Correctly implemented, attribution provides us with a window into how our marketing efforts have succeeded or failed.
There are various tools to measure attribution along the customer journey, but the most common attribution tool may be the first line of attribution — Google Analytics.
While the promise of Google Analytics’ insights is great, attribution is only as accurate as your Google Analytics tagging. For Google properties, such as Google Ads, it’s not necessary to manually tag destination URLs because Google automatically tags them. For other platforms, however, tagging is necessary to pass important campaign information from the marketing platform into Google Analytics.
But if the data sent to Google Analytics isn’t accurate, then marketers run the risk of making flawed assumptions based on this data. My team relies on the data we glean from Google Analytics to demonstrate the value of various channels and initiatives. However, we’ve found that nearly every client, from startups to global enterprise companies, has errors with Google Analytics data input, thereby affecting their attribution. These are the four most common errors I encounter that can skew your Google Analytics attribution data.
1. Tag Capitalization Mistakes
Google Analytics tags are case sensitive, meaning that a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) source of “Forbes” is different than “forbes.” While initially, this may not seem like a major issue, it can cause data segmentation and lead to incorrect assumptions about site traffic.
The fix? First, adopt a tagging nomenclature throughout your organization. Ensuring that everyone is using the same tags will reduce errors in reporting.
If you do find errors in your tagging, you can fix them going forward with search and replace filters. However, filters only work for data collected after they’re set.
2. Improper Tagging Within Your Website
Companies often inadvertently overwrite their valuable source and medium data by resetting the UTM source and medium tags when a visitor interacts with various elements on the website. For example, if a marketing team is measuring clicks on a banner graphic, they might reassign the UTM source and medium tags when a visitor clicks on the banner.
However, UTM source and medium tags weren’t designed for this use. A website is essentially a piece of content — it has no source or medium. The source and medium are the marketing channels that brought the visitor there. By reassigning source and medium tags once a visitor arrives at your website, you lose all the valuable information about how a visitor from a particular channel interacted with your website and possibly completed goals after that reassignment. Generally, I advise avoiding UTM tagging of URLs within the same domain. – Read more