Visualize yourself from a well, holding a bucket full of water. Imagine tiny holes showing up in your bucket now. Slowly, when you walk around, water starts pouring out of your bucket. Once you get home, there's still water left but it's easy to see that you didn't bring nearly as much as you could.

Your conversion funnel can be thought of as a leaky bucket, representing the journey your visitors travel from entering your store to making a purchase.

The path could look something like this in eCommerce: category page > product page > add to cart > checkout. That is, of course, grossly oversimplified. Each funnel is different and on your site, you probably have more than one route to buy.

Due to these terrible holes, there is a chance for water (visitors) to escape from the bucket (the funnel) with each step.

The question to think about: Should you try to save more water by running home from the well, or should you take the time to fix the leaky?

If you've wanted to patch this leaky pot, congratulations! You have an optimizer's mind. More water with fewer journeys into the well? Sign me up.

How to figure out where your conversion funnels are leaking?

Google Analytics has three reports about funnels that you can use to find holes in your conversion funnels:

Funnel visualization report (Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization)

As far as reports go, this is among the most basic. Based on the goal you choose, it gives you a visual overview of your funnel.

Report on Goal Flow (Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow).

This demonstrates the most precise approach to conversion. In addition, it is somewhat more adaptable than funnel visualization since it enables the use of advanced segments and date comparison.

Report on Reverse Goal Path (Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path)

This shows you the real funnels you have. Here, you will uncover funnels you were unaware even existed. You will see the last three pages a person visited before converting.

Tell yourself, as you study these papers, where visitors most frequently exit the funnels. These are the "leaks" which you need to fix. You'll need to figure out how to plug those leaks and keep more visitors in your funnels to improve your conversion rate.

You should be able to easily find trouble areas inside your funnels from the three studies above. And how is it that you plug the real leaks?

Leaks that are plugged lower in a funnel will have a greater effect. At the bottom of the funnel, even a small boost in conversion rates has a much greater impact than at the top. For this reason, it's often a good idea to start at the bottom and work your way up.

How to conduct quantitative research

Quantitative research looks at numbers and is based on facts. This is about figuring out "what" makes guests and customers act the way they do. In conversion rate optimization, quantitative work usually means one of the following:

  • Technical analysis
  • Analytics deep dive
  • Form analytics
  • Heatmaps

1. Technical analysis

If your store is not operating efficiently, it will not sell well, which is a fundamental law.

While it's easy to believe that everybody is using the newest version of our favorite browser or operating system, the truth is more nuanced. You may have a bright new iPhone X, but somebody rocking a 2005 Motorola Razr still somewhere.

Cross-browser and cross-device testing

It is the method of ensuring that your store runs properly in as many browsers as possible and on as many devices as possible, which is no small job.

The hitch is that each browser and device has many versions, and it is straightforward to disregard update notifications. As a result, you cannot assume that everyone is using the most recent version. 

You can speed up the process with tools like BrowserStack and the analytics tool you like best. Google Analytics, for example, provides access to two essential reports: Audience > Technology > Web Browser & Operating System AND Audience > Mobile > Devices. Convert from the "Data" view to the "Comparison" view to examine how browsers and devices stack up against each other. Compare within your own family, rather than comparing with other families (e.g., Android to Android, Chrome to Chrome).

Here's a visual:

Shopify - Shopify CRO - Plugging The Leaks In Conversion Funnel

In the top right corner, you can see that the "Comparison" view is on and that "Purchase Completed" has been chosen as the comparison metric. You are viewing a list of the most popular Chrome browser versions for your store, along with their conversion rates.

These reports will help you prioritize testing on different browsers and devices. Start with the most popular and challenging browsers and devices (for your specific store).

Mobile Optimization

Mobile is a unique beast, and it is essential to keep this in mind when improving the mobile experience. What smartphone users want and need is considerably different from what laptop users want and need. A good mobile experience is not simply a desktop experience on a smaller screen; it is an outstanding mobile experience.

Page speed optimization

Google estimates that a mobile landing page takes an average of 22 seconds to load and that 53% of mobile users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to open. If your website is too slow, you risk losing users before you have a chance to promote them. Google Analytics' Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings data can be used to identify slower pages, and PageSpeed Insights can be used to find ways to speed up those pages.

2. Analytics deep dive

If you are using reports and insights from Shopify, you can rest assured that your system has been correctly configured. But what about resources such as Google Analytics that need your own setup? You would be surprised to learn how easy it is to misconfigure an analytics tool. Ask yourself before plunging deep into your analytics:

What data do I need to collect?

Can I rely on the data I'm gathering?

Is something broken or not working right?

If your analytics are faulty or insufficient, your judgments based on them will be inaccurate and ultimately ineffective.

Once you have confidence in your statistics, you can jump in to comprehend better the behavior of your site's visitors and consumers. Here are some things to bear in mind as you navigate the data:

3. Form analytics

Consider it a key conversion point if you have a form on your website, whether a simple lead gen form or a checkout form. A form is an interchange between you and the site visitor or customer. The more your understanding of this relationship and its accompanying friction, the better.

4. Heatmaps

Heatmaps are pictures of data, where the colors show how important the data is. Many devices show high values with warm colors like red, orange, and yellow, and low values with cool colors like blue and green.

There are two major types of heatmaps used in conversion rate optimization:


Frequently, the data used to create clickmaps appears more valuable than it is. In reality, clickmaps are most helpful in finding locations on your site that users perceive to be external links. What do your visitors click on in the mistaken belief that a link will be displayed? You may now change these non-linked components into links to enhance the user experience.


