Here’s What Direct Google Conversions are Hiding

POSTED BY Renold Liu

I, like all of you, want to maximize the returns from my marketing spend. Also like many of you, I use many tactics and partners to attract, retain, and convert visitors into contacts. As a result, I regularly check Google Analytics to see how well my marketing efforts are converting visitors into contacts.

However, I’ve learned to not place too much of an emphasis on direct goal conversion sources but rather, I've learned to measure my digital marketing as a whole rather the sum of it's parts.

This is because the source/medium for a conversion uses last touch attribution and hides more than it reveals. Let me explain why.

What is Last Touch Attribution?

As the name implies, last touch attribution gives all the credit of a conversion to the last visit. This means that all previous visits or “assists” to conversions have no value. Zero.

Let me paint a picture for you:

A car shopper initially visits your website organically. Afterwards through SEM, then through direct sources, and lastly, through retargeting. On the last visit from retargeting, the visitor fills out a lead form. Google Analytics, and many other analytics software, will attribute the entirety of the credit to retargeting.


Doesn’t sound accurate does it? In the above example, the customer journey includes visits from many different sources. So why should retargeting get all the credit? More importantly, this poses a different question:

Would the shopper have converted if they didn’t come to your site previously through those other sources? Mind = Blown

Use Multi Touch Attribution Instead

As the name implies, multi touch attribution gives credit to all touch points that have assisted in the conversion process. In fact, Google Analytics has multi-touch attribution built in for your digital sources.


So instead of looking at your goal conversion in: Conversions > Goals > Overview, go to: Conversions > Multi-Funnel Conversions > Assisted Conversions.


Here you will find your top direct conversion sources along with your top assisted conversion sources.

What’s really interesting is the last column (Assisted / Last Click or Direct) represents how likely a source was the last place a shopper came from when they converted.

As Google puts it:

A value close to 0 indicates that this channel functioned primarily as the final conversion interaction. A value close to 1 indicates that this channel functioned equally in an assist role and as the final conversion interaction. The more this value exceeds 1, the more this channel functioned in an assist role.

This means a number that’s above 1 is typically not the final converting source, but one that often helps other sources convert.

Let’s take a look at a real example:


For this dealer, sources 1-3 have quite a few conversions. However, based on the Assisted / Last Click or Direct metric, traffic from these sources tends to be the last place a shopper comes from to convert (highlighted in orange).

If you look at lines 4,6,9, you will see that the Assisted / Last Click or Direct is above 1 (in blue) - and in the case of 3.2 and 5.8, WAY above 1. These sources tend to provide traffic that help other sources convert and should not be undervalued.

What Does This all Mean?

What this tells me is that lines 4,6,9 will not be given the credit they deserve if you are looking at a direct goal source list. Additionally, boosting activity or spending on these sources will not just increase direct conversion from these sources, but will, in fact, boost conversions from other sources as well.

So next time you’re looking for ways to increase your conversions, don’t just look at the direct traffic sources. By providing emphasis on sources that have a high assist ratio you can boost your results. 


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