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How to Optimize User Experience & Conversion Paths in Google Analytics

by Today's Eggspert

If you’ve been keeping up with any thought leaders over the last few months, you know that we are all talking about user experience. The more you can customize, personalize, optimize, target, adapt, and segment your individual user experiences, the more success you’ll see you in 2017.

That’s a nice thought, but not a very easily implemented practice. The truth is that tracking user experience is no easy feat.

Especially in Google Analytics.

Head in Hands

Vague attribution models and skewed conversion paths make reporting on your user experience frustrating, to say the least. So, to make things easier, start combing through your Google Analytics data with a specific goal in mind.

Start off by identifying the ideal conversion paths through which users are converting most. Don’t focus your time/energy on parts of your site/campaign that aren’t generating your revenue or growth.

Optimize towards the conversion paths that are already making you money.

Attribution – A Tricky Place to Start

Attribution is a tricky subject. For a clearer picture of different attribution models you can check out the video below.

It’s important you make sure you are tracking with clear goals and parameters in mind and you are using the proper attribution model for the goals your campaign is built on. Using the right attribution model will help you get the most accurate picture of your conversion path.

Which is the Golden Nugget we are looking to optimize towards.

The First Click vs. Last Click Debate

If you are using Google Analytics, you should know that the default preference is set to the last click attribution model.

This means that if you have multiple channels through which you are generating traffic and conversions, only the last user interaction will be given credit for the successful conversion.

For example, let’s consider you are running a Facebook ad campaign for a new product. Let’s say that a user sees your ad on their news feed, but they didn’t click it. Later, the same user Googled your site and visited your service page directly and converts. Even if the initial impression of the Facebook ad is really what got the user thinking about converting, Google will get all the credit here.

This is the “last click wins” model.

Some might argue that, as opposed to the last click, the first click is really the most important in terms of attribution. This is because the first click represents your user’s first interaction with your brand.

And these are only two of the many different attribution models – the list goes on.

Assisted Conversions

So, with all of these different attribution possibilities, how are we supposed to draw the most accurate picture of our conversion paths?

You can start by looking at your assisted conversions in Google Analytics. Assisted conversion will take into account the different attribution models and varying levels of impression you are ads can generate.

Instead of just looking at the last click and CTR, assisted conversions will look at view-through conversions as well as the different channels your user travel through before reaching their end destination.

assisted conversions flowchart

Regardless of which attribution model you use, the goal should always be the same. And that is to identify the most accurate picture of your conversion path, and start optimizing towards that ideal user experience. For example:

  • You may find that you earn a lot of trust with customers the more you answer your customers questions on Facebook. Perhaps more detailed responses push people down the funnel.
  • Maybe, retargeting increases your conversions and improves your ad spend.
  • It’s possible a lot of people find you on Google AND then click a PPC ad later on.

The bottom line is, knowing what marketing touches your visitors are subject to, and then modeling them – will help you optimize these paths.

Now that we’ve talked about the conversion paths that live outside your website, let’s get into what goes on inside your website…

Finding Your Ideal Conversion Path

There are plenty of different tools within Google Analytics that help you track conversion paths. For starters, you can look at Behavior Flows to identify the different touch points of your user conversion path (or Buyer’s Journey for e-commerce).

behavior flows Google Analytics

Viewing your Behavior Flows in Google Analytics is a great way to know how most visitors navigate through your website. Know these paths!

Taking the time to analyze these different treemaps can give you some serious insights into what parts of your site are working, and what parts are bouncing users away.

It’s your job to connect the dots of the Buyer’s Journey to make the transition from search to sale as smooth and frictionless as possible.

Reverse Conversion Paths

If you really want to make the most of your Google Analytics data, and you can take it one step further.

Instead of considering all of the different Behavior Flows, try starting from the most successful conversion endpoints. This is where the reversed conversion package come in.

Reverse conversion paths will show you, starting from the successful conversion, which pages your lead traveled through on your site, and through which channel they came from. What’s really great about reverse conversion paths in Google Analytics, is that they are organized by volume.

reversepaths1

Here’s how to find the Reverse Goal Path report in Google Analytics

reversepaths2

And here’s how to look at this report. Notice that the right column is where visitors begin their journey.

