Reducing dark social statistics with attribution
By Justin Durso
April 5, 2017
What is dark social?
Example of dark social
Bob has a quick break before his next meeting, so he hops onto his favorite blog and starts to read, “A Brand New Perspective.” Since his girlfriend is a marketing manager, he copies the blog’s URL in the browser and pastes it into an email message. Cheers, you’ve just engaged in “dark social.”
What makes this dark social data?
Analytics tools, like Google Analytics, were built to track One-to-Many Analytics, but aren’t currently set up to capture certain activity passed within specific social channels. The action above is considered dark social because the referrer, Bob’s link from Facebook to his girlfriend in an email, is being captured as “Direct Traffic” in the analytics report. In this situation, Social Media should have been the accredited referrer.
All sources of traffic to your website are great, but the social campaign being run may not get credit as the referrer. Imagine if this user became a qualified lead but the social campaign didn’t get any credit for it.
Bring light to dark social
- Utilize link attribution tools. Before posting to your social outlets, utilize bitly or Google’slink shortening tools that allow you to track the correct referrer. Your average user won’t ever know the difference, and you can always pay extra to get vanity URLs in bitly.
- Get credit for your hard work. Readers commonly pull bits of content and images from blog posts and articles, and share them on their favorite channels. Make sure you are getting the credit by including a hyperlink inside your images and/or using automated link attribution when users copy content from your website.
- Investigate your direct traffic by reviewing your direct traffic report. If a URL in the report is something like https://www.mreach.com/insights/post/dont-want-your-solutions-commoditized-dont-commoditize-your-customers, it’s likely the URL was copied and pasted from another source. There’s a good chance that this link was acquired in a circumstance like Bob’s.