Tutorial: Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, Part 1: The Basics

- August 26, 2011

The big news of the week came from the wonderful folks at Google Analytics, whom introduced the new Multi-Channel Funnels reporting section to the general public.

What is Multi-Channel Funnels?

Multi-Channel Funnels is more than just a new reporting section – it’s a new way of life for advertisers who live and die by customer acquisition (goal completions, outcomes, and sales). Google Analytics has clearly raised the bar and has taken outcome measurement to the next level by showing all visitor paths that led to a conversion or a sale in a 30-day time period, not just showing a visitor’s last click (path) that led to a conversion or a sale.

What Does Multi-Channel Funnels mean for advertisers?

This new “way of life” means that you will be able to associate value (credit) to visitor sessions that transpired before the session that included a visitor conversion. For example, let’s say that a visitor came to your website three different times and converted on the third time to your website. Let’s also say that this visitor came to your site on those three times via the following ways:

1. A non-paid Google Visit (Google Organic)
2. A paid Google Visit (Google AdWords)
3. An email marketing initiative.

Traditionally, Google Analytics would have assigned the conversion for this visitor to the last interaction that occurred before a conversion, namely the email marketing initiative in the above example. The two prior visits from Google, paid and organic, would not have received any credit or attribution for the conversion.

Now, with Multi-Channel Funnels, this visitor’s three interactions from three different traffic sources will all receive attribution for the conversion, which allows advertisers to see a clearer picture of not just one marketing initiative, but the effectiveness of advertiser’s entire marketing strategy.

What reports are available with Multi-Channel Funnels?

Currently, there are five separate reports in the new Multi-Channel Funnels reporting section. You can find Multi-Channel Funnels in your Google Analytics account by clicking on the My Conversions tab on the top navigation menu and clicking on the Multi-Channel Funnels menu item:

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The five new reports in this section include:

  • Overview. A top-level view of your conversions and your assisted conversions (the conversions that included more than one session to conversion). It includes the following conversion visualizer, where you will begin to see the power and magnitude of this new feature set (broken down into two images below):

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  • Assisted Conversions. This report will show you which channel grouping conversions included assists. It will also show you which channel groups recorded traditional “last-click” conversions and the value of your conversions. You can toggle this report to show you assists by source, medium, campaign, keyword, or any AdWords dimension by clicking on the appropriate link on the top of the reporting table.

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  • Top Conversion Paths. This report will show you all of the different paths that visitors have taken in a 30-day time period to convert. This report can be toggled by path length (All paths, 2 or more paths, 3 paths, 4 paths, 5 paths, etc…). You can also toggle this by other traffic sources dimensions, like medium, keyword, or campaign.

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  • Time Lag. This report gives you a sense of your conversion cycle. How many days, weeks, or months does it take your visitors to convert? What is the value of your visitor conversion cycle? This report aims at breaking this information down in a simple-to-use histogram:

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  • Path Length. Similar to the Time Lag report, Path Length provides a summary of how many paths (sessions) it is taking visitors to convert on your website.

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What else can I do with Multi-Channel Funnels?

A lot more! Not only can you extract rich, valuable insights from this data, you can create your own Conversion Segments, as well as your own Custom Channel Groupings.

Both of those actions are ones that we would consider “more advanced”, so we’ll reserve them for another blog post in the very near future.

Log-in to your Google Analytics today and start interacting with this powerful new report section that will help you see your entire marketing strategy across multiple visitor sessions.

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