Case Study: Attribution Software Inaccurately Overweighs Search (SEO)

Working with a client, they were really bullish on SEO. “It’s our number one driver of traffic!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love SEO, but I wanted to see if there was a correlation between cold outreach emails from sales associates and website traffic.

Of course, we can see CTR on the email client, but not everyone clicks through on email links (for good reason).

Looking at the data, we saw a spike in organic search and direct traffic shortly after each email blast went out.

By not making this correlation, one might assume just by looking at the analytics that SEO is much stronger than it actually is.

What To Do Instead

What is most likely the case, is:

👉 People receive the email, open a new tab, type the company name into Google, and arrive on the website.


👉 People receive the email, open a new tab, type the company URL into the browser and go directly to the website.

In either case, the attribution software will credit SEO and direct traffic, perhaps signaling companies to invest more in SEO.

In actuality, it was most likely the result of the cold outreach email blast.

Attribution software is notoriously inaccurate. A lot of ink has been spilled on this topic. It’s great to be data-driven, but a lot of data is just bad information.

Instead, use your best judgement (common sense, gut instinct, experience) and thorough research. These are often the best ways a marketer can be so-called ‘data-driven’.

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