Referral Exclusion List – Google Analytics Feature Explained

No correlation between conversions listed in your Facebook ads manager and the ones in Google Analytics? The answer lies in the Referral Exclusion List. What is that? Tune in t [...]

January 20, 2017

3 min reading time

No correlation between conversions listed in your Facebook ads manager and the ones in Google Analytics? The answer lies in the Referral Exclusion List.

What is that? Tune in to find out more…

Have you ever wondered why Google Analytics lists paypal.com as a referral conversion source in when Paypal cleary has nothing to do with your sales?

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Referral Exclusion List Data Pollution

Well, nothing except payment processing.

The same thing happens with not just Paypal, but Shopify, Authorize, WorldPay, Secure.com and many others, as well. 

Why does it happen?

Google Analytics starts a new session whenever a user comes to the site from a traffic source different than the previous one, even if the previous session hasn’t expired.

A user browses your site and decides to purchase. You send them to the payment gateway. User gets redirected back to thank you page after a successful transaction.

Google Analytics referral traffic marks YourPaymentGateway.com responsible for that conversion.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Referral Exclusion List Spongebob MemeWhat’s the damage?

The damage is rather obvious: it prevents you from seeing the original traffic source that was responsible for bringing the conversion.

Instead of seeing you got 200 conversions from Facebook and 80 more from Instagram, you now see 280 transactions coming from YourPaymentGateway.com as a referral.

Note: Yes, you can extract the data with some work using the MCF reports or the Attribution Modeling tool, but why? The payment gateway as referral tells you nothing you didn’t know and is in this sense a data pollution that should be avoided.

How to put payment gateways on Referral Exclusion List?

The best way to do this is to use the Referral Exclusions feature.

Step 1 – Find your payment gateway referrals in Reporting > Acquisition (Overview) > Referral.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Referral Exclusion List - Payment Gateway Exclusion

Step 2 – It’s accessible via the Google Analytics direct interface under Admin > (Property) Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Find Referral Exclusion List
This Referral Exclusion List already has paypal.com, secure.checkout.com and secure1.checkout.com included. To add new referral exclusion click on + Add Referral Exclusion.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Add Referral Exclusion List

The important line here is YourPaymentGateway.com, since this is our shopping gateway hostname.

Udonis Digital Marketing Agency - Referral Exclusion List - Exclude Payment Gateway

Done!

Congrats! Data pollution has been successfully terminated.

To learn how to add new users & manage user permissions in Google Analytics click here.

Also, you can check how to use Analytics and Facebook ads to get over 600% on our investment.

Mihovil Grguric

Managing director of Udonis Inc. Results-driven & tech savvy. Startup enthusiast. "In God we trust, all others bring data."

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