Funnels in Google Analytics are one of the best ways to track what your website visitors are doing on their journey to completing a goal. By “journey”, we are referring to the steps they take on a website before performing an action such as purchasing a product or completing a form. By “goal” we are referring to completing a form or purchasing a product. So putting that all together: We want to know what steps a person follows before purchasing something or filling out a form.
A typical user journey on an eCommerce website could be:
- View product category page.
- View product description page.
- View cart page.
- Purchase the product.
In other words, a person has viewed a category page on the website that lists all sorts of products based on a certain criteria. From there they’ve actually clicked through to a specific product to read about the product. Once they’ve read up on the product, they add it to their cart and click through to the cart to purchase it. Finally, they purchase it.
Our funnel looks like this: Category Page > Description Page > Cart Page > Purchase
Here is an example of how Google Analytics reports this:
A another user journey could be the checkout journey:
- View Cart Page
- Fill out shipping information
- Fill out billing information
- Confirm the purchase.
In other words, we’re looking at the checkout process to determine how well it’s working and where we might be able to “better” things to make the experience easier for the shopper and in turn result in more sales for us.
Our funnel looks like this: Cart Page > Shipping Information > Billing Information > Purchase Confirmation
Why might you want to know which steps a person takes?
- Identify which steps may be causing confusion and thus preventing a person from making a purchase.
- Determine which copy/imagery to potentially update to increase the number of conversions.
- Pick up on bugs or problems on the website.
You create your funnels in Google Analytics when you set up your goals, if you’re not familiar with this, KISSmetrics have written up a great tutorial with examples and screenshots that will guide you through it: here.
One of the most important matters to remember when dealing with funnels is the “required step”. This feature, which is presented as a checkbox in whilst setting up your funnels allows you to force the first step of the funnel. In other words, a person on the website MUST complete this as the first step of the funnel. This is a step that most people use and there’s a very big confusion around testing it:
The Funnel Visualisation report in Google Analytics reports on this, but the normal goal reports do not!
So, if you’ve set up a funnel and made use of the “required step” feature, if you actually want to see how many goals met this criteria you need to use the Funnel Visualisation report; if you use the normal goals report you will not see the correct information – this is a hugely common problem, don’t waste time by making the same mistake many people have made.