How to analyze sources data

Last updated: December 22, 2017

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Marketing: Basic, Pro, Enterprise
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The sources report gives you a deeper look into how people are originally finding your site. The metrics in the report let you compare how visitors are interacting with your site across these different sources. The report can be used to help you develop and define marketing campaigns by creating strategies based on historical performance.

Once you understand the data, you can use the sources report to:

  • See the various ways people are finding your site.
  • Find out which channels yield the highest conversion rates.
  • Gather information on closed loop reporting - seeing through which source customers first found your site.
  • Compare marketing channels in one report.
  • Calculate ROI, by seeing where your marketing investments are paying off.

In this guide, you'll find detailed information about:

Metrics in the sources report

The sources report allows you to toggle between different charts of data to analyze metrics from your website traffic:

  • Sessions: a series of analytics activities taken by a visitor to your website. Activities can include page views, CTA clicks, events, etc. A session expires after 30 minutes of inactivity. You can learn more about how sessions are categorized here.
  • Contact conversion rate: the number of contacts divided by the number of visits for the selected time period.
  • New contacts: the number of new contacts created in HubSpot divided by the number of new sessions for the selected time period.
  • Customer conversion rate: the number of customers divided by the number of sessions for the selected time period.
  • Customers: the number of customers who originally converted on your website during this time frame and are currently in the lifecycle stage of customer.
  • Bounce ratethe percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.
  • New visitor sessions: the number of new unique visitors on your website.
  • New session %: the percentage of sessions that are from new users.
  • Page views/sessions: the average number of page views per session in the given time range.
  • Avg. session length: the average duration of a visitor's website session.

For any of the following sources, you can compare up to 7 of the metrics above. To adjust the metrics in your report, click the Edit Columns button in the upper-right corner of the table.

You will see a chart illustrating any selected metrics across all sources. Toggle between each metric using the dropdown menu in the upper-left corner of the chart.


Please note that HubSpot automatically excludes traffic from sites that are added to your site domains in reports settings

Understanding what each source represents

When you click on the name of any source, you'll be able to drill down into more detailed information about the specific channel or campaign associated with that source.

Organic Search

Organic search displays visits from non-paid search results in known search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. If you click on organic search, you'll get a further drill down of the search terms that visitors found you using:

The first breakdown for organic search is the searched keyword. You'll likely see the first row containing Unknown keywords (SSL). This is due to the way that some search engines encrypt data when users are logged in and Google encrypts all user search data, making it impossible to know which keyword lead to the visit.

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After clicking on a partcular keyword as the second breakdown, see the referring search engine, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

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Referrals display data from external sites linking to your website, thus producing a referral visit. For example, if Bloomberg recently linked to a blog post you wrote, then this would count as referral traffic, as they came via a link from a Bloomberg article to your website. Remember if you add domains to your site domains in reports settings then it will not count as referral traffic.

If you click on the referrals link, you'll see the first drill down of all the sites that are linking to your website. The first breakdown for referral traffic is the referring domain.

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Click on any referring domain to see the specific pages from that domain that link to your site. One referring domain may have many pages that link to your site. Please note that if the link to your page has been removed by the original referrer, this will still remain in sources because it has generated traffic from that referral source.

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Social Media

Social media counts links that come from a social website. This is different from an inbound link or referral traffic, as the content that was viewed was not linked from another source; social media allows users to share content they care about with other people. These social channels do not actually write content themselves; therefore social media isn't counted under inbound links or referral traffic.

Under social media, you'll find the common channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. You'll also see a handful of other sites that are considered social in nature, such as SlideShare, Reddit, Tumblr, and Wikipedia. Wikipedia is included under social due to the open-source nature of their website.

The breakdown of traffic for social media is the social channel that brought in your visitors. The second breakdown is the campaign associated with that visit (set within the social media publishing tool in HubSpot or using the utm_campaign parameter for tracking URLs).

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Email Marketing

The first breakdown of email marketing traffic is the email's campaign name. This campaign is set within the email tool for HubSpot emails or using the utm_campaign parameter for tracking URLs. If there is no campaign associated with the email, you'll see hs_email for standard emails sent from HubSpot. Additionally, if you see hs_automation, this is the default campaign assigned to automated emails sent through workflows when no campaign is defined.

Note: If someone clicks on a link in an email sent through another email service provider outside of HubSpot, and it does not contain specific tracking parameters, this visit will count as direct traffic. There is no other indication for the analytics to detect the original source of the visit. You can learn more about how to set up and implement tracking URLs in this article.

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When you open a particular campaign, the second breakdown presents the name of the email, which is set by using the 'utm_content=' tracking parameter (this is done automatically for emails sent from HubSpot). Please note that emails that have been deleted display their original internal ID, not the name.

You may occasionally see new contacts generated from your emails as a result of emails being forwarded to friends, family and/or colleagues of your contacts, and those contacts convert on your website.

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic shows visits that accessed your site by typing it directly into their browser or a link that does not meet other source bucketing criteria.

Within the sources report, you can drill down further to see the Entrance URL of a direct traffic visit, which is the URL a visitor entered into their web browser to reach your site by direct traffic.

Other Campaigns

The other campaigns source displays any visits to URLs created with the tracking URL builder in HubSpot. You can drill down into other campaigns to see the specific campaign name. The second breakdown for a specific campaign is the source/medium as dictated by the tracking URL you created.

The second breakdown for Other Campaigns is source/medium as dictated in your tracking URL. If none are found, it appears as none/none.

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Offline Sources

If you have this checked off by your graph, then you'll see offline sources included in your sources. They won't appear in your visits graph, as there are no visits associated with these offline contacts, but they will appear if you change visits to contacts or customers. When you open offline sources, you'll see a handful of topics such as API, Imported and Form:

  • Those bucketed under API were created via the Contacts API.
  • Those within the Contacts category were created manually, by creating a new contact from Contacts Home (Contacts > Contacts) by clicking Create new contact.
  • Those in Imported were originally created as new contacts via list import.
  • Those in Form contain filtered contacts. When a contact submits a form through a filtered IP, analytics updates and throws out the visits (not counting the submission towards your total). The contact has no visits and is therefore bucketed under offline. The analytics doesn't receive data from the original source, but it knows the conversion ID and recognizes it to be from a form, so it gets categorized as offline sources.
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Paid Search

Paid search displays visits through paid search, like Google AdWords. To learn more about what visits get categorized as paid search, this article.

The breakdown for paid search is the campaign name, set using the 'utm_campaign=' tracking parameter. If no campaign is present, this is presented as No Campaign. The second breakdown is the keyword term searched for by the person who clicked your ad. If the keyword parameter is not found in the visited URL, the term is set to Content Network (Adsense or Other). If the keyword parameter is present in the visited URL, but it was encrypted by the ad service, the term is set to Unknown Keywords SSL.

Viewing contacts and customers in sources

On your main sources view, you'll find the number of contacts and customers generated from a particular source. 

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You can click this number to view those contacts, navigate to their contact records, export the contacts, or add them to a new list in HubSpot.

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You can also use contact properties such as Original Source Type to create smart lists of contacts.

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