Scrollmaps are slightly more accurate. On category and product pages, they can help you prioritize your message. If, for instance, your scrollmap abruptly changes from red to blue, you may need to apply visual signals (such as an arrow) to keep visitors scrolling. Alternatively, you may wish to place your most important content above the drop-off point.

How to conduct qualitative research

Exploratory and subjective characterize qualitative research. Your visitors’ and customers' actions are analyzed to determine why they do what they do. Qualitative research in conversion rate optimization usually applies to one of the following:

1. On-site surveys

You are likely already aware of the on-site questionnaires. As you navigate various websites, you are prompted to answer a short question. For example, Asics uses this survey on its website:

Shopify - Shopify CRO - Plugging The Leaks In Conversion Funnel

There are two main types of on-site surveys:

Exit surveys

These are engaged when the visitor indicates an exit intent, such as hovering over the browser's taskbar. This is your opportunity to collect guest comments and insight before their departure.

On-page surveys

These are engaged when a user sees the website, either instantly or after a predetermined amount of time (e.g., 30 seconds). Take advantage of the fact that people are still looking at your site to get their thoughts and opinions.

2. Customer interviews

Nothing can replace getting on the phone and conversing with your clients. That is even better if you can meet your customers in person.

You could ask a million questions to get to the heart of who your customers are and why they really buy from you.The most important thing is to go into the interviews prepared and well-equipped.

That means:

Recruiting the right participants

There is no such thing as a perfect consumer. Recent consumers, those who have purchased from you repeatedly in the past, and even former customers can provide you with some of the most insightful feedback. The question you are attempting to answer or the problem you are trying to address can help you determine which customer groups to interview.

Asking the right questions

In a customer interview, there is no definitive set of questions that should be asked at all times. Short, open-ended questions are the best approach. Whenever you ask a question, be sure to keep your preconceptions and biases out of it. First, make sure you know your clients' problems before asking them questions. Interview questions that focus on issues rather than solutions tend to be the most illuminating. It's not only about asking questions; you may also have people role-play or demonstrate.

Documenting the interviews properly

Taking notes can be useful, but you should also record the interviews. During an interview, record audio, video, and written notes. It is best to recruit a temporary assistant who can assist with in-person interviews. It isn't easy to connect with and engage the participant while also thinking about the paperwork.

3. Customer surveys

With on-site surveys, one or two questions are posed to site visitors. Full-service customer surveys enable you to pose several questions to your most recent consumers.

When designing a consumer survey, you should prioritize:

  • Defining your target audience.
  • Explaining their issues before and after purchasing from you. 
  • Specifying their hesitations prior to purchase.
  • Identifying the terms and phrases customers use to describe your business and products.

For the most accurate results, send the survey to consumers that are new to your business, such as first-time buyers. 

Consider the following questions for your customer survey:

  • What is this product being used for?
  • Do you have a problem that it can help you with?
  • In your opinion, what do you appreciate most about the product?
  • Have you considered any alternate options?
  • Why did you pick this product instead of the others?
  • Is there something that almost got in the way of you buying something?
  • Why did you hesitate to buy from this specific store?

    Try collecting about 200 responses to the survey before evaluating the responses. This is a basic thumb rule, and not an absolute rule. It helps you to recognise trends and patterns without making you filter through an excessive amount of data from the survey.

    You can also send surveys to recurring and lapsed customers, but it's typically better to begin with, recent first-time customers.

    4. User testing

    User testing is the method of watching actual users attempt to perform tasks on your web while narrating out loud their thoughts and acts.

    This is helpful because you are probably too familiar with your store to see its flaws and shortcomings. Observing anyone who is entirely unfamiliar with your shop is also humbling and informative.

    When performing user testing, you should assign at least three tasks to participants:

    A broad task. For example, "Find a book you like and consider buying."

    A specific task. For example, "Find a Harry Potter book between $100-$150 and add it to your cart."

    A funnel completionFor example, "Purchase something you want."

    If you are using a user testing tool, you are likely to gain access to session recordings as the testers complete the assigned tasks. Without your input they will read the tasks themselves and complete the tasks themselves.

    When you are running a live user testing session, focus on carefully watching and listening. Check with a colleague in advance to ensure the directions are crystal clear. During the session stop asking for personal opinions or answering questions about the tasks.

    5. Session replays

    User testing is similar to session replays, except you're dealing with actual customers who are prepared to spend real money on your products. You will be able to watch how genuine users navigate your site, excluding any narration.

    Here are some questions to think about: 

    • What is hard for them to find? 
    • Where do they stop most of the time?
    • Where do they get annoyed? 
    • Where do they look like they're lost? 
    • Where do they quit and leave?

    Excellent note-taking abilities are required for session replays. As you watch replay after replay, you'll want to write down any patterns or obvious flaws you see.

    Observing your less familiar customers and feeling at ease in your store will be enlightening.

    Pay careful attention to the sites and stages of the conversion funnel where your visitors regularly stumble or experience difficulty. Even small changes might have a significant impact in the long run. 

    Reduce the number of times you visit the well

    Your bucket is constantly leaking. When you think you've fixed one problem, two more pop up, every trip to the well will be more efficient if leaks are promptly repaired as soon as they are discovered.

    Don’t rush home from the well and wear yourself out (i.e., send more people into a leaking funnel). Focus more on making sure the bucket is in good shape. It will be hard to keep the water (and money) in the bucket, but it will be worth it in the long run. 

    Leave a comment below if you have any questions about the research methods described above.