A Step Closer to Social Media ROI with Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels

Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels, currently in limited beta release, will allow marketers to take a big step in the direction of calculating the elusive social media ROI.  

What is Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels?

This new feature allows any marketer with Google Analytics on their site to measure the impact of all the channel interactions a visitor has with the site leading up to a conversion or purchase.

Google Analytics will track source related information for how visitors come to your site so that if a visitor ultimately converts it can report the interactions that lead to the conversion. For the purpose of the Multi-Channel Funnels, data will be reported at an aggregate level for all of your site visitors with interactions from the 30 days leading up to a conversion being factored into the reports.

Google Analytics provides a series of reports that allow you to analyze the data in different ways. These reports are outlined below and are similar to the Search Funnel reports that are available in Google AdWords.

  • Path Length: Breaks down the number of interactions it takes before a conversion occurs as well as the amount of revenue generated for each.
  • Time Lag: Shows the number of days between the first interaction and the final interaction where the conversion occurred.
  • Top Conversion Paths: Shows the top combination of channel interactions taken by visitors before a conversion occurs. This can be very powerful as it shows you which channels work together to drive conversions as well as the order in which they work together.
  • Assisted Conversions: Shows the overall impact that each channel has by segmenting the conversions and conversion values attributed to each channel in three ways:
    1. Last click conversions
    2. Assisted conversions
    3. First interaction conversions

Google Analytics Top Conversion Paths

The two most powerful reports are the Top Conversion Paths and the Assisted Conversions. The Top Conversion Paths report allows you to view conversion paths in a number of ways by default, but also gives you the ability to create custom channels. By default you can view by Source/Medium, Source, or Medium.  

Using Multi-Channel Funnels to Measure Social Media

These alone provide great insights, but what if you want to understand the impact of a particular campaign or your brand keywords? That’s where creating custom channels comes into play.  

You can use this feature to combine various criteria to better understand how a particular channel segment performs. This is particularly powerful when looking at social campaigns.  

You could create a custom channel that combines all social referred visits that aren’t directly attributed to your efforts; another that combines all the visits that can be attributed directly to your non-paid social efforts; and yet another that combines the visits from your paid social campaigns.  

You’d then have the ability to not only see how these segments work together, but also to see how each works with any other channel.  

For example, you could see how your various social channels work with your PPC or display campaigns, with organic search, or with direct traffic. You may find that social channels tend to be the first interaction someone has with your brand, but that they generally end up converting using organic brand search. Or you may find the exact opposite!  

This is where the Assisted Conversions report comes into play. In this report you can better understand how any of the default channels or any of your custom channels impact conversions. There are three ways to look at each channel’s impact:

  • Assisted Conversions: The number of interactions with the channel that preceded a conversion. The higher the number, the more important the channel is to guiding visitors through the sales funnel.   
  • Last Interaction Conversions: The number of interactions with the channel where a conversion occurred. The higher the number, the more important the channel is to closing sales.
  • First Interaction Conversions: The number of interactions with the channel where it was the first interaction that occurred which then led to a later conversion. The higher the number, the more important the channel is to initiating a sale. 

This sort of data provides powerful insights that have the potential to dramatically shift how you approach your social media efforts. No longer will you have to choose between paying for an expensive attribution management tool and having a large gray area where you don’t know how your social media efforts are performing beyond the last click conversions delivered.  

Meaningful Social Media Insights

This doesn’t mean that the elusive social media ROI has been solved.  We still can’t truly see how interactions with your Facebook page, YouTube channel, or Twitter account impact a users purchase decision when they never come to your site through a social channel before making a purchase.  

Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels does, however, provide meaningful insights into how social channels impact a purchase decision and should help in the creation of more accurate calculations of social media ROI.