August 16, 2019

Get the Most Out of Analytics Referrals: Payment Gateway Verification

Don't let inaccurate data prevent you from making the most out of Google Analytics referrals reports.

Your Google Analytics is one of the best tools you have for improving your eCommerce performance. Among many other things, it can:

  • Identify which promotional campaigns are bringing in the most customers.
  • Track the sources of visitors coming in from other routes.
  • Pinpoint which pages cause visitors to lose interest.
  • Identify other ‘pain points’ in the process where potential customers are lost.

You get to review the entire customer journey, from the first visit to the purchase, and see exactly what’s holding up each one.

This is an incredibly powerful tool, and how to use every aspect of it to full capacity isn’t something we can cover in this blog post. Honestly, it’s not something we could cover in any one blog post! But lately, payment gateway verification has begun to affect your Analytics’ effectiveness.

What’s changed?

Payment Gateway Changes

Upcoming EU legislation requires stronger authentication for payments to reduce eCommerce fraud. We reported on the SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) legislation back in June – in a round-up of stories mostly covering future market changes that our customers might need to prepare for.

The SCA was due to go live on September 14th, but the UK’s FCA has agreed an 18-month extension. This follows an EU ruling stating that individual countries may allow delays if the majority of eCommerce businesses aren’t prepared yet.

(If you trade with Europe, you may still want to get ready faster – not all nations are delaying, and others may not delay as long.)

As part of preparations for this, the payments industry has begun stronger verification procedures. You’ve almost certainly noticed this if you shop online – many websites are already referring you to another site. You may even have to log in, click an agreement, or both.

So What?

This affects last-click tracking – which is actually a known problem; it’s just been an obscure problem until recently.

Tracking here is attribution tracking. Analytics attributes each purchase to one or more times the customer visited your site. Last-click means the emphasis is put on the last time that visitor came to the site. First-click tracking is an alternative; that marks how the customer first found your site as most important.

There are also other models which put different weights on different parts of the process. However, many businesses use last-click tracking, as that final visit was the one with the customer decision.

But when you’re referred out to a payment site, then sent back, that becomes the last click. Which can affect attribution tracking.

If you’ve ever gone through Analytics’ Source/Medium report and wondered why you were getting so many referrals from,,,, or similar URLs, this is why.

If you have as a major referral source, the same thing’s going on – Arcot Systems hold a number of authentication patents.

To avoid this, and make sure your referrals are showing you what they should, you need to exclude these payment gateways from your referrals.

Excluding Referrals in Google Analytics

First, the good news; if your Google Shopping ad campaigns are managed by Cloud Seller Pro we do this for you as part of monitoring your results.

If you’re not currently a customer, though, you can use Referral Exclusions.

First, spend some time going through your Source/Medium report. Get a full record of all referral URLs that are suspect. As well as the ones listed above and other popular payment card sites, look for URLs with ‘secure’ in the name.

If there are any URLs you’re not sure about, try visiting the website! If it doesn’t have any publicly viewable pages, it’s not actually referring visitors – so it should be excluded. If it looks like a payment gateway site, you know what you’re dealing with.

But if it’s any other kind of business, then you probably have a legitimate referral.

Once you have this list, navigate to the Admin tab. Select Tracking Info for your site’s Property. Then select Referral Exclusion List. The Add Referral Exclusion button makes the process simple.

What makes this work is that it prevents the referral from starting a new ‘session’ for Analytics purposes – so long as there’s already an active ‘session’ for your page. And there should be – you just placed an order.

Keep in mind, this is an ongoing shift. You’ll need to check your referrals regularly to make sure your data isn’t been degraded.

To join Cloud Seller Pro’s Partner Program and benefit from our Google Shopping expertise (and to make sure this is handled for you), just get in touch.

CSP Commerce | Manchester Ecommerce and Shopify Agency

From brand through to demand, we support and manage ecommerce growth at each stage of the commerce journey.  Our extensive knowledge and experience in ecommerce have established us as industry leaders for our capabilities in performance marketing, marketplace management, social commerce, and Shopify, Shopify Plus and WooCommerce web development.
We’re a Manchester ecommerce agency that works with retailers as committed to growth as we are. Our performance and platform-first approach is tailored to the ambitious brands and online retailers we partner with. As part of Wunderman Thompson Commerce, we are uniquely positioned to support businesses to scale nationally to globally.
We’ll hand-select a team of specialists to work with clients and operate as an extension of their ecommerce department. We are accountable for delivering measurable results that grow reach and revenue. Together, we will work to scale and sell your products across online channels.
If you’re serious about growth then start your journey with us. Let’s succeed and scale together.

Why not visit us in person?

WPP Manchester Campus,
1 New Quay Street,
Greater Manchester,
M3 4BN.
#shopifyagency #shopifyplus #manchester #ecommerceagency #ecommercegrowth #marketplacemanagement #performancemarketing #googleads #socialcommerce #manchestershopifyagency #amazon #ebay