic for the time period shown, but had a bounce rate that was greater than the site average. By contrast direct traffic generated fewer visits, but had a lower than average bounce rate. A page from another website, generated 5,946 visits but had a bounce rate 22.62 percent less than the site average.

Search engine traffic will often have a higher bounce rate than direct traffic.

Search engine traffic will often have a higher bounce rate than direct traffic.

So what does this mean? “Bounce rate” can be thought of as a measure of engagement. If visitors are moving around your site, they are engaged. If they are bouncing, they cannot think of a good reason to stay. There is one notable exception to this: Blogs, videos, and news sites often have higher bounce rates because a visitor reads a particular article or watches a video and then leaves. For an ecommerce site, however, you would like to see relative low bounce rates. Sources that bounce a lot are probably not providing quality traffic.

You can apply this to marketing in a few ways. If, for example, you purchase paid search advertising, you’ll want to make sure those “CPC” sources have generally low bounce rates. If a pay-per-click or cost-per-click campaign has a high bounce rate (1) check your landing page to make sure that it provides the content promised in your ad, (2) check your ad copy to ensure it is clear, and (3) check your keywords.

Bottom line, if a source has a high bounce rate, the site is probably not relevant to what the visitor clicked on.

Use Average Time on Site with Traffic Sources

Another good metric to follow in the Traffic Sources section is the “average time on site” compared to visits comparison view. This report can be found under “All Traffic Sources,” in the comparison view. In fact, this is the same place as I directed you to go for bounces, only select “Avg. Time on Site” from the drop down menu.

Switch the drop down menu to "Avg. Time on Site" for another way to measure visitor engagement.

Switch the drop down menu to “Avg. Time on Site” for another way to measure visitor engagement.

Google measures average time on site by first collecting each visitor’s exact time on a particular page. Imagine that a visitor lands on page 1 of your site. Google places a cookie, including a unique code for the visitor and a time stamp. When that visitor clicks through to page 2 of your site, Google again notes the time, and then subtracts the time that the visitor arrived at page 2 from the time that the visitor arrived at page 1. Google then averages each and every page’s time spent to get the average time each visitor spends on the site.

It is worth noting that a visitor must click to at least one additional page for Google to capture the time spent. When a visitor bounces, Google does not include the bounced page in this calculation.

A source's performance relative to the average time on site can be a key indicator for marketing programs.

A source’s performance relative to the average time on site can be a key indicator for marketing programs.

In the example above, Google organic results drove the most total traffic for the time period in view. But the Google organic traffic source forwarded visitors that spent an average of 31.39 less time on the site than the average. Visitors coming directly to the site, by contrast, spent 51.31 percent more time on site than average.

With average time on site, it is worth taking the analysis a step deeper. Try (1) clicking on one of the individual traffic sources, (2) selecting the comparison view, and (3) setting the dimension to “keyword.”

 

Dimensions can be found in a drop down menu at the top left of the comparison view and serve to further refine the Traffic Sources section.]

This section is particularly helpful when looking at organic results from search engines, since it will let you know which search queries resulted in engaged traffic. Below is another example from a site that focuses on electronic components. Overall, the Google organic source was well behind the site average, but some specific search queries were actually performing better than average.

Digging deeper into the Traffic Sources section can provide specific and actionable data.

Digging deeper into the Traffic Sources section can provide specific and actionable data.

For marketing, try to monitor the traffic sources that provide visitors who spend the most time on site. For example, if you notice that Twitter is sending visitors that spend a few minutes on each page, it would be worth investigating the site’s Twitter presence.

Summing Up

The Google Analytics Traffic Sources section monitors which sources are sending traffic to a site and — with a bit of interpretation — this data can be used to measure the quality of traffic being sent.

Armed with this information, ecommerce marketers can learn why some sources might be under-performing or focus efforts on sources that drive better quality traffic. In some cases, this might mean relying less on search engines and more on social media or brand awareness. Other times the opposite could be the best course of action. Either way, the Traffic Sources section in Google Analytics can help.

Source: Understanding ‘Traffic Sources’ in Google Analytics | Practical Ecommerce

29 Checklists and Cheat Sheets to make Marketers’ Lives Easier

Checklists and Cheat Sheets
To Make Marketer’s Lives Easier
Business 2 Community
Checklists and Cheat Sheets by Natasha Alex December 10, 2015

Digital marketing is a multifaceted beast that evolves and gets more complicated every week. With so many different ways to reach your audience, it’s important to stay on top of the latest tactics and trends.

