How the KISSmetrics Path Report Helps You Discover the Events That Lead to Conversion


We’re all familiar with funnel reports that track how many people convert along a string of events. This is useful for discovering the conversion rates of the events along the funnels and the overall conversion rates of the funnels themselves.

You can think of the Path Report as a reverse funnel report. You choose a starting event and an ending event, and then the Path Report discovers the events people perform that lead up to the ending event.

You will find patterns in the events that trigger conversions, and you can use those insights to increase conversions.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to set up the Path Report, and we’ll go through 5 use cases to show what can be learned from it.

Set Up the Path Report

Before we get into specific use cases, let’s talk about setting up a Path Report.

Here’s how the setup form looks:

I’ve numbered each section of the Path Report setup in order to describe them in detail:

  1. You can choose to show either the first 5 or the last 5 most common events or properties that lead to a conversion event. Showing the first 5 events is useful for discovering the initial steps that lead to a conversion event; whereas, showing the last 5 events is useful for discovering the immediate steps that lead to the conversion event. You can choose to have the Path Report display events or properties.
  2. This is where you choose the first event people started with (e.g., Visited site).
  3. The event people ended with will go here (e.g., Signed up).
  4. Select the date range for the occurrence of all these events.

Now, let’s get into specific use cases for SaaS and ecommerce companies.

Review These Path Report Use Cases

1. SaaS — Goal of Increasing Signups

Let’s say we’re a SaaS company and want to discover the most common paths people take to sign up. To find this out, we’ll load the Path Report and view the last 5 events from “Visited site” to “Signed up,” receiving data from the last 30 days:

This report finds the people who have performed the event “Visited site” and, later, the event “Signed up.” It finds the events they took from the starting event “Visited site” to the ending event “Signed up.” It’s sorted by people, but we can choose to sort it by total number of conversions, conversion rate, or the overall time it took people to convert.

Getting Insights from this Report

The main use case for this report is to find the triggers that lead people to sign up. If we want to get insights about how we can increase conversions, we’ll sort by total conversions:

This view shows us the paths that lead to the most conversions. As we can see from this report, most people go through only a few events before converting. These top three paths show us that most people view the product video before they convert. We can look through other paths and see if viewing the product video is a common path people take before converting. If we find that it’s a trigger that leads to conversions, we’ll want to feature the product video more prominently on our website.

Insight Discovered — People who view the product video appear to have a higher likelihood of converting to “Signed up.” The more eyeballs we can get on this video, the more signups we’ll get.

2. SaaS – Goal of Understanding How Users Discover Features

If we’re a SaaS company, we want users to discover the value of our product as quickly as possible in order to get them hooked. In most companies, there isn’t a lot of time for this to happen because users have a short attention span and are limited by the constraints of a free trial period.

The value of our product is typically a feature. To learn how users discover features, we’ll set up a Path Report, setting our events from “Signed up” to “Discover Feature A,” looking at the last 5 events that led up to the discovery of that feature. Feature A is the prime feature of this SaaS product, and we want to get as many people as possible discovering it, as quickly as possible. (“Signed up” and “Discover Feature A” are not automatically tracked events, so you’ll have to set them up yourself.)

Here’s our Report Configuration:

Here are our paths, sorted by total conversions:

Judging by total conversions, it looks like we have low engagement for this feature. Out of 468 people, just 50 of them converted. When we look at the most people who converted, we see that it usually took them dozens of steps before they discovered Feature A.

Since we want users to discover Feature A quickly, we’re also interested in seeing the paths that take the least amount of time, so we’ll sort by overall time to convert:

These people convert the quickest, and since we want more of our free trial users discovering Feature A quickly, we’ll need to study these paths to identify patterns.

What we find is that most of the people who discover Feature A quickly do so by going through the product tour.

Insight Discovered — Most people who discover Feature A quickly do so by viewing the product tour. We’ll have to make the product tour more prominent in the onboarding.

