Using Google Analytics to review user journeys

November 23, 2017

It's easy to access and review plenty of data about your website via Google Analytics -- but what does it really tell you about the usability of your pages? At Code, we know it's vital to bring some context to the data for our clients, so we spend a lot of time going through Google Analytics and understanding what all those stats actually mean for them. Here are a few key reports where you can access specific information around desktop, tablet and mobile users, and some pointers on how to dissect it all.

Number of visits from different types of devices

Being able to see the volume of people accessing your site from each device type is particularly useful if you're considering building a mobile site, as this initial research can help you decide if the investment will actually be worthwhile. Once you've segmented your data by device, you can start reviewing top level reports. To break out both tablet and desktop, you'll need to create a custom segment.

Conversion rate

Analysing your conversion rate is important if you want to understand the effectiveness of your traffic and the journey users have been on. Using Analytics, you can directly compare mobile, tablet and desktop journeys to see how well the traffic is converting cross platform.

Visitors flow

When it comes to reviewing user journeys, one of the most important features of Google Analytics is Visitors Flow. The Visitor Flow is a graphical representation of the paths visitors have taken and it details things like what pages they come from and go to, where users drop off, and other features like traffic source, campaign, browser, or country.

Goal flow

Goal flow helps you to visualise the path your visitors takes as a 'funnel' leading towards an end goal.This makes it easier to see where the barriers are to achieving the objective of a website. Below are a few questions to consider when reviewing the goal flow: - Where do visitors enter the website's 'funnel'? - Are there a lot of unexpected exits/drop offs from a step in the 'funnel'? - Does traffic loop back and if so, where to? - Is there one segment of traffic that acts differently than other segments? - What segment of traffic converts best and why?

New vs. returning visitors

When you visit a place for the second time in real life, you usually act quite differently than you did on your first visit -- you know how to get around, and you'll go to the places you enjoyed before. It's exactly the same online, so understanding the journey of new visitors compared to a returning visitor can help you make decisions on testing, information architecture, and site layout.

Average time on site

If you find that mobile and tablet users are spending a lot less time on the site than desktop users, this doesn't necessarily mean that your site isn't performing well on these devices -- you should never put the performance of the site down to this one metric, and average time on site is not the be all and end all. For example, if tablet users are spending more time on the site, this could mean that they're browsing more content, or it could mean that they're having difficulty finding the content they need.

Bounce and exit rates

When considering time on site, you should also look at if the user bounces or if the page has a high exit rate. This can lead you to make decisions on particular categories of content or individual pages when reviewing them cross platform. In the example below, bounce rate is lowest and average time is longest amongst tablet users, suggesting that those accessing the site via tablet are mainly just browsing content.

Engagement data

The Engagement section looks at 'Visit Duration' and 'Page Depth'. You can see how long users are spending on site, be it 0-10, 11-30, 31-60 secs, etc. You can also see how far down users are clicking into the site <1, 1, 2, 3 pages, etc. This can offer insight into whether users find your website easy to navigate, landing page performance, and more.

Top landing and exit pages

These are two features I always look at in Analytics when we are doing any search and media campaigns. If you can see which pages of the website are getting the most traffic, you can take steps to ensure these pages are as relevant as possible; for example, if you have high exit rates on tablet or mobile on a particular page, then this could mean that it's not rendering well or that it's otherwise not user friendly. It's important to review the keywords on your top landing pages; getting loads of traffic to a site is, of course, a good thing, but there's little point if it's not relevant as it won't convert. Always review the other metrics like bounce rate and time on page at page level as well. If you'd like to discuss any of the above or have any questions about Google Analytics then let us know.

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