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Website funnel analysis: using funnel analytics to increase conversions on your website

graphic representation of funnel analysis

Table of contents

What is funnel analysis?

Funnel analysis is the process of mapping the flow of website visitors to a set of specific funnel steps that result in conversions or signups. Businesses use funnel analysis to trace the user journey throughout their website, optimize it, and see how many visitors end up in each stage of the funnel.

A 'website funnel' gets its name because, much like a physical funnel, it narrows toward the end—so the volume of visitors at the top is larger than the volume of visitors at the bottom.

funnel analysis

Funnels (also called conversion funnel or sales funnel) are widely used across various marketing functions because they help identify barriers that cause users to leave before reaching a conversion point.

For example: a lot of people might visit the homepage of an e-commerce website, but only a few will eventually go on to see a thank you page after a purchase. A basic e-commerce funnel conversion path will look like this:

homepage > category page > product page > cart > checkout > thank you page

Funnel analysis tracks user actions throughout the funnel and tells you how many visitors make it through each step, highlighting problems or areas for improvement in the customer journey with the goal of increasing conversion rates and revenue.

3 benefits of using funnel analysis on your website

It's often easy (and tempting) to work on too many parts of your site in one go, but funnel analysis helps you understand what needs tackling and prioritize work on those steps first instead. Here is how:

1. Find the high-traffic, high-exit pages where people are leaving

A funnel visualization tool shows the drop-off rate and conversion rate of your main pages, helping you understand when and where visitors and potential customers are leaving your website.

conversion funnel example

Knowing where in the journey users drop off will help you focus your optimization efforts on the biggest opportunities. To lean on the funnel metaphor: finding where users leave will help you plug holes in your funnel and send more traffic down it.

2. Determine where high-quality visitors come from

Funnels are not only useful for finding issues that need fixing: they can also help you spot successes you can double down on—for example, by revealing where your high-converting traffic comes from.

An advanced funnel visualization tool like Google Analytics will help you do this: you’ll need to set up the goals you are interested in (e.g., cart completion, newsletter signups), and use the Goal Flow feature to filter by source to see where converting traffic came from.

flow funnel analysis google analytics

If you understand how visitors who convert reach your website, you can focus more efforts on those acquisition channels and increase the number of likely conversions.

3. Help team members and stakeholders make decisions

jeremy foucray presenting funnel analysis


Conversion funnels are a straightforward way to share where your online business is doing well and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Funnel reports are an easy visual aid to use in presentations to stakeholders and team members alongside your metrics and KPIs, helping you get buy-in for future optimization work and showcase your successful projects. There’s nothing quite like seeing a big red ‘drop-off’ alert to inspire people to take action.

Two ways to run advanced funnel analytics

Conversion funnels help you get a clearer understanding of the user behavior across your website, but you can supercharge the analysis by using funnels in combination with other user experience tools.

1. See what’s happening between events and pages

After you’ve identified problematic high-exit pages and roadblocks in your conversion funnel, you can take a more in-depth look at what users are interacting with right before they drop off by using heat maps and session recordings.

Heat maps

Heat maps will record and aggregate user clicks, mouse movement, and scrolls, allowing you to see which elements were clicked (or ignored) and how far down the page users scrolled.

using heat maps to improve your website ux

Placing a heat map on your high-exit pages might help you spot problematic elements on it, such as broken links and unseen CTAs.

Session recordings

Session recordings are renderings of individual user sessions on your website, and will help give more detail to the insights you get from heat maps.

Hotjar recordings video

Focus on your high-exit pages and watch how people browse to get there, scroll through content, and interact with buttons before they leave your website. Spotting any issues they encounter helps you empathize with their journey, and get some of the visual data needed to design for better UX and funnel visitors further down your site.

2. Find out what’s going on by surveying visitors on the page

The additional analytics data from heat maps and recordings will have given you a few hypotheses for UX improvements and design changes. You can experiment with design changes through A/B testing at this stage, but there’s one key insight that’s still missing: feedback from your users.

Qualitative data from on-page surveys and feedback is an invaluable part of funnel analysis. Instead of making assumptions and guesses about why visitors bounce and don’t convert, you can simply talk to your users and let them tell you why.

feedback from your users with polls

Again, starting with your high-exit pages, set up a website survey with a couple of key questions to learn more:

  • What’s missing from this page?
  • What’s stopping you from continuing?
  • What were you looking for?
  • How can we help?

Asking the right open-ended questions allows your visitors to tell you how they feel, in their own words, so you can empathize with their needs and provide a better website experience.

Funnel analysis example: a case study from CMS Connected

funnel analysis example cms connected

CMS Connected, an IT news and marketing company, used Hotjar Funnels to analyze how a piece of gated content was performing.

The funnel was set up on a simple 3-step journey from a landing page (Step 1) to a sign-up form (Step 2) to a success page (Step 3). In order to see the content they were interested in, visitors needed to sign up on step 2 with their name and email address.

By analyzing the funnel, the team at CMS Connected identified a huge drop-off of around 82% between Steps 2 and 3, meaning that for every ten people making it to the page, more than eight left without interacting with the content.

As a result, the team decided to remove Step 2 from the funnel and make the content available to all visitors. This obviously solved a problem for visitors, who could freely flow towards the page(s) they were interested in, but also guaranteed that CMS Connected’s content was given a true chance to shine and help their readers.


FAQs about funnel analysis

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What is a funnel report?
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