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. The leaky bucket is a metaphor for your conversion funnel, a path your visitors take from arriving at your store to making their 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. With-step, there's an opportunity for water (visitors) to escape from the bucket (the funnel) due to those heinous holes. Here's the million-dollar question: Should you start running home from the well in an attempt to save more water, or should you spend the time to repair the leaky bucket once and for all? 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 find the leaks in your conversion funnels Throughout this article, Google Analytics results will be referenced. Google Analytics is a free and open analytics tool, which is why we use it for examples and demonstrations. There are three funnel-related reports in Google Analytics, which you can use to find leaks in your conversion funnels: Funnel visualization report (Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization) This is the most basic report, which will show you a visual overview of your funnel, depending on the goal selected. Goal flow report (Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow) This shows the most accurate path to conversion. Plus, it's a bit more flexible than the funnel visualization because it allows you to use advanced segments and date comparison. Reverse goal path report (Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path) This shows you your actual funnels. Here, you'll discover funnels you didn't even know existed. Essentially, you'll see the three pages visited prior to conversion. 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? The lower you go in a funnel, the more impactful plugged leaks will be. A small increase in conversion rate goes a lot further at the bottom of a funnel than the top. Often, it's smart to work your way from the bottom to the top for that very reason. How to conduct quantitative research Quantitative research is numeric and objective. This is about uncovering the what behind the guests and customers' behavior. Quantitative work in conversion rate optimization generally refers to one of the following methods: Technical analysis Analytics deep dive Form analytics Heatmaps 1. Technical analysis If your store is not running well, it will not be selling well. That's a very absolute 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 trick is that each browser and device has many versions, and it's very easy to hit snooze on those update reminders. So, you can't assume everyone is using the latest version. You can use a tool like BrowserStack and your preferred analytics tool to expedite the process. With Google Analytics, for example, you can navigate to two key reports: Audience > Technology > Browser & OS AND Audience > Mobile > Devices. Switch from the Data view to the Comparison view to see how the browsers and devices compare to one another. Just be sure to compare within the same family (e.g. Android to Android, Chrome to Chrome). Here's a visual: You can see the Comparison view is active in the top right-hand corner and Purchase Completed has been selected as the comparison metric. What you're looking at is a list of the most popular Chrome browser versions for your store and how well they convert. Those kinds of reports will help you make your cross-browser and cross-device testing a priority. First, you should start with the most popular and troublesome browsers and devices (for your particular store). Mobile Optimization Mobile is a whole different beast. When optimizing a mobile experience, it 's important to keep that in mind. How people on smartphones want and need is very different from what they want and need on a laptop. It all shifts in goals, motives, and contexts. A good mobile experience is not just a desktop experience on a smaller screen; a good mobile experience is a good mobile experience, full stop. Page speed optimization The average time it takes to completely load a mobile landing page, according to Google, is 22 seconds, but 53 percent of mobile users leave a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. If your site is too sluggish, you can lose users before you even get an opportunity to market them. If you're using Google Analytics, you can use the Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings report to identify slow pages. Then, run those pages through PageSpeed Insights for tips on how to improve the page speed. 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: Am I collecting all of the data I need? Can I trust the data I'm collecting? Is anything broken or tracking incorrectly? If your analytics are inaccurate or incomplete, decisions you make based on that data are misguided and, ultimately, useless. Once you're confident in your data, you can dive in to better understand how your visitors and customers behave. Here's what to keep in mind as you swim through the data: 3. Form analytics If you have a form on your website, consider it as an essential conversion point, whether it's your checkout form or a simple form of the lead gen. A form is an interaction, an exchange between yourself and the visitor or client. The more you know about that interaction and the friction associated with it, the better. 4. Heatmaps Heatmaps are visual representations of data, where colors represent values. Many devices use warm colors (red, orange, yellow) to display high values, and cool colors (blue, green) to show low values. There are two main types of heatmaps in conversion rate optimization: Clickmaps Sometimes, the data that goes into clickmaps seem more useful than it really is. In reality, clickmaps are best used to find locations on your site that visitors think are linking to. So what're your visitors clicking on falsely believing they 're going to be served a connection, in other words? Now you can convert those unlinked elements into links to provide a better user experience. Scroll maps Scrollmaps are a little more realistic. They can help you make your message a priority, particularly on category and product pages. For example, if your scrollmap unexpectedly switches from red to blue, you may need to use visual signals (like an arrow) to keep the visitors scrolling. Instead, you might want to push your key message above the drop-off point. How to conduct