This is where the real insights come in.

Once you’ve identified the reverse conversion path with the highest volume, you can start optimizing your entire site towards this user experience. Or at least start optimizing your “money pages” towards this UX.

Optimizing Towards Your Ideal Conversion Path

2017 is going to be the year where everyone learns that efficient optimization means allocating your time, energy, and spend to your most profitable assets and campaigns.

This is why the best link builders don’t just accumulate large lists of backlinks. They prioritize their most valuable “money” service pages and send their backlinks in that direction as opposed to just the home page.

This is because these are the pages that actually generate conversions and revenue. Which means this is where they want the traffic flowing. Piling on isn’t so bad when we are talking about traffic and conversions.

The same goes for optimizing your conversion paths and user experience. While it might be nice to improve the user experience for every user and every lead that passes through your domain, that’s not going to make you money.

Instead, focus your efforts and assets on replicating the most successful user experience which has led to the most conversions.

Here are three easily implemented Google Analytics tracking metrics that will help you optimize towards your ideal conversion path.

Destination URL Tracking

If you want to identify the weak links in a chain, you need to test each link individually.

This means that if you are optimizing your ideal buyer’s journey, you need destination URL tracking for each specific page of that path. This way you can revamp your internal linking strategy to point more relevant links towards those pages.

pages

You’ll also be able to see whether a page in the sequence has a higher bounce rate than the others. If that’s the case, you might want to consider removing the page, or optimizing its specific user experience to lower that bounce rate.

Button Tracking

The more granular you get with your tracking, the more accurate reporting will usually be. So, you shouldn’t stop at destination tracking. Take it one step further and track the actual button clicks on those specific destination URLs (sub pages).

It’s very possible, that if you have a single page within your conversion path that is responsible for the majority of bounces, button tracking will show you why. More times than most we don’t realize that the CTAs on our actual buttons are either too vague, or too strong.

button tracking google analytics

Either way, the friction increases and the bounce rate climbs. Which is what we are looking to eliminate.

Form & Cart Tracking

Lastly, you can also track the bounce rate within the specific forms on specific pages in Google Analytics. This can get pretty technical, but it really is a fast way to identify if your forms are asking too much of users.

Once you get a user to start filling out a form, if you managed to scare them away within a single field submission like “overall marketing budget,” you may be optimizing your conversion path for the wrong part of your funnel.

Once you get them filling out your form, it’s time to cross the finish line.

form tracking google analytics

This is where granular tracking in Google Analytics really shows its worth. Just imagine taking the bulk of your leads that are sitting at 95% ready to convert, and bringing them that last 5% with just a smoother/sleeker user experience.

Then image optimizing your entire site for this exact user experience. That’s some hardcore conversion rate optimization.

And soon enough you should be seeing the hardcore results that follow.

Takeaways

2017 isn’t going to be about working harder. It’s going to be about working smarter.

As Garrett Mehrguth, the CEO of Directive Consulting, has said:

“Focus needs to be our focus. Don’t even let good ideas slow us down.”

Instead of optimizing our site and our content to impress every single set of eyes, we need to start being more selective with our optimization campaigns.

This starts with being more focused on the user experiences we track. Identify the conversion paths that are already making you money, and scale those up. Optimize for performance that is proven already.

Optimize on top of the best performing parts of your site – that’s how you make the good great and the great greater.

About the Author: Sean Thomas Martin is a marketer at Directive Consulting. We specialize in comprehensive search marketing campaigns for industry leading B2B brands. For a detailed consultation free of charge, click here!

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  1. Lexi Pivovarova says:
    March 1, 2017 at 5:17 am

    We are using Google Analytics Funnels a lot. We have set up the goals both from events and also by using paths and virtual paths.

  2. Victoria Huntington says:
    February 27, 2017 at 4:49 am

    Just a question, anyone knows if there is any method to load goals + goals value retroactively into Google Analytics? Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!

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