These are visitors who came to your site without first visiting a search engine, another site or some marketing tactic.
This post will take that last part – “some marketing tactic” a little further and demonstrate how small businesses can learn more about traffic from other online advertising by having Google Analytics give you all the goodies that most other portals won’t show you.
Then it will show you how to segment Direct Traffic to help figure out how many visitors came through a bookmark (favorites) and how many likely came through some offline media like yellow pages.
Let’s start by looking at Traffic Sources in GA:
Looking at the 2 different line items for superpages.com in the above report provides a good example of how Google Analytics reports traffic. In a nutshell, Google will report traffic from all “free sources” and show it to you. However, if you pay for it, it will get buried in Direct Traffic (unless it’s Adwords… now that’s marketing). So, if it comes from superpages.com for free, this is a referral and GA shows it , however if it is superpages pay per click … it will go into Direct Traffic – that’s what Digital Dave, means when he said “some marketing tactic.”
So, how did I get Superpages/PPC out of the Direct Traffic bucket and have it report like other sources? The answer is you tag the url. That sounds complicated but Google makes it kindergarten simple. Simply, go to the the Google Url Builder and create the new url and then use that at the sites you want to track. For superpages I created a new url for each category (keyword) I wanted to track and then let the magic begin.
Now instead of this traffic getting mixed in with Direct Traffic I get this:
This is already way more information than I would get from the reports provided by Superpages but I can also segment it by keyword, city, landing page or anything else I can do with GA.
Perhaps even more important is that my Direct Traffic bucket now represents uh… well… direct traffic; so I can learn more about how folks are really ending up on the site… and since this traffic is VERY high quality and converts at twice the rate of Organic traffic and Three times the rate of PPC understanding it could be critical to future marketing decisions. To get a clearer picture a few more graphics will help; but first back to Digital Alex… where he explains how to figure out WHAT pages are being bookmarked on your site, which is cool info.
And then you can use this same technique to segment by Visitor type to determine which people came from bookmarks and which typed in the url directly, which in my case, probably means they came from yellow pages. Also, you can find out where the searchers are located, which is obviously important for a local business to learn whether the traffic is really quality.
Now I click on VISITOR TYPE and see this:
Using some educated guesses, I can surmise those who are returning, originally found the site through search engines, bookmarked it and returned later. The new visitors typed the url in directly and since the url is not intuitive I further surmise most of these folks came through yellow page advertising.
Now, by clicking Goal Conversion, I can see which is converting at a higher rate.
This actually surprised me… I had sort of assumed the conversions from direct traffic were latent conversions and represented business obtained from our search marketing; but having seen this it looks more like it came from yellow pages or another offline source… yellow pages dissed again! This really shows how important it is to segment the traffic to better understand it. Without this information we could have easily underestimated the business coming from offline media.
If I wanted to be certain which offline media it was coming from I could do that… here’s how:
Tracking Offline Advertising With Google Analytics
And believe it or not if I wanted to track the phone calls from the Yellow Pages using Google Analytics, I can do that easily. Go to Mongoose Metrics buy a unique telephone number and place it in the ad. Mongoose Metrics will allow you to configure the phone number to a hidden page on your site so you can track the call to a thank you page on your site. Then you just need to set that up as a goal in GA. Here’s how it will look when your done:
But don’t forget to tag the url to the hidden page or the phone call will show up in Google Analytics as… you guessed it – Direct Traffic.