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Funnel Analysis: Find and Fix Conversion Woes to Drive Sales

September 8, 2020
Ines Da Pieve
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Funnel analysis is the best way to maximize your conversion-rate-optimization (CRO) opportunities. 

Doing this helps you better understand your customer experience, spot where your visitors engage the most and where they specifically turn away. This is where Google Analytics enters the fray. Unlock the power of full-funnel analytics to strengthen your CRO. 

We’ll cover:

  • Why you should use funnel analysis to increase CRO
  • Ecommerce funnel analytics with Google analytics
  • How to pull it off simply — but effectively — by starting on the right foot
  • How to bring back checkout drop-offs
  • When to start segmenting and how to do it
  • Why working on your bottom of the funnel (BOFU) first can make all the difference
  • Partial funnel creation tips to make your life easier

Why You Should Use Funnel Analysis to Increase Your CRO Opportunities

Funnel analysis isn’t only a powerful analytics tool but a comprehensive visual representation of what’s likely to be the most significant piece of your website puzzle: that moment where visitors become customers. 

Proper funnel analysis lets you pinpoint where specifically in all the stages of the user experience (UX) your potential customers are turning away. Knowing this makes it much easier to find what is exactly discouraging your visitors from moving forward in your sales cycle — and giving you a chance to develop the right strategy to address any conversion issues.

Funnel analysis isn’t only used for marketing and ecommerce operations. It also is important to understand how your users interact with applications and programs. Because funnel analytics can provide such detailed insight on user behavior, it’s a widely regarded tool for developers and marketers alike.

We’re going to focus on how to address advanced funnel analysis to increase your CRO chances.

Conversion rate optimization aims to raise the percentage of website visitors that take a desired action on your web page, such as making a purchase,  filling out a form or any other goal you want to reach through your site. 

Based on the type of objective you’re looking for, these goals can be divided into macro conversions and micro conversions:

  • Macro conversions: They’re the main goals of your website (for example, starting a free trial or buying a product).
  • Micro conversions: They’re the small steps that make up macro conversions. An example of a micro conversion goal is downloading a case study or subscribing to a blog or newsletter on your website.

A particularly useful tool for measuring your funnel goals is Google Analytics, which helps you decrease the number of inefficient or abandoned customer journeys.

What you have to do first is to create a goal in Google Analytics. When talking about funnels, this goal has to be a specific web page so when a user arrives at that particular place, we can consider the goal achieved. 

For example, a common goal for Google Analytics is the “Thank you for your purchase” page that customers see after buying something.

Based on the type of objective you’re looking for, these goals can be divided into macro conversions and micro conversions.

Google Analytics Funnel Detailed Reporting

In Google Analytics, Custom Funnel focuses on key behavioral metrics:

  1. Goal conversion rate: This measures the completion of a desired action your visitors perform.
  2. Bounce rate: According to Google Analytics help, bounce rate is “single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.”
  3. Click-through rate: It measures how often people are clicking on your ads. These metrics are particularly useful to assess keyword performance. 

However, Google Analytics Funnel goes the extra mile with more detailed reporting than Custom Funnel, helping you identify conversion woes more quickly. It does this by:

  • Defining up to 10 steps in your funnel
  • Using a particular segment as a step
  • Choosing whether steps will follow the previous step directly or indirectly
  • Setting a time constraint between steps
  • Defining optional steps
  • Applying up to 4 segments to your funnel analysis
  • Applying a breakdown dimension 
  • Seeing trends for each funnel step (“trended funnels”)
  • Having all this information displayed as a data table

Ecommerce Funnel Analytics Decoded

Say you want to sell a product. With ecommerce funnel analytics, you can see how many users are actually going through your whole purchase process, including:

  • Visiting your landing page
  • Searching for your products
  • Choosing a specific item
  • Adding said product to cart
  • Proceeding to check out
  • Confirming the order
  • Confirming payment
  • Arriving at the “Thank you for your purchase” page

Sales Funnel Analysis

In the ecommerce realm, it’s expected that many users will abandon their shopping carts. Although it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why users do this, they may be checking what the overall cost with shipping is, analyzing your different payment methods or just simply browsing. 

If you apply sales funnel analysis, you can check if users are being diverted by preventable steps, such as signing in or registering or looking for further information on the product. These are common problems you can avoid by adding more information to your product page, such as shipping price, more product specifications or by requiring log in before adding products to your cart. 

How to Pull off Funnel Analysis Simply — but Effectively: Start on the Right Foot

Even though more data may seem like more chances to improve your UX — and with it your CRO — when you start using marketing funnel analysis it’s best to address first the broader issues with your website.

The problems that pop up by analyzing the basic functioning of your website will give you clues as to what other aspects you need to look into with more detail in the future, as opposed to burning time and effort gathering unnecessary data. 

It’s always advisable to keep your funnels simple and straightforward until you figure out exactly what specific data you need for your business. It’s preferable to add more info to your funnel inquiry than to sift out irrelevant and confusing data from your basic analysis. Easy-to-view funnel analysis is the best way to find which core questions you need to ask yourself about the function of your website.

