The excess of digital media channels today (with new ones popping up daily) poses a fresh challenge to marketers. How do you evaluate a campaign performance in a multi-channel environment?
To do that, it’s essential to understand how multiple channels work together to drive conversions. Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnel Reports provide you with insights on the entire path to conversion instead of focusing on the last touch point.
Google Analytics introduced Multi-Channel Funnel (MCF) reports in August 2011. Lots of articles covered the release, but most didn’t venture beyond a description of the reports and associated metrics. The data has been available for six months now, yet only a handful of studies exist on the insights derived from these reports.
We decided that it was time to do our own probe.
We researched the conversion paths for select clients in the B2B-Technology space. We chose campaigns that had received more than 400 conversions, where at least 200 of these were from Paid Search in a month. This was to ensure that the percentages were not skewed by low volumes.
Integration of SEO and PPC
We found numbers that’ll excite supporters of a balanced SEO-PPC approach.
At the research phase, customers used Paid and Organic Search simultaneously.
Of the conversions that had a Paid Search visit, 37% had an Organic Visit as one of the paths to conversions.
Most ‘Last Interaction Prior to Conversion’ visits were ‘direct’; they accounted for 43% of conversions. Only 35% of conversions that involved a PPC visit had a PPC ‘Last Interaction Prior to Conversion’. In addition, 20% came from Organic.
For marketers who depend heavily on PPC and ignore SEO this is an eye-opener.
So, make sure your website ranks high organically for key generic terms. And pay lots of attention to your site content.
Role of Remarketing in PPC
Remarketing provides a great opportunity to give your visitors a second chance to convert. They have a high impact on PPC conversions.
For selected clients that ran remarketing campaigns, 53% of total PPC conversions (Last Interaction from PPC) were attributed to these campaigns.
There are, however, challenges in leveraging remarketing for B2B. For example, how long should these campaigns run in a B2B scenario with a long sales cycle?
Two reports help: the ‘Path Length’ Report under MCF to understand the number of visits, and the ‘Time Lag’ Report to understand the number of days it takes for a conversion.
We compared the path length for visitors from remarketing campaigns to visitors from regular PPC campaigns. Our conclusions:
- For regular PPC campaigns, most conversions occur at the first visit.
- For remarketing campaigns, though 65% of conversions occur during the second visit (that’s the remarketing campaign visit), a significant 25% of conversions take between 3 to 5 visits.
- From an ROI standpoint, it isn’t useful to target visitors beyond 6 visits.
- Remarketing conversions occur over a maximum of 8 visits; regular PPC campaigns take upto 12 visits. This shows that remarketing shortens the overall sales-cycle; it is most effective between 2-5 visits when 90% of conversions occur.
The raison d’etre of SEO is to generate organic traffic and leads from Non-brand Keywords.
But measuring SEO performance using conversion rate as a metric has its shortcomings. In the typical conversion path with multiple visits, the Non-brand Keyword may not get credited for the conversion.
So it’s important to track the volume and percentage of Non-brand Keywords that set off a conversion path.
We found that 34% of conversions that started with an Organic Visit, started from a Non-brand Keyword. If this number increases over time, you can be sure that your SEO campaign is working.
A question that most marketers ask themselves (and their agencies) is: “Why should I bid and pay for a click to my Brand Term when I already rank organically for them?”
PPC campaigns cannot afford to miss out on your Brand Terms; the value of bidding on them are validated by numerous available studies.
A quick, accurate check reveals what proportion of your PPC conversions started with a Brand Term: higher that number, higher the risk of losing conversions by stopping brand campaigns.
For the B2B companies in our study, 28% of conversions that started from PPC contained Brand Terms.
Google Analytics follows the last click attribution for conversions. But if we only measure conversions for the last channel a customer interacted with before final conversion, it gives an incomplete picture. It misses out on important opportunities that reach and engage customers.
With multi-channel funnels, one has insights on what channels/keywords initiated the conversion, what assisted and what closed it.
Multi-channel reports show
- The number of conversions with multiple interactions
- The sequence of the paths
However, it does not tell us which of the interactions in the path were most influential.
The answer to this lies in statistical experiments.