Google Multi Channel Funnels for Conversion Attribution

Data and web analytics should be playing a central part in all digital marketing campaigns, regardless of channel. However, we’ve been basing our decisions on the data provided to us through site analytics packages and for a long time now the industry standard measurement has been last click attribution. This method of attribution is widely regarded as a flawed metric due to its inability to take into account the many touch points that occur along the path to conversion and ultimately all end up playing a part in that conversion.

Google recently launched what it calls ‘Multi-Channel Funnels’, currently this release is only a limited beta trial but the indications are that it will be rolled out on a wider scale in the not too distant future. With this launch Google has provided a solution that will provide most site owners and marketers with the perfect solution to last click attribution. The Multi-Channel Funnels analyse the click path from all channels, including:

  • Organic search
  • Paid search
  • Display
  • Social
  • Direct
  • Referral
  • Email
  • And any other tagged campaign

Its one downside is that it doesn’t incorporate post impression display data, but with no way to track this in Google Analytics it’s no great surprise. I think this is a shame as from all the data I’ve seen from the Artemis attribution technology, exposure to Display advertising increases the likelihood of a user converting. That said purely using visits for attribution does set a level playing field for all channels, as after all Display is the only channel that gets the benefit from post impression data, just think how things would change if we could get post impression data for Search or Email marketing…

Top converting paths and assisted conversions

Having been using Multi-Channel Funnels for a little while now, in my opinion the most useful reports are the ‘Top Converting Paths’ and ‘Assisted Conversions’. Each of these reports is highly customisable through conversion segments and the ability to add a secondary dimension to the report.

The level of insight you get from each of these reports will depend on whether you’re just using goals, or whether you have full ecommerce tracking in-place. Whilst you’ll get an enormous amount of insight just from having goals tracking in place, with ecommerce tracking you will be able to assign a monetary value to each path to conversion and to the extent that one channel assisted another.

Top converting paths

By default Google shows the top converting paths where there have been two or more interactions; however it is possible to set this to any number of interactions. For this report you can also add keywords as a secondary dimension, which will show you the keyword journey for each path. The screenshot below shows the basic channel grouping report, which even at this basic level provides us with a wealth of information that up until this point we’ve never had access to.

Path to conversion

One of Google Analytics key strengths is the level of customisation it offers, and there is no exception here. By selecting the ‘Channel Groupings’ option you’re able to setup your own custom metrics i.e. brand vs. non brand or select a particular referring site. In the screenshot below I’ve customised the above report by adding brand and non-brand segments for paid and organic channels.

Path to conversion brand vs non brand

Assisted conversions

If you just want a top level overview of the role of each channel, the ‘Assisted Conversions’ report provides this. As can be seen in the screenshot below, for each channel, Google Analytics provides the number of conversions that each channel assisted with (2nd column, also in bold) and the total number of last click conversions for the selected date range (4th column). For instance if we take organic search, we can see that it not only delivered 21,277 conversions using last click attribution but it also played a part in 8,699 other conversions where it wasn’t the last click in the path.

Assisted conversions

Update to Google Analytics sessions

To ensure that Google Analytics tracks interactions correctly for the Multi-Channel Funnels an update was made to the way session are tracked, this update was pushed live as of Thursday 11th August. The changes made could have a minor impact on the number visits your site receives. The changes will not impact historical data. For more details on the tracking change, see the Google Analytics Blog.

It really is good

In short Google’s Multi-Channel Funnels are amazing. In my opinion it’s probably the best end-to-end conversion attribution technology on the market and it’s free! I absolutely love:

  • that it includes data across all interaction sources, which is an area where some other packages are a let down by not including organic, referral or direct access data
  • that you can be certain the number of conversions associated with the attribution will always match the total number of conversions tracked by Google Analytics
  • its speed and customisation
  • the ability to include any data tracked through Google Analytics

Whilst Google’s implementation of conversion attribution may not be to the liking of heavy Display advertisers due to the lack of post impression data, for click path attribution it’s unbeatable at the moment.

I really hope that other analytics providers are working on similar systems, I’d love to see this in the likes of Omniture, Comscore Nedstat, and Webtrends et al.

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