Putting Google Analytics’ Behavior Flow Tool to Use

Wondering what value your web ad campaigns deliver your business, beyond conversions on a landing page? When it comes to ad campaigns, the journey can be just as important as the destination. Ads can deliver more than direct conversions; they can also bring curious users to many different pages of your site. Follow their path and you can find out exactly what of your brand content they were interested in.

Imagine this: a user clicks on your ad, and ends up on your landing page. The user looks over whatever offer awaited them, decided they were not interested, and navigated to other pages on the site. What else could they be seeing, then? Resources prepared as part of your content marketing efforts? Customer testimonials? Perhaps even other submission pages? Customers taking time to explore your brand website is far from the worst thing that could happen. In fact, for a lot of us, getting a user to explore your brand’s site is a dream come true – most of us have spent our fair share of time waving our arms around for this to happen.

So how do you get your hands on this information? Luckily, it’s free and relatively simple thanks to Google Analytics. Google offers a tool called, “Behavior Flow” that will highlight your top five pages and show you visitors’ journeys from each. Below, we’ll break down how you can use this tool.

Let’s get started. Once you’re logged into your Google Analytics account, navigate to Behavior > Behavior Flow to see Google Analytics’ unique visualization. You can find this option in the reporting navigation panel to the left of the Google Analytics interface.


Next, if you’re looking particularly at your paid audience, you’ll want to segment your audience so that you’re looking at Paid Traffic only. This means Google will show you only those who have come to your website via paid advertising. Of course, you have the option to look at all traffic as well – or any segment you’d like. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll stick with a paid audience.

Once “Your View” is updated to show behavioral flow, you can take a closer look to see how users are moving through your site. You’ll see something similar to this:

behavior_flow_-_google_analytics_1024Example from www.christopherspenn.com

Notice too that the drop down menu on the top left says “Landing Page.” When that dimension is selected, Google Analytics will show you the paths starting with the landing page. Because this is where your campaign visitors will be beginning their journey, it’s a great place to start. There are dimensions that you may find useful for other needs, but for an ad campaign, “Campaign” or “Landing Page” dimensions are often the most useful. Options beyond that include things like country, particular events, etc.

Now – brave advertiser, don’t be intimidated by the format of this view. It’s actually quite readable. This kind of diagram is called a “flow visualization report” and you can learn more about it from Google Analytics support here. Starting from the left of the report, you will see landing pages. These are where the user can enter the website, or “entry points into the flow.”

Pay careful attention to where your users navigate. Are they going to an unexpected or unrelated page? Is the content on that page perhaps more enticing than you anticipated? Or could the user be confused by a design choice on the prior page? These are all questions to ask yourself as you “trace the footsteps” of your users. This is where it is important to use a sense of empathy as you follow your users. Imagine yourself in their position, consider who they are, and try to ask yourself questions like these and deduce their answers. From this, you’ll be able to shape future campaigns based on the content users are interested in. Even beyond campaigns, any true insight you gain on your user’s interests can help you create any brand content.

Remember – you don’t have to turn up empty handed if your campaign isn’t directly converting on the landing page. You can leverage data like behavior flow from Google Analytics to prove the value of your campaign to whoever needs to know. If your ad campaign IS showering you in direct conversions, you can sweeten the deal by reporting on how the campaign may be driving traffic to other parts of your site as well.

The saying “it’s not just about the destination, but the journey” can apply to ad campaigns just as it can to an exciting adventure to a new place. Measure how your users explore your brand, and you will be rewarded with an analysis of your campaign that can be better related to business goals.

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