Google Analytics Adds Conversion Funnel Benchmarking Tool

Plots channels' impacts on purchase paths by industry

With marketers all but required to play in multiple digital channels these days, ranging from online display to search to email, they are increasingly likely to have a hard time figuring out which channels to invest in at what point in a consumer’s path to conversion.

But since Google plays in most of those channels, and has a window into conversions (via e-commerce sites that use Google Analytics), it is now opening the shades for marketers to get a peek.

Today Google Analytics unveiled a benchmarking tool called The Customer Journey to Online Purchase. Similar to the mobile ad calculator introduced last month, the multichannel tool won’t directly help advertisers manage actual buys, but is intended as guide. Like those SparkCharts study aids, it won’t guarantee you ace the test, but it will help ensure you studied the right lesson.

Pulling purchase data from more than 36,000 e-commerce sites which have opted in to share that data with Google Analytics, the tool plots various marketing channels on a conversion path from awareness to consideration to intent and ultimately decision, and modifies the spectrum for seven countries and 11 different industries, including consumer packaged goods, finance and auto. “For [a particular] industry or all industries, you can see different marketing channels and what position they’re playing in the conversion funnel,” said Google Analytics engineering director Paul Muret.

The tool specifically examines how regularly a channel plays an assisting role (generating consumer interest at awareness, consideration or intent stage) versus acting as the last point of interaction, and then determine its place based on the assist-to-last-interaction ratio, Muret said. The ratio varies depending on the industry. For example, display may typically have a higher assist-to-interaction ratio, but for travel brands “display moves further to the right and is playing more as a call to action step,” he said.

Marketers will also be able to look at how long, or how many steps are in, the typical path to conversion is and how that affects the average order value. However that can be a dicey proposition for broad verticals like auto where a purchase can be a car or a tail light bulb (though the former is unlikely since the data is limited to online purchases).

To account for any outliers, Google is calculating the conversion paths based on the sites’ mean data. The insights could also fluctuate depending on a given marketer’s budgets and the channels it could afford to spend in, making it valuable if brands could filter verticals further into brand size or budget segments. That’s not the case right now, but Muret said his team is “definitely looking at that.”