For those who missed it, Mark Suster wrote a great article last week on how undervalued Twitter is as a source of traffic to your website. He claims that Twitter is driving up to 4x more traffic than your analytics software is telling you. We couldn’t agree more: In an online world that is evolving to represent true offline interactions, social and information networks will become increasingly responsible for driving people to your website.
The problem behind the under reporting of Twitter traffic is Last Mile Attribution. While the product he recommends to fix this, awe.sm, does indeed seem awesome (hah!) there are other easy fixes you can do right now to increase the accuracy of your analytics.
1. Build your links
It’s 2011 and I still see some companies pushing out links that are not built with tracking codes. No tracking codes = no data. No data = no analysis. Use tracking codes.
2. Build your links right
If you do not build your links right you will not be able to properly categorize and track your data, and analysis becomes impossible (and therefore any valuable insight that comes from it). You need to establish a hierarchy and stick with it, and make sure everyone else in your company who might be publishing links understands as well. In Google Analytics, this is the hierarchy I have been using for 4 years with very high accuracy.
3. Don’t auto syndicate
Every online social ecosystem is different so if you want to get serious about tracking and conversion the content you publish needs to be catered to the environment it will exist in. In practical terms, your tweets shouldn’t look like your Facebook updates, this is true for any other publishing platform. Wiring your accounts together to auto tweet a FB post or vice versa might seem appealing but this is fools gold. Your post should be specific to the platform, along with its’ link and tracking code (see above).
4. Segmentation testing
In your analytics package, try segmenting traffic according to the inbound device platforms, i.e. mobile vs. desktop. Also try this for operating systems and browsers. If you notice significant differences in the percentage share of direct traffic between the segments, that’s a good indication you are having some attribution problems.
Any way you spin it, traffic attibution will probably get more complex, not less. Implement these strategies and other now to be sure you are ready for the future.