Multi-channel / multi-visit reporting in analytics

Mark  Ryan

August 10, 2011

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There is a significant problem in most web analytics suites today.  Many conversion paths require multiple visits to a site and to other channels (i.e. YouTube, Facebook, eMail).  For instance, customers searching for a mortgage will visit a site two to six times before applying, and those customers that interact with multiple channels during those visits are more likely to apply.  But most web analytics solutions, even the expensive ones, don't do a great job reporting multi-visit/multi-channel data in a useful format.

Marketers need a comprehensive view of customer navigation behaviors to know how to effectively use external sites such as Facebook applications and complex functions such as personalization.

Web analytics platforms such as Webtrends, Google Analytics, and Adobe Site Catalyst have a difficult time reporting on how the different online channels (i.e. SEO, PPC, Social networking sites, email marketing, etc) assist each other in converting visitors.

The recent Beta of Google Analytics Multi-Channel reporting is a EUREKA moment for the web analytics industry in that it reports on this behavior in a practical format that marketers can easily interpret.   This function has easy to use reports for analyzing and drilling down into the following bits of information:

  • What channels (web, email, social, etc) contribute to a conversion event
  • How long it takes to convert (i.e. 3 visits on average)
  • Which pieces of content (i.e. videos, product pages, etc) matter the most on a first, second, third, etc visits
  • How long does it take for a visitor to convert into a lead (i.e. 25 days)
  • How many people from the organization visit the site before a conversion happens (i.e. 5 visitors)
  • Which channels/content offers the best assist to programs such as pay-per-click in converting visitors
  • Which channels are best at starting a sales cycle and/or closing a sales cycle

The GA reports do have some limitations.  For example, they limit the data to 30 days of visits.  For companies with sales cycles that span several months, these reports are still relevant but will not show the complete picture.  GA managers can still use custom variables to show multiple visits over longer periods of time.

For the analytics industry, this is a very exciting development and I look forward to future interactions that take into account longer visitor cycles and multiple stakeholder visits.