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How to Use Google Analytics Visitors Flow Reports to Improve Conversion Rates

kerschbaum-joe
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your website may not be as pretty or user-friendly as you think. How you think users interact with your website can be very different from reality.

purchase-funnel-mice-maze

Perhaps the differing viewpoints of your website aren't as extreme as the image above but they might not be too far off. Remember, you built and interact with your website and you know it inside and out. The majority of visitors have never been to your website and they aren't sure where to go or what to do.

However, don't worry. There is an extremely helpful report in Google Analytics that can help determine if your website falls into the first or second image of the mice/maze picture above: the Visitors Flow report.

How to Focus Your Visitor Flow Report

The Visitor Flow reports within Google Analytics can help you determine the complexity of your website to the average user. Are they bouncing around your website without ever entering your conversion path? Check out the screen shot below to see where this report is located in Google Analytics:

google-analytics-visitors-flow

When you first open the Visitor Flow report it can be overwhelming. There are visitor connection paths all over it from one page of your website to the next and making any sort of sense may seem impossible.

First you need to understand the basic structure. The report reads from the left to right and each column is a step (interaction) in the visitor path on your website. You can see as many pages (interactions) as you want. In the screen shot below, we included 3 interactions (pages):

google-analytics-visitor-flow-3-interactions

To narrow down the focus to only one source of traffic, you can follow the two-step process below. First, select the customize button. Then enter the traffic medium you want to analyze. For this example, we are analyzing paid search traffic.

customize-dimension-items-google-analytics-visitor-flow

You can focus the Visitor Flow report on any metric. For example, you can look at visitors from specific locations, traffic sources, devices, etc. We narrowed our focus on to paid search traffic and the report now looks like this:

paid-search-traffic-visitors-flow-google-analytics

Even with these changes, the report can still be difficult to interpret. Go one step deeper to zero-in on a specific page. Just right click on any page in your report and select, "Highlight traffic through here." Now the report will focus on traffic running through one specific page.

highlight-traffic-through-here-visitors-flow

How to Read Visitor Flow Reports

b2b-lead-gen-diagnosis-visitors-flow

For this example, we are looking at a B2B website that focuses on lead generation. Numerous products are listed on the website and if someone is interested, they submit a form for additional pricing information. Product pages are marked out with a purple line. The lead form page is marked out with a red line (they also have arrows).

When we started our diagnostic process for this website, we initially thought that visitors weren't even arriving at our lead form page. Our initial hypothesis was that visitors weren't getting passed the product pages so we were going to have to focus our optimization strategy there.

After analyzing our Visitor Flow report, you can see that all of our product pages do a pretty good job of funneling visitors to the lead form page. The weak link in our ugly conversion process is the lead form itself.

After conducting this analysis we focused our conversion optimization on the lead gen form. A few initial results included a significant drop in time-on-site and pages-per-visitor. This may seem terrible, but our conversion rate also jumped significantly as well.

This means that our lead form was doing a much better job of getting visitors to convert and they didn't have to look around the site as much. We could see the result in the screen shot below. Within our Visitor Flow report, our "Thank You," page had become a higher trafficked page (as indicated by the yellow line and green arrow):

thank-you-page-traffic-visitors-flow

Summary

As you can see here, we started off with the wrong question, "Why are visitors getting stuck on the product pages and not converting?" After analyzing our Visitor Flow report our question changed to, "Why do visitors arrive at our lead generation form but refuse to convert?"

Remember the image of the two mazes at the beginning of this article. Sure, we all want our website to be the easy-to-follow maze where no one ever gets lost. But you don't get there without constant analysis and optimization.


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