Why conversion segments in Google Analytics are sexy as hell for PR (#pranalytics, #CIPR)


I had the pleasure of presenting at the PR Analytics Conference in London last week along with a number of big names in the field including Pleon’s David Rockland and Jim Desler, Worldwide Head of PR for Microsoft.

There was a large audience of senior PR folk in the room. My presentation was about how PR pros could use Google Analytics (GA) to better effect. I had 25 mins to cram in as much as I could.

One of the things I highlighted in my talk was the use of multi-channel funnel analysis in GA.  In simple terms, it allows you to determine the direct and indirect contribution that various digital marketing channels make to your site conversion goals.

However, I didn’t have time at the  conference to go into the use of conversion segments.

Which was a shame because they really are very sexy (no, really).

Here’s a simple explanation for those unfamiliar with the concept.

GA allows you to see what mix of site interactions deliver a conversion eg sale of a product, video view, whatever. It also shows you the value of those interactions relative to the conversion.

Here’s an example. This is for a small (but real) e-commerce site selling a simple £11.99 product (normally you’d have a whole range of different products and different prices – but hopefully you can extrapolate from this).

Converstion Segments in Google Analytics

For this particular web property, it would seem that the most common conversion path for a sale is for people to arrive via one single search before purchasing. There are more complex interactions (not least #8 here which saw the person revisit the site 18 times directly before finally buying something!).

As part of my PR Analytics presentation, I talked about the problem of attribution in marketing and PR with relation to goals and objectives (most sales or comms processes have multiple steps – but which one should get the credit for the final transaction? Should the first step in the process get 100pc of the credit? Or the last step? In the absence of giving fair credit to all relevant steps in the conversion process, many people have opted for the last step ie the step immediately before the conversion.)

In PR terms, that typically means that much PR work would get no credit – because it rarely contributes the last step in the process. Its role is generally assistive to the overall process. However, the introduction of multi-channel funnels into GA last year allowed marketeers (and PR pros) for the first time to see both the direct and indirect value being delivered in relation to a defined goal.

SlingshotSEO recently produced an excellent whitepaper which showed how you can combine conversion segments with a multi-touch attribution analysis to determine which channel you may be overvaluing or under valuing if you are using a last attribution model.

They also had some great insight into the most common conversion paths (based on an analysis of over 23.5m transactions).  Two organic searches seems to be the most popular conversion path with two or more interactions. And referrals and organic search are consistently undervalued as conversion channels.

Which brings me back to the relevance to PR (at least online PR coverage).

Traffic from links in relevant online editorial coverage fall into the referrals bucket. If referrals are consistently being undervalued on a last attribution basis, it does seem to lend credence to the theory that PR does contribute indirect value – and now we have a way to determine exactly what the value of that contribution might be.

But here’s the thing. You have to define at least one goal in order to make this work.  No goals, no insight.

Brings in to sharp relief the fact that without defining concrete goals, you are almost certainly creating unnecessary pain and heartache for yourself. And your online PR efforts are almost certainly not getting the credit they deserve.

I’ll be looking in more detail at multi-channel funnel analysis and conversion segments in my strategic management presentation at CIPR headquarters, Russell Square, London, on Wednesday 28th  March on using web analytics to inform communications strategy and planning.

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