Published: 15 January 2018

Assisted conversions are Google’s measure of any interaction, other than the final click, that lead to a consumer converting on a website. Measuring a channel’s impact using assisted conversions allows site owners to understand the true value of a multi-channel approach to delivering conversions.

To help marketers understand the impact of their strategy, Google Analytics’ Multichannel Funnel breaks down the role of channels in the conversion path into three possible areas:

  • First click conversions
  • Assisted conversions 
  • Last click/direct conversions

Google's MCF assisted conversion view

First-click covers the very first channel involvement on the road to conversion, and last-click attributes the conversion to the channel that contributed the last direct interaction before a conversion.

Out-of-the-box, the number you see in the conversions column is the total number of last click conversions (excluding direct) within your chosen timeframe.

Which leaves assisted conversions as a catch-all figure for any channel that had influence along the path to conversion, excluding the very last attributable channel or direct traffic.

How do you make sense of the assisted conversions figure?

Let’s look at an example - if a customer path to conversion is:

Display -> Paid Search -> Organic -> Direct with a conversion value of £500

In standard Analytics reporting, organic would be seen as the catalyst for conversion and, if values are assigned, would be credited with a £500 conversion.
However, that ignores the impact of the other channels. By using the Multichannel Funnel reports, each channel is treated equally, including direct traffic which is (by default) ignored as the main conversion channel. Using MCF, with the same conversion path:

Display -> Paid Search -> Organic -> Direct and a conversion value of £500

The attribution would look like this:
MCF Channel Assisted Conversions Assisted Conversion Value Last Click / Direct Conversions Last Click / Direct Conversion Value
Display  1  500    
Paid Search  1  500    
Organic Search  1  500    
Direct      1  500
From this, you can see the impact each channel has on a conversion and gauge the impact of your strategy over and above just looking at the very final point in a conversion path.

Each channel is given an assist and a value, so for the above example you, arguably, could take out one of the channels and the not have delivered a final conversion. Each assist is assigned the same conversion value and given one assisted conversion. This can deliver an inflated number and value of assisted conversions - however, what’s important here is seeing the impact of each channel in a conversion path, rather than relying on the overall assisted conversion total.

Investigate the Multichannel Funnel further and you will find a whole host of ways to refine and better utilise the true conversion path (which we’ll cover in another blog).

Why should you care about assisted conversions?

As the number of digital channels that can successfully influence consumers grows, the requirement for a way to understand the value of each channel to a business’ bottom line and a website’s conversion path.

Compare your customers’ offline journey to that of their online journey. Offline, you may run print ads in a newspaper, TV and radio spots, OOH across the transport network or direct mail. Each of these seeks to influence potential customers at a different point in their decision-making process. Some look to address the pre-need stage, others to tackle those who understand the need for a product, but are yet to take action. These channels then drive people toward the ultimate end goal of taking action and completing the conversion funnel.

Each of these elements can play a part in the process but generally, a physical store, website or app store will deliver the final purchase/conversion action. Would you class every other channel as a failure and only attribute sales to the store or website, with no consideration for the multiple touch points on the way?

Digital is no different, with multiple channels and routes to your audience all playing a different role in edging consumers toward the final outcome, and each channel deserves fair credit - this is the role of an assisted conversion.

How do you explain the impact of an assist?

As much as the rise of digital marketing has changed the way we interact with consumers, the core strategies that we follow remain the same. Equally, the success criteria and methods of quantifying our marketing efforts haven’t dramatically changed.

Look back to the Mad Men era - did clients laugh at creative teams who suggested an ad campaign would drive people to a brand? Did marketing teams demand to know exactly how many people had seen a 48 sheet and then want to know exactly how many of those people then marched over to a store and purchased a product?

In an age where digital has been sold with the promise of data-led insight and absolute measurability, you can understand why the idea of measuring digital channels that weren’t directly responsible for a conversion can cause a raised eyebrow or two.

The conversation is won and lost in the explanation, early on, of exactly where and what each channel’s purpose is. Run display advertising and promise similar conversion levels to that of a pure search PPC campaign and you’re going to have some explaining to do when it comes to reporting your lack of success. Explain display’s purpose in loading the top of the funnel and delivering brand awareness, that then moves into a conversion of some nature further down the line and you’ve managed expectations.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that, with the right setup, can give you a genuine picture of your multi-channel efforts - look beyond the ‘conversions’ column and you’ll have a far clearer view of the success your spend is delivering.

If the idea of quantifying your multi-channel strategy’s value concerns you, or you’re struggling to get the most out of Analytics, get in touch and we’ll happily have a no-obligation discussion to see where we can help, speak to us now on hello@sagittarius.agency or 01233 467800.

Kier Humphreys

Head of Customer Experience

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