The search ecosphere offers many brilliant business intelligence and analytic technologies that also cost a pretty penny. Not to mention these systems can be rather complicated, creating a learning curve hurdle for gaining actionable insights.
Google Analytics provides many intelligent reports that are easy to get to, actionable and free. Also, just in case your $200K+ analytic system fails, Google Analytics provides a level of data redundancy so you won't be completely left in the dark about your programs.
Media mix modeling, holistic search, and omni-channel execution are advanced concepts that search marketers have difficulty explaining beyond a cursory level. For years these concepts have been nothing more than lofty notions except for the few pure plays that heavily invested in infrastructure to support big data crunching and seamless integration with their supply chain.
Google's solution provided a low cost entry point to creating actionable strategies from multi-channel data. The multi-channel reports are simplistic and tangible so that you can easily execute on what insights your data provides.
In Google Analytics Multi-Channel reports, you can find several data nuggets which you can then leverage in your media buys and optimizations to yield fantastic results.
Located in the Overview report, the Multi-Channel Visualizer provides a top level of understanding of the interplay between channels. Use this to provide the first initial impression on whether it makes sense to change the attribution model and also what channels should be looked at in conjunction.
2. Assisted Conversions
Google Analytics gives a powerful "assist" in the conversion report due to the granularity of information it provides. At the high-level the report shows what channels assisted conversions, but weren't credited based on your attribution model.
These reports are so powerful because they give you the ability to slice data dimensions like, geography, mobile, days before the conversion, exposure path, keyword, etc.
You can use this data to reallocate funding to other higher funnel programs, bid boost by demo and mobile where you see breakout performance, create more targeted/personalized ad content based on user behavior, improve your remarketing efforts, and quantify ad fatigue rates that impact revenue.
3. Top Conversion Paths
Google Analytics Top Conversion Paths report provides excellent data to help you synchronize your marketing channels and optimize your media mix.
By focusing on the top converting paths by adjusting marketing messages between channels for consistency and ensuring the right ad frequency, my agency increased revenues by an additional 10 percent (holding all other KPIs constant).
This report also provides directional data to understand the how pushes in traditional/offline media influence digital behaviors and performance.
4. Time Lag and Path Length
You can use the Time Lag and Path Length reports to understand at what point you should retarget users and how much you should spend on reaching an already exposed visitor. By in large, longer consideration categories have a longer time lag and require more touches in order to convert.
At our agency, we found it fascinating that for mid-level purchases (average order values of $500 or less) there was a drop off in order value after four touches, but beyond eight touches order value doubled. Of course, this isn't true for every client, but it provided us the data we needed to set appropriate ad fatigue rates for our display and better optimize our retargeted search campaigns to understand our CPC cannibalization tolerance.
Google Analytics may be the laggard in terms of tools with multi-channel attribution, but for the money it's worth your time to check it out!