Ten Ways to Show Inbound Marketing ROI with Multi-Channel Funnels

Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels and inbound marketing ROIOften, people find you through blogs, social media and other forms of inbound marketing, but don't buy from you that day. When they do come back and do business with you, your inbound marketing channel may not get the credit it deserves for its role in the sale. As a result, inbound marketing ROI often tends to be understated. 

That is, until Google rolled out Multi-Channel Funnels last week. Rejoice all those who love great content, then take a look at these ten ways to show inbound marketing ROI with Multi-Channel Funnels from Google Analytics.

Many Roads Lead to Rome (and Conversion)

Inbound marketing may not always be the channel that converts, but it's often responsible for paving the way to new business. Multi-Channel Funnels provides a new way to see how your visitors interact with your website as they work their way through the buying cycle. Now you can see which channels initiate and assist in getting new business as well as the channels that close the sale.

Here are ten ways to use Google's new Multi-Channel Funnels to illustrate the rich interactions inbound marketing creates and to show inbound marketing ROI.

Anatomy of a conversion path

1. Use Multi-Channel Funnels with Your Current Goals

The new Multi-Channel Funnels work right out-of-the-box with your existing goals from your Google Analytics account. If you've set up a goal on your profile, these new reports apply retro-actively with no further configuration. As a result, reports like the Top Conversion Paths reports can be filtered to only display data for the goals you select.

Google Analytics Conversion Paths Report

2. Create Custom Conversion Segments for Insights Galore

What fun would Google Analytics be without the ability to apply segments? The new Multi-Channel Funnel reports allow you to create and apply custom conversion segments to all your reports to hone in on specific channels or sources of traffic. For example, you can create a segment to report all conversions where the first interaction with the visitor ever was through Twitter. Segments like this are awesome for showing the value of social media and other inbound marketing channels and the effect on the bottom line.

Google Analytics custom conversion segments

3. Identify Where People "Meet" Your Brand

Are you making a good impression when people new to your brand find you online? Use the custom conversion segments to create multiple segments to highlight which channels your visitors see first when dealing with your brand online.

Google Analytics first interactions

4. Learn the Duration of the Buying Cycle

People don't just suddenly get the urge to buy things on the Internet. Often the customer buying cycle can go on for weeks, months or years before prospects finally show up on your site and convert. Google Analytics shows the duration of the buying cycle with the Time Lag report. Applying conversion segments to this report can show how some channels lead to new business more quickly than others.

The inbound marketing buying cycle expressed in time

5. Discover When You Earn People's Trust

Google Analytics now also reports on the number of interactions with a website that occurred prior to conversion. This is great for content marketers, as inbound marketing builds trust over time to earn the sale. How many times did a person visit your site to read a blog post or watch a video before contacting you to do business? Yeah, Google Multi-Channel Funnel reports help with that too.

Number of interactions prior to conversion

 6. Determine Direct and Indirect Effects of Channels

Inbound marketing channels often have both direct and indirect outcomes. Using multiple custom conversion segments, it's easy to show the full picture of channels like organic search. In this example, organic search not only converts directly about 60% of my website conversions, but it's also responsible for introducing my brand to another 7.5% of my converting visitors that went on to convert through channels other than search. As a whole, organic search plays a part in nearly three quarters of all my conversions at some point.

Direct and indirect effects of inbound marketing channels

7. Use Custom Channel Groupings to Segment Channels

In addition to custom conversion segments, Google Analytics also allows you to create custom channel groupings to go beyond Google's default channel definitions (e.g., source, medium). For example, I created channel groupings to split out my organic traffic into channel groupings that show regular organic traffic, organic traffic that include "Squarespace" as a keyword and branded organic traffic (e.g., organic traffic containing keywords like "josh braaten" or "big picture web").

Google Analytics custom channel groupings

8. Summarize Your Helper Channels with Assisted Conversions

Google Analytics offers the Assisted Conversions Report to show which channels help support conversions on your site in addition to those that are directly responsible. Find the unsung heroes of your website or blog by highlighting the top assiting channels with these new reports.

Google Analytics Assisted Conversions report

9. Map Out the Well-Traveled Roads

One of my favorite Multi-Channel Funnel reports is the Top Conversion Paths report. Apply your custom channel groupings and your most common paths to conversion magically jump out of the report. People typically find my content within the search results (mostly my Squarespace how-to's), seek me directly, or find me through another site on the web before converting. This doesn't come as a surprise to me, but it's sure nice to see it quantified in the report.

Google Analytics Top Conversion Paths report

10. Find the Common Paths for Each Goal

Identifying the most commonly traveled inroads to your site is a good first step, but you'll want to look at your Top Conversion Paths report filtered by each goal as well. I was stunned to see the different paths people took to fill out my contact form, download my Squarespace eBook, or leave a comment on one of my blog posts. This type of information could become invaluable in fine-tuning a content creation and sharing strategy.

Inbound marketing conversions paths(Click to enlarge)

These are just some of the first few uses I could think of to show inbound marketing ROI with the new Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnels, but I'm sure there are countless more. Inbound marketers, now is the time to embrace the power of web analytics and to jump in to Google Analytics if you haven't already. 

If you're already a Google Analytics geek like me, what will you do with Multi-Channel Funnels?