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.