qualitative research Qualitative research is exploratory and subjective. It aims to uncover the why behind the behavior of your visitors and customers. In conversion rate optimization, qualitative research usually refers to one of the following methods: On-site surveys Customer interviews Customer surveys User testing Session replays 1. On-site surveys You probably already know about the on-site surveys. As you browse through various websites, they pop up asking you to answer a brief question. For example, here's a survey that Asics uses on-site: There are two primary types of on-site surveys: Exit surveys These are activated when the visitor shows exit intent, like hovering over the browser's taskbar. This is your chance to gather feedback and insight from visitors before they leave. On-page surveys These are activated when a visitor visits the page, either immediately or after a set period of time (e.g. 30 seconds). This is your chance to gather feedback and insight from visitors who are still browsing. 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. What's important is that you go into well-equipped and prepared interviews to uncover insights. That means: Recruiting the right participants Not all customers are created equal. More often than not, you'll get the best insights from recent customers, repeat customers and lapsed customers. The question you're trying to answer or the problem you're trying to solve can help you decide which of those customer groups you should interview. Not every consumer is created equal. More often than not, you will get the best feedback from new customers, current customers and customers who have lapsed. The query you are trying to address or the issue you are trying to solve will help you determine which of those groups of customers you can ask. The formation of not all customers is equal. More often than not, you will get the best feedback from new clients, repeat customers and customers who have lapsed. The question you 're trying to answer or the problem you 're trying to solve can help you decide which of those groups of customers you should interview. Asking the right questions There is no shortlist of questions you should always ask in a customer interview. Stick to short, open-ended questions. Be careful to remove your biases and assumptions from your questions. Before asking questions about the solutions you provide, be sure you understand the problem your customers are experiencing. Often the most insightful interview questions are problem-focused, not solution-focused. Finally, it's not all about questions; you can have participants engage in roleplay, give demonstrations, etc. Documenting the interviews properly Notes can be helpful, but you want to ensure you've recorded the interviews as well. Have them transcribed by a service like Rev. Capture audio, video and written notes while interviewing. If you're interviewing in person, it's best to recruit a temporary assist who can help. It's difficult to connect with the participant and really engage while also worrying about documentation. 3. Customer surveys With on-site surveys, you ask the site visitors one, maybe two, questions. Full-service customer surveys allow you to ask your recent customers numerous questions. When you're putting together a customer survey, you want to focus on: Defining who your customers are. Defining their problems before and after purchasing from you. Defining the hesitations they had prior to purchasing. Identifying words and phrases they use to describe your store and products. The best way to do that is to send the survey to recent, first-time buyers who have had no previous relationship with you. Here are some questions to consider asking in your customer survey: Who are you? What are you using this product for? What problem does it solve for you? What do you like about the product most? Did you consider any alternatives? Why did you choose this product over the competition? What's the one thing that nearly stopped you from buying? What was your biggest concern or hesitation about buying from this 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 repeat customers and lapsed customers, but recent, first-time customers are usually the best place to start. 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. That's useful because you're probably too close to your store to know its flaws and weaknesses. Observing anyone who is completely unfamiliar with your shop is also humbling and informative. When conducting user testing, you want to assign the participants at least three tasks: A broad task. For example, Find a video game you like and would consider buying. A specific task. For example, Find a Nintendo Switch game between $40-50 and add it to your cart. A funnel completion. For example, Purchase something you would like to buy. 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 Session replays are similar to user testing, but you're dealing with real-money people who are really intent on buying your products. You will be able to watch your visitors actually navigate your site, minus the narration. What do they have trouble finding? Where do they frequently pause? Where do they get frustrated? Where do they seem confused? Where do they give up and leave? Session replays require excellent note-taking skills. As you watch replay after replay, you'll want to take notes on any patterns you recognize and obvious flaws uncovered. Watching your visitors, who are less familiar and comfortable with your store will be eye-opening. Pay special attention to pages and points of the conversion funnel that your visitors consistently stumble over or struggle with. Minor improvements here and there can add up to be significant. Make fewer trips to the well Your bucket's always getting holes. You can feel at times like you are plugging one hole only to find another two. But the more quickly you can plug the leaks when you find them, the more optimized every journey to the well is. Don't tire yourself out by running home from the well (i.e. sending more and more visitors into a leaky funnel). Concentrate more on keeping the bucket in good working order. It will require constant maintenance but holding the water (money) in the bucket will be worth it. If you have any questions about the research methods outlined above, just leave them in a comment below.