How to use Channels Report in Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, a channel or a marketing channel is a group of several traffic sources with the same medium.

For example ‘organic search’ is a marketing channel. It can be made up of following traffic sources with the same medium called ‘organic’:

  1. google (as in google / organic)
  2. yahoo (as in yahoo / organic)
  3. bing (as in bing / organic)
  4. aol (as in aol / organic) etc

Step-1: Navigate to the ‘Channels’ report:

Step-2: Make sure the date range of the report is set to the last three months.

Step-3: Click on the ‘Ecommerce’ tab of the report:

Step-4: Scroll down to the data table and make a note of all the marketing channels in terms of generating traffic to the website: 

For example, from the data table above we can conclude the following:

>> The majority of website traffic (57%) came from organic search followed by direct traffic (15%), referral (13%), social media (4%), other (3%), Paid Search (2.92%), Affiliates (2.54%) and Display (2%). 

Step-5: Sort the data table by ‘Revenue’ metrics and take a note of all the marketing channels in terms of generating website sales: 

Step-6: Calculate the per user value for each marketing channel. For example, 

Every person who visited the website from organic search marketing channel is worth = $8,751.78 / 92,171 = $0.09

Every person who visited the website from Paid search marketing channel is worth = $1,296.13 / 4,719 = $0.27

Every person who visited the website from referral marketing channel is worth = $467.00 / 21,857 = $0.02

Insight – Every person who visited the website from a paid search marketing channel is three times ($0.27 / $0.09) more valuable than a person who visited the website from an organic search marketing channel. You should consider increasing your ad spend on Google Ads. 

Step-7: Click on the ‘Organic Search’ link in the data table:

Step-8: Click on the ‘Source’ primary dimension:

Step-9: From the data table, take note of the top 3 to 5 organic search traffic sources in terms of generating website traffic: 

For example, from the data table above we can conclude the following:

>> The majority of organic search traffic (97%) came from Google, followed by Baidu, Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo.

Step-10: Sort the data table by ‘Revenue’ metrics and take note of the top 3 to 5 organic search traffic sources in terms of generating website sales: 

For example, from the data table above we can conclude the following:

>> The majority of organic search sales (94%) came from Google, followed by Bing and Yahoo. 

>> Both Ask and Baidu did not result in any website sales.

Step-11: Scroll up the ‘channels’ report and then click on the down arrow button at the top:

Step-12: From the drop-down menu click on the ‘Referral’ option:

Step-13: Scroll down to the data table and take note of the top 3 to 5 referral websites in terms of generating website traffic:

Step-14: Sort the data table by ‘Revenue’ metrics and take note of the top 3 to 5 referral websites in terms of generating website sales.

Step-15: Scroll up the ‘channels’ report and then again click on the down arrow button at the top:

Step-16: From the drop-down menu click on the ‘Social’ option:

Step-17: Scroll down to the data table and take note of the top 3 to 5 social websites (like ‘reddit.com’, ‘getpocket.com’ etc) in terms of generating website traffic.

Step-18: Sort the data table by ‘Revenue’ metrics and take note of the top 3 to 5 social websites in terms of generating website sales.

Step-19: Repeat steps 15 to 18 for all other marketing channels (like ‘other’, ‘Paid Search’, ‘Affiliates’, ‘Display’ etc).

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Himanshu Sharma

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Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers' purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years of experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

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