3. Ecommerce — Goal of Increasing “Added Item to Cart” Events

A big hurdle that ecommerce companies have to jump over is getting visitors who browse for a product to have enough interest to add it to their cart. To increase the number of conversions to placing an item in a cart, we’ll first need to understand what paths people take to the conversion from visitor to adding an item to their cart.

We’ll set our events as people who started with “Visited site” and ended with “Added Item to Cart.” (“Added Item to Cart” is not an event that is automatically tracked in KISSmetrics, so you’ll have to set it up yourself.)

Here’s our Report Configuration:

And, here are the paths, sorted by best conversion rate:

These are our top 3 highest converted paths. This data shows us that many people who add an item to their cart are likely to view the Deal of the Day.

Let’s look at our top conversion paths and see if they also are viewing Deal of the Day:

We see that our top converting path is “Visited Homepage,” then “Viewed Deal of the Day,” and then “Added Item to Cart.”

Insight Discovered — Viewing Deal of the Day is one of the major events leading to conversions to adding an item to a cart. We’ll want to feature this more prominently throughout our website.

4. Ecommerce — Goal of Learning Which Channels Lead to Purchase

Finding out where your customers come from shouldn’t be a challenge. With the Path Report, you can quickly find which marketing channels convert and which ones don’t. Let’s go through an example.

Here’s our Report Configuration. We’re looking at the last 5 channels that lead to “Purchase”:

As a reminder, “Purchase” is not an automatically tracked event. You’ll have to set it up yourself.

Here’s our data, sorted by total people:

We see that Organic search brings a large number of people. While not many of them convert, the ones who do convert do so relatively quickly.

Direct visits are generally people who type the URL into their address bar or come to the site through a bookmark.

Our third path, Referral, is made up of people who come to the site via a referral from a non-social media site, search engine, or advertisement. These are typically visitors who come via a direct link from a third party site. Only 0.05% of these people convert, and those who do take about 2 weeks.

Next, let’s look at the highest converting paths:

Our highest converting customers go through a longer cycle. They typically go through multiple channels before converting. But, the three paths we’re looking at begin with an Organic search. For 2 of the 3 paths, the last channel before conversion is Referral.

Insight Discovered — Most of the people who converted to “Purchase” first came via an Organic search. Given this, we should continue our SEO effort because it is the best customer acquisition channel.

5. SaaS — Goal of Learning Which Channels Drive Signups

Many small-to-medium-sized SaaS companies still don’t know which channels drive customer acquisition. This gap in knowledge leaves many companies in the dark, unaware of where their customers and users come from.

If these companies use KISSmetrics’s Path Report, they’ll know which channels drive acquisition for their businesses.

Let’s run an example in Path Report, looking at people who have visited the site and signed up.

Here are our paths:

This shows us that Organic is a channel that brings in a lot of visitors and customers. Direct and Referral bring in a healthy number of visitors and manage to convert them relatively quickly.

Since we’re also interested in conversion rate, we’ll sort by that path as well:

We see that our top converting paths involve multiple touches and generally take around a half year to convert. This tells us that we have a long sales cycle and most of our visitors who convert take a while to do so.

Insight Discovered – Many of the people who visit our site and convert take 4-6 months to do so. This involves multiple touches with our business from a variety of sites, with Organic involved in nearly all of them. Referral is also an important channel for us, with many of our customers first hearing about us through a referral link. Given this, we should focus a lot of our efforts on increasing referral links to our site.

Use the Path Report to Learn What’s Working and What’s Not

To summarize:

  • The Path Report can be thought of as a reverse funnel report. Pick an event that’s important to your business (e.g., Sign Up, Purchase, Subscription, etc.), and then run the Path Report to discover the most common events that lead to that event.
  • Use the Path Report when you want to discover what’s working and what’s not. Would you like to learn what triggers people to convert to signing up? Use the Path Report and view the events the highest converting visitors take before signing up. Would you like to know which channels drive conversions? Simple, just search by channel and view where your customers come from right before they convert.

To discover your most valuable website events that lead to conversions, login or sign up for a KISSmetrics account now.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.