Google Analytics Inaccuracies

Google Analytics Inaccuracies

Jan 25, 2012 | Written by Joey Dorrington

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool, don't get me wrong.  It allows me to analyse website data for clients and figure out how people are using the website, what they like, what the don't like and where the best sources of traffic come from.  Now it even allows me to look at the series of visits which lead to a conversion and take a pan-session look at how they interact with the website.  The new Multi-Channel funnels in Google Analytics are a fantastic tool, but there is a common problem which needs to be addresses.

First Interaction or Last Interaction?

As mentioned above, in Google Analytics you can now track how a visitor interacts with your website over a number of visits before they evenually convert.  Sometimes they convert on a first visit, sometimes they convert over 2, 3 or 4 visits.  Below is a chart which shows the top conversion paths for a client.

multi-channel funnelsThis type of analysis is very important as the old way of doing analysis only attributed the conversion (the square shaped box) to the last interaction source (or keyword, or medium etc).  Now we can focus on channels or keywords which focus on getting visitors into the conversion funnel, not just those that close the deal.

The only issue is that when you look at the data (I've done this over 100 times) it never matches up to figures from other areas of Google Analytics.  Let me explain.  The last interaction results should match up with the results reported in Adwords, but they never do.  This is a real issue for me as it brings the accuracy of Google Analytics into question.  I'm happy to do an analysis using the one data set and optimise campaigns as you are comparing apples with apples, but it is difficult to explain this to clients when the data doesn't match up.

I feel that part of the reason this happens is the way Google Analytics attributes First interaction, last interaction and assisted interactions.  When you have a long chain of visits leading up to a conversion it is simple... the first click is the first interaction, the last click is the last interaction and all of the middle interactions are assisted interactions.  However, how does it work for conversions that take place in 1 or 2 visits.

For the 1 visit example... is it considered a first click, a last click, or both?

For the 2 visit example... is the first click a frist click, an assisted click and is the second click just a last click?

When you go through and run the numbers they never match up and this is a concern.

So this is my challenge to Google... please ensure you data in the assisted conversion reports matches up to the data in the top conversions paths.  And it would be even better if the Last interaction results would match up to the eCommerce or Adwords reports in Google Analytics!

 

 

25.01 2012
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