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Attribution modelling, multi-channel funnels, customer journey mapping... it's all very hot at the moment.

As part of my preparation for a talk I'm giving this Wednesday I had a look at Econsultancy.com's own data for how different digital marketing channels contributed to conversions.

I was interested by what I found so wanted to share it here to see what others are learning. 

Below is data from the last few months from Google Analytics using their Assisted Conversions report within Multi-Channel Funnels. 

NOTE: I have ranked this by the final column (assisted/last interaction conversions). Google explains this value as follows:

A value close to 0 indicates that this channel functioned primarily as the final conversion interaction. A value close to 1 indicates that this channel functioned equally in an assist role and as the final conversion interaction. The more this value exceeds 1, the more this channel functioned in an assist role.


My initial observations would be:

  • It is surprising perhaps that email is the "most assist-y" channel? Are we all still thinking about email too much as a direct/sales-driver channel?
  • Social media, not surprisingly, has a very high appearance as a channel that assists in many conversions but is more rarely the last click.
  • Organic search drives a lot of value and conversions but, perhaps surprisingly, looks for us to be more of a 'last click' channel. People search, we rank, they click, they buy (or not). That's the journey.
  • "Direct" as a medium has grown a lot for us in the last year. Unfortunately 'direct' is shrouded in some mystery now but is mostly made up of social referrals with no obvious referrer and, of late, a large chunk of encrypted Google natural search referrals

What I haven't shown in the above, but is also very interesting, is what happens to these rankings when you add another dimension which is whether the visitor is a 'new' visitor or not.

The two interesting things about that are

a) It shows most of our social media assisted conversions are from existing customers (as you might expect).

b) Email is still the most assist-y channel for *new* visitors which must be from where existing customers have passed on our emails. 

So the big "email is dead" contention? I don't think so. Indeed it is probably being undervalued as people don't realise just how assist-y it is as a channel.

Social plays a big part in the assisting of sales, particularly of existing customers. And SEO still scores big on volume and value but is perhaps more of a 'closer' channel than we thought?

It certainly makes you focus on the actual site experience more, and onsite conversion rate optimisation, if you realise that all that SEO traffic coming to your site either converts, or is perhaps lost forever...

Above is how things appear for us. But we're only one kind of business with a particular customer type. What are you finding?

Ashley Friedlein

Published 24 April, 2012 by Ashley Friedlein @ Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein is Founder of Econsultancy and President of Centaur Marketing. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

89 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Mark Edmondson

Mark Edmondson, Senior SEO/Analytics Consultant at Guava|Netbooster

A small correction, the Direct channel shouldn't include logged in users of Google as they are still recorded as google/organic - its not a traditional https as some referral data is kept, just the keyword is stripped out. I agree with your findings though to have seen email giving a lot more assists than expected!

about 5 years ago


Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

The email figure at the top of the list comes as no surprise to me.

I've seen plenty of more extreme examples within the pure ecommerce world. This makes sense, since the bulk of many ecommerce mailing list addresses are added when placing an order. So they are extremely good prospects.

And in reality email may be under-credited even by these new reports, since it seems very reasonable to expect that people who click through from a promotional email on a mobile device may decide not to complete a conversion during that visit. They return instead on a non-mobile device later. Since the return visit is via a different screen with different cookies, the email will be nowhere in the history and will not even be credited as an assist.

about 5 years ago


Beth Ingason, RYA Publications Administrator at RYA

Within the article, it mentions that social media plays a big part in assisting sales especially with existing customer.

It would be interesting to see what people think about generating sales from new customers. Is this where we would like exisitng customer to re tweet us / recommend us to others?

about 5 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

@Mark - yes, thanks for pointing that out. You are quite correct the encrypted natural search referrals show under 'organic search' just without the search keyword data as you say. We have seen a big rise from in 'Direct' as a channel which comes partly, we believe, from auto-completes in browser URL bars but mostly from social media clients like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite etc. referring traffic.

about 5 years ago


Matt Lillig

What about display? Did that fall into the "referral" or "other" buckets? Or were you not running display campaigns?

about 5 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at Econsultancy, Centaur MarketingStaff

@Matt We weren't running display campaigns.

about 5 years ago

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis, Google Analytics Analyst at Koozai

It's good to see these statistics, I've found that email has a very good assist rate for ecommerce clients of mine too.

I have also got very good insights from doing this by PPC campaign breakdowns and comparing search and display, it really helped prove the hidden value of AdWords traffic from each campaign.

almost 5 years ago

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