Understand your most valuable marketing channels

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A while back, I had suggested that you would want to balance your traffic sources so that your website and digital marketing properties were not overly reliant on any one source of traffic. I still very much believe in balanced pie, but I wanted to add some subtlety to the idea.

For calendar year to date 2012, here’s what my site traffic looks like, in terms of balance.

Traffic Sources Overview - Google Analytics

I’m overweight on search, about right on referral traffic, and underweight in campaigns and direct. The question is, which of these pie slices is actually most valuable? Let’s head to our assisted conversions report.

Assisted Conversions - Google Analytics

Hmm. Even though organic search is 45% of my traffic, it’s not 45% of my conversion value. In fact…

Assisted Conversions - Google Analytics

That’s right – referral traffic accounts for 37% of the conversion volume on a last touch basis, and because the ratios of assisted to last touch are so low (see the above table), referral clearly dominates the value being generated.

So we know that referral traffic constitutes the more valuable traffic. What if I want to double down and try to boost the most valuable sources of traffic? What specifically in referral traffic is driving value? On the assisted conversions report, filter by referral and we see:

Assisted Conversions - Google Analytics

A good portion of the juice is in Twitter and LinkedIn. If I were trying to ascertain what were the more valuable activities I could be doing to drive revenue, clearly whatever I’ve been doing on Twitter and LinkedIn this calendar year, I need to be doing more of, as that’s what’s driving conversion in the referral category.

I still maintain the position of the original article, that you should bring balance to your pie. However, add to that strategy this dimension of looking at your traffic sources and seeing which ones are driving the most traffic, and as long as you’re not grossly overweight (at risk) in that traffic source, find the one or two pedals you can step on a little more and see if that generates additional valuable activity on your website.

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4 responses to “Understand your most valuable marketing channels”

  1. I like to think of this using an investment metaphor. You even hinted at it in your last sentence (“overweight”). Everyone knows you need to have a diversified portfolio in order to minimize risk. The exact allocation and risk level changes from person to person just like there is no single ideal distribution of traffic sources.

    Using this metaphor, the traffic sources are investment sectors and the conversion rates are the returns you’re earning. Just because you may be earning great returns in one sector doesn’t necessarily mean you want to become “grossly overweight” there because markets change. The converse is also true. So your core message about balance is still spot-on.

    1. I suppose that’s what I get for blogging right after I cruise through Bloomberg 🙂 Thanks, Jon.

  2. Well, certainly great statistics you have provided and I agree with you on the point of getting to know the more valuable channel to get more traffic from there and for me facebook social media channel working great and its been proving day by day.

  3. Do you have a cheat sheet somewhere how to tell GA to fill in data in that assisted conversions section? Or for the conversions module period? That’s a part of GA I’ve yet to tinker with. Thanks.

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