Understanding where users are coming from and how attribution affects conversion rates is crucial to a successful marketing strategy. Heap automatically captures this data, but there are a few things you should know about how this data is captured to get the most out of using Heap to measure attribution.
How are Heap’s attribution channels unique?
Unlike Google Analytics, we don’t provide canned attribution channels; you have to define them yourselves.
However, you can also use the Initial Referrer property to measure attribution. This is defined as the web page that linked to your site and started the session. If a user navigated directly to your site, or if referral headers were stripped, then this value will appear as direct. You can then use the initial referrer to determine your attribution channel (social media, paid search, organic search, etc.).
Heap is also unique in that we don’t aggregate Source the way that Google Analytics does – our UTM parameters are all based on parameters appended to the URL via manual tagging. For more info on how Google Analytics manages attribution channels, review their documentation on Traffic source dimensions.
How can I differentiate between organic and paid searches?
If you haven’t manually tagged your UTM source, the URL from an organic search is slightly different than the URL from a paid search. You can read more about paid search URLs via Google’s blog, but in general, they result in URLs similar to the following:
https://www.google.co.au/search?client=safari&rls=en&… http://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&a… http://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=…
To only select these URLs, you can create filters for a paid search by setting a filter for Initial Referrer contains google.com/aclk or Initial Referrer contains googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk or Initial Referrer wildcard matches google*/search.
How do I use UTM Parameters?
A best practice is to use UTM parameters to set the source, campaign, etc. for each link to your site. You can find instructions for manual tagging in Google’s support docs. Google Analytics required fields are not required for Heap to track UTM parameters, so if you just set a UTM source or campaign, etc. that’s fine.
Heap automatically captures UTM parameters for each session by pulling the UTM query parameters from the URL. Because you set the UTM source, you can also use UTM parameters to determine the attribution channel. check out Google’s best practices for setting UTM parameters.
What if I use AdWords?
It’s important to note we don’t capture AdWords autotagging. We can recognize the gclid parameters, although we can’t derive any meaning from it (Google keeps that to themselves). However, It’s not possible to decode the gclid parameter. Google sets this for their own use and doesn’t share any information about it externally.
The only way to track AdWords campaigns (besides recognizing the presence of the gclid parameter) outside of Google Analytics is to use manual tagging for landing pages using UTM parameters. Heap automatically parses UTM parameters and treats them separate from other query parameters.
For additional information, see Adwords: manual & auto-tagging best practices.