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Friday, Sep. 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels: What, where, how & why!

By Mariel Bacci
September 16th, 2011

Last month, Google Analytics rolled out a new toy for all of us data lovers: Multi-Channel Funnels! Now we can save gobs of time and effort trying to figure out what paths our customers use to make a purchase because GA has given us a few new tools to do it for us. Long gone are the days of crediting the most recent ad or click; we now have the power to see what campaign first brought a visitor to us, how long it took them to make their decision and every step in between. We can even see how well our various marketing efforts are working in tandem with one another to create conversions. These new tools are very powerful, and more importantly, easy to use.

Pardon the interruption: A quick technical note for those following along at your desk – before you get started using multi channel funnels, make sure you are in the “new version” interface to Google Analytics (if you’re looking for the new features and not seeing them, you’re probably in the “old version” interface to GA):

  1. Look in the upper right corner of the browser, where your account name is listed, and click on the red New Version link.
  2. Once you’re in the correct interface, you should see a top navigation bar, and a drop down menu titled, My Conversions.
  3. Within this drop down menu, you’ll find Multi-Channel Funnels.

These will apply to all your previously setup e-commerce and goals… What?!?  You don’t have goals setup?  STOP reading this post, bookmark it, and jump over to our How to Set Up Goals and Funnels series now. Or if you need broader help, you might need the Missing Google Analytics Manual too. Either way, you’ve got some work to do! Drop us a line if you need help.

Once you select Multi-Channel Funnels from the navigation, you’ll find yourself looking at the “Multi-Channel Funnels Overview” Report.  Google defines the report this way:

The Multi-Channel Funnels report shows how your traffic sources work together to create sales and conversions. A conversion happens when a visitor completes an online purchase or another activity that you’ve defined as a goal (for example, downloading your information packet, signing up for a 1-week trial of your service, or completing a form asking to be contacted).

Our friends at Google Analytics regularly produce some excellent training materials, and the initial content describing the Funnels Overview report is no exception.  Be sure to checkout GA’s help forum for this report & watch GA’s Multi-Channel Basics video:

YouTube Preview Image

Much already has been written about the overview report, so we’d like to dive into a deeper discussion of the four follow up reports:

  1. Assisted Conversions Report & First interaction analysis
  2. Top Conversion Paths Report
  3. Time Lag Report (will be discussed in Part 2 of this series)
  4. Path Length Report (will be discussed in Part 2 of this series)

For each report, we’ll cover the what (it is), where (to find it), how (it sheds light on your site and marketing efforts) and, most importantly, the why (you should give a darn)!

Assisted Conversions Report & First Interaction Analysis

What (it is):

  1. The Assisted Conversions Report shows how many conversions were assisted by each channel.
  2. The First Interaction Analysis shows how each channel performed as an initiator of conversions.
  3. First Interaction Conversions shows the number of conversions for which each channel was the first interaction on the conversion path.

Where (to find it):

Toggle between the Assisted Conversions Report & First Interaction Analysis under the explorer tab above the dashboard. You can view this report with different information, including Basic Channel Grouping, Traffic Sources, AdWords and Channel Groupings (as the default segment, this includes all of your basic traffic groups… Paid Advertising, organic Search, Social Networks, Email, Referral, Feed and Direct) by selecting the desired viewing option above the table. To create new groupings, select Create a Custom Channel Grouping under Channel Grouping.

You can further segment these Reports by adding a secondary dimension. My personal favorite view is Source/Medium. This allows you to see exactly how your visitors are entering the funnel and what traffic sources are acting as early and middle stage facilitators of conversion.

How (it works):

Assist Interaction Analysis:

  1. Assisted Conversions: This is the number of conversions that contained this source/medium combination in the last 30 days.
  2. Last Interaction Conversions: This is the number of conversions where this source/medium was the “last touch.
  3. Assisted / Last Interaction Conversions Ratio: This is the simple ration of the above two metrics. If this number is closer to zero, your source/medium is mostly scoring goals for your site. If it hovers around 1 your source/medium is both assisting and completing conversions equally.  Finally, if it is greater than 1, and significantly so, your source/medium’s primary job has been to assist in conversions. 

First Interaction Analysis:

  1. First Click Conversions: These are the paths through which your visitors enter their buying process. This could be the only step they take toward a purchase or could be the first in a series of many.
  2. First/Last Interaction Conversions Ratio: This is the simple ratio of a dimensions conversion rate as a first interaction over last interaction converter. The closer this number is to 0 the more common this dimension is as a last click converted as compared to a first interaction converter.

Why (it’s valuable):

If you’re pretty confident not all people come to your site because of a single marketing vector and you really want to know which marketing efforts are most effective at assisting in making conversions and which draw people into your conversion funnel, this report will help you figure that out.  It also will show you which of your campaigns is working for your early or late stage buyers. Some are meant to spread awareness and promote your brand and others excel at “making the goal” or “closing the deal” At this point you can prioritize your marketing activities. Make sure your “closers” are working properly before you spend resources optimizing your assists to save you both time and money. This feature can be very helpful in identifying early, middle and late stage keywords and should be used to abet your AdWords campaigns.

Top Paths Report

What (it is):

This report shows the conversion paths (i.e. sequences of channel interactions) that led to conversions, the number of conversions from each path, and the value of those conversions.

Where (to find it):

Near the top of the report you are able to select the path length for your conversion interactions. This feature can help you to identify the route the majority of your prospects take to convert.

Another valuable feature is that you can choose other under viewing section, then choosing traffic sources—>keyword path in the  drop down menu. Seeing these keyword paths can help you visualize the thinking process of your customers.

