Why is the trended customer funnel one of the best reports ever?

I first heard of this report via Eric Ries’s book Lean Startup and I remember having a furious reaction to it: why didn’t I think of it before?!?

People don’t convert in one go. Depending on your business model it can take from hours to days, weeks or even months. That’s why looking at a funnel as a series of steps can be misleading, and only shows a small picture of the process.

Before we get our hands dirty digging into how to analyse a trended customer funnel, there’s one more really important piece we need to remember:

The trended customer funnel only works for people that are logged into your app. By being logged in, you can identify them as the same customer across long time spans.

By contrast, anonymous traffic will often use different devices or delete their cookies which will make this report highly inaccurate.

With that said, let’s get started:

How to analyze a Trended Customer Funnel

“Trended” is what makes this report really powerful but it can be tricky to read. Here is how we report a trended customer funnel:

funnel_example

The report shows how many people entered the funnel in each week or day and where they are positioned in the funnel right now, at the moment of reading the report.

funnel_explained

This means that if we look at the same funnel, for the same time span on different days, the funnel will look different as people move through the different steps. The only thing that stays the same is how many people entered the funnel.

What we want from such a funnel is to see that the colored areas at the bottom of the funnel are bigger (more conversions) while the colored areas at top of the funnel are as small as possible (less people stuck in those steps).

Great at showing growth

Being a trended report, it does a great job of showing growth or increase in conversions. There are many ways growth can happen so here is just one example: increasing the traffic that goes into the funnel.

growth_allsteps

We often look at paid campaigns from as many angles as possible to try and justify the spending we do on them. If you ever see a spike or high increase in traffic in the trended funnel, that’s the time to dig like crazy for the campaign or traffic source that delivered it.

Quick insight on the quality of leads

The best part is that the trended customer funnel will not only tell you the moments when you have a spike in incoming traffic and leads, but it will also scream at you when the quality of those leads is very low.

Check out this funnel:

growth_1step_only

When you have a funnel with results like that it might be time to look again at the campaigns (and spending!) behind them. In this example, the “great job” they are doing at driving leads isn’t translating into more revenue for you.

Or maybe it’s you, not them. By being able to identify each user from the funnel you can then go one by one through each lead and see if they are qualified leads or spam.

Maybe it’s a great moment to start optimizing the funnel steps and tune it better to your audience.

Spot the impact of funnel steps optimization

Imagine another scenario: You’ve just been through customer interviews, user testing on mockups and then onto the final implementation and even some AB testing. Here is how the funnel looks for you now:

funnel_optimized

Great job! While AB testing showed an increase in conversion rate that was statistically significant, the funnel shows how that change passes the test of time and new audiences.

By checking this report regularly you can see if and when something goes wrong and continue to tweak and adjust.

It gives hints of the conversion time span

Conversions don’t happen overnight and this is especially true for B2B web apps. Depending on your business model it can take days and even weeks. The trended customer funnel will give you a quick look at how long your conversions actually take as well as which steps need your intervention to decrease the overall time.

funnel_timing
According to the report in the last 3 to 5 days very few people get to the last step, meaning it takes more than that for most users to convert.

The more time it takes for the conversion, the more the funnel will look different when it’s closer to the current day. Look for large colored areas to see which steps people spend the most time on.

Trending the on-boarding process

One of the best uses of the trended customer funnel is the on-boarding process because it has a huge impact on your business.

Here is how we have defined the on-boarding process for InnerTrends:

onboarding-process

Have you ever implemented a trended customer funnel? Would you like to? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Claudiu Murariu

InnerTrends' founder and lead analyst Claudiu Murariu is also the author of DataDiary, a newsletter about and for companies that use data in their business decision making process. You can follow him on Twitter @cllaudiu.