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Why You Need to Care About Behavior Flow in Google Analytics

Leslie Ramey
7 November 2017

Business owners who are new to Google Analytics tend to focus on the big picture: overall audience numbers, bounce rates, audience sources, and keyword reports. Don’t overlook Behavior Flow! The big chart with lots of boxes and squiggly lines may seem a little confusing at first, but it actually contains a lot of highly useful information for those who know how to collect it. Let’s look at what Behavior Flow is and how you can use it to improve the way your website functions.


Understanding Behavior Flow

Every person who visits your website takes a journey. That journey may last exactly one second if they leave the website right away, or it could last over an hour if they wander through different pages, gathering information, shopping, or signing up for your newsletter. As a business owner, it is crucial that you understand how your visitors are using your website. You need to be able to answer important questions like:

  • Are visitors following the buying journeys that you designed into the site?
  • Are visitors able to find the information they need?
  • Are visitors converting and performing the tasks you desire?
  • Why are visitors leaving the site without converting?

Trying to find and survey each of your website users would be both extremely expensive and ultimately impossible. You don’t need to go to these crazy lengths to get answers. Google Analytics’ Behavior Flow can help you answer these questions at no cost!

What Is Behavior Flow from Google Analytics?

You’ll need to have Google Analytics tracking code on your website before you can begin to use Behavior Flow. When you do, log into your Google Analytics account and click on the “Behavior” tab on the left-side menu.

You’ll immediately see a flow chart filled with boxes and lines. This is Behavior Flow. In a nutshell, Behavior Flow allows you to track the actions of your website visitors. It gives valuable information, such as:

  • Which pages your visitors land on first
  • Where visitors go from one page to the next
  • Where visitors leave your site

From a bird’s eye view, Behavior Flow lets you see the journey your visitors make on your website.

Why is this information important? That’s easy! Behavior Flow can tell you what’s working and what’s not working on your website. For example, have you noticed a huge amount of visitors dropping off on a specific page before they can make a purchase? That’s a clear sign that something might be off about that page.

On the flip side, you can see who makes a successful journey and then work backwards to figure out what pages are working well. You can then use that knowledge to improve lagging pages or to create new buyer’s journeys on your site.

From a more holistic standpoint, you can use the Behavior Flow to better understand the motivations and desires of your visitors, which can help you make improvements to your site. Let’s break down some of the essential aspects of the Behavior Flow model to learn how you can successfully use this tool.

The Basics of Behavior Flow

When you visit the Behavior Flow chart for the first time you’ll see a bunch of boxes, lines, and red chutes. (Beware the red chutes!) The boxes are called “nodes,” and they can represent events, values, or individual web pages. The lines are called “connections,” and they are just what they sound like. Connections identify the flow of visitors from one node to the next. By hovering your mouse over each connection, you can see how many visitors went from Node A to Node B.

Finally, each node includes a red chute, called an “exit.” An exit signifies a bounce from a website, or someone who left your website from that page. It may also represent someone who did not complete an event. We’ll discuss events a little later in this article.

Pro Tip: A high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It all depends upon the goal of the page. A high bounce rate on a contact page might be a good thing, since many people may only be looking for your address or phone number. A high bounce rate on your homepage or product pages, however, could signify a big problem in the design of the page or your audience targeting efforts.

Going Beyond The Basics Of Behavior Overflow

Just understanding the basics of Google Analytics’ Behavior Overflow can arm you with useful information to improve the functionality of your site and give your users a better overall experience. However, that’s just the tip of the Behavior Overflow iceberg. When you really start to play around with this particular capability, you’ll find worlds of additional information available.
For example, you can create specific events, such as when a visitor watches a video or signs up for a newsletter, and then have Behavior Flow map the journey of every user who completed that event. You can also create something called content groups, which allows you to see how visitors react with a specific grouping of pages. (This can be especially useful if you have a variety of different service or product categories.)
Additionally, you can isolate almost any specific factor and view the Behavior Flow of that factor. Want to know how women interact with your site as compared to men? You can do it. How about visitors in different age groups? Yes! Want to see how Facebook users interact with your site? Where mobile users enter and drop off your site? How about tracking users in specific countries, states, or cities?
You can isolate for all of these factors and so much more!

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Then take it slow. Review the basics of Behavior Flow first and then slowly dig in deeper as you begin to fine-tune your marketing and sub-divide your audiences. Of course, if you don’t have the time to mine Google Analytics and Behavior Flow all day long, consider hiring a marketing agency that can do it for you.

At cThru Media, we can take that mining pick out of your hands so you can focus on running your company. Let us dig for information gold and present you with clear insights and useful recommendations for improving your website!