How to Bring Back Checkout Drop-Offs 

Funnel analysis may probably lead you to struggle with this core question: How can I reduce cart abandonment? 

It’s very common that users leave your site right after they’ve put items in their cart. In fact, about 75% of visitors do it, according to a 2018 SaleCycle report. This is an attractive opportunity to work on because it’s easier to make those users go one step further in your funnel than to attract new visitors from the very beginning of the customer journey.

It’s important that you take the time to go through the whole purchasing process, paying attention to every step of the way because, as users become more demanding as time goes by, they can abandon your cart because of a small detail that you can easily change.

After checking your purchase process thoroughly, a useful tactic you can try is a cart-abandonment email campaign to land some conversions. 

Make sure that there’s a step that allows you to gather visitors' email addresses. This way, you can contact them in your email campaign. 

Mind The Product explains how to write a successful cart abandonment email while they throw some light on saving funnel drop-offs.  

When to Start Segmenting Users

Once you have your funnel basics sorted out, it’s worth your while to start segmenting your users. With a focused funnel analysis on the different demographics, you can compare which visitors are more interested in your product and more likely to achieve your CRO goals. This helps you know where to focus your marketing strategies. 

Although it isn’t possible to segment standard goal funnel visualization, you can use the Goal Flow Report to bypass this analytics’ flaw. You can access this report through the Advanced Segments feature.

An enhanced ecommerce funnel visualization of this type lets you see, for example, how mobile traffic converts versus desktop traffic or if your site search is working as expected. Google explains how to use Goal Flow to detect and fix site-performance issues.  

Perhaps the best move to take advantage of your conversion funnel analysis data is to always start working on solving the issues at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU).

Why Working on Your BOFU First Can Make All the Difference

Perhaps the best move to take advantage of your conversion funnel analysis data is to always start working on solving the issues at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) and saving upper funnel analysis for later.

This may sound counterintuitive because you’ll be working to solve the problems that fewer of your users have. But by ironing out the kinks on the final steps of your customer journey, you guarantee that a larger percentage of users will finally arrive at conversion. The further up you continue to work on your funnel from there, more and more users will be able to advance on your steps smoothly.

Check these 3 important aspects to avoid common conversion problems:

1. You overlooked a page that affects your results in Google Analytics

Even though your customer journey looks seamless and easy to navigate, you accidentally omit a page in Google Analytics, causing you to miss valuable data when running your funnel analysis. You can fix this by revising the whole purchase process yourself and adding this missing step to Google Analytics.

2. There are technical problems at the final stage of your funnel

Misplaced links or invalid ones at the final stages of your funnel can provoke goal-tracking issues that can affect conversions. You can solve this problem if you spot this backdoor entrance, enabling legitimate users only so they (and only they) arrive at your final goal page, making funnel analysis accurate.

3. Third-party sites you’re using for payment are making you miss important data

You may see drops at the final stage of conversion and users returning to the “Thank you for your purchase” page with the same order number.

This happens when you use payment gateways, such as PayPal, because when a client is about to pay, they’re taken to a third-party site and then returned to your page. That results in a gap in your analysis with confusing funnel data that affects your whole Google analytics. 

There are 2 solutions for this problem: You can either choose a payment method that integrates into your cart or you can find the referral exclusion list on Google Analytics and add the third-party site address there, for example, Google provides a step-by-step guide on how to do this.

The first option gives you the advantage of keeping everything on your own site without losing the trust and credibility that popular payment gateways have without taking your users to third-party sites.

Partial Funnel Creation Tips to Make Life Easier

When you have too many steps in your funnel, visualizing and understanding the data may become difficult. In that case, it’s practical to create partial funnels that focus on the different steps. For instance, let's say you want to focus on the first step of the purchase. 

Picture a funnel where your first step represents the people that visit your site, this would be your 100% of visitors, because it’s the base for the funnel analysis. The second step would be the users who execute a search, let’s say 70% of the visitors. The next step would represent the users who click on a search result. Let’s suppose it’s 55%. The final step would be how many of them actually add a product to the cart, in this case 50%.

With this breakdown, we can see that the users who perform a search and click on a result are very inclined to add products to the cart, so it would be wise to take a deeper look at the UX before clicking on the results.

It also is useful to look at different subsets of users and compare the funnels you get from each. For instance, you can take a closer look at the users who are first-time visitors and the ones who are returning customers. 

When reviewing the data, we can see information such as how many first-time visitors don’t perform a search (let’s say 40% of them do), when your returning users almost always perform searches , but have a bigger drop between searching and clicking on a result than the first-timers.

Run Funnel Analysis Effectively to Increase Your Conversion Rate 

Funnel analysis is key to invest your resources wisely. Otherwise, you might run out of fuel before you reach your goals.  Developing funnels without a clear plan in mind can hurt your business.

At Kantaloupe, we can devise a marketing strategy for you to nurture leads and move them down your funnel – from attention to interest, desire to action – so mere browsers turn into loyal customers. Reach out through our free form to get a proposal and discuss how we can help you perfect CRO within your budget.


Ines Da Pieve

Ines Da Pieve is a business-to-business copywriter from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She writes about technology, education and digital marketing.

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