Using Conversion Funnels to Improve Your Conversion Rate

by Joseph Kerschbaum

Director of Client Services, Clix Marketing

Google announced their new Search Funnel reporting capabilities within AdWords earlier this year. Search Funnels is a set of reports describing click and impression behavior leading up to a conversion on the Google Search Network.

AdWords attributes conversions to the last ad click before a conversion, but the Search Funnels reports provides some insight on how other clicks/impressions influenced users to take action.

If you haven’t reviewed these reports previously they can be overwhelming. This two-part series will describe how you can apply this data to improve your conversion rate and overall PPC performance.

Where do You Find the Search Funnels Reports?

First, let’s discuss the nuts and bolts on where these reports are located within your Google AdWords account.

The Search Funnels reports can be found within the Conversion reporting tab of your AdWords accounts.

What Types of Reports Can You Run?

There are eight Search Funnel reports. Each of these reports provides click-to-conversion data in regards to number of clicks or impressions, or the length of time that users take to convert. Here’s a quick description of each available report:

  • Top Conversions: Displays all of the conversion actions within your Google AdWords account.
  • Assist Clicks and Impressions: Displays when your ads were shown but not clicked, otherwise known as “assist impressions.” You can also see clicks that assisted in generating a conversion, known as “assist clicks.” These impressions and clicks are responsible for gaining a user’s attention early in the buying cycle, but the user eventually converted on another click.
  • Assisted Conversions: Shows last-click conversions and click-assisted conversions for each campaign, ad group, and keyword.
  • First, Last Click Analysis: Shows the number of conversions with a first click or last click from each campaign, ad group, or keyword.
  • Top Paths: Shows the most common conversion paths based on ads that were shown and/or clicked prior to conversion.
  • Time Lag, Path Length: Show the amount of time it takes for users to converting after clicking on your ad. The Path Length report shows the average number of clicks and/or impressions it takes for users to convert. The Time Lag report shows how long it takes for users to convert after clicking on your ad.

How Can You Use These Reports to Improve Your Conversion Rate?

If you haven’t conducted this kind of analysis before, the data can be overwhelming. You can end up with a lot of information without much actionable analysis. Let’s walk through the important Search Funnel reports so you can understand the implications of the data and what they mean for your conversion rate and overall performance.

We’ll start with the reports that are easiest to grasp and understand.

Path Length Reports

The Path Length report displays the average number of clicks or impressions it takes for users to convert. Here’s an example report.

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This report shows that a large portion of this client’s audience (approximately 46 percent) doesn’t convert after the first click. Forty-six percent of our audience converts after two or more clicks.

Time Lag Reports

The Time Lag Report shows the average amount of time it takes for users to convert. You can view this data in daily or hourly increments. Here’s an example report.

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This report shows that, on average, users converted on our client’s website approximately three days after the first click. Approximately 72 percent of our audience converts within one day of clicking our ad. However, this means that 28 percent of users need more than one day to convert.

The click path and time lag lengths seem about right for this client. This client sells expensive, high-end exercise equipment and this isn’t the kind of purchase that users make on a whim.

There’s no cause for alarm with these stats. We know that users shop around for this kind of product, but this doesn’t mean that we won’t work on our conversion rate to shorten both our click path and time lag and convince users to convert sooner.

However, if a client were selling lower-cost goods, or the conversion action was simply a contact form, then these stats would indicate that we weren’t engaging users as quickly as possible (if it takes users three days to fill out a form, we have a big problem!). We’d know that our landing pages aren’t grabbing users’ attention and inspiring them to take action.

What Can You Do Now?

Check out your Time Lag and Path Length reports. Review the data to determine if conversions are taking longer than you expected. If they are, brainstorm on why users aren’t inspired by your landing page to action upon the first click.

Now, you’re on the path to using the Conversion Funnels reports to improve your conversion rate and your AdWords campaigns overall.

In Part 2, we’ll review other Search Funnel reports to see how general keywords may be driving your branded keywords and what this means to your conversion rates.

This article was originally posted October 13, 2010 on