Google Analytics Demystifies Visitor Behavior With Multi-Channel Funnel Reports

One of the biggest challenges in analyzing conversions to your website is figuring out which channels contributed to a goal conversion. A new change to Google Analytics now allows you to see when multiple channels contribute to a goal.

Last week, Google Analytics announced Multi-Channel Funnels, a new area to Google Analytics conversion reports that allows you to see which campaigns, sources, or channels contributed to a visitor's multi-visit conversion.

Most customers don't convert on their first visit to your site. Typical conversions happen after a visitor comes back multiple times, often from different sources.

For example, a visitor might discover you from a display ad, browse a bit, then go back from whence they came. Later, while searching, they might follow a PPC ad, remember you, place an item in their cart to come back later. When later comes, they might come back from a bookmarked link or by directly typing your site's address, finish the check out process, and register a conversion.

Multi-Channel Funnels Top Conversion Paths

In that scenario, the direct entry would receive all the attribution for the sale. However, that isn't the case. A good Web analyst might discern that a direct-entry visitor likely knew your brand and very possibly even may have visited your site before. However, it was never possible to know for sure. Until now.

Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels: 5 New Reports

Google has released five new Multi-Channel Funnels to help track conversions and better understand visitor behavior. These new reports have many uses and go a long way to help answer many questions.

Affiliate marketers once had to decide who received the credit - the first or last referring site. Some affiliate marketers couldn't differentiate between visitors, depending on the time frame.

The five new reports are:

  1. Multi-Channel Funnels Overview: A summary page that shows total conversions assisted conversions (where more than one source contributed to a visitor's conversion), and a nifty multi-colored "Conversion Visualizer," which shows multi-colored Venn diagrams to help you visualize the overlaps in conversions.
  2. Assisted Conversions Report: This report shows all the conversions over the time period selected. You can sort by Source, Medium, Channel, first or last interaction, and many other factors.
  3. Top Conversion Paths Report: Top Conversion Paths show the sequences of channels that led to a conversion, giving a variety of sorting options. Among other uses, this report can be quite useful to visualize which keywords or AdWords campaigns are performing better than others.
  4. Time Lag Report: Time Lag allows you to see over how many days conversions take to happen. At present, Google looks only over a span of 30 days. Visitors that take longer have their attribution path truncated to the past 30 days.
  5. Path Length Report: This report tells you how many visits were needed to convert a customer. The visits could come from any source.

Bill Kee, Google Analytics Product Manager spoke to Search Engine Watch last week. He noted Google doesn't want to be "focused on trying to move from just showing data, but being able to provide data that gives actionable information." By showing multiple channels, Google Analytics has gone a long way to helping analysts decipher visitor behavior.

Historical Data Out of the Gate

If you use Google Analytics, you know it only tracks goals from the point in which you set them up. Kee assures Search Engine Watch the multi-channel data goes back through January. However, it only measures multiple channels for goals that were already in place at that time.

"We created a series of transformations to build the conversion paths around the goals," Kee notes. "It takes a significant amount of data processing. But we wanted to get a decent amount of historical data."

The multi-funnel reports have been tested by dozens of companies over the past four months. In their release, Google noted HUGO BOSS was one of the pilot partners. Other partners testing the waters included other larger organizations and even smaller, newer organizations.

The reports are already available to you, if you have goals defined or e-commerce tracking enabled. Look for the Multi-Channel Funnels Reports in the new version of Google Analytics in the menu area between "My Site" and "Custom Reports" and let us know your experiences using them.

About the author

Thom is a seasoned techincal SEO and digital analytics veteran. His current role as VP of Development and IT at Internet Marketing Ninjas includes the improvement of internal processes, leading the creation and refinement of industry-leading tools across multiple brands.

Previously he was a premier independent consultant, held a a senior search position at nationally renown TopRank Online Marketing and led all digital web-related technology's at Rochester Institute of Technology's Saunders College of Business. He also led analytics strategy efforts for the university's mobile initiative.

Part of the ClickZ Academy faculty, Thom has also taught for several well-respected colleges and universities. He is a regular speaker at ClickZ Live events and is a veteran of TEDx as well.