Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels and Assisted Conversions guide

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  • September 18, 2017
Emma Barnes

Emma Barnes

Senior Insights and Analytics Analyst

Google Analytics is frequently relied on by digital marketers like you to report on how their campaigns are performing. You go to your favourite report, look at the “goal completions” column and put it in a spreadsheet. Done.

What does “Our organic campaign drove 175 conversions” mean anyway? In Google Analytics it means that somebody used a search engine to search for something, clicked your (non-paid) result, browsed your website and completed a goal.

Think about how you make purchases online – how often do you visit a website for the very first time and buy something? User journeys are more complex than “the time they came onto the website and bought the thing”. How did they first get to the website? How many visits did it take for them to buy the thing? Which channels are best at introducing users to your website for the first time but aren’t particularly good at converting visitors?

That’s where Assisted Conversions and Multi-Channel Funnels come in.

What are Assisted Conversions and Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics?

The mutli-channel report allows you to see all touch points a user had between first coming to your website and completing a conversion. Google made this video to explain these reports.

For example, a conversion journey might be: Click Banner Ad > Click Post on Social Media > Click PPC Ad > Click Organic Search Result > Buy.

In this case, by looking at a regular Acquisition report, the sale gets attributed to Organic search, as this was the medium that drove the visit that resulted in a conversion. This is because by default, Google Analytics uses a last click conversion model. The other channels that helped gain the sale are credited with nothing using this report.

The multi-channel funnel report allows you to see the effect of those channels. The banner ad is known as “first interaction conversion”, as it began the journey that would eventually lead to conversion. The organic campaign visit, which closed the sale is known as “last interaction conversion” or “direct conversion”. This is what you see listed as “conversion” in other reports. If a channel did not close a sale (in this example, Banner Ad, Social Media, PPC) this is what is known as an “assisted conversion”.

To view information about assisted conversions and other multi-channel funnels, go to Conversions>Multi-Channel Funnels in the left-hand nav of Google Analytics.

Multi-Channel Funnels

Below is a summary of each report within the Multi-Channel funnels section.

Overview

The overview shows you how many conversions and assisted conversions you’ve had for the period of time specified.

Overview section of Multi-Channel funnels

You can use the check buttons to see what sort of relationship your channels have with each other. Hover over the Venn diagram to see the percentage overlap.

Assisted Conversions

This report allows you to see the number of assisted conversions you get by channel grouping, source/medium, source, medium or other things such as page.

Assisted Conversions

As well as the number of conversions, it shows the value of conversions that channel has assisted with. Finally, it shows a metric called “Assisted/Last Click or Direct Assists” which shows how often channels assist vs how often they close sales.

  • <1 means they close sales more often than assist
  • 1 means that assist and close equally
  • >1 means they assist sales more often than close

This report can be used similarly to most other Google Analytics reports. There is a search box, the ability to use secondary dimension, plot rows and an “other” dropdown to see different dimensions.

You can click “First Interactive Analysis” above the graph to look at which channels sent visits that eventually lead to conversion.

First interaction analysis

This report is similar to the Assist Interaction Analysis report that you see by default except you see first click conversions and a first/last click ratio instead of information that is about all kinds of assisted conversions.

PROTIP: Create a custom channel grouping to make the most of this report.

Top Conversion Paths

The Top Conversion Paths report allows you to see the journeys that people took into your website that lead them to conversion.

Top Conversion Paths report

If something is written as “Organic x2” for example it means that they came to your site via organic search results, didn’t buy something, and came back via organic search again, but this time they did buy something. This report is a visual guide to how people access your website and eventually convert, showing the most common journeys first.

PROTIP: You can use the “path length” drop down to show only paths of a certain length. This is set to 2 or more by default.

Path Length

Time Lag

Time lag is “how many days from the first visit did it take someone to convert”.

Time lag

By default, this looks back up to 30 days but this can be changed to be between 1 and 90 days. To do this change the “look back window” above the table. By default, it is 30 days which means that if someone visited your website 31 days ago and bought something today, the first visit would not count as an assist as it is outside the look-back period. Change this to whatever best reflects your user’s buying cycle.

Look-back window

A smaller purchase tends to have a smaller time lag, and larger purchases often take more than one day to decide on.

Path Length

The path length report is similar to the time lag report, except instead of days it is “how many visits to my website did it take someone to convert”?

Path Length in interactions

While “time lag” begins at zero (i.e. it took zero days from first visit for someone to convert) path length begins at 1 (i.e. they converted on the first session).

Limitations of Multi-Channel Funnels and Assisted Conversions

There are a few confusions and ambiguities regarding multi-channel reports. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • If someone converts within the first session they visited the website that is a “first click conversion” and “last click/direct conversion” but not an assisted conversion.
  • You can’t use regular Advanced Segments with the multi-channel funnels report.
  • You can get assisted conversion data with the API but it can’t be fetched with non-multi-channel funnel data.
  • In most reports, Google Analytics uses Last Non-Direct Click Attribution, which means direct traffic is not credited with a conversion unless no other channels were involved. Mutli-Channel Funnels show the entire funnel and “last click” means the true last click, including direct traffic.
  • The numbers may not match the number in a regular report. This may be due to the sampling rate, the processing time or the attribution model used.

I would recommend using these reports as a guide, along with other data as how channels interact was a part of the sales cycle, rather than alone.

Tips and Resources

You can use the menu at the top to customise your view of multi-channel funnels.

Date Range can be changed and compared in the same way to normal.

Date range in Google Analytics

Conversion Segments are similar to Advanced Segments except they are specific to multi-channel funnels. This can be used to investigate how a particular channel performs more thoroughly.

Conversion segments in Multi-channel funnels

You can use the dropdown to change the type of conversion you want to look at the assisted conversions for.

Changing the type of conversions

To change what the line graphs show, click the dropdown, add a comparison metric or click the radio buttons at the right-hand side.

Change what the line graphs show

To learn more about Multi-Channel Funnels I’d recommend the following.

Multi-channel analysis – Google Analytics Academy

Multi-Channel Funnels – Google Analytics YouTube

If you need any further help with deciphering your multi-channel funnel reports, please contact us and we’ll help you best understand these reports.

 

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