Making Use of Google Analytics’ User Flow and Behavior Flow

website visitor on mobile

This post has been updated since the original publication with examples from MudbugMedia.com (the company behind P3 Inbound). Additionally, we’ve included a Q&A section from past comments.

One of the core ways that blogs create business is to get users to go through a sales process that goes something like this:

  1. User reads an article and finds it amazingly helpful. That user leaves a comment.
  2. The user sees a link to another intriguing article, so she clicks through.
  3. She loves the content so much that when she sees the opportunity to sign up for the newsletter, she can’t resist.

That process doesn’t always happen on the first visit, if at all, but Google Analytics offers us the opportunity to examine users’ behavior to follow the path they use when on the site.

Users Flow

user flow

User Flow helps site owners segment website viewers by their country of origin. You can find this report under the Audience section.

In the example above, you can see that most of our traffic comes from the United States. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since we are writing from the U.S., and our writing references many events and media pieces from the U.S.

Highlight TrafficLet’s trace users from the United States to see what happens. By selecting the United States, a small menu will pop up. Select “Highlight Traffic through Here” to get a clearer picture of your desired segment. (Select “View Only This Segment” to completely eliminate the other data from your report. Don’t worry, you can still retrieve the data later.)

Once you’ve selected the segment, you’ll see something like the following:

Click image for larger view
Click image for larger view

As you can see, slightly more than half of our users dropped off after the first page. However, we still have a good amount of users that continued past the first page. Most U.S. users that come to our website are visiting our homepage. This report also tells us that the users who entered our website from our blog simply viewed the article, and likely found the information they were looking for and left.

You may also notice that the drop-offs become fewer and fewer as users go through the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd interactions. Most users who went all the way through to a 3rd interaction viewed our About page, Portfolio, Team page, and Contact page, although they may have gotten to that information through different paths.

The great thing about this report is it allows you to see if your users are finding and viewing the important information on your website.

Behavior Flow

Before we wrap up our quick overview of flow in Analytics, Behavior Flow certainly deserves a mention. You’ll notice that this report can be found under the “Behavior” section in the left navigation.

Behavior Flow
Click for larger version.

The Behavior Flow report makes no qualms about the origin of the user. What matters here is the content. In this report, we can see that the behavior of our users matches up with our Users Flow in the US market. This makes sense, since our company is based in the United States. This may not be the case for all websites and blogs.

Sliders, Oh My!

And one last bit of info for you regarding Analytics Flow. Don’t forget the sliders. They’re good fun, and they’re incredibly useful when it comes to getting more granular with your data.

Slider

For more on Google Analytics and Flow Visualization reports, see Google’s official help section.

Q&A

Q. What do you mean with “sliders”? Not another flow report, is it?
A. I’m just referring to the slider control on the side of the Behavior Flow and User Flow charts. They allow you to zoom in to see more connections / more detail between the various steps of the report.

Q. Is there any way to email behavior flow report?
A. Good question. I hadn’t thought about it before. It looks like Analytics currently (Nov. 2014) allows users to download a PDF that could be sent easily enough. I don’t see any method of automating the report on a monthly basis.

Q. When selecting one box to get see the drop off %, could you break down from the top of the box to the bottom what each number is representing?
A. The flow charts are meant for a quick overview. If you’re looking for more in-depth data, check out the Navigation Summary report.

Q. Is there any way to add a Users Flow Chart to a dashboard? I just want to look at landing pages from e-mail and pages that lead to subscribers on my dashboard.
A. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a way to get to a flow chart from the dashboard. It’s one of the drawbacks of Analytics.

Want to learn more about analytics? You can find more analytics topics here.

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