How to Analyze Conversion Paths Using Google Analytics
Posted at Sep 24, 2019 12:15:00 PM by THAT Agency | Share
Customers tend to follow a long conversion path before making a purchase. According to Monster, 95% of visitors will not convert on their very first visit. This makes sense. They have more web analytics tools than ever to comparison shop and check reviews. With everything at their fingertips online, customers also don't feel the pressure of being in a store with a schedule and a salesperson looking at them with the expectation to buy. They can take their time. You'll still be there in a few days.
An assisted conversion is how Google measures an interaction that leads to someone clicking to the website – outside of the final click. This can help you understand the effectiveness of a multi-channel marketing approach.
The tool that allows this is Google Analytics Multichannel Funnel. It provides three categories of conversion: First Click, Assisted, and Last Click/Direct.
You can understand first and last click categories as covering the first channel or last interaction before the conversion. This leaves assisted conversions to account for any channel that figured along the conversion path outside of the last channel and direct traffic.
Too often, a value is assigned to last clicks or direct conversions when so many other factors contributed to closing the sale. This creates pitfalls of completely missing the value of other channels when they do in fact contribute greatly. Assisted conversions are a way of assigning that value to these other factors as well. This allows you to see the full value these other channels contribute.
The Value of Assisted Conversions
The value is that conversions very rarely happen on their own. Successful marketing has long been built on reinforcing the value of a brand over and over again. This is especially true in online marketing environments where building community around brands is essential.
Assisted conversions help you understand how the value of your brand is built and understood. What channels are reinforcing that? What channels are people sharing to reinforce that in others? You can't understand that with direct conversion data alone. Assisted conversion shows you the full picture of how people come to learn and value your brand and its narrative.
Walking the Conversion Path
There's a reason most customers won't convert on their first visit. They'll look at content, bookmark you, check out your reviews, follow you on social media, click on more content, think about buying, comparison shop around, be reminded by a remarketing ad, see you on social media, and finally will do a search on your brand name to get reconnected to your website, where they purchase.
Last Click measurements will only show you that they found you via a search on your brand name. In the above example, that's useless. All the credit goes to the step that least influenced them to purchase. This isn't to say Last Click models aren't useful. They can give you one part of the picture.
The point is, you're missing the full picture if you're not even bothering to look at it. Google Analytics assisted conversions are a way to see the entire picture and measure the impact of other channels and steps. This can better help you understand what most effectively leads to a purchase and builds community around your brand.
Google Analytics Assisted Conversions
Let's focus on this toolset because it's one of the most complete ways to understand how assisted conversions market your brand. Assisted conversions are measured in Google Analytics by how often they appeared in the conversion path but weren't the final conversion.
This is a key toolset for helping you understand brand awareness, and how and where it spreads. Think about documentary filmmakers who track wildlife. They can tell exactly where it went and how long it spent there. This helps them understand behavior, where to film, how to set up, where the hunting grounds might be, how long it travels and how quickly.
There's definitely only so far you want to go with this metaphor, but the idea is that assisted conversions give you similar information in the wilderness that is online behavior. You can understand what the best channels are for brand awareness, remarketing, brand reinforcement, and how immediately they encourage a later conversion.
Time Lag and Path Length
This is where Time Lag and Path Length come in. Time lag measures the number of days from first touchpoint to final conversion.
Path Length shows you the number of times someone interacted with your site in order to complete the final conversion.
Combine these two, and you have the shape of behavior for how customers engage with your website. For instance, this may reveal that a significant portion of your customers buy after a Time Lag of three weeks. That suggests your remarketing efforts are both successful and worthy of investment.
Or you may find that path length is longer than the Time Lag would suggest. That means a lot of revisits in a shorter amount of time. That means something of value was encouraging them to come back a lot. Often that points to quality content creation.
There are a variety of filters you can use in the Google Analytics assisted conversions tool. You can break down the value of assisted conversions by social media referrals, or by source paths from different websites.
Advanced filters allow you to assess how a single website fits into conversion paths. The filters can be as broad or as specific as you want them to be, and they reveal which assisted conversions have been most valuable for driving traffic to your website.
Multi-channel funnels allow you to apply a complex analytical lens to how customers learn about your business, begin to trust it, grow comfortable with it, and eventually buy from it and encourage others to do so. Last Click models at best just show you how someone eventually buys. That has some value but it can't show you the full picture that contributes to that purchasing decision, why customers repeat, or how communities form around your brand.
This is easier to understand when you use a tool designed to show you exactly these elements. In turn, this makes it easier for you to repeat your successes. After all, it's easier to run a successful marketing campaign when you understand all the parts of what worked about the last one.