Ultimate Guide to Google Channel Analytics Simplified 101

Last Modified: December 29th, 2022

Websites are widely used for distributing and collecting Data. These are used by individuals, corporations, and organizations to spread the word about who they are and what they bring to the table. Websites can also be used to acquire Data from users via contact forms. Websites are used by E-Commerce companies like Amazon to sell things to their customers.

However, creating and hosting websites is not enough. You need to understand the Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior Metrics associated with the visitors. It is also necessary to perform Channel Analytics to understand the performance of various sources. Google Analytics is used to carry out all these processes.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Google Analytics

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The Search Engine Powerhouse that is Google offers a free Website Analytics solution called Google Analytics. It allows owners of websites and apps (both businesses and individuals) to track and report on a variety of user Data. Google acquired the Web Data Analysis business Urchin in 2005, and Google Analytics was formed soon after. Since its launch, it has grown to become the most widely used Web Analytics application.

Google has been upgrading the platform, adding new features, refining its strategy, and making it crucial for practically any online business since its launch. At its most basic level, Google Analytics helps businesses better understand their customers by evaluating the Data they generate.

The service provides several ways to learn more about how people interact with websites. With only a little technical background, users can acquire a comprehensive and easy-to-understand view of a variety of critical Metrics.

Key Features of Google Analytics

The features given below are a few of the many features of Google Analytics:

1) Conversion Tracking

Once you’ve identified the conversion points on your website, you can use Google Analytics to track them (for example, a contact form submission, an E-Commerce sale, or a phone call). You’ll be able to see when someone converted and from which Traffic Source they were referred.

2) Keyword Referrals

Referral Data from keywords and other sources can be tracked using Google Analytics. Specific Data is obscured as a result of Google’s new implementation of encrypted connections for signed-in users, although SEO teams can still track some keywords for campaign efficacy. You may see terms from visitors that aren’t using Google’s SSL connection standards, as well as keywords you pay for in Google Ads, by looking at your referral Data in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

3) Custom Dashboards

Google Analytics allows you to create Semi-Custom Dashboards for your Metrics. If you need them, you can add Web Traffic, Conversions, and Keyword Referrals to your dashboard. The first screen you see when you log in to your website’s profile is your Dashboard, which can be exported in PDF and CSV format for ease of sharing and collaboration.

4) Third-Party Referrals

You’ll be able to see which Third-Party websites referred people to your website. This can help you figure out which websites are worth spending more time on, as well as whether any new websites have linked to yours.

5) Traffic Reporting

At its most basic level, Google Analytics is a Traffic Reporter. The service will provide you with daily Statistics on the number of visitors to your website. You can also track patterns over time to understand how they influence your Digital Marketing choices.

For further information on Google Analytics, visit the official website here.

Understanding Basic Reports in Google Analytics

Web Analytics reporting was pioneered by Google Analytics. By leveraging Google Analytics, one can track, measure, and report Website Traffic. You may learn more about your potential consumers, including who they are, where they came from, and what actions they take on your Website, using Google Analytics.

There are a lot of visitors on your website that engage in a variety of activities. Link Clicks, Form Submissions, Scrolling Down, Subscribing to the Newsletter, Signing up for a Product or Service, and so on are some of the actions they take. To track those actions, a Google Analytics Tracking Code must be installed on each page of your website.

Only after the Tracking Code has been installed and activated, you’ll be able to access other reports such as Audience Overview Report, Acquisition Report, All Traffic / Channels Report, Behavior Report, Paid Campaigns Report, Conversion Reports, and more. Broadly the reports are divided into three categories.

1) Audience Reports

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The Audience Report in Google Analytics will give you information about the people who come to your website. The Audience Reports give you information about your users’ characteristics. Statistics on the Demographics (Age, Gender), the way visitors act (New vs. Returning, Frequency & Recency, Engagement), Total number of visits in a certain month, Average Page Toper Session Users visit on your website, Average Time Duration a User spends on your website, Visitors Bounce Rate, Audience Exit Pages, and so on are some of the details collected in an Audience Report.

2) Acquisition Reports

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With Acquisition Reports, you can learn where your visitors are coming from, which websites are referring Traffic to your website, which Channel/Medium converts the most consumers, Sponsored vs Organic results, Social Campaigns Statistics, Organic Keywords people search to reach your website, and so on.

3) Behavior Reports

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In the navigation panel on the left, under Acquisition Reports, you’ll find Behavior Reports. User Interaction in a website is tracked using Behavior Reports. You can analyze user behavior on your website and track actions such as Link Clicks, Button Clicks, Form Submissions, and so on. Some of the useful reports obtained from Google Analytics Behavior Report are Site Content Reports, Search Query Reports, Site Speed Reports, and Top Event Reports.

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Introduction to Channel Analytics

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Channel Analytics is a subset of Web Analytics that encompasses Direct Mail, Customer Contact Centres, Mass Media, Retail or Branch Locations, and all other Distribution or Customer-Interaction Channels. The various aspects of a business, such as payment and shipping operations, as well as customer assistance and authentication, must be assessed and analyzed. Costs, Consumption, Efficiency, Integrity, Integration with other systems, and the value of each Channel are examined separately and concerning one another using Channel Analytics.

