Zach Mandelblatt
By Zach Mandelblatt | SEM | February 3, 2014

Plugging Your Website Leaks With Google Analytics

Digital Reach started out as just a PPC management company. We strove to find the highest value, most-likely-to-convert Paid Search traffic and send it to our clients’ websites. I’d like to think we did (and still do) a great job of that. However, we quickly found that sending the right traffic to the website is only half the battle: the website has to be able to turn that high value traffic into conversions! That side of the conversion equation was mostly out of our hands, and the success rate of that hand-off from paid search to the client’s website didn’t always meet either of our standards.

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Good PPC can only bring good traffic to a website: the website itself has to take it to the conversion finish line! #CornyMetaphor

Many of our clients suffered from poor conversion rates, and over the years we’ve came up with many solutions to increase a website’s conversion rate. Some of these solutions include Landing Page Optimization through A/B Split Testing, SEO Consultation to help Web Developers optimize their sites for conversions, or optimizing the client’s website ourselves. However, while these are solutions to the problem of low conversion rate, you have to be able to diagnose the cause of the problem first! One of the best tools for identifying the problem is a Google Analytics feature called Goal Funnel Tracking. Setting up a funnel is an optional step in the GA Goal creation process (one that astute readers of our blogs might have noticed me briefly mentioning in my “Destination URL Tracking for Google Analytics” blog post a few weeks ago). If you set it up properly, it will give you a view of which of your website’s pages are “leaking”, losing traffic and contributing to a poor conversion rate. Once you’ve identified which pages in your conversion funnel are leaking most egregiously, you can focus your efforts to improve those pages.

 

Here is a snapshot of a small advertiser’s GA goal funnel:

checkout complete

After you set up a goal funnel, you can view this for your website’s GA by clicking on the “Conversions” tab on the left hand side of your GA, than selecting the “Funnel Visualization” drop down.

This advertiser has a 3 page check out process for their online shopping cart, and we’ve set up the funnel to show us how visitors interact with each page. At a very basic level, this report tells us that only 15 of the 67 visitors who began the website’s check out process made it through the cart and successfully purchased an item. This means they are “leaking” almost 80% of their shopping cart visitors! It also tells us that only 55% of people who made it to the first page of the funnel continued to the second page (the One-Page Checkout), and an extremely low 33% made it from the One Page Checkout to the Checkout Complete page. Both of these pages could use some heavy optimization to plug some of that leaking traffic; boosting that 20.93% funnel conversion rate even a couple of percentage points can increase this website’s total cart checkouts 10-15%! GA Funnels also tell you which of your pages people visit once they’ve exited the process, which can help you optimize those pages to help them return to the shopping cart and buy something. You can also segment the funnel process by source, medium, and source/medium, so you can see if there is a difference in cart abandonment between Google AdWords traffic, Google Organic traffic, Bing Ads visitors, or any other traffic source!

 

To set up a GA funnel, click on the “Admin” tab in the upper right hand corner of GA, then select “Goals” on the right side of the page. Setting up the funnel requires some knowledge of Destination URL Goal tracking, so see my blog post from a couple weeks ago if you need a crash course. The first thing you’ll need to identify is the unique destination URL of the final conversion page. That unique URL strand will go in the “Destination” part of the goal details, and will let GA know that when people reach this page, the conversion process is complete.

 

Next, you’ll have to turn the “Funnel” option from Off to On, which will display lots of places to add steps in the conversion process. Figure out the unique URL strand of each of these pages in the conversion process, and add them all as steps. If you want that step to be required in order for the goal to register in GA, then click “yes” on the “Required?” box.

 

An example will help: let’s pretend you have an e-commerce site with a complicated web checkout process. The page someone reaches after successfully purchasing is:

 

www.example.com/payflow/successfulpayment.asp

 

The pages a shopper must visit to reach that conversion page are the following:

 

1) www.example.com/cart.asp

 

2) www.example.com/checkout.asp

 

3) www.example.com/orderproc01.asp

 

4) www.example.com/payflow/paaymentform.asp

 

This funnel properly set up in GA would look like this:

goal setup

Note that the whole destination URL is not included for each page we want to track, only the unique strand!

You can look at your funnel data from before you set up tracking by using the “Goal Flow” drop down, which is right below “Funnel Visualization” in GA. If you select the goal that you used for the funnel, you can retroactively look at funnel completion by source, medium, and more, provided that you had the GA code on each of those pages in the date range you are targeting!

funnel visualization

Over the last 3 months, this website “leaked” 61% of visitors who began the conversion process.

Now that you’ve identified your problem pages, how do you fix them? Check back here in a couple of weeks, as, along with a brand new website design, we’ll be rolling out new services that work to improve your conversion rate and stop website leakage!

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