Flow analysis of Goals and Funnels

If you have content to which you want to direct traffic, you can use the Goal Flow report to see the extent to which you’re succeeding, and the most popular paths users take to that content.

For example, if you are promoting a new model car, set that promotional content as the Destination, and set up a funnel that includes the pages or screens that are likely points along different paths to that goal. While you set up the funnel in Analytics as a linear path, in this case, you can think of it as a container for the content through which users are most likely to navigate on the way to your goal. You can include in the funnel your home page or promotional landing screen, search results, and the confirmation for building a customized version of the car.

With this funnel in place, you can see whether users navigate from one page or screen to the next. Are you calling appropriate attention to your promotion? Do you provide clear navigational options from the promotion to the next step? If there’s an acceptable amount of traffic to your goal, then you can likely answer yes to those questions. If there’s a significant drop-off, evaluate your content or the steps to see how you can improve.

You can also use this report to see alternative enternace points for your goal. Move the Connections slider to the right to expose more pathways, and you can see things like how much direct traffic there was to your goal (bypassing the funnel steps), and whether organic search was taking users to promotional content or straight to your goal.

You can see how much traffic there was from your promotion to other related content, like the a brochure or specifications page. If there’s an unexpected drop-off after the first step, then there might be a fundamental flaw in the creative content, or something as simple as a broken link.

You can also see where users loop back from one node to another:

  • A loopback from search-results to the search page can indicate that users are not finding what they’re looking for.

  • On the other hand, a loopback from the final page to the first page in a configuration cycle might indicate that users are configuring different models of your new car and saving the results to compare. You can then look for an uptick in direct traffic to those pages of saved results.

You can use the Explore traffic through here option for a node to examine traffic to and from different nodes. For example, if there’s an unacceptable drop-off from your promotion and users aren’t taking an interest in the specifications of your new model and aren’t exploring the different engine and paint options as you had hoped, you can see where they’re going instead. Are they returning to the first step and then checking out other models, or are they leaving your content altogether?

Popular Content

Understanding what content is working well can help you improve your user engagement. In the same way that restaurants periodically update their menus to eliminate unpopular dishes and keep the ones that are selling well, you can evaluate the traffic patterns to see what content is most engaging and what content tends to be ignored or used at the exit point. 

If you sell advertising based on traffic volume, engagement is especially important. The more users you can attract, and the longer you can keep them engaged with content that deliver ads, the more revenue you can generate.

In this case, you might not have one specific page or screen as a goal, but rather a collection of pages or screens on which you hope to see a certain level of traffic. For example, if you host news content, you might want to create separate funnels as containers for your political, sports, and entertainment areas, and then compare the relative volumes of traffic through each funnel, and the level of engagement. If your sports section is doing well during the playoffs but your political section is doing poorly during an election cycle, you might want to see whether there are layout or content approaches you employ in your sports section that are also appropriate for your political section.

For an ecommerce web site whose goal is to sell products, time on page may be secondary to having a page effectively move a user on to the shopping cart and checkout page. You can set up funnels with the shopping cart or checkout page as the goal and with intermediate product pages as the funnel steps, and then see whether some product pages function better than others. Is there consistently higher traffic through some pages than others? Do some pages funnel traffic on to the shopping cart better than others? Is it a case of some products just being better than others, or is there a difference between the page designs that might account for the difference in traffic volume? Do the better performing pages offer more information about their products, more customer reviews, or more options for visualizing the products before adding them to the shopping cart?

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