From content and social to analytics and retargeting, you’re staying up to date on it all. It’s a lot easier when you can do so with simple, easy-to-digest guides. So I’ve pulled together 30 cheat sheets and checklists to keep your digital marketing fresh and make your life easier.

1. Periodic Table of Content Marketing

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/the_perdiodic_table_of_content_marketing-blog-full.png.png

the_perdiodic_table_of_content_marketing-blog-full

This periodic table is a unique chart highlighting the important terms in content marketing. it covers everything you need to keep an eye on. From content strategy to metrics, it’s an all-inclusive index that can help you deliver great content.

2. The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Awesome Marketing Emails

Email marketing is a key element of any campaign. From the subject line to the email footer, every section of your email contributes to its overall ability to convert. If you think you’re having trouble with your email outreach, this cheat sheet from HubSpot can help you dissect your emails and optimize each aspect of your campaign to obtain the best results.

3. A Detailed Guide to Photo and Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and More

When it comes to social media, great visuals increase engagement. But this only applies when your pictures are relevant, eye-catching, and of course, optimized. With so many types of images to choose from, it’s not easy to keep track of the rules for each network.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/twitter-image-sizes.png.png

twitter-image-sizes
This handy infographic shows you all the different images in your social media profiles, along with what they’re used for. It includes recommended sizes, image scale, etc. to make it easier for you to get the most out of your images.

4. Advanced Content Promotion Checklist

Writing content is hard, but promoting it is even harder. With all the distribution tools and channels available to you, it gets tough to keep track of where you’ve promoted your piece and where you’ve yet to share it.

And that’s after figuring out what to do in the first place. Process Street has created a great checklist to streamline content promotion, originally made for themselves before giving us all access.

5. Google Analytics Cheat Sheet

Google Analytics is an absolute essential for any marketer, and this cheat sheet from Portent has you covered. From setting up your account to tracking your goals and conversions, this cheat sheet can really help you get the best out of Google Analytics.

6. Retargeting Cheat Sheet

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/retargeting-cheat-sheet.png.png

retargeting-cheat-sheet

This cheat sheet simplifies the process of retargeting your customers. It covers the basics to get you started, along with advanced tactics and tips to help you succeed.

7. The Ultimate SaaS Metrics Cheat Sheet

Chart Mogul created this cheat sheet with every important metric you need to know for your SaaS. What’s covered: which ones are important, why they’re important, and how they’re measured. All condensed into a simple 2-pager.

8. The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet 3.0

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/moz-seo-checklist.png.png

moz-seo-checklist

Moz, an industry leader in SEO, created this fantastic cheat sheet for SEO newbies and professionals alike. It’s constantly updated by the Moz team, and is great help for web developers to keep their work SEO-friendly and up to date.

9. The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Checklist

This comprehensive checklist covers all the essentials of inbound marketing. Drafted like an ebook, it not only tells you what to do, but how to do it. This guide is a must-have for any marketer’s toolbox.

Recommended for YouWebcast: Sales and Marketing Alignment: 7 Steps to Implement Effective Sales Enablement

10. 101 Copywriting Dos and Don’ts

This PDF from Copy Hackers contains all the dos and don’ts of writing great copy that converts, from how to order your bulleted lists, to which famous authors should inspire your copywriting.

11. Google Adwords Cheat Sheet

Google Adwords can get a bit confusing, so Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd came together to create a resource to help. It shows you how to set up, the rules you need to keep in mind, and how to write ad copy that works. It also goes on to define some of terms that might have seemed like gibberish when you first got started.

11. Local SEO Checklist

This checklist is a great way to keep track of your local optimization. From on-page SEO to social signals, this list covers every aspect your SEO to manage your process in the easiest way.

12. Social Media Marketing Checklist

Social media is an essential channel for marketers and this infographic can help you manage your efforts and make sure you don’t miss a beat!

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/social-media-marketing-checklist.png.png

social-media-marketing-checklist

This fill-in-the-blank infographic will guide you through setting up the beginnings of a social media marketing strategy, from identifying your audience through measuring your results.

13. A Complete Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist

Conversion science can get messy when you don’t know what exactly brings you conversions. This checklist helps you streamline the process and identify the factors that can be optimized to improve your overall CRO, from choosing KPIs through designing A/B/ tests.

14. Google Analytics Metrics and Dimensions Cheat Sheet

Google analytics can be confusing to a beginner. It can take forever to discover all the data it’s tracking without a guide. This PDF helps you understand the metrics and dimensions you need to figure out the various aspects of your customers’ interaction with your website.

