Whether it’s your website, product, or an app, when you’re thinking about your users, you surely have some goals in mind. Let’s say a visitor comes to your website – what would you like them to do? Sign up for a newsletter? Buy a product? Request a demo? These are examples of the tasks you’d like your users to complete.
Whether they do it, how they do it and how long it takes them if they do, these are entirely different matters. Together they make up what we call a user flow – a path that a user takes to accomplish a certain goal.
The trouble is that users rarely take the path you’d like them to take. Instead of going straight for your goal, they often wander about in search of more information. They might even get bored midway and just leave your website or app without ever completing the goal you had in mind for them.
This might especially be true if a user enters a home page with lots of navigational options in its menu, or an ecommerce page with a range of product categories. They might feel lost and need time to find what they’re looking for.
This is the point where you step in, to help your users reach their goals faster and in a more convenient manner. In other words, to optimize user flow. But if you want to be their knight in shining armor, you shouldn’t go into this battle blind. Arm yourself with the best tool there is – solid data.
Without rich and reliable data, you can’t predict the path your users take, you won’t know which links or buttons they used to move forward on their journey. Analyze your data and you might be surprised by all the unusual behavior and paths that they take.
User flow analysis can be especially helpful when optimizing:
- conversion paths and funnels
- a website’s navigational elements and menus (design, placement, copy)
- CTAs (design, copy)
Now that you know how important it is to optimize user flows, let’s get to the good part where we show you how to do it! To help you on your quest, we’ll present you with three sample reports that you can set up using Piwik PRO Custom Reports. Pay attention!
1. User flow report as a starting point of optimization
To make things a little easier to understand, we will use examples from our website. We call this first one the “user flow report”, and we consider it absolutely vital if you want to improve.
Setting up the report with Piwik PRO Custom Reports
To construct a report that will be used to optimize user flow, you have to choose the right metrics. In this case we have:
- Page views
- Exit rate (events)
- Average time on page
and relevant dimensions:
- Session entry URL
- Session second URL
This setup gives you a report that can look something like the example below:
Please note that since there were two dimensions chosen (Session entry URL and Session second URL), what we see here is the first level of a two-level report, sorted by the number of visitors.
What this report tells us
The first level shows a list of all the URLs that served as a starting point for a user’s journey, their first touchpoints with your website. Each URL is assigned an appropriate value of the metrics we’ve chosen in the preceding step.
If you want to know how many people visit the URLs on this list, check the value of the Visitors metric. Some pages are more popular than others, to the extent that they often get viewed more than once by the same person on their journey to their goal. That’s when the Page views metric comes in handy – it tells you how many times a page has been seen. The number of page views will be higher than the number of visitors. Keep those metrics side by side in your report for easier analysis.
You’ll need the Exit rate metric to see the percentage of users who drop off at each step of their journey and leave your website. For this first level of the user flow report it will be equal to the bounce rate. You’ll make the most use of this metric on the next level of the report.
Average time on page is another metric useful in several scenarios. Let’s say there is a page with a significant drop off rate, but the average time spent on the page is high. The conclusion could be that users are struggling to find the relevant navigation element or the information that they initially came to see.
Analyzing the second level of the report
To get to the second level of the report, click any of the Session entry URLs. You’ll see a list of all the pages that a user chose to visit following the first URL. Let’s click on the one that leads to our home page.
The list above shows all the URLs that constitute the second step in our users’ journey, right after they visit the Piwik PRO home page. It includes all the navigational elements and CTAs that we have there.
Starting from the top, there is a chunk of data labeled as ‘No data’ in the Session second URL section. This represents the people who left our website right after their visit to our home page. They didn’t go any further, so there is no second URL on their path.
The rest of this list is where things get interesting. It provides us with tons of valuable data on our users’ activities. We can use it to find out which navigational elements get the greatest response. We can also draw conclusions on what they were looking for when they came to our website, why they visited, and which topics sparked their interest.
Want to know more about your users’ journey? Take a look at this blog post:
Funnels Based on Behavioral Segmentation: a Little-Known Way to Map the Entire Customer Journey
In the example above we can see that about 6% of our home page visitors progressed to the ‘Web Analytics’ page – this tells us that web analytics might be the most important part of our offer to them. As for our other products, the interesting topics were:
This data is a great indicator of our potential customers’ needs, and we use it when building our offer.
The report gives us valuable insights on the calls to action we have placed on the home page. We use two main CTAs – one leads to the ‘Request a demo’ page, and the other to the ‘Why Piwik PRO’ page. When you look at the data provided by the example, you can see that the ‘Get a free demo’ convinced more Piwik PRO visitors. It’s the third most popular destination from our home page – almost 4% of users followed this path. For us, that’s a satisfying result for a CTA. Our second one – ‘Why Piwik PRO’ – attracted about 1,7% of the visitors, and this click-through rate could be improved.