How (it works):

This report makes aggregate paths through which your visitors follow to finally convert on your site. It tracks the activities of your customers over the last thirty days, and compiles roadmaps of how they got to the point of completing a conversion.

Why (it’s valuable):

It also will help you drill into your channels and uncover details. For example, you can use the tools at the top of the report to focus in on keyword paths. Haven’t you always wondered how the keywords of your visitors are changing as they get closer to a conversion? Or, if your customers who visit you on Facebook are more likely to open your e-mails? See a holistic view of your marketing efforts with this report.

Or, use this report to shed light on the different persona types that end up on your site… information that can help you to optimize your marketing efforts. If you know the route people take to end up on your actual site, you will have greater wisdom about how they will navigate when they get there.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while.  Take some time to explore these reports, and figure out what they mean to your Conversion Rate Optimization efforts.  Stay tuned for the next post, where I’ll dive into the final two new reports included in GA’s Multi-Channel Funnels.

Add Your Comments

Comments (33)

  1. to succed on internet business is very important to use all google webmaster tools and to work daily on your website optimization

  2. Its great to see so many great new additions to the GA suite. I have been getting pretty familiar with the reporting recently and this has been a great little guide to accurately show results produced from each effort.
    No longer will all sales be attributed to the latest marketing campaign!

  3. Great post,incredibly valuable and I actually understood what before seemed just impossible. Thanks

  4. The details provided give you much more insight into what your visitors are doing and where they’re coming for. If you’re serious about Analytics and data, this is a definite improvement.

  5. I love the idea of channel grouping to better analyze reports. Thanks for all this info.
    Tarpon Fishing Gale

  6. Nice of the big G to provide us with all these lovely tools. Personally I can never get them to work properly, at least the data they show never correlates with what I can gather from the site back end. Maybe you really DO need a degree in IT to understand them all.

  7. hi,

    Thanks for the valuable information. I have one confusion with the google analytics reports and webmaster tool report. In my account I always get variation in both the report. My query is that is that happening in my case only or its a general phenomenon if yes which one is more precise??

  8. Wow. Thank you for this comprehensive article. As an analytics addict, this is going to come in serious handy. :D !

  9. Got to go dig in to this in my analytics account. Great stuff!

  10. Nice one, there is actually some good points on this blog some of my readers may find this useful, I must send a link, many thanks

  11. The explanation is very complete. really helped me are still learning,, good luck to you ..I wait for the next article

  12. The channel grouping will help in better analysis of results/reports. But, I think , Google has still failed to properly market their GA tool as many new webmasters are unaware of it.

  13. Google goes on nonstop. In my opinion that company will bring new applications into use until end of 2011. By the way, thank you for this article.

  14. I have got the full potential of Google Analytic today after reading your article.

  15. This actually helps me out quite a bit. As a new small business owner and internet marketing novice, Google Analytics has taken some getting used to. It seems complex and for someone new to the game, a little difficult to grasp at first. Glad I ran across this article though because it clears up some questions I had.

  16. Great idea to group channels to better analyze reports. Thanks for this information and article.

  17. usefull tools from google :)

  18. It’s nice introduction. I like the new interface of analytics as you mentioned here. One thing I’m struggle with is that I cannot easily navigate the google organic search visit result. They changed navigation a bit and it took me time to be familiar with it.

  19. nice idea. i usually use google analitycs too to keep my blog. thus i can decided the best strategy for my blog plus repair all lack of my blog.

  20. Thanks for the article, I find that First Interaction Analysis is something of value to detemining how effective landing pages are and really gives me something to talk to my clients about.

  21. The small print supplied provide you with rather more insight into what your guests are doing and the place they’re coming for. If you’re serious about Analytics and information, it is a definite improvement.

  22. Thanks for giving such a valuable information. I really have so much confusions and questions about google analytics and webmaster tool, after reading this i get the answers of that questions.

  23. Good to hear that multi channel funnels are finally here. New features will definitely save people time. Thanks for the article.

  24. This is amazing video and this information is very helpful for me. thanks

    London translation

  25. Great article. I’ve been using Google Analytics and Hubspot to monitor the behavior of our site visitors since our launch. The information we’ve been able to get has been great and has led to many changes to the site. I’m looking forward to the ability to retract leads back to their original source – see more than just how the reached the site on their most recent visit.

    Thanks for detailed walk-throughs. I look forward to using the GA enhancements to improve our real estate site further!

  26. I love this article, I am an SEO developer and found this very useful, easy to track visitors and compare to optimization keywords for SEO. Thanks for sharing it.

  27. Thank you for your article. I’m going to have a close look now that I know how to read them

  28. valuable post. I always rely upon google analytics when it comes to take a decision based on visitors trend. No doubt, it is the best in industry.

  29. I just know if there is a new feature in analytics interface, because it was a long time I did not go to GA. Thank you for the information that is useful and very clear, I will now go directly to GA

  30. This is a very powerful tool in GA. I am new to GA and just found this tool and it is just awesome all it can do. Thank you for writing about it and showing my some of the features.

  31. Wow, great tool! This is proving to be a powerful tool for any business with an online presence.

  32. Google goes on nonstop. In my opinion that company will bring new applications into use until end of 2011. By the way, thank you for this article.

  33. It is very useful this new GA. From these new data, you can learn to be reckoned with channels that could be vital in assisting with conversions despite appearances.

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Mariel is a GA certified analyst at FutureNow, Inc.

More articles from Mariel Bacci

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