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Shining a Light on the FinServ Shadow Funnel

Enter stage right: the Shadow Funnel — the murky cloud that covers all customer behavior left untracked. There’s what you think is happening in your conversion flow, and then there’s what’s really happening just beyond the reach of your event lampposts.

You’re probably well aware of your site’s ideal path to conversion. But what about the meaningful events you may have missed? A large part of meaningful customer behavior happens in the dark.

If you don’t have a good handle on what customers actually do on your site, then your funnel is stuck in the shadows. For most companies, all conversion funnels are shadow funnels.

Most analytics tools won’t let you see beyond your own biases towards what qualify as important conversion events. When you can’t see all of the steps users are taking on your site, you won’t know what’s not working, and you won’t be able to fix it.

If you know the power of the dark side of your funnel, you also know the solution: get a bigger flashlight. The very existence of your shadow funnel means you’re missing key opportunities to improve your conversion flow and ultimately boost your conversion rate. That’s literal money in the bank you’re missing out on. (See how OppLoans multiplied their ROI by investing in CRO.)

Stop guessing what your users are doing in the dark. Start bringing unknown conversion events to light with autocapture, path analysis, and automated segmentation in funnels.

Autocapture: The Analytics High Beam

Because conversions are so complex in financial services, you need a full picture of user behavior on your site or product. But the wattage of manual tracking is weak and doesn’t reach any further than the specific events that are tagged.

That’s where autocapture comes in. While manual tracking spotlights the specific conversion events that you think matter, automatic data capture brings the entire customer journey to light.

Here’s how it works with Heap: Your team inserts a javascript snippet into your site header. After that, all event activity is tracked automatically — every click, swipe, form fill, pageview, and more.

Since it collects all user interactions, autocapture reveals the shadowy subtleties in user behavior that you may have missed otherwise.

Any question you want to ask, any relationship you want to analyze, any behavior you want to investigate: with autocapture, the data’s all there. Notice a dropoff in your funnel, and want to dig in and learn more? Great! The data’s all there.

Just ask Joe Pfeiffer, VP of Product at Northwestern Mutual:

“One of the first magical things we discovered was autocapture. Prior to Heap, we had to be very diligent about how we tracked stuff. It was very easy to forget to tag something, or to forget to call out what we wanted to track. Just the notion that you can set it and forget it has saved our bacon a couple of times.”

With Heap’s autocaptured data, you’re never in the dark on customer behavior.

Hidden Paths to Conversion

Pay attention to error messages. Shine a light on the paths that customers are taking outside of your identified conversion flow.

Heap’s Paths feature illuminates the various paths into and out of conversions or dropoff events. It allows you to see what actions people tend to take right before and right after a dropoff event. Path analysis highlights the “unknown unknowns” of your shadow funnel by surfacing not just defined events but all of the raw events collected by autocapture.

With path analysis, you can see where users tend to go astray or deviate from your ideal conversion path. Then you can dig in and figure out why. Path analyses can also show you which flows tend to be most successful, and which not.

For example, by analyzing the different paths that customers take to refinance a loan, you can answer questions like:

  • Which path is most common?
  • Which path do the most active customers tend to take?
  • Which path results in the most successful submissions?

Heap's Paths in actionHeap’s Paths in action

Automatically Bring Insights to Light

Funnels track a series of actions to see how many users complete each one, and they are extremely useful to identify the main moments of dropoff.

With Funnels, you can break down queries even further by analyzing groups based on user and event-level properties. (Thanks to autocapture, these data properties are automatically on hand to use for analysis.)

Heap automatically suggests groupings for a funnel query by proactively analyzing which properties are most predictive of overall conversion rate.

For example, if you have a funnel to track requests for a quote, we may recommend segmenting cohorts by UTM Campaign, UTM Source, or Landing Page to surface insights in user behavior.

Funnel grouping recommendationsSuggested groupings in Funnels

These automated recommendations bring to light the often unexpected characteristics or properties that users who convert share.

We’re so excited by the potential of these automated insights that we’re building more automated and proactive features to identify problem moments in the funnel — without you having to search yourself. Stay tuned…

Until you start down the dark path of shadow funnel analysis, the bias of your limited insight will eclipse the larger truth. It’s time to shine a light on the dark side of your funnel and bring unknown conversion events out of the shadows — for good.

Download our FinServ Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization for a systematic approach to optimizing your funnel for conversion.

Are you ready to bring key conversion insights out of the shadows? Visit to learn more about how Heap surfaces actionable insights for financial services companies at the speed of business.