Why I love the new Goal Flows in Google Analytics

Last October Google added a cool feature to their Analytics suite called Goal Flows. That feature is really amazing and helped my find a lot of 'problems' in several sites. Back in the old days we had the old funnel that looked like this:


It was a very helpful funnel that provided some insights in the way people went through an ordering process. But there were also some huge problems with this funnel:

  • People going from step 2 to step 1 to step 3 and then converted were simply counted as going from 1 to 2 to 3 to the thank-you page.
  • People going from step 1 to step 3 and then converted were added to step 2 to simply 'fix' the funnels' numbers.
  • The "required step" option only works in the funnel view for a goal and not for that goal in other reports. The funnel could look as if it had 100 conversions whether the site had 1000 conversions for the same goal.
  • If people went from step 1 to 2 to 1 to 2 to 1 to 2 and converted they were counted once for each step.
  • Segmentation on funnels wasn't possible, the only way to create something like that is by using horizontal funnels

The second mentioned 'fix' was also a problem if you have a funnel were the second step is optional. You would suspect to see people exit in step 1 to return in step 3 rather than being counted in step 2 were they have never been. Therefore optional steps are almost impossible to analyse in the old funnels.

New funnels called Goal Flows

But now we have Goal Flows *insert magical music*! First, take a look at this screenshot I took:

It's a typical funnel with 5+ steps in it. And I want to highlight 2 cool things you can see here (marked purple):

  1. You see the purple arrow above step 2? That line represents the people that skipped step 2 in this funnel. So in stead of adding them to step 2 they go around step 2. It could be a registration step that people can skip if they want to order as a guest, for example.
  2. The second arrow after step 5 shows you the people that went back to step 4. Perhaps they wanted to change some things before continuing to step 6, we were never able to see that before.

This new visualization gives you a much better insight in the way people move through your funnels. The steps can also be segmented to see if some groups are behaving different than suspected. And if you want to zoom in on a specific step to analyse exit behavior for that step you can easily choose "Explore traffic through here":


A few simple tips I want to give:

  • If you set up a new funnel be sure you include optional steps, they are presented in a nice way
  • Segment your funnel for several browsers or resolutions to see if some stay behind in CTR, that could indicate a usability or script error
  • Analyse each step and zoom in to get an idea about what is happening there
  • Test, test, test

What do you think? Anyone got some really cool insights to share?

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