When marketers see a low number of conversions or online orders they might immediately think they need to to drive more traffic to their sites. Often the issue isn’t that you aren’t getting enough traffic or qualified leads, it’s that your site or funnel might have leaks.
Conversion funnels, also known as sales funnels, help you visualize the number of steps a user goes through before they complete a marketing objective or goal.
These reports help you see where you can capitalize and where you need to improve your marketing tactics for better results, adapting your strategy along every stage of the funnel.
In this guide, we lay out the steps you need to take to set up your funnels, the reports you can pull, and what you can do to optimize conversions.
How to set up goals and funnels in Google Analytics in 3 simple steps
Before getting started, keep in mind that Google Analytics does not calculate Goal data, including funnel data, retroactively. These will only start working after you create them.
Also, Goals show session tracking but don’t include multi-session tracking, this is important to know since some users may complete goals in more than one session.
#1- Goal Set Up
You can’t have a customer journey without having a goal. So, the first thing you have to do is to think about the first goal you want to track and set it up in Google Analytics.
A goal can be considered either a sale, or a whitepaper download. Different campaigns might need different goal setting.
In Google Analytics, Goals visualize the steps users take prior to completing a conversion.
Log in to Google Analytics and navigate to Admin > Goals > New Goal
Select a template with a pre-filled configuration. If you are getting started with Goal Funnels, I recommend you use this option. You can also set up Smart Goals or Custom Goals, which won’t be covered in this Blog Post.
#2- Goal Description
Enter a goal description and select a goal type. There are 4 types of goals.
URL destination goals tells Google that when a visitor has landed on a specific page, a goal has been completed.
Enter the URL that a visitor will arrive to, upon completing the goal. For example, if you want to set up “checkout completed” as a goal, the thank-you page or order processed page might be a good URL destination to use.
Duration goals are helpful if you are trying to measure engagement on your website. You can identify the number of visitors that stayed on your website for a number of minutes, or less than X number of minutes.
Note: The fact that users are spending a lot of time on your website, especially if you run an ecommerce business, doesn’t necessarily mean they are engaged, on the contrary, your site might need to be optimized because users can’t find certain things or the path is not user friendly.
Pages/Screens per session
Very similar to Duration goals – you can use these for engagement purposes.
Event goals are more complex and require further set up. Event Tracking is a method available that you can use to record user interaction with website elements, such as button click, playing a video, downloads, etc. For more information on event tracking, you can check the Google Analytics Event Tracking Guide
#3- Goal Details
Now that you have completed the Goal details, you can set up your funnel steps. For this example, we are going to use a Destination type of goal for “checkout completed”, since it’s one of the most common examples.
⚠️ The URLs that you see on your browser might not be the URLs you need to use for your funnel set up, since Shopify, for example, names URLs differently. If you need to know what’s the “checkout completed” URL, for instance, you can do that by accessing the All Pages report: Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages report.
⚠️ Note: The URL shouldn’t include your domain name.
How to choose match types?
- Equals to: An exact match on every character of the URL.
- Begins with: Use this option when your page URLs are generally similar but they include additional parameters at the end that you want to exclude.
- Regular expression: A regular expression uses special characters to enable wildcard and flexible matching.
If you are still unsure about which match type you should use for your goal, you can check this Google Analytics article.
⚠️ Are you tracking a transaction or purchase with the Ecommerce Tracking code? Then leave the Goal Value blank. The actual value of the transaction will appear in the revenue metric (not the Goal Value metric), and will come from the Ecommerce Tracking code in your shopping cart.
Enter the URL for each step of the funnel. The best thing you can do is to test the funnels beforehand. For both apps and websites, testing them with people and watching them live while they navigate through the website is a great way to see how customers might behave.
In the example below, we will create a funnel whose end goal is checkout completed, and the starting point of the funnel is the new collection page.
⚠️ By making the first step mandatory, you make sure you measure sessions that are entering to the funnel only by visiting the first page you are listing.
⚠️ You don’t need to add the conversion page as a last step on your funnel.
⚠️ Before you save it, you can verify your goal, based on data from the last 7 days.
Now that you have set up your goals and funnels, after waiting for a few days, (since they are not retroactive) you can access several reports to check performance.
#1- Funnel Visualization
Reports > Goals > Funnel Visualization
This report provides a quick view of the customer’s journey, based on the goals and steps you have previously defined. You can see the user's behaviour in each step of the funnel.
Key metric: Funnel conversion rate.
From the total number of sessions that have started on the first step of the funnel, what’s the percentage of sessions that have completed it and achieved the goal?
Funnel Conversion Rate = (Total Conversions / Total Funnel Sessions) * 100
The screenshot below doesn’t show a lot of data since it’s very recent, and it was added for reference purposes.
Do you want to know how your conversion rates compare? On average, 3.3% of the sessions end up in transactions. Smart Insights prepared a compilation of average conversion rates for retail sites and other industries, you can check it here and the funnel below shows the average for the eCommerce industry.
#2- Goal flow
Reports > Goals > Goal Flow
The Goal Flow report is an interactive graphic that visualizes the journey users have travelled through the website towards a Goal. This report is more flexible than the Funnel Visualization and more detailed. It allows you to see conversions by source and Advanced Segments, however, it generally requires a bit more analysis.
Reverse goal path report
The Reverse Goal Path report indicates the visitor’s path to reach your goal page. It could be through a path that you did not anticipate, or it could be exactly what you have already set up. This report shows specifically the last three steps that visitors took in completing a goal.
3 things you can do now to optimize your sales funnel
Funnel conversion analysis should be done in conjunction with other insights, including qualitative research, surveys, and using other tools and reports to understand which step is stopping visitors from converting. Also, this shouldn’t be a one-off report you pull, but rather a long-term analysis that continuously feeds back information to optimize marketing processes.
#1- Identify the leaks
Your users expect a site experience that is suited to their needs and that’s mobile friendly. Knowing where in the journey users drop off will help you focus your optimization efforts on the biggest opportunities. Find the high-traffic, high-exit pages where users are leaving.
Further research can include technical analysis and a UX design review.
#2- Determine high-converting traffic comes from
It’s important also to make sure you are bringing qualified leads to your site, and not only traffic that doesn’t convert. Funnels are useful for finding issues that need fixing and also for spotting successes you can double down on—for example, by revealing where your potential customers come from.
#3- Leverage marketing automation
Boost checkout with abandoned cart email flows. If you have these running already, check their performance and conduct a quick audit. You can introduce nurturing email flows with discounts and promotions for certain products as well. Email marketing automation tools are very powerful for nurturing leads and increasing retention and conversion.
Ready to get started?
Implementing these few steps will help you get started with conversion funnels and getting the reports you need to kick off the funnel optimization process.
Other ways to view your conversion data are to create dashboards or custom reports, pulling in data from Google Analytics and other tools. Both are good options if you need to send regular reports to your boss or your clients about their conversions.
If you want to gain clarity into the customer journey for both online and brick-and-mortar, you can check solutions like Improvado that unify all your marketing and order data within your favorite BI or visualization tool. Learn more here.