Heard Of Multi Channel Funnels? No? Well They Might Just Save Your Marketing Budget!

January 25th, 2012

Run­ning Google Ana­lyt­ics? Using Goals to track sales, sign ups and enquiries? Great - but did you realise you prob­a­bly aren't get­ting the whole story...

I'm going to start this post by say­ing that if you aren't using Goals in your Google ana­lyt­ics pro­files, then you may want to revisit that after read­ing the rest of this post - espe­cially if you are run­ning any forms of traf­fic devel­op­ment strate­gies such as SEO, Adwords or maybe Face­book ads.

Hint: If you see the fol­low­ing screen when try­ing to access goals, you haven't set them up!

For the rest of this post, we are assum­ing you are pretty com­fort­able with set­ting up goals. If you aren't then this help arti­cle is worth a read.

Stan­dard Goal Reports

When using Google Ana­lyt­ics, we are all pretty much used to see­ing some­thing like this when perus­ing our goal con­ver­sions.

Nice and neat, giv­ing us clear infor­ma­tion on which sales chan­nels are work­ing 'the best' for our busi­ness.

But there is a prob­lem. You see this may not be as clear cut as you think and your reports could be lack­ing crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion that ulti­mately dam­ages your suc­cess.

Goal reports allow mar­ke­teers to strip out advertising/marketing efforts that don't con­vert, or don't con­vert as well as top per­form­ing adver­tis­ing chan­nels. Whilst that is always going to be true to an extent, rely­ing totally on this data can be dan­ger­ous and actu­ally neg­a­tively impact your best per­form­ers in the process - and would you really want to cut an adver­tis­ing chan­nel that has assisted in poten­tially thou­sands of pounds of rev­enue? Rev­enue that you didn't know a great deal about? Well the answer to that is prob­a­bly not - but how do we find this out?

Enter Multi Chan­nel Fun­nels (MCF's). Under­stand­ing them, can make a huge dif­fer­ence to the bot­tom line.

Using MCF's In Your Man­age­ment Reports

Under­stand­ing how peo­ple behave in the deci­sion mak­ing cycle is pretty crit­i­cal to whether your mar­ket­ing suc­ceeds or doesn't. This is where the stan­dard Goal data falls down a bit. We don't see the often com­plex rela­tion­ship between adver­tis­ing chan­nels and con­ver­sions.

The real­ity for most of us is that cus­tomers will com­plete Goals on your site from a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent paths, often stretch­ing days or even weeks. They may use mul­ti­ple adver­tis­ing meth­ods to visit (and revisit) your site, many dif­fer­ent key­words and in fact some­times use the same adver­tis­ing chan­nel over and over again before actu­ally buy­ing your prod­uct or sign­ing up for your ser­vice.

In this con­text, MCF report­ing is very very use­ful to mar­ke­teers, allow­ing them to get a clearer pic­ture of not only how cus­tomers are find­ing their site, but impor­tantly which adver­tis­ing sources are help­ing to get them over the line with the sale. This data is pure gold for mar­ket­ing peo­ple.

I can feel you warm­ing to MCF's so now is a good time to intro­duce a screen­shot of what an MCF report looks like. Here we are basi­cally see­ing the 'assists' in the Goal con­ver­sion process. So not only the adver­tis­ing chan­nel that resulted in a direct con­ver­sion - but also those that helped turn that vis­i­tor into a cus­tomer. This miss­ing step is what can be dam­ag­ing to mar­ke­teers who rely solely on the Goal reports. If you drop a seem­ingly poor per­form­ing cam­paign based on the stan­dard Goal report­ing, then you may be dam­ag­ing some of your best sales chan­nels in the process - and that is not an appeal­ing prospect to most peo­ple we work with!

As we can see in this graphic, SEO not only had 146 last inter­ac­tion con­ver­sions (so those peo­ple that vis­ited the site and com­pleted a goal at that point) but also claimed another 50 assists.

Now that sort of data can be very help­ful to mar­ke­teers - espe­cially as we are all hav­ing to work extra hard to con­vince senior man­age­ment that our adver­tis­ing is work­ing.

Where It Gets Really Inter­est­ing

Ear­lier, I men­tioned that peo­ple may use the same source many times (before con­vert­ing) or make mul­ti­ple vis­its via many dif­fer­ent adver­tis­ing sources and key­words before com­plet­ing a goal on your site. Tra­di­tion­ally we didn't have this data so mak­ing informed deci­sions wasn't easy.

Take a look at the fol­low­ing graphic. This is a stan­dard report in MCF report­ing called 'Top Con­ver­sion Paths'. We get a much clearer pic­ture as to how our mar­ket­ing efforts are per­form­ing and inter­act­ing with each other.

In the above, we can see that Organic search, Social Net­works, Direct Traf­fic and Refer­ring sites have all played a range of roles in com­plet­ing the Goal con­ver­sion. That Goal maybe a large order, sign up or reg­u­lar rev­enue source that helps your busi­ness. In the above, we can see that our organic search cam­paign really is heav­ily involved with Goal con­ver­sions.

In the below screen­shot, Paid Adver­tis­ing has secured 5 of the 9 last inter­ac­tion Goal con­ver­sions - so its doing quite well. How­ever it has also helped secure a fur­ther 4 sales that the stan­dard Goal report would not have counted. What if any one of those orders was worth £1,000 or more? you begin to see why the stan­dard Goal report­ing is not ade­quate and MCF report­ing is essen­tial for proac­tive mar­ke­teers to assess the true worth of their adver­tis­ing chan­nels..

MCF report­ing really high­lights how cus­tomers won't nec­es­sar­ily do what you expect them to do and that in many cases, each adver­tis­ing chan­nel being used will assist in the process. So when try­ing to jus­tify maybe Face­book Ads, LinkedIn Ads or even PPC, MCF reports really are your best friend. As an added bonus, if you are run­ning ecom­merce report­ing, MCF reports also let you put a phys­i­cal sales value on your assists. Pretty handy stuff.


At Igni­tion, MCF report­ing allows us to high­light both the effec­tive­ness and com­plex­ity of our work to clients. For peo­ple we don't work with (yet), then we'd rec­om­mend hav­ing a look into MCF report­ing to help uncover the true value of your mar­ket­ing efforts. It really can be an 'eye opener' to what is actu­ally going behind the scenes.

This post was writ­ten by Jon Cole­gate, Direc­tor of Search.

Latest Posts