Reports

How does HubSpot categorize Visits, Contacts, and Customers in the Sources Report?

Last updated: January 9, 2017

Available For:

Marketing: Basic, Pro, Enterprise
Sales: N/A
HubSpot analyzes each visit to your website and applies a series of rules to determine the marketing source of the visit. Contacts and Customers in the Sources report are categorized by the date of their first conversion, based on the source of their first known visit.

There are 8 potential categories used by the Sources Report (more specific rules can be found below):

  • Organic Search: Non-paid visits from recognized search engines, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
  • Referrals: Visits from links clicked on other websites.
  • Social Media: Visits from links clicked on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Email Marketing: Visits from tracking links in your emails. These links are automatically added to the emails you send from HubSpot. They can also be manually added using tracking URLs for external email systems.
  • Paid Search: Visits from paid search ads that are either automatically identified by HubSpot or set by tracking URLs.
  • Paid Social: Visits from a paid social campaign from either the HubSpot Ads Add-on or a paid social campaign set by tracking URLs.
  • Direct Traffic: Visits to your website with no referring source or tracking URL; usually visitors who type your website URL directly into their browser.
  • Other Campaigns: Visits from campaigns that are being monitored with specific tracking URL parameters other than those used for Social Media, Email, or Paid Search.
  • Offline Sources: This category does not apply to visits, but contacts and customers who originated outside of your website (manual, imported, API). This will also appear as the source for contacts created by a form submission who are filtered from analytics by IP address. In the Sources Report, Offline Sources is hidden by default.


How HubSpot determines the Source of a visit

HubSpot uses two methods to identify the source of a visit to your website.

  1. The first is by looking for a tracking URL, which is a parameter that can be added to the end of a link to your website. A tracking URL might look something like this:
    http://www.hubspot.com?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=xyz.
  2. The second is by the referrer, which is the information passed along when someone clicks on a link from another website to your website. The referrer is the original site that contained the link to your website. If someone clicks on a link on 'cnn.com' to visit 'http://www.hubspot.com', then the referrer is cnn.com.

When determining the source of a visit, HubSpot will honor the tracking URL first. If there is no tracking URL, HubSpot will honor the referrer. If there is no tracking URL or referrer, HubSpot will categorize the visit into direct traffic.

Detailed URL and referral rules for visits

These rules are listed in order of importance. HubSpot looks at the entire URL and then applies the following rules in order:

Rule Order Rule in Plain English Source
1 The referring domain is considered internal traffic, based on the listed site domains in Reports Settings. Not a visit. None
2 utm_medium=“social” and utm_source=the name of a recognized social network
utm_medium="social" and referring domain is a social media site
Social Media
3 utm_source OR utm_medium OR utm_campaign OR source contains the word “email Email Marketing
4 utm_source OR utm_medium OR utm_campaign OR source contains the word “adword”, “ppc”, or “cpc Paid Search
5 gclid= parameter is present (Google click ID) Paid Search
6 utm_source OR utm_medium OR utm_campaign is present and the referring domain is google.com Paid Search
7 utm_medium="paid" and utm_source=the name of a recognized social network OR
utm_medium="paid" and referring domain is a social media site OR
utm_source OR utm_medium ="paidsocial"
Paid Social
8 utm_source OR utm_medium OR utm_campaign OR source is present and does not contain the words “email”, “adword”, “ppc”, or “cpc Other Campaigns
9 Referring domain is a social media site Social Media
10 Referring domain is a search engine Organic Search
11 Referring domain is not a social media site or search engine Referral
12 Referring domain is a mail domain or RSS reader Direct Traffic
13 No referring domain or tracking URL Direct Traffic

Note: these rules are case sensitive and may require lowercase utm parameters to be bucketed correctly.

