Conversions or transactions attributed to “direct” source is an issue for any digital marketing team. When you see direct traffic in your Google Analytics reports this does not really mean that all of these users came to your website from bookmarks or by typing your website url in browser (this happens very seldom indeed). It rather means that the traffic source could not be determined by Google Analytics or was lost while going through conversion funnel.

There are some widely-known cases in which Google Analytics cannot determine traffic source:

  • Traffic from emails (90% of it can be easily fixed by using utm-marks in your emails)
  • Redirects from a different domain. In some cases redirects can cause traffic source to be lost.
  • Getting traffic from https-site to http. In this case the data about referral will not be present in the headers and the traffic will be reported as direct.

When I started working on the marketing team experienced issues with transactions attributions.

This is the situation they experienced described by the head of marketing department.

We are experience a situation where e-commerce transactions and goals are being attributed to shopify pages with no project. In this google analytics report page you can see we have transactions attributed to the checkout pages. I'm guessing we are losing valuable data as to what marketing campaigns are contributing to transactions if we are seeing pages such as contact_information listed as our landing page registering the transaction. (we don’t send people to this page as a landing page from our marketing campaigns)
traffic attributed to direct

  1. Determine if there is a tracking code break somewhere
  2. Does the cookie break when it moves from the yizzam domain to the shopify checkout domain?
  3. Fix the issue in google analytics, and or provide detailed instructions and support if we need to manually make changes to the website. uses shopify shopping cart which is on domain while all the other pages are on Issues in cross domain configuration was the most likely cause but it appeared to be working correctly in most cases.  

After testing the checkout funnel there has been found one possible cause. Users who added something to the cart but did not pay for the order are retargeted with the email.

mailing campaign

There was a link directly to the cart in the email which was not marked with utm-marks and therefor the traffic from this mailing campaign was treated as direct by Google Analytics.

There were found some more automated emails that included unmarked links to the website.

This helped to reduce direct traffic by 5%.

The other cause was JavaScript redirect which was used in cart widget.

shopping cart widget

Normal link to checkout and cart pages would be properly decorated with Google Analytics Linker plugin. But instead of links the following JavaScript code was used:

onclick="location.href = '/checkout';"

This caused the session to be broken and all further steps were attributed to direct.

Fixing this issue helped to reduce direct transactions by 7% more.


Having reliable data is essential for any decision making process. Getting more accurate attribution data helped the marketing team to optimize PPC campaigns and get higher conversion rates.