The ROI Revolution Blog

Funnels on the Fly in Google Analytics

November 18, 2009

So there you are - you're all ready to put more oil in your car, or maybe you're trying to fill your sugar jar. Maybe you're all set to do some ironing, but you need to put some water in the iron. Whatever the reason, it immediately hits you that you'll be needing a funnel - but... OH SNAP!

You don't have one. Or you can't find it. What do you do? You improvise of course!

MacGyver kitteh

Quickly and with a MacGyver-like moment of inspiration, you grab a 2-liter bottle from your recycling bin and cut the top off. Phew - that was a close one! Now you won't have oil on your driveway, or water all over your bedroom carpet, and you can go about your day feeling like a secret genius.

Now, a funnel would have still been the best tool for the job, but sometimes it's just not available. What the heck does this have to do with Google Analytics?

Well, Google Analytics has a great built-in Funnel Visualization report, but the problem is that it only works if you have the foresight to build it ahead of time. Funnels are never retroactive - they will only start working the moment you create them. What if you have multiple landing pages? Moreover, what if you only want to look at AdWords traffic? Well, you would need a separate profile in addition to a properly set up funnel, and all of this has to be set up ahead of time.

The problem is that often you won't know what kind of funnel you need until it's too late. Having 20 goals in Google Analytics is great, but you could have a million and it wouldn't make a difference.

The good news is there's hope. That hope is called Advanced Segments. Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Define the funnel.

This part is pretty straightforward. Lay out the path you are trying to get information on, along with any other parameters (AdWords only, US only, etc.), like this:

Step1: /consumer/special/index.html (Landing Page)
Step 2: /order.html
Step 3: /cart.asp
Step 4: /checkout.asp
Step 5: /bonus.asp
Step 6: /order-receipt.asp

Step 2: Create a new Advanced Segment.

First, make sure you change the calendar so that you're looking at the date range you want to analyze. Then click on the 'Advanced Segment' link in the left navigation:

advancedsegment1.png

Then click on 'Create custom segment' in the top-right:

advancedsegment2.png

Now you're ready!

Step 3: Results!

Let's start with just the landing page. I recommend doing a few things to the segment. First, use 'Page instead of 'Landing Page' and 'Contains' as the match type. Give your segment a name, and then click the 'Test Segment' button:

funnel-segment-sm.png

Make a note of that number - I usually do this in a spreadsheet (see below), although I have plans to use the Google Analytics Data Export API for this.

Next, by adding a second page, we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit. You can do this one page at a time. Let's use the /checkout.asp page as an example:

funnel-segment-2-sm.png

Once you've done this for all of your pages, you'll have your improvised funnel report:

funnel-report-sm.png

Finally, if you want to further segment the funnel, you can repeat the process with an additional condition. Here's the same segment we did before, but just for AdWords traffic:

funnel-segment-3-sm.png

By doing this analysis, you will get a real feel for how your actual funnels are performing and be able to take better benchmarks before running tests. Plus, you can feel like a secret genius.

Google Analytics for Online Advertisers
Here at ROI Revolution, we consider Google Analytics tracking essential for paid search, so it's included in our PPC Campaign Management service.

Comments

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

David said:

Nice post.

I work this way as well - advanced segments can be very good at getting that 'drill down' info that used to require exporting of data.

Even more so, when you start applying them to the report and using the new built in pivot features -

November 18, 2009 7:37 PM

Michael Freeman said:

However, you should mention that using advanced segments like this one on larger sitse will often trigger sampling, which often makes all of the conversion data worthless.

I wished that you and the rest of the GAC community should be lobbying harder for GA to fix their sampling problems.

November 19, 2009 3:39 AM

Claudiu said:

This must be the most creative use of Google Analytics I've seen so far. Be sure I'll use it from now on. I totally love it.

If it made me smile, does it mean I am too of a analytics geek? :)

But talking about cool ways to use Analytics, check this one I've come up with :) http://padicode.com/blog/analytics/the-real-bounce-rate/ (shameless self promotion)

Thanks for the post. It made my day. :)

November 19, 2009 4:49 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@David:

I completely agree. Advanced Segments (and a few of the other new features) have completely changed the way I use Analytics.

November 19, 2009 8:17 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Michael:

Data sampling can certainly be problematic. If you could see some of the official GAAC discussions, you would see just how hard we actually are lobbying for sampling reduction. Just keep in mind that Google is dealing with a mind-blowing amount of data processing, and that these changes can't happen overnight. In my own personal opinion, Google has done a great job soliciting feedback and making steady improvement, which is evidenced by the massive amount of improvements that Google Analytics has undergone in the last few years.

