Google Analytics: Understanding the Conversion Funnel and User Explorer

Google Analytics can be challenging to wrap your head around. There are so many metrics available for tracking, and so many tweaks you can make to better understand the way traffic interacts with your website. One visualisation of this is the Conversion Funnel. 

What is the Conversion Funnel?

The Conversion funnel is found in the Conversions section of Google Analytics, under Funnel Visualisation. The funnel is a visual representation of the sequence of meaningful steps that users go through in order to complete a conversion (e.g., a product purchase, completing a contact form, clicking to call). Users will not always necessarily follow the exact steps of the funnel to get their completion, but the funnel will represent the most common pathway for users. The funnel conversion rate indicates the percentage of users that follow the most important steps of the funnel – the first step, and the last step (the goal page where conversion occurs).

A typical ecommerce conversion funnel may look like this:

  1. Viewed ‘yourwebsite.com’
  2. Viewed ‘yourwebsite.com/brands’
  3. Viewed ‘yourwebsite.com/product’
  4. Viewed ‘yourwebsite.com/checkout’
  5. Viewed ‘yourwebsite.com/checkout-success’

Funnels have to be added manually, so you must be aware of the URLs of different pipelines that customers may use. A simple way to check this would be to go down these pipelines yourself.

The goal funnel visualises whether conversions are direct or assisted, and provide a look into where funnel drop-offs occur. If they were to drop off consistently at the ‘Contact Us’ page, then it would be beneficial to find out why; are the email/phone links broken? Is the page confusing? Would your users prefer a contact form?

What are assisted and direct conversions?

Assisted conversions can be found under the Multi-Channel Funnels tab of Conversions. An assisted conversion is an interaction by the user that will lead to a conversion, but isn’t direct – they don’t cause the user to go directly to the goal page and convert, but they do play an important role in the user’s navigation to the website and eventual conversion. Essentially, assisted conversions are visits to one of the steps of a funnel by a user, that have led to a conversion. The best use of assisted conversions is to measure the success of marketing campaigns, by understanding which channels (e.g., Email referral, Google ad) are facilitating the most conversions, direct or not. 

These channels are given an assisted/direct conversion ratio (shown in the rightmost column of the channel table) that informs of how the channel is interacted with by the user before leading to conversion. This ratio’s value can be roughly categorised in three ways: much less than 1, close to 1, and much more than 1. For example, if Email referrals return a value of 0.43, then they happen later on in user’s pathways to conversion. The closer the number gets to 0, this channel is used, on average, nearer to the user completing the conversion. (0 would indicates the channel was the very last channel before conversion). If the number is closer to 1, then that channel has contributed equally to assisted conversions, and being the last channel before conversion. The number being much further away from 1, (5.21, for example), indicates that this channel is more often interacted with at the beginning of a user’s journey to conversion.

The ratio gives insight into how successful channels are in converting particular users. Channels with smaller ratios are more effective at leading to conversion, as users are more likely to make a purchase or book an appointment soon after interacting with this channel. Channels with higher ratios still have value, as repeated exposure to ads and links is important for brand awareness (that may cause a person to later convert), but these channels are not effective in driving the customer to make a conversion soon.

You can use this data to adjust your spending/attention on these channels depending on how effective some channels are, or whether the channels are assisting in many conversions at all. For example, you would want email campaigns that contain a call to action to have a ratio that is much less than 1, because the call to action should ensure that the user’s next step is conversion.

User explorer:

If Google tracks the activities of a user on my website, how can I see this data for each individual user? 

This data can be found in the User Explorer section, under the Audience tab. User explorer is best used to examine how your more valuable, oft returning customers engage with your website. Clicking on an individual user’s ID allows you to see their pathways on your website, as well as revenue gained from them, and their number of sessions. Understanding common pathways of top customers is useful to evaluate how they progress to conversions, to learn whether it would be worth encouraging other users to progress this way too. Furthermore, you can filter by user type to gain insight into a certain type of customer. You could use this feature for users that are returning more than once but not converting, to see what is hindering their conversion, for example.

Insight into how users interact with your website is vital to understanding what pages and pathways make customers likely to convert, and which ones confuse or deter the customer. Fixing these issues can lead to increased conversions, which should lead to increased revenue for your company.

How Performance Max does this automatically:

Google performance max, the newest Google Ads campaign type, is able to understand the conversion funnels and success of a website’s channels by itself, with little user input. Performance max’s machine learning ability enables it to figure out what the conversion funnels would be for your website, and interprets the assisted/direct conversion data in order to inform itself of which channels need priority and which ones do not. From there, it will adjust spending, along with how it prioritises ad channels so that your money is spent as effectively as possible, and channels are performing as they should, the best they can. As the name suggests, this maximises the success of your ad campaigns and should drive up conversions to generate much more revenue from your website.

If you’ve found yourself a little overwhelmed by all of this, then leave the work to us! We’d love to hear from you to start growing your website, so contact us today.

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