Key Advantages of Channel Analytics

While Channel Analytics may require some time and effort, it provides value to many of the Business Intelligence tools that companies are already using. Here are a few examples of how Channel Analytics improves Forecasting, Predictive Analytics, and Modeling abilities:

  • Using Channel Analytics one will be able to forecast revenue based on changing customer behavior by developing and using Forecasting Algorithms from both Digital and Conventional Channels. It would be fairly simple to determine the level of confidence in distinct buying segments by leveraging Statistical Models with Channel Analytics techniques.
  • As Channel Analytics skills increase, one will be able to create models that forecast the Traffic and Revenue impact of changes in the communication mix. One such use case could be making real-time modifications to key phrases in pay-per-click Marketing Campaigns.
  • Using Channel Analytics there will be a better understanding of the relationship between the different Marketing Channels and improve the use of decision optimization tools to determine the combination or sequence of messages to maximize Engagement and Sales. Channel Analytics can improve modeling capabilities and help in developing Marketing Models.

Understanding Channel Analytics in Google Analytics

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In Google Analytics, Channels represent high-level categories that show how people accessed your website. While the Source/Medium Report shows you where visitors came from in greater detail. Channel Analytics in Google Analytics is very much “user-friendly” and is best for high-level reporting and getting an overview of the Website Traffic.

Suppose in the Source/Medium Report, Facebook Sessions frequently appear in various ways. They could show up as facebook.com, m.facebook.com, or l.facebook.com, which are all variations of the same source. All of them will be included in the Social bucket in the Channel Analytics Report, depicting less granular and aggregate information on social media success.

Traffic Source Dimensions for Channel Analytics

Few dimensions are applied by Google Analytics to get the information about the Acquisition Channels and visitors. Channel Analytics is performed based on these Traffic Source Dimensions.

  • Source: Every link to a website has a starting point or a source. For example, “Google” (the name of a search engine), “Facebook.com” (the name of a referring site), Spring Newsletter” (the name of one of your newsletters), and “Direct” (the name of a website) are all possible sources (users that typed your URL directly into their browser, or who had bookmarked your site).
  • Medium: Every link to a website is accompanied by media. The following are examples of possible mediums: “Organic” (unpaid search), “cpc” (cost per click, i.e. paid search), “Referral” (referral), “Email” (the name of a custom medium you’ve built), and None” (direct traffic’s medium is “none”).
  • Keyword: When using SSL search, Keyword will have the value of (not provided).
  • Campaign: The relevant Google Ads Campaign or a Custom Campaign that you have built is referred to as the Campaign.
  • Content: In a bespoke campaign, content refers to a specific link or piece of information. For example, if you have two call-to-action links in the same email, you may use different Content values to distinguish them so you can see which version is more effective.

Channel Sources

The default Google Analytics Channels are collections of Sources and Mediums that are used to create a comprehensive picture of how visitors arrived at your website. Google Analytics also provides the option to add custom sources. These are the Key Performance Indicators for Channel Analytics. The Default Channels in Google Analytics are given below:

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Brand and Generic Channel for Channel Analytics

Generic Paid Search refers to inquiries such as “Coffee Machine” and similar topics. Brand Paid Search, on the other hand, refers to more specific searches that include the firm name, such as “Nespresso or Nespresso Coffee Machine.”

Brand and Generic Paid Search Channels are set up in Google Analytics to examine the success of your Brand and Generic Paid Search Metrics independently, as they may have drastically different performance characteristics. Analyzing resourceful searches through Channel Analytics and establishing Brand and Generic Paid Search Channels helps you establish a better understanding of how your Brand and Generic keywords work together to drive conversions. The three easy steps to establish Brand and Generic Channels in Google Analytics are:

  • Step 1: Identifying and Entering the Brand Terms
  • Step 2: Creating two New Channels: Brand Paid Search and Generic Paid Search
  • Step 3: Creating New Channels in Custom Multi-Channel Funnels New Channel Grouping

Challenges Faced with Channel Analytics

While the Channels discussed above may appear to be simple, Google Analytics categorizes Traffic into Channels based on the Source and/or Medium. As a result, the quality of the Data is determined by how well the campaigns are tagged. Correctness of this Data is important for accurate Channel Analytics results. The most common problems faced for Channel Analytics are: 

  • Incomplete Paid Sources: If you employ a non-standard Paid Search medium (such as “pay-per-click“), the generated Sessions will not be placed in the Paid Search Channel bucket. 
  • Untagged Email Marketing Campaigns: If you’re using a platform like Mailchimp or Constant Contact for your Email Marketing, ensure you’ve enabled the option to tag links for Google Analytics. If you can’t discover it on your own, contact your Email Marketing provider to find out how to set it up. You can also tag the links in your Email Campaign manually.
  • Failure to Link Google Ads Accounts: When using Google Ads for advertising, make sure your account is linked to Google Analytics. Google Ads Sessions will still be categorized as “Paid Search” if the accounts aren’t linked, but Analytics won’t know which campaign, ad, or keywords drove the visitors.


This article teaches you about reporting in Google Analytics. It provides in-depth knowledge about the concepts behind every term in Channel Analytics to help you understand and implement them efficiently. You can integrate many such platforms using Hevo Data, a No-code Data Pipeline, which helps you transfer data from a source of your choice such as Google Analytics in a fully automated and secure manner without having to write the code repeatedly. Hevo, with its strong integration with 100+ sources & BI tools, allows you to not only export & load data but also transform & enrich your data & make it analysis-ready in a jiff.

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Share your experience of learning about Channel Analytics in Google Analytics! Let us know in the comments section below!

Former Research Analyst, Hevo Data

Harsh comes with experience in performing research analysis who has a passion for data, software architecture, and writing technical content. He has written more than 100 articles on data integration and infrastructure.

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