Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels: The Low Down
- August 25, 2011
- by Darren Herbert
Some four months after their original – albeit limited – debut, Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel Funnels have finally been released to the world at large.
With this, GA takes a bold foray away from the safe yet myopic ethos of Last Click Wins and into something a great deal more progressive – conversion attribution.
“When a customer buys or converts on your site, most conversion tracking tools credit the most recent link or ad clicked. In reality though, customers research, compare and make purchase decisions via multiple touch points across multiple channels. So marketers that measure return solely on the last channel that a customer touches before conversion are getting an incomplete picture, and potentially missing out on important opportunities to reach their customers.
That’s why we’re excited today to introduce Multi-Channel Funnels to all Google Analytics users. This set of five new reports in Google Analytics gives marketers insight into the full path to conversion over a 30 day period, not simply the last click.”
Tapping into this data is absolutely essential for all channel marketers. For social media managers, this can substantiate the worth of the medium as a contributor to conversion journeys, moving investment in social media away from an arbitrary sense of obligation to recognizing it as a bona fide generator of custom; much in the same way display now receives greater kudos as an integral source of assisted sales.
Still further, PPC teams for example can take the data to a very granular level, finally quantifying the influence of generic keyword clicks on sales captured by brand.
Collecting and interpreting conversion attribution data has long been a problem for digital marketers. In fact the Econsultancy Online Measurement and Strategy Report 2011 found only 24% of surveyed companies use such data to examine the relationship between their online advertising channels. One of the key obstacles to reversing this has been the sheer variety and expense of tools and platforms. Not to mention the myriad names for the same service: path to conversion, exposure to conversion, cross visit participation and now multi-channel funnels.
Nonetheless, thanks to the reach of Google Analytics – 86% of the same surveyed companies use GA, with 44% using it exclusively – a huge swathe of online marketers, whether brands or agencies, now can begin to visualize how their marketing channels interact. All for free, to boot.
Let’s take a look at exactly what GA’s Multi-Channel Funnels offer.
There are 5 off-the-shelf reports available within the user interface. Log into Google Analytics, ensuring that you’ve switched to the new version and that goals and / or eCommerce tracking have been deployed. Clicking on the My Conversions tab with reveal M-CFs.
Multi-Channel Funnels Overview
Kicking off in some style, Google provides a powerful visualisation of how each of the tracked channels collaborate on conversion paths. Up to four traffic sources can be added to the proportional venn diagram at a time, which can be used to demonstrate the interdependency, or otherwise, of SEO, PPC, Display and direct to site visits.
A rather simplified view of attribution, Assisted Conversions shows how many times each traffic source led users to site prior to their final, converting visit, as well as the last-click actions attributed to them as standard. It’s a nice, little at-a-glance report.
Top Conversion Paths
The meat on the bones so to speak, Top Conversion Paths rank and articulate conversion journeys into process charts – with colour coding. The frequency each path occurred in the allotted time is also collated, along with the total revenue accrued. Google has also provided the ability to filter by path length.
Time Lag & Path Length
Both reports are very similar yet highly effective, showing the volume of conversions by their duration; one by days, the other by number of site visits. It’s a quick and easy way to show the length of customers’ decision making process and, by using the conversion segments, how paths differ depending on the original first click source.
Be wary of the ‘conversion’ setting towards the top of each report window; if you utilise both goals and eCommerce, this will aggregate the two volumes. I recommend focussing on one or the other. Also take the time to experiment with the conversion segments, which allow you to qualify the data on display by source, medium etc
The channel groupings are an excellent feature that can effect a far greater level of granularity. Available above the tables in Assisted Conversions and Top Conversion Paths, here you can define how you wish your traffic sources to be classified. Grouping visits by brand and generic search, adding new channel classes such as affiliates or redefining Social Network sites are all possible here.
All in all, Multi-Channels Funnels in their present guise offer a good entry point into the world of conversion attribution. There are a few sticking points, however. At present Google does not permit access to the raw data for greater analysis, neither via a downloaded report nor the API, although this should change within a matter of weeks, if not months. At present we’re limited to viewing reports a small number of rows at a time, URL hacks aside, and the sample of data is restricted to a meagre thirty days. The lack of post-impression tracking will also disgruntle Display managers. Even so this is certainly a positive step forward.
Having access to this data is just the start. Analysing and ultimately acting on it is where each marketer needs to progress to.