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Use This “X-Ray Vision” Google Analytics Report To Increase Conversion Rates on Your Funnels

Want an easy way to optimize funnels?

There’s a set of reports in Google Analytics that almost no one is using that will show you where your funnels are leaking conversions.

(NOTE:  Don’t know what a funnel is?  Read this article by Ryan Deiss first.)

Google Analytics can be pretty overwhelming if you’re not quite sure what exactly to use it for.

But don’t worry… I’m going to explain exactly how to access and use these reports to optimize your marketing funnels.

Go With The Flow

These “graph” style reports are likely what you’re used to using in Google Analytics…


But… there is a completely unique report that Google Analytics offers you.  It’s a report that actually draws the path between different steps (which they called “nodes”).

They’re called “flow reports.”

These reports give you a sort of “x-ray view” of how traffic is moving through your funnel.

For instance you can see them going from the offer, to the cart, to the upsell and beyond.

Yep… with flow reports you can see that and more…

The Basics

First, let’s break down the basics of a “flow report.”

Take a look at the image below.  It’s an example of a basic flow report and gives you a pretty good idea of how they work.

Photo taken from:

In the example above, the flow starts with Traffic Source, then shows those visitors as they “flow” into the next node, in this case, an ecommerce category page.  From this category page, you’ll notice how some flow into the shopping cart and then some of those flow into the order page.

So what does this report tell us?  Using this example we know…

  • There have been around 12,000 views of the category pages
  • Of those views, about 2,700 saw the shopping cart
  • Of those cart views, about 600 placed an order

What’s even more interesting though is what the connections tell us.  Take a look at the backtracking that is happening between the cart and categories pages.  Could this be a sign that the shopping cart is causing objections and the users are going back to the original sales pages to get or confirm answers?  It might.

You’ll also notice the red “exit” lines that are at the end of some of each nodes.

This is the exit… the number of people who left the funnel mid-stream.  If potential buyers are jumping ship, there’s a reason. Flow reports can show you where the issues are so you can focus your efforts on those areas.

But wait… there’s more!

Take a look at what happens when you hover over a node…


Up pops an instant summary of the page URL, the number of visits, how many went through to another page and how many dropped off.

You can also click on the node to find these options…


“Highlight traffic through here” will give you a deep dive of all the connections between the node you highlighted and the pages that connected to it.

Here’s an example of a standard Goal Flow Report…


And here’s the report after “Highlighting” traffic through the “Upsell” node:


See how many more connections you can see now?

But what if you want even more details?  No problem.  Just click “Explore traffic through here” and you’ll get something that looks like this:


The coolest thing about this report is the ability to step back and forth through your pages. For each step you get a more detailed view of what’s happening with your traffic.

Finally, there’s the “Group details” option.


With this option, you’re finally back into the world of data tables!  It’s the most granular view of what’s happening through the node.

Types Of Flow Reports

Currently there are 3 different flow reports you can find in your analytics.

Under “Audience” you’ll find the “User Flow” report.  This will show you the connections and flow of your traffic based on user variables like Traffic Sources, Browser Types, etc.


Under “Behavior” you’ll find the “Behavior Flow” report. At first glance, this looks identical to the “User Flow” report, but the difference is that you can group nodes a bit differently.


Finally, under “Conversions” you’ll find the “Goal Flow” report. You’ve already seen this report since it’s the report we’ve been using for the images throughout this post. It’s the best one to use once you’ve already setup goals in Google Analytics.


I know Google Analytics can be a bit confusing at times. Flow reports can help make things a little easier. Choose one to start with and take it a step at a time. Once you’re familiar with the basics, then start clicking around to get different levels of detail.

Now it’s your turn, give flow reports a try!

Chris Mercer

Chris Mercer

Chris “Mercer” Mercer, Co-Founder of, is a sought-after measurement marketing expert. He helps marketers, marketing teams, and agencies plan out what’s important to measure in their marketing, build measurement systems (using Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics), create actionable dashboard reports, and finally use those reports to forecast and optimize their marketing results.

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