15. The Ultimate SEO Checklist

The Ultimate SEO Checklist from Leapfroggr covers on-page and off-page SEO for anyone who’s looking to make sure that their website has a good foundation for their digital marketing strategy.

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/ultimate-seo-checklsit.png.png

ultimate-seo-checklist

But unlike most other SEO checklists, it’s not a list of the ranking factors or how to optimize for them. It’s fully covers creating an SEO strategy, from performing market research to reputation management.

16. The Shelf’s Blogger Outreach Checklist

When it comes to reaching out to bloggers or influencers, any old email just will not do. This checklist from The Shelf covers the essentials of your outreach for the best results, including best practices and sample outreach emails.

17. Site Audit Checklist

Site audits can be intimidating, but Annie Cushing (aka Annielytics) makes it easy with her site audit checklist. It’s in the form of a Google Spreadsheet, so you can quickly make a copy and start tracking things yourself.

It becomes a lot less daunting to check track your work one section at a time. The sheet includes the initial data pulls, architecture, analytics, e-commerce, and pretty much everything you need to make your audit a breeze.

18. Universal Analytics Cheat Sheet

This comprehensive cheat sheet simplifies Google Analytics. It has three sheets that cover general usage, method and field reference, and limits and quotas.

19. Startup Launch List

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/startup-launch-list.png.png

startup-launch-list

The Startup Launch List is an amazing compilation for budding entrepreneurs. Its reading list gives insights into each aspect of building a startup – from the initial idea to raising finances from investors. These tidbits from experienced hands can help you get your idea up and running.

20. The Social Platform Cheat Sheet

There are so many social channels out there, and they’re constantly changing. This cheat sheet guides you through the main platforms, who’s on them, and how to engage them.

21. .htaccess Cheat Sheet

Redirecting pages can get a little tricky for anyone without a technical background. This cheat sheet teaches you the basics for redirection, security, and other rules.

22. The Ultimate Guide to Twitter Advanced Search

Twitter’s one of the best ways for a brand to engage with its customers. And advertising there has proven awesome for many marketers. Even if your company doesn’t even have a Twitter handle yet (but it does, right?), you can find leads, track brand mentions, follow important topics, etc.

This Zapier guide is your way into the world of tweets, with its step-by-step guide to using advanced search to get real time data about your customers.

23. The Google Guide to Making Search Easier

Google advanced search is an essential skill for any marketer. This search guide can help you use search operators to get specific search results on Google.

You can use this to find really specific content, search unique mediums, and perform any kind of research faster.

24. A 50-Point Checklist for Creating The Ultimate Landing Page

When your landing page is your key to conversions, it’s important to make sure that you’re not missing any key elements. This Unbounce checklist highlights all the essentials of a great landing page so that while you’re building one, you don’t miss anything.

25. Website Usability Checklist

Building websites can be difficult for marketers, and in the process of making a beautiful site, it’s easy to lost sight of usability when you’re not an expert.

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web-usability-checklist-1024×474.png.png

web-usability-checklist

The website usability checklist covers the common problems faced by users on a website. From forms to navigation, it helps you make sure that your site is not only well designed, but also user-friendly.

26. The Ultimate Google Algorithm Cheat Sheet

Google is constantly updating its algorithm to provide a better user experience. Neil Patel has created a cheat sheet to simplify these changes and help marketers make sense of the ranking factors and how they can affect your website.

27. The Keyword Research Cheat Sheet

As a marketer, you know how important SEO is. This keyword research cheat sheet covers the basics of the way keywords work and how you can use the best ones to bring in relevant, converting traffic.

28. The SEO Cheat Sheet for WordPress

WordPress is the easiest way for marketers to get their blog out there. By using themes, connecting your blog to useful plugins, and a few other tricks covered in this resource, you can optimize any page.

29. Website Launch Checklist

The launch of a website is stressful enough as it is, without the hassle of forgetting something simple like checking links. Launchlist makes sure that you’ve got all your bases covered before your site goes live.

Prepare Yourself

Most marketing missteps come from skipping a step, rather than actually not knowing what to do. We’re busy, we’re stressed, and we handle it really well most of the time. And with checklists to ensure accuracy, we can handle it well all the time.
[Source: http://www.business2community.com/marketing/29-checklists-cheat-sheets-make-marketers-lives-easier-01399754#D5RKwYfTEchq047U.99]