custom click attribution model

Multi-Channel Funnels Are Important – Here’s Why

I just watched a video that Google Analytics uploaded to their YouTube channel on the subject of multi-channel funnels.

I like the video because it simplifies what is probably one of the least known about, but increasingly important aspect of sending traffic to websites.

An old manager of mine once told me :

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

This is more true in digital marketing than in any other form of marketing.

It’s part of the reason why traditional media has been flat-lining and digital marketing is booming.

I am frequently asked 3 questions

  1. Multi-channel funnels are important, but how do you find the information you need?
  2. What exactly are multi-channel funnels?
  3. Why do multi-channel funnels matter to my business?

I’ll do my level best to answer those questions.

In a recent post I wrote about how you can make multi-channel attribution models work for your business.

If you want to read that post to get some context on how that fits in with multi-channel funnels, you can do so by following this multi-channel attribution link

The difference between a multi-channel funnel and multi-channel attribution is that one decides how to reward the traffic sources involved in the end-user journey (multi-channel attribution) and the other looks at the channels that end users took to get to either a goal or an e-commerce event (multi-channel funnels).

So, the first thing to note here is this.

If you haven’t set up any goals or e-commerce measuring in Google Analytics you will be looking for ghosts.

Goals should be either macro goals (macro = BIG…think SALES, LEADS) and micro goals (macro = small….think newsletter sign ups, views of a certain page).

A tip here, put your biggest Macro Goal in Goals (Set 1) Number 1 as this is the goal that shows up by default, so it’s best to have the most important metric be what shows the most.

So, now that you’ve set up your goals and/or e-commerce and you are getting traffic and leads or sales coming through what now?

If you’ve watched the video you’ll see that the old way of people interacting, one visit and then a sale or lead just don’t happy any more.

A user journey typically will have the following some of these channels sending traffic through to your site. If you have taken the trouble to tag your URL’s correctly using Google’s handy URL builder then you should see these channels :

  • Direct
  • Organic Search
  • Referral
  • Social Network
  • Paid Search
  • Email
  • Display
  • (Other) you have got to love that “other” channel)

If you want to know where you will find these bits of information, then in Google Analytics look down the left hand side for your standard reports, then the Conversion Section and then the Multi-Channel Funnel drop-down and you will see the various components that make up this part of Google Analytics.

multi-channel funnels

Multi-Channel Funnels

In the Overview you will see the number of conversions, how many were assisted conversions and then you can choose up to 4 segments and get a graphical representation of these two bits of information.

multi-channel visualizer

Multi-Channel Visualizer

This then gives you a visual representation and the overlap between the channels.

visual representation of multi-channel funnels

Visual Representation of Cross-Channel Goals

You can then look at channel groupings and toggle based on source, medium, source/medium or other variables that might be important to you.

multi-channel funnels - groupings

Channel Groupings

If you want, you can create your own custom channel groupings, but most of these channels cover off most bases, for most advertisers, but your mileage may vary.

This might be the point where you set up custom channels for affiliates, super affiliates, coupon code affiliates, QR codes. You know your business best.

I’d be inclined to stick with the basic set and adapt to your specific business requirements.

I go back to the quote above, make sure you are tracking the traffic correctly, or else you’ll have very lonely channels.

If you don’t use a channel, it won’t show.

I’d just add if you are not actually sending traffic through ALL of these “standard” channels you are leaving some serious money on the table.

Once you have set up your channels, you will want to look at your results and the first place to look is the standard channel paths.

In the example shown below, the advertiser concerned is pretty one dimensional in their approach to marketing and that is reflected in the most popular path.

(Direct) is normally type-in traffic, redirects, that sort of thing, you can set Google Analytics up to reclassify some of your “direct” traffic sources, but we won’t be covering that in this article)

multi-channel funnels - popular paths

Channel Grouping Popular Paths

Now you come to the time lag. In other words, from the time of first coming to the site on the first visit, how long, in days, did it take for the transaction to take effect.

Important points to note here is that by default the report shows ALL goals. You can choose to look at individual goals (macro/micro) by choosing from the drop-down.

multi-channel funnels - conversion drop-down

Conversion Drop-down

This example shows a lot of conversions happen in “0” days (typically in-session) and the other high number is 12+ days.

This is likely to be micro conversions for the “0” days and macro conversions for the 12+

But, check your own data and form your own opinions.

 Time Lag

Time Lag

Last but by no means least, is the path length.

This will help you to understand how many touch-points contribute to your conversions/goals/sales and once you know that you can then work out some of the modelling that might help you extract more money from channels that are not getting their fair share of your media spend allocated.

multi-channel funnels - path length

Path Length

On some analytics accounts there will also be an extra item – the Attribution Modelling Tool.

attribution modelling

Attribution Modelling Tool

This is where you can choose to look at your results with different models of how to allocate but read the article on attribution modelling above and that will explain more.

Hopefully, armed with this information you can make more informed decisions about how the current visitors to your site interact with it. It adds extra data and helps you to work your channels in parallel, knowing which channels are adding value and which are getting in the way.

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Be sure to share the information with your friends and leave a comment on what you think or examples of how you are using the data in the multi-channel funnel section of Google Analytics to good effect or what you are struggling with.

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