Hello. I'm completely stumped. I hope this wonderful community of analytics gurus can help me diagnose the issue.
The day we launched Tealium, there was a significant and permanent increase in conversion rate and revenue attributed to the direct channel within Google Analytics. Visits remained primarily unchanged, even trending down as you can see here: http://i.imgur.com/l6Wf7rb.png. Here's revenue increasing even as visits drop: http://i.imgur.com/zM08pcF.png
The frustrating piece is that no other channels showed significant change on that day. That same week, Google Analytics began overreporting total sales compared to our internal numbers. Previously we only captured ~95% of sales, now we're at 101-103%. Has anyone ever seen this before? Any ideas why direct would be the only channel to increase? I understand if all channels increased, but why only direct?
Tips, thoughts, questions are greatly appreciated.
Here are some tips.
If you have a campaign going to a site such as "http://www.sportsmansguide.com/" that redirects to "http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/Main.aspx?" then there is a chance the browser loses the original Referring URL during the server-side redirect. If that happens, then Google Analytics will report as "Direct" traffic. This is common with landing pages that do a server-side redirect.
In general, you want to make sure your Tealium implementation runs as soon as possible. This increases the likelihood your analytics tag will execute on a landing page. The landing page is where the referring URL is capture and reported from in GA.
Tips to increase the chances your analytics tags will fire soon as possible:
(1) Update to latest utag.js template (version 4.2x or later)
(2) Use Bundling feature
(3) Set "Wait = No" for your Analytics tag in Advanced Settings
(4) Tag your utag.js on your page at the top of the body (as recommended in the Tealium Code Center)
Try these steps one at a time to see which has the biggest impact.
Step #4 is important, if you have a lot of stuff on the site and Tealium is at the bottom. If your site takes 10 seconds to load before Tealium gets a chance to load, then there is a good chance the eager visitor is moving onto the next page before your analytics tag vendor has a chance to run (and capture the original referring url.) The only chance to capture the original referring url is on the landing page.
With respect to sales. There maybe a chance that some are "refreshing" the confirmation page?
Ty, thanks for the detailed response. I'll definitely run through this list and ensure all best practices are implemented.
Even if this resolves the issue, there are still a few things I'm not understanding:
If it was a problem with the tag firing, why would sales and conv. rate increase? Direct visit conversion rates have increased 40% since that day and remained constant. There was no noticeable impact across any other channels.
Why would direct be the only channel impacted? If users were refreshing the checkout page, it's unlikely the impact would be limited to only direct visitors.
This issue came up internally because we have always monitored the difference between direct and organic visits/sales. Ever since implementing Tealium - literally the day we launched the GA tag - the difference increased sharply and has remained constant.
Thank you very much for your help.
If you like I could take a quick look in your Google Analytics account to see if I can spot anything? I used to be an analyst so I might be able to help.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org (note: I'm based in the UK so I'd think of my help as a bit on the side due to the lag in communications!)