Use analytics reports to generate hypotheses: advanced

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This article is part of The Optimization Methodology series.

Reporting and analytics provide key insights about your experiments to generate ideas for the next experiments you can do. They help you focus your experimentation on important opportunities.

See how to use basic reports to decide what to test. Optimizely Experimentation integrates with many analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics, so you can track your visitors' behaviors.

The advanced reports provide granular data about friction points in different pathways. Use these reports to brainstorm how you can exceed visitor expectations.

To help structure and focus your team's creative process, add key insights to your business intelligence report.

Pathing and funnel reports

The funnel report shows you the different steps in your conversion funnel and how visitors go between each: 

  • Where do visitors enter the funnel?

  • What pages do visitors leave your site from?

  • How do visitors go between pages?

  • What pages do visitors fail to take action?

Bottlenecks in your funnel are opportunities for optimization.

For example, many visitors left the site during account login and creation. Is the login process overly complicated? Do they abandon the funnel after being taken to a different page? Test ways to ease friction points in your login process or experiment with ways to better connect account creation with the funnel experience.

You can also use your pathing report to calculate opportunity based on bounce rate:

total visitors X bounce rate = opportunity

For example, if 15,000 visitors visit your homepage, but 40% of them bounce from the site, you can optimize this page for 6,000 visitors.

15,000 visitors X 0.40 bounce rate = 6,000 visitors

If you have 7,000 visitors on your request-a-demo page with a 90% bounce rate, you have a 6,300 visitor opportunity. Even though the request-a-demo page sees less traffic, the size of the opportunity for optimization is comparable. Opportunity can help you prioritize test ideas that target different pages on your site.

Create a stacked bar chart

A stacked bar chart shows how visitors progress down the funnel. This chart is one of the most impactful dashboards a conversion rate optimization team can use.

When you run a test on a particular page, reference this chart to gauge whether you’re devoting resources to the right opportunities.

Visualize the following three behaviors for each step:

  • Visitors who exited the website

  • Visitors who left the funnel to go to a different page

  • Visitors who continued to the next step in the funnel

High exit rates at unexpected points in the funnel suggest that customers are frustrated; consider prioritizing ideas that test these pages in your roadmap.

The example above tracks visitors from the Homepage to a 3% final conversion. The 8% conversion from the product page to the shopping basket may seem important, but further research might show that it aligns with industry standards. However, the 48% exit rate from the product page is unusually high. Visitors may not find relevant products, indicating an inventory or discoverability problem. Pass this information to the team; if the experience of finding a product is too difficult, visitors may exit the site permanently.

Landing and exit pages

Your top landing and exit pages show how visitors enter and leave the site. Some pages with high exit rates may align with expected behavior. For example, a logout page is likely to have a high exit rate. Other pages with high exit rates are opportunities for optimization. If a high percentage of visitors exit immediately after reading one article, try showing related content to encourage visitors to spend more time on the site.

You can also use the landing and exit pages report to find product pages that are underperforming by sorting and filtering by exit rate. Try testing an experience that aligns better with visitor expectations.

Heat maps, click maps, and scroll depth 

Heat maps, click maps, and scroll depth visualize your visitors’ behaviors on your site. Platforms such as CrazyEgg, Clicktale, and Google Analytics tell you which parts of your site receive the most attention and what is being ignored.

Use them to:

  • Visualize how much of the page visitors see on initial page load and how far they actively scroll.

  • See where visitors click on the page.

  • Consider whether to prioritize high-value content.

  • Consider whether different styles, colors, or animations draw attention to the most important elements on the page.

Determine the best way to use the impactful spaces on your site. Highlight value propositions or display new inventory. You can also rearrange content to show valuable products that receive more attention.

For many web-based businesses, site search is an important function to optimize because it is a behavior that most visitors are familiar with.

Compare the metrics for visitors who used the search bar against visitors who did not. For example, only 10% of visitors may use the search function but convert at 3-4 times the rate of those who did not. They might generate 33% of total revenue and spend more time on the site.

If visitors who search perform better than those who do not, make your search bar a prominent visual element on your site. Try centering it, re-sizing it, or drawing attention to the search to encourage visitors to use it to find products.

Time to purchase

Time to purchase tells you how long visitors take to convert. Some visitors are quick to make a decision; others may spend time performing additional research, looking at competitive offerings, and obtaining approval for a purchase.

  • How many days do visitors take to complete a purchase?

  • What’s the best way to segment visitors by time-to-purchase: same day, within a week, within a month, or more?

Consider the motivations of your visitor segments. If customers take long periods to decide, you might experiment with showing a star-rating system or social validation to encourage the purchase. To streamline the process for those who make purchase decisions quickly, try surfacing key product details or highlighting the purchase button.

Revenue 

Attach a value to your experiments to better understand how to optimize your site and increase ROI.

Look for the following metrics:

  • What is the revenue per visitor? (RPV)

  • What is the average order value? (AOV)

  • Are visitors purchasing a few high-priced items or several lower-priced items?

  • Are there up-sell opportunities in the cart or on the pricing page, or do those distract and lower conversion rates?

  • What is the value of a lead and how much do leads decrease your average acquisition costs?

Analytics by industry 

The sections below list common metrics by industry and examples of where they are tested.

Ecommerce

  • Number of orders over time – Checkout
  • Average order value (AOV) – Home, product, pricing, CTA, order review
  • Repeat customers – Home, product
  • Revenue per customer  – Home, product
  • Checkout funnel steps – Checkout funnel, progress bar
  • Add to cart rate – Home, category, product
  • Product page views – Home, category, product
  • Category page views – Home, category, product
  • Conversion rate – All (CTA)
  • Bounce rate (increase or decrease) – Home, search, navigation bar
  • Searches (increase or decrease) – Search bar, search
  • Search inputs – Search bar
  • Filter options – Checkout funnel, filter bar
  • Increase in new visitors – Home
  • Increase in returning visitors – Home, content
  • Page views – All

Media sites

  • Conversion rate – All (CTA)
  • Bounce rate (increase or decrease) – Home, search, navigation bar
  • Searches (increase or decrease) – Search bar, search
  • Increase in new visitors – Home
  • Increase in returning visitors – Home, content
  • Page views – All
  • Time on site – Home, content, navigation bar, related content
  • Articles viewed – Content, related content
  • Videos viewed – Video thumbnails, content breadcrumb
  • Number of votes or comments – Content
  • Subscription conversion – Value props
  • Social traffic – Home, content

B2B/Mobile app

  • Average order value (AOV) – Home, product, pricing, CTA, order review
  • Conversion rate – All (CTA)
  • Bounce rate (increase or decrease) – Home, search, navigation bar
  • Increase in new visitors – Home
  • Increase in returning visitors – Home, content
  • Page views – All
  • Sign-up funnel – Form
  • Signed up users – Form
  • Number of leads – Form, chat boxes, free trials
  • Up-sold customers – Form, pricing, chat boxes
  • Churned customers – Form, pricing, chat boxes
  • Engagement in chat – Chat boxes, chat box display

Travel/Hospitality

  • Average order value (AOV) – Home, product, pricing, CTA, order review
  • Checkout funnel steps – Checkout funnel, progress bar
  • Conversion rate – All (CTA)
  • Bounce rate (increase or decrease) – Home, search, navigation bar
  • Searches (increase or decrease) – Search bar, search
  • Search inputs – Search bar
  • Filter options – Checkout funnel, filter bar
  • Increase in new visitors – Home
  • Increase in returning visitors – Home, content
  • Page views – All