Today we’re going to chat about Path Length & Time Lag. The difference between them and why you need to measure them both in your Google Analytics account.
Note, you need your Goal Conversions set up to be able to view this. Stuck on your tracking? Stay tuned for my Trustworthy Tracking Set Up Kit coming soon.
Head to your Google Analytics account, click “Conversions” on the left hand side and you’ll see Time Lag and Path Length report tabs there.
What is Path Length?
Path Length speaks to the number of individual INTERACTIONS a person has with your website on their journey to convert.
What is Time Lag?
Time Lag speaks so the number of DAYS a person takes while these interactions are taking place, along their journey to convert. So I could visit your website once on the first day I find it and convert immediately… OR I might take my time, reviewing you and your competitors over a 7 day period or so coming back a few times to weigh up your benefits before finally taking action.
Why we measure them & what they tell us:
It tells us how complex the existing user journey is for a user taking a particular action. In this example, you can see that 64% of users convert on the first interaction and 74% on the first day. This means that our current marketing efforts are successful in driving FAST conversion outcomes, the majority of the time – and currently, there are a remaining 35% of people who require more nurturing over 2 or more interactions and 26% over 2 or more days. With that said, there’s still quite a bit of revenue to be found post 2 interactions.
With this insight, I’d want to do two things:
- I’d deep dive into my channel paths to understand where those >2 interactions are occurring (stay tuned for the 5 Minute Friday tutorial next week we’ll cover Conversion Paths in GA)
- I’d ensure I had two different remarketing campaigns running. One retargeting people within a 7 day period, allocating the majority of budget to these users, then perhaps another campaign with a > 45 day retargeting window and less overall budget. This ensures we’re spending more effectively to align to the trends we’re seeing and not wasting unnecessary spend on users who are tyre kickers and unlikely to convert with us!
We make these optimisations so we can create efficiencies in our marketing budget. This way we can allocate more funds to driving NEW eyeballs to our website – ultimately driving more revenue!
Another initiative we could employ is attempting to gain prospect contact details in a softer conversion if they aren’t yet ready to purchase. Think some kind of lead magnet or 10% off discount coupon. Doing this affords us the opportunity to nurture them through a more cost effective email nurture strategy rather than spending too much on retargeting.
Remember, our strategy is always to ATTRACT, then CAPTURE, then PROPEL them with a series of sales messages & email funnels and finally DELIGHT them with our website experience and advocacy building initiatives.
Pssst. More of my strategic consulting moves just like this one will be launching soon in my all-encompassing, totally exhaustive Digital Marketing Strategy Vault.
Some other principles to consider:
- Think about what conversion you’re looking at. You may see very different results for lead conversions vs. direct online purchases (change it by clicking on the “Conversions” drop down that appears in the top left hand side when you’re looking at your Path Length and Time Lag reports)
- Think about WHO you’re driving to your website (we’ll get to creating data segments in GA on another day) as there will be some groups that are more profitable and convert faster than others (that’s an optimisation for another day).
- Remember that data can be skewed by ad blockers and anyone who regularly clears their browser cookies.
- To determine why conversions are being pushed through successfully (or why they take a little longer) could be both the customers you’re attracting to the website (are they the right people?) and could be the effectiveness of the website itself in driving conversion. In my experience, it’s likely both.
Our role as marketers is to make recommendations, monitor changes in a change log and watch to understand and bring insight to these data patterns.