Another outcome is that the pages related to Piwik PRO as a company play a major role in our users’ journey . ‘About’ and ‘Contact’ pages are sought out more than product pages. This might mean that our visitors are not familiar with the brand and may want to learn more about it.
If you’d like to dig deeper into your users’ behavior and find out what content captures their attention the most, read our article:
4 Steps to Optimize Visitor Engagement With Your Website Using the Content Efficiency Report
This is when the Exit rate metric finally comes in handy. It’s the best indicator of which sites are the weakest link in the user flow. It can inspire a lot of important questions, such as: Why did users leave this second page of their journey? Did it not meet their expectations somehow? Is the content not relevant to their needs, or are there some UX issues that caused their exit?
Most of the pages in the given example do not turn our users off, and they continue to the next step. On average, 30% of them drop off at this point and abandon the website. That value is a less-than-perfect outcome, and we plan to optimize it further.
2. Using CTA performance report to optimize a page layout
If you’re still with us and you’ve gotten this far in your user flow optimization process, you can pat yourself on the back – it’s a really good start. But more can be done in terms of improving user experience and increasing conversion rates, so stay with us a little longer. Let’s move on to our second report!
The power of calls to action
If you want to make progress beyond what you’ve already done with us, you’ll need what we call the “CTA performance report” – take a look below for an example of the setup:
It lists page URLs along with calls to action that we have on those pages, and the number of clicks for each CTA. The report reveals:
- the most popular CTAs for each page,
- click-through rates of each CTA.
To calculate click-through rates, you have to combine data from this report with page view numbers, then you’ll know what percentage of people who have seen a given page also clicked on a CTA.
Let’s look a little closer at the example above. The CTAs that our users favor the most can be found on our home page – ‘Demo’ and ‘Why Piwik PRO’. This confirms our previous findings from the user flow optimization report.
What’s also worth noticing is that they are located in the center of our home page, just above the fold. We have an additional call to action on this page, listed in this report as “Header Demo CTA”, situated in the top-right corner of the website. Its performance is significantly lower than the other two – the difference is the location. That’s something you want to take into consideration when planning the positions of your CTAs.
The reason we have several calls to action on the main page is that a lot of users are interested in our platform, but aren’t ready for a product demo at this stage of their journey. We want to give them an alternative, and that’s what the “Why Piwik PRO” CTA is for. As you can see from the report, it’s the second most clicked button on our website.
If you’d like to know how to set up tracking for your CTAs with Piwik PRO Tag Manager, take a look at this article.
Whether you need to optimize the user flow on your website or smooth out navigation paths for your visitors, use the information from the reports we’ve presented here. Solid data is the best way to empower your decision-making process.
3. Keep visitors from leaving with scroll depth report
To top it all off, we have one last setup you can use. We call it the “Page Scroll Depth” report, and it can look like the example below:
This one also refers to our home page, and it lets us analyze how far down this page visitors scroll.
The scroll depth report is especially useful when considering the placement of your CTAs and other navigational elements. It can also indicate if your content is interesting enough and if there are any visual obstacles stopping your visitors’ eyes from smoothly going over the page.
Analyze where most of your users leave the page, and make sure that before they do, they get to see your CTA. It’s helpful to have a strong headline at the top of the page and to push the most important content upward.
Another thing you should consider when you have a lot of users dropping off a page at a certain percentage is whether it has a false bottom.
According to ConversionXL,
The false bottom is also often referred to as a logical end and the illusion of completeness. Essentially, a false bottom is the point on a page where a visitor believes the page will not scroll further, despite the fact that there is more content below that point.
To prevent this, check how your website looks on mobile devices, as there may be scaling issues. Also, make sure that the page fold doesn’t give the impression of being a false bottom, which is often the case.
Now back to our example. Looking at the data in the report, we can conclude that to get the best results we should situate our CTAs no further than 25% down the page.
The same applies to other pages on our website, such as one of our blog posts:
The further down we go, the less user attention we have, so the performance of CTAs will drop.
Optimizing user flow is no picnic. It’s a process that involves multiple techniques and countless hours of fine-tuning to get it right. The important thing is to remember that guesswork is not enough. Visitors can move around your website in mysterious ways, so if you really want to help them reach their goals, you need to rely on cold, hard data.
We hope that the reports we’ve presented will help you progress in your efforts to improve your users’ journey. If you’d like to know more about this topic, you can always reach out to us with your questions, we’ll be happy to help.