Jul 10, 2018

What every marketer must know about Google Analytics multi-channel funnels

By Supermetrics

Google AnalyticsWeb Analytics

[ Updated Jul 10, 2018 ]

11-MINUTE READ · By Tina Arnoldi.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) report in Google Analytics. If you have not yet read my post on conversions, you may want to start there before digging into MCF.

multi-channel funnels menu

The MCF reports show “how your marketing channels (i.e., sources of traffic to your website) work together to create sales and conversions.” Many of our marketing departments operate in silos with social media in one area, AdWords in another area, and email marketing in yet another. With MCF reports, you can see how each of these channels worked together to generate a conversion. There are five subsections under multi-channel funnels.

Multi-channel funnels overview

The overview section provides a glance at how channels worked together for a conversion. For the below client, you can see that direct visits, organic search, and paid search had the biggest influence on conversions. But email, social network, and referral shouldn’t be discounted because they have a lower percentage. Keep in mind factors specific to your business, such as whether you just started doing email newsletters a month ago. There are also trends such as seasonality to account for.

multi-channel funnels conversions

Assisted conversions

The overview of any tool is helpful for an at a glance view, but you need to drill in for more more information about the data. Assisted Conversions shows how all channels assisted each other and also lets you isolate by AdWords.

As seen below, AdWords did a decent job of assisting conversions for this account and also accounted for last-click conversions. From here, look at which campaigns assisted and which ones were last click. You may discover the message or audience is different in campaigns, resulting in a direct conversion versus an assisted one.

Also keep in mind what a conversion really means. If you read my previous post on conversions, I noted how one client had conversions set up in their account for pageviews which is not a very strong conversion. Make sure you understand what your conversions mean before making decisions on this data.

multi-channel funnels

This next screen shows Assisted Conversions by Channel Grouping where you can view the default grouping or create your own. In the below screen, look at line three which is the paid search assisted conversions.

multi-channel funnels adwords

The last column tells you how often a channel accounted for last click interactions, indicated by a number close to zero. If the number in the last column is closer to one, it means this channel played an equal role as an assisting channel and last click channel.

In this account, paid search was more likely to be the last click with a value .22. Let’s analyze why.

Paid search campaigns leading to a last click conversion makes sense if these were remarketing campaigns. Somebody visits the website, shows interest and they’re remarketed to with targeted ads. Or if paid ads have a low-risk CTA, meaning they invite a download rather than a demo, that would convert more often and quicker than a CTA that required a larger commitment than an email address. When you view data, look at the messaging and CTA in your communications to determine why certain behavior might be happening.

Top conversion paths

Website owners want to know the sequence that led website visitors to convert, which is seen in the Top Conversions Paths section.

multi-channel funnels top conversion paths

The below image shows times when someone visited a channel more than once. For example, line seven shows that a visitor clicked on a paid ad then came back to the website through an organic search.

multi-channel funnels organic search

Although interesting to view, I would not get caught up here because it can be overwhelming to view the full user path. The below screenshot – from a real account – is a little mind-boggling and not something you would use to make decisions. It does, however, prove the path to conversion can be complicated and makes a case for multiple marketing channels.

multi-channel funnels

Time lag

The time lag report shows how long it took for a website visitor to convert from the initial visit to a website. You can view it for all channels or AdWords only in the case below. This shows that conversions happened fairly quickly for the majority of visitors, however there were seven that took up to a month from the initial visit before the conversion took place.

multi-channel funnels time lag

It’s helpful to know how long it takes someone to convert from the first visit especially if you don’t see conversions as a direct result of a paid campaign. Although we all want to see immediate conversions with paid campaigns, it doesn’t mean the campaign is a loss when it does not happen, especially in the B2B market.

Path length

The final section under MCF reports is the Path Length which is the number of visits before conversion. Most of the below conversions didn’t take very long to happen with some occurring on the same day but there were a few that took multiple visits before the person converted.

multi-channel funnels person converted

The default setting is all conversions, but you can select certain goals and see how the path length varies for them. Downloading a gated PDF likely will not take long at all. However, the conversion of scheduling a call with a sales rep will take more visits to your website. Choose specific conversions to look at in conjunction with the path report

Also note the look-back window in this report is set to the default of 30 days. If you know it takes longer than that for a decision to be made, you can change this look back window to 60 days.

Reporting Google Analytics MCF data in Google Data Studio

Now that you have learned everything about Multi Channel Funnels’ metrics and where to find them in your GA account, let’s look into how you can report this data conveniently in Data Studio: a free data visualization tool provided by Google.

First, use Google Analytics by Supermetrics connector to fetch data from GA into Google Data Studio directly. After you authorize the connector, from the sidebar on the right you will find the MCF metrics and dimensions available in Google Analytics. In the native Google Analytics UI you would have to switch between the tabs and export-import CSV files to bring all this data in one table, whereas with Supermetrics connector you can do it just in a few clicks!

For example, you can segment Total Conversions and Assisted Conversions by Conversion Time, Source Path, and Channel Group dimensions.

Next, with filters, you can select a specific Channel group or Conversion type as seen below.

multi-channel funnels reporting

In addition, with AdWords connected to Google Analytics, the Supermetrics GA Connector displays the AdWords keyword path, AdWords campaign path and other AdWords data for a complete picture of how campaigns contribute to your conversions.

Another sweet thing about Supermetrics for Data Studio is that with the connectors, you can combine data from multiple platforms in a single DS report! Blend your Google Analytics data with paid social to get a full picture of your marketing efforts.

If you want to take a deeper dive into your data, Supermetrics for Google Sheets add-on is a must-have tool: just like in Google Data Studio you can combine data from multiple sources in a few clicks.

Wrapping up

Overview: Start here to see how your different marketing channels work together. This offers a quick overview before you drill in.

Assisted Conversions: See how channels worked together to get to a conversion.

Top Conversion Paths: How did users interact with your brand before converting? Did they start with a paid ad, visit you through social, and make that final decision as a result of your email newsletter?

Time Lag: How long did it take for a conversion? Did it happen on that first visit or was it over a week, or a month?

Path Length: This often varies based on the value of a purchase, whether it takes only one touch or multiple touches.

Reporting: With the MCF dimensions and metrics available in the Google Analytics connector for Data Studio, you can create a report to view this data. Google Analytics provides the numbers but it is up to you to make decisions based on it.

About Tina Arnoldi


Tina Arnoldi is Analytics and AdWords Qualified and one of the few people in the United States recognized as a Google Developer Expert(GDE) for marketing. Her agency, 360 Internet Strategy, is also a Google Partner. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn

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