How To Know When To Create a Funnel Visualization in Google Analytics

A lot of organizations come to us asking for help in implementing “funnel visualizations” in Google Analytics, but there is a lot of confusion around when a funnel visualization is actually useful, so I wanted to offer a quick blog post to help people think about it.

To start off, a funnel visualization is designed to illustrate how visitors progress through your website, and therefore it should reveal “weak links” on your website where you lose lots of visitors. But this is only possible when there is a clearly defined “structured path” from Point A to Point B. For example, if you a nonprofit, then there may be a three or four step process that a visitor must follow in order to make a donation. Or, if you are a business with an e-commerce website, then there should be a structured path for anyone to take in order to add something to a shopping cart, enter payment information, confirm the order, and process the transaction. In either of these scenarios, funnel visualization is a fantastic technique for identifying opportunities to increase donations or sales.

In contrast, you can’t design a useful funnel visualization around an unstructured goal, such as a typical “form submission” or contact request. In those cases, there might be a dozen paths that people take to reach the same outcome. In those scenarios, you might do something like “goal flow analysis” where you examine the best paths and look for helpful trends, but you would never do a traditional funnel visualization, because the final result wouldn’t reveal anything actionable. I hope this is a helpful as you decide whether something like funnel visualization would be useful to you, and we’ll save the topic of goal flow analysis for another post.

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