In a virtual world, it can be hard to understand how a potential customer ‘walks’ around your site. Large brick and mortars used to (and still do) spend big bucks researching and understanding how their customers move around their physical stores. Do they stop at a window display? Which changing room do people use most? Are more shoes sold if the men’s and women’s sections are combined?
As an owner or manager of a website, you too should be trying to identify the same types of behaviors your visitors are displaying. What pages did they miss? Is there a large exit rate on a particular page? Did they visit the review page before purchasing?
All these questions can be answered with the use of funnels in Google Analytics.
For the past month, we have been looking at ways to optimize and better access the features in Google Analytics. We’ve explained how to filter data to paint a clear picture of your website traffic. We’ve discussed various goals and how to use each one appropriately. And, we’ve talked about the long road of search engine optimization.
And we’ve only scratched the surface.
Funnels give marketers a visual feedback of the steps visitors take that lead (hopefully) to a defined conversion. That may be a newsletter sign-up or a purchase of goods or services. In any case, they took a certain number of steps to get there and understanding those steps will help you:
- Identify “pain points,” or pages that create trouble, confusion, or hardship for the visitor.
- Understand what copy or headline is generating the greatest response, good or bad.
- Internally, find technical issues that your visitors may be encountering during a visit, such as incompatible browsers.
In my last post, we looked at setting up goals. Goals are an excellent way to have a baseline KPI (Key Performance Index) on whether your marketing efforts are having an effect. Funnels, by contrast, provide insight into actionable steps your team can take in order to improve KPIs and ultimately boost conversions. If goals are about results, funnels are about optimization.
In order to start receiving visual feedback, you need to first log into your Analytics account and click on ‘Admin’ in the top navigation. From there, select ‘Goals’ underneath the appropriate profile view. Once in the correct section, you should see a red button labeled “+ New Goal”, click that and a list of options will appear:
First, you need to select the type of goal you are seeking. Note that not all goals can have funnels. For instance, a Duration or Page/Visit goal can not be set up with a funnel. In our example, we are setting a goal for subscriptions.
Once you have chosen a template in the first step, your second option will be to describe the goal. In this example we are setting a Destination goal, and in the next step, will input the URL the visitor will be directed to after they subscribe. This is often some form of a “Thank you” page. Once you set a goal name, Slot ID, and goal type, hit continue.
In this third step we will configure our funnel. First, set the destination (/thank-you.asp) and assign a goal value. We briefly touch on this in our last blog. Then, once you have completed those, click on the button slider under “Funnel” so it’s turned on.
You will see a table appear with two fields. The first field is “Name” and is used as an identifier for your reference. Make it simple but obvious. Once that is set, copy and paste the URL of that page you wish to track leaving off the domain name (ex. /index.html not www.myexample.com/index.html).
A bit about the Requirement button - This button is used to limit the results and segment out those that do not land on that first page in your funnel. If you want to track a specific path visitors may take, for example a landing page, then you’ll want to leave this on.
Likewise, if you do not have the first step required, any path a visitor takes that results in reaching your destination page will be counted. Google will automatically fill in the middle steps so a visitor does not need to navigate through your site exactly as you built the steps, just visit the first and final steps.
Continue adding steps to your funnel until you reach your Destination URL, but do not include that URL as one of your steps. Once you have set this up, you can click the “Verify” link and Google will show a percentage of past visitors that would have fallen into the funnel you created.
If you have a 0%, as shown in the example, there is either an incorrect funnel step (check the URLs), or the first step may be required and it’s a blind landing page that has yet to be published. You can uncheck the required first step and then re-verify to see if results change.
Now the funnel will be available to you under the "Conversions" section of reporting. It may take a few days, depending on your site traffic, to start seeing a visual representation of your visitor's path they took towards a conversion.
That’s it! With a funnel associated with a proper goal, you and your team will be better able to understand possible pain points and other factors your visitors are experiencing, and test ways to eliminate those trouble spots. This is all to optimize your user experience and hopefully lead to more sign-ups and conversions.