Go to Top

Where Did Those Users Come From? Analytics Knows the Answer!

At Pure Visibility, we savor opportunities to do some detective work for our clients. Analytics offers us great opportunities to dig into what users are doing on websites.

One of our clients has a website geared toward generating leads (as opposed to, say, an e-commerce site). The majority of the leads from the site come from people that are on the site for the very first time, but many leads come from people that visit the site, and then come back later for a second visit.

We got to wondering: when somebody visits the site a second time, how do they get back?

In Google Analytics, we organize the visitors to the site into four categories, based on how they got there:

  • Organic: Found the site in non-paid search engine results
  • PPC: Paid search advertising
  • Direct: Typed in the URL directly, or had bookmarked it
  • Referral: Followed a link from another site

We could imagine scenarios where visitors came for their second visit through any of those channels. After discussing the matter, we theorized that the second time people visited, they would either type in the URL (or use a bookmark) or do the search again – they would be more likely to be Direct or Organic traffic, the second time around.

The argument for them being Direct is intuitive. After all, if you’re doing research on different websites before making a purchasing decision, why wouldn’t you write down the URL for sites that seem promising?

On the other hand, the Google and other search engines are increasingly becoming people’s way of bookmarking sites. That is, instead of actually using the bookmarking functionality in their browsers, people just do the same search over and over and find the site they want in search results.

Advanced Segment in Google Analytics

To settle this question, we turned to advanced segmenting in Google Analytics. This functionality lets you filter visitors on the site based on most of the things that Analytics measures. In this case, we created a segment that just shows the people that are on their second visit.

Advanced Segment Applied to Data

Then, we went to the Traffic Sources section of Analytics, to the All Traffic Sources report, and filtered down to Medium. This is the report that can give you insight into the ways that people are getting to your site. We compared the new segment we created to All Visitors.

Data in a Spreadsheet

This is where we had to pull out a spreadsheet and do a little math. First we recorded the numbers from Analytics in this table. Then, we totaled up all those visits and found out the proportion of visits in each category.

The Complete Spreadsheet

As you can see in the spreadsheet, a higher proportion of visitors used search to find their way back to the website for their second visit – from 32% of all visits to 40% of 2nd visit traffic. It looks like the other channels’ share decreased a bit. It was surprising to see that the share of Direct traffic went down slightly, but it was nice to see that fewer people clicked on an ad to get to the site for their second visit!

So what? What do we do with this knowledge? Well, you never know when a bit of research will come in handy, one day. Knowing that users are more likely to choose search when they want to get back to the client’s site underlines the importance of branding. Whether the users search for the client’s name, or do a general search and pick the client’s site out of the search engine results, it comes down to the user knowing the client’s name. Also, we now have another bit of data that we can bake into a user persona when we describe how they might research and choose our client.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
, , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>