You can not manage what you do not measure. Without measurement there is no gauge on progress, and it becomes virtually impossible to determine if your marketing efforts have been effective in building business and reaching your goals. Too many ecommerce businesses do not take full advantage of the analytic suites available to them. They install what they call "tracking," when in reality, the information they are recording means little to the effectiveness of their overall objectives.
"Tracking" often follows visitors through what is called a funnel to determine the effectiveness of a particular channel of the business. In a funnel, the visitor enters your website at a specific point and is guided toward an end objective. That objective can be anything: a download, a contact request or in ecommerce, ideally a sale. However, a visitor seldom follows a perfect liner path to a conversion. More often they start at one point, go through a series of channels along the way called micro-conversions, go back to a few earlier channels (or find new channels), and then complete the final objective, the macro conversion.
Understanding what micro conversions or points along the way your ecommerce visitors take to complete the objective is critical in fine-tuning your marketing efforts at each step. Tracking only the last contact point of the funnel (i.e. the last page or ad the user clicked before they made the conversion), versus tracking every point along the way, is ineffective and leaves a lot on the table. For example, a visitor clicks your PPC ad, but then after arriving at your site, leaves at some point and does not complete the sale. They come across your Facebook page a week later, look over that, then take an offer you had on the page to download more information about a specific product via email, and they leave again. A week after that, they read over the information about the product and click a bookmark they made of your site upon one of their initial visits. This time they decide to make the purchase.
If you were only tracking from the final entry point to the end conversion you would believe that this conversion originated from a 'direct referral' such as a bookmark. The conversion did come from the direct link to the site, but that was not where the funnel truly started. The way your customers interact with your entire sales channel, not just part of it, leads to what happens in the end. If you knew exactly which channels they interacted with before they reached the final point leading to a conversion, you could set up more fine-tuned marketing efforts at each stop along the way.
Thanks to Google's introduction of multi-channel sales funnels, the landscape has changed and we are now able to see a more complete representation of the exact path and timeframe taken to a given conversion.
Multi-channel sale funnels include tracking for, but are not limited to:
Paid and organic search (for all search engines)
Custom campaigns, including offline campaigns that send traffic to vanity URLs.
With this new information in front of you, it is now possible to see that the first contact with this new customer in our previous example came through your PPC advertising and not through the direct link alone, and this was approximately three weeks prior to the actual conversion occurring. Although initial visits did not produce a sale, it did get the visitor interested in knowing your company further through other channels.
How do you setup and use the multi-channel sales funnels? You don not really need to set up multi-channel sales funnels in Google Analytics. They are already represented in a set of reports. However, you do need a few things active within your Analytics account for the reports to be made available to you:
- You must have either Goals or Ecommerce Tracking turned on for your website.
- You must be using the new version of Google Analytics (click the "New Version" link from your Analytics dashboard to activate it).
- Once you have got those two items in place, you should now see a new tab called, "My Conversions," at the top of your page within Google Analytics. Use that tab to navigate to the multi-channel funnels area.
For even more detailed information about your advertising campaigns, make sure you link your AdWords account to your Analytics account. More often than not, those who become customers do not simply follow a straight path to a conversion. With the various channels available today, they may click an ad, visit one of your social media pages, follow your tweets, read your emails, etc. If you knew precisely the route they took to generate the final conversion, you would have more power to optimize your marketing at each point along the way, increasing your opportunity of closing more sales. That is what multi-channel sales funnels do for your business.
Eric Leuenberger is an ecommerce conversion marketing expert and author of a leading Ecommerce blog at www.TheEcommerceExpert.com. He coaches store owners using his online coaching system, EcommerceAmplifier.com, teaching how to increase website sales using his proven six step process. Contact Eric at 1-866-602-2673.
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