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Marketing has a language of its own. This is our last in a series of articles aimed at helping new marketers learn this language. What term do you explain most often to new recruits during onboarding? Let us know.

This article was originally published in the Email Marketing Newsletter.

If you’ve ever been in a meeting with people who work on data analytics for your business website, you may hear them refer to source and support metrics. Sometimes they say the words together so quickly that it sounds like a compound word « Sourcemedium ». (Just as people who work in digital advertising can make pay-per-click appear like a “paper click”.)

Source and medium are actually two separate pieces of information that together help you understand where traffic to your website is coming from. They are referenced together because they share a report in Google Analytics. You can find them in the left column of Google Analytics, under Acquisition, then All Traffic, then Source / Support.

The source is the specific website that sent traffic to your website and the medium is the category in which the website resides. Here is a look at a Source / Support report for our websites for a random day.

The word before the slash is the source and the word after the slash is the medium.

As you can see, the main source of traffic was direct, which is not attributed to any medium. Direct traffic can come from someone who types your website address into their browser, clicks a bookmark, or clicks a link from a non-website source like a PDF or presentation. As the name suggests, people have gone straight to your website. However, Direct is also the default source that Google Analytics uses to report any traffic to which it cannot attribute another source.

As you can see, some of the traffic comes from organic media, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This refers to organic search.

And some of the traffic is listed with the average referral, that means visitors clicked on a link from another website to get to your website. In the example above, some of these websites (sources) were Internshala, Target Marketing magazine, and the University of British Columbia.

How you can use this information

According to MECLABS conversion heuristic – a methodology to help marketers understand and optimize the factors that affect the likelihood of conversion – the motivation of the potential customer is the factor that most affects the conversion. (The MECLABS Institute is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

Understanding the source and medium of traffic to your website can help you better understand your customers’ motivations in order to better serve them and ultimately increase conversion. It can also help you understand if you are not getting the right types of customers to your website, and if you need to change your traffic generation and traffic attraction initiatives.

Here is an example of the work the MECLABS team is doing with the non-profit organization Tenbythree as part of the show The Marketer as Philosopher – Become a force for good:

“Most of the traffic to the website is direct which may indicate that many prospects are visiting the TenbyThree site with prior knowledge of the business / initiative and have a higher level of familiarity. However, part of this audience is attributed to sessions where Google Analytics processing cannot recognize a particular source. The majority of direct traffic is also true for the most visited pages of the site – the home page and the cart pages.« 

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.


If you are interested in the source / medium you might also like …

Get your free, simplified data model analysis tool from the MECLABS Institute to discover opportunities to increase conversion

A Simple Guide for the Busy Marketer: Using Data from Online Marketing and Web Analytics Tools

PPC Advertising: How to Track AdWords and Facebook Ads in 5 Steps

If you are interested in entry-level marketing content, you might also like …

The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing: 53 Articles (and 1 Video) to Help With Onboarding

Marketing 101: What Are Useful Buttons?

Marketing 101: What Is Funnel Creation?

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction of MECLABS – seeking actionable insights while serving as a public advocate. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and webinars. Previously, he was the lead editor of the MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from web clinics to research journals to blogging. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a communications consulting firm specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in writing, editing, internal communications, sales promotion and field marketing communications.

Categories: Search marketing Keywords: google analytics, marketing 101, marketing terms, integration, search marketing, source medium, source / medium, traffic source



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