*HubSpot honors standard Google Analytics tracking parameters like:

  • utm_source
  • utm_medium
  • utm_campaign

How HubSpot determines the drill downs for each Source in the Source report

  • Organic Search
    • The first drill down shows the searched keyword, which is passed by the referring search engine. If no keyword is present, but the visit is identified as coming from a search engine, HubSpot will group visits into a category called “Unknown Keywords (SSL)”.
    • The second drill down shows the referring search engine, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
  • Referrals
    • The first drill down shows the referring domain, like “hubspot.com.”
    • The second drill down shows the specific URL on the domain that referred traffic to your website, like “http://www.hubspot.com/blog/blog-post-title.”
  • Social Media
    • The first drill-down shows the referring social site domain. The following social media networks are recognized by the tool:
      • Facebook
      • Twitter
      • Google+
      • LinkedIn
      • YouTube
      • Instagram
      • Tumblr
      • Pinterest
      • SlideShare
      • Digg
      • Reddit
      • StumbleUpon
      • Sphinn
      • MySpace
      • Propeller
      • Mixx
      • Fark
      • Tip'd
      • Triiibes
      • LiveJournal
      • Technorati
      • Slashdot
      • Ning
      • Orkut
      • MyBlogLog
      • Metacafe
      • Meebo
      • Squidoo
      • Wikipedia
      • Flickr
      • Slide
      • Plurk
      • BlogCatalog
      • Delicious
      • Knol
      • links.hubspot.com
      • FriendFeed
      • HootSuite
      • CoTweet
      • Seesmic
      • Quora
      • Xing
      • Vimeo
      • HackerNews
    • The second drill down shows the specific campaign name that sent traffic to your site. Campaigns can be set using a tracking URL through the 'utm_campaign=' tracking parameter. This is done automatically by HubSpot’s social publishing tool. If no campaign is present, but the visit is identified as coming from social media, HubSpot will group visits into a category called “No Campaign.”
  • Email Marketing
    • The first drill down shows the campaign name of the email, which is set by using the 'utm_campaign=' tracking parameter in the links from your email. This is done automatically for emails sent from HubSpot. If no campaign is present, but the visit is identified as coming from an email, HubSpot will group visits into a category called “No Campaign.”
    • The second drill down shows the name of the email, which is set by using the 'utm_content=' tracking parameter. This is done automatically for emails sent from HubSpot.
  • Paid Search
    • The first drill down shows the campaign name, which is set using the 'utm_campaign=' tracking parameter. If no campaign is present, but the visit is identified as coming from paid search, HubSpot will group visits into a category called “No Campaign.”
    • The second drill down shows the keyword/term searched by the person who clicked on the paid ad. If the click came from a content network like AdSense or the keyword cannot be identified, HubSpot will group visits into the categories “Content Network (AdSense or Other)" or "Unknown Keywords SSL."
  • Paid Social
    • The first drill down shows the social media network from which the visit originated. This is set by the 'utm_source=' parameter. The following social media networks are recognized by the tool:
      • Facebook
      • Twitter
      • Google+
      • LinkedIn
      • YouTube
      • Instagram
      • Tumblr
      • Pinterest
      • SlideShare
      • Digg
      • Reddit
      • StumbleUpon
      • Sphinn
      • MySpace
      • Propeller
      • Mixx
      • Fark
      • Tip'd
      • Triiibes
      • LiveJournal
      • Technorati
      • Slashdot
      • Ning
      • Orkut
      • MyBlogLog
      • Metacafe
      • Meebo
      • Squidoo
      • Wikipedia
      • Flickr
      • Slide
      • Plurk
      • BlogCatalog
      • Delicious
      • Knol
      • links.hubspot.com
      • FriendFeed
      • HootSuite
      • CoTweet
      • Seesmic
      • Quora
      • Xing
      • Vimeo
      • HackerNews
    • The second drill down shows the campaign name, which is set using the 'utm_campaign=' parameter.
  • Direct Traffic
    • No additional breakdowns.
  • Other Campaigns
    • The first drill down shows the campaign name, set by the 'utm_campaign=' tracking parameter. If no campaign is present, but the visit is identified as coming from other campaigns, HubSpot will group visits into a category called “No Campaign.”
    • The second drill down shows the source / medium for the campaign, set by the 'utm_source=' and 'utm_medium=' tracking parameters.
  • Offline Sources
    • The first drill down shows the method of offline import, like API, Imported, etc.
    • The second drill down shows any additional parameters associated with the offline import.