So you’ve logged into Google Analytics and notice that your top referrer this past week was Twitter. Excellent, your social media strategy is working. Or is it? You might not even have a Twitter account setup, yet you are receiving traffic from Twitter. What sort of conversation is happening around your brand that you are receiving traffic from the site?

And even if you do have a Twitter account setup, can you determine if all of the traffic is coming from your tweets? How do you intend on confirming that the traffic you are seeing is coming from your tweets?

Your analytics team or guru may not even care. Your client might not either. They may only be interested in knowing that site traffic has increased, that you saw more unique visitors this past month and that your average time on site decreased.

How about your online campaigns? Sure you may be tracking your impressions and CTR through DART or a similar ad trafficking tool, but do you know what consumers are doing after clicking on an ad?

Maybe you are seeing a very high CTR on a banner campaign within one network or site. But did you dive in and explore their behavior once they’ve gotten to the site? Maybe the audience you receive on another site with a low CTR is actually more valuable.

The Web is more than understanding one piece of the puzzle, it’s about understanding the connectivity below the surface. Unless your team has developed a dashboard collecting all your important data here are a few tips to help you track the origin of your site visitors.

  • Google Campaign Tags – Use the Google URL Builder to help you create and define campaigns for tracking in Google Analytics
  • Bit.ly – The tool can be used to shorten URLs you share anywhere. It’s especially useful for microblog services like Twitter and when combined with Google Campaign Tags you can analyze who clicked on your Bit.ly link and then how they interacted with your site
  • ReTweet – Services like CoTweet and ReTweet allow you to filter on your tweets that have been shared. It’ll help you understand if your tweets were valuable enough to be shared by others
  • FeedBurner – Services like FeedBurner allow you to track the subscriptions to your RSS feeds. It can provide valuable data on understanding what content your consumer is pulling on their own

There are many other programs and services out there that provide even more tracking. The point is that you may not be getting the entire picture when you see a referrer or data point in your analytics program.

And I believe you can never have too much data. You may not need all the tracking today, but it may be very valuable in the future when you do have the time to analyze all of the data.