Tracking Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics

Most experienced digital marketers use a variety of online channels to generate leads and online sales.

digital marketing channels

Tracking the Customer on their multi-channel buying journey

Understanding how customers move from awareness to purchase decisions while they interact with a variety of channels are key to maximizing marketing impact and returns.

In online marketing, when someone visits your website and completes a task, such as purchasing a product or service or exchanging contact information for some information such as an ebook or instructional video, it’s called a conversion.

Experienced digital marketers are  likely very familiar with conversions and what they are. Many have experience in setting up conversion tracking to evaluate which marketing investments are providing the best return.

In marketing, there are a number of touch points that build awareness, lead to consideration, drive buyer intent and then hopefully, lead to a purchase decision.

awareness consideration intent decision

multi-channel tracking from awareness through decision

For the sake of conversion tracking, let’s divide digital channels into of two roles based on their contribution towards a conversion.

  1. Assist: channels that build awareness, consideration and intent with users earlier in a conversion path
  2. Last Interaction: channels that act as the last point of contact prior to a conversion

Online marketers will often attribute all the credit for a conversion to the last ad, search, or referral clicked on directly before the conversion as that is the most straightforward method to attribute conversions by channel.

While simple to implement a last touch attribution tracking system, optimizing digital marketing channels with this limited perspective can negatively impact conversions and marketing ROI (Return On Investment).

Example of muti-channel sales funnel from awareness through conversion

Example of muti-channel sales funnel from awareness through conversion

Tracking Assists in Digital Marketing is Similar to Tracking Assists in Soccer or Basketball

In the real world, a conversion is a lot like scoring a goal in a soccer game. It takes a team to score a goal. If you were coaching a team, then wouldn’t you want to see all the players who assisted in the goal so you could identify how they interacted to come up with a game plan on how to best work together score more?

sports analogy assist conversion attribution

Tracking assists in soccer is as important as tracking goals for team strategy.

It’s the same scenario in online marketing. Each channel plays a role in supporting conversions. For instance, think of the marketing channels that drive traffic to your site as players, the ones making the assists are often just as important as the one making the goal.

The ways your customers interact with your channels or along their buying journey, from awareness, to intent, to consideration through conversion are all part of the online marketing funnel leading to conversion.

More often than not, your customers, in particular your new customers, interact with more with these channels than  they do with the final click that’s getting all the credit when evaluating channel effectiveness.

Now Imagine being able to see how your customers have interacted with all your digital channels leading up to the conversion. Just like the soccer coach tracking assists along with goals, you’d be able to identify channels making the most assists and optimize your marketing for more conversions.

The Google Anlaytics Multi-Channel Funnels

Here is an interesting video from the Google Analytics Team that uses a sports analogy to personify marketing channels as basketball team players and focusing on the path to a basket (i.e. conversion).

Google Anlaytics Multi-Channel Funnel Reports

Google Analytics users can define and set up goals or track ecommerce transactions in Google Analytics, Multi-Channel Funnels which illustrate how customers interact with various digital channels for up to a month or more before the conversion happens.

Overview Report

The Overview Report, users see a snapshot of the total number of conversions, as well as the number of conversions that had assists before the last click.

conversions multi channel funnels overview report

Google Analytics Conversions Multi-channel Funnels Overview report

Path Length Report

The Path Length Report shows the number of interactions visitors had with other digital channels, prior to converting. This report helps marketers see if conversions happened because of interactions in the marketing funnel or if the last ad clicked was solely responsible for the conversion.

Google Analytics Conversions Multi-channel Funnels - Path Length Report

Google Analytics Conversions Multi-channel Funnels – Path Length Report

Time Lag Report

Understanding customer purchasing behavior is one of the most valuable insights that any marketers can have. With the Time Lag Report, users can see the amount of time customers take from the first channel interaction to conversion.

Google Analytics - Conversions Multi-channel Funnels - Time Lag Peport

Google Analytics – Conversions Multi-channel Funnels – Time Lag Peport

Top Paths Report

The Top Paths Report shows the different routes customers take before the conversion. Users can view all of these paths through filters like campaign or keyword to see the popular paths through those customers take through the conversion funnel to find out what’s working best.

Google Analytics - Conversions Multi-channel Funnels - Top Paths Report

Google Analytics – Conversions Multi-channel Funnels – Top Paths Report

The Top Paths Report can also tell users how their channels work together, and in what order to deliver conversions. For instance, is an email marketing campaign can stimulate searches that lead to conversions .One example is an email newsletter trigging a branded search. Another example is a banner ad triggering direct visit.

Assisted Conversions Report

Users can get even more granular with the Assisted Conversions Report, where users can see which specific channels, campaigns, or keywords assisted in conversions and how. The Assisted Conversion report is a good tool to test and see how a new campaign or channel contributes to the multi-channel sale funnel.

Google Analytics - Conversions Multi-channel Funnels - Assisted Conversions Report

Google Analytics – Conversions Multi-channel Funnels – Assisted Conversions Report


Multi-Channel Funnel Reports in Google Analytics can be useful marketing tools, enabling users to visualize and analyze how customers interact with multiple marketing channels.

The insights these reports provide are useful inputs for optimizing a multi-channel marketing funnel designed to maximum conversions and marketing ROI.

Additional Resources

  1. TOOL >> The Customer Journey to Online Purchase
  2. Understanding Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels
  3. Multi-Channel & Attribution Analysis by Justin Cutroni Part I

  4. Multi-Touch Attribution with Google Analytics
  5. How To Get Past Last-Touch Attribution With Google Analytics

Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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