November 19, 2009 8:23 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Claudiu:

Thanks! Glad someone else is excited about this as I am. Love the article, by the way - I'm a strong believer that the definition of Bounce Rate needs to be a little more aggressive.

November 19, 2009 8:25 AM

Mehdi Laana\xEFt said:

This is brilliant Shawn, really brilliant. I wonder why we haven't thought about this sooner.

November 19, 2009 11:54 AM

Amit said:

Hi Shawn,
it is creative approach :)

But i wonder about this (quote)
"we can then see how many people looked at both in the same visit"

While it means that we now see visits that resulted in viewing both pages (or more) is it showing a sequential flow?
i.e does it mean these are visits where page B was viewed AFTER page A?
As far as i understand it - no.

Although its good enough for some cases..in a funnel you would like to know how many visits where ones that completed the flow you had in mind.

i.e
Out of 1-A 2-b 3-c 4-g etc pages sequence, how many were able to cop with the sequence..

Do i make sense?

November 22, 2009 6:25 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Amit:

This method does not consider the order in which the pages were viewed. Meaning the usefulness of this particular approach will depend on two things:

1. Whether or not a person can access page x before page y.
2. What funnel you are trying to analyze.

I personally think that order is a little overrated, especially in the case of a shopping cart funnel. I can use another tool, like Clicktale to see if (and where) users are getting lost in the process, but Google Analytics will give me great overview and help me to drive testing and change for a company, which is my true goal.

You bring up a good point though, and if you absolutely need to consider order, you can always be a little creative with JavaScript and/or cookies!

November 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

This is a great article and work around when configuring a funnel is difficult or does not already exist.

It raises a bigger issue, why can't we make goals / funnel retroactive in Analytics.

It would certainly save alot of heartache and time.

Another good use of this technique would be the ability to let you segment by country / region also to tell the performance of each respectively since currently to segment a funnel report in Analytics like this you would have to create a profile / filter before hand as stated at the start of the article.

Nice work anyway.

November 27, 2009 12:28 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Gavin:

To answer your question about why funnels are not currently retroactive -

It's the same reason goals and filters are also not retroactive - in order for them to work as they are currently set up on the back end, Google would have to reprocess all of the data in every account every time one of these settings was changed. Unfortunately, that's just not possible - the amount of data and time involved in that makes my head hurt.

That being said - since the Advanced Segment functionality now exists, I think this would be a cool thing to have integrated into Google Analytics so that everyone would have the ability to do flexible analysis of goals and funnels on the fly.

November 27, 2009 12:52 PM

remco said:

i just created the segment.

How can i export the csv data based in your example?

Grt..remco

November 29, 2009 8:46 AM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@remco:

I did not do an export to get the data in my example, I simply created my own spreadsheet and recorded the numbers one at a time. It's not the most elegant solution, but until I can spend some time developing this through the API, it'll get the job done.

November 30, 2009 10:48 AM

Gavin Doolan said:

I was thinking the same thing Shawn, plugging into the API would be a good way to automate this process.

Can we dub this technique "MacGyver Funnels"? :)

December 1, 2009 8:56 AM

Rick Archer said:

Is there a way in Analytics to see how people ended up arriving at a particular page? IOW, in a shopping cart, you know the path they have to take and you can see where they might be abandoning it. But I'm wondering whether you can see what paths people are taking to arrive at a page when any number of different paths are possible.

January 11, 2010 12:43 PM

Shawn Purtell, Senior Web Analytics Engineer Author Profile Page said:

@Rick:

In my opinion, the navigation reporting within Google Analytics is one of it's weakest built-in features. However, there are things you can do to make them more useful. One of the best ways that I've found is through a thorough use of Advanced filters, much like the ones I use in this article. That would take me an additional article to explain, but the bottom line is that the information is there - it just takes quite a bit of digging to currently get at it.

As a side note on more of a quick fix, if the page in question is a goal page (or even if it's not and you want to get a sense of the paths users are taking to get to a given page), you can use the Reverse Goal Paths report, found under the Goals section of Google Analytics. Just keep in mind that this report is not retroactive and you'll only be able to see data moving forward.

January 13, 2010 9:02 AM

Spanishgringo said:

@Shawn
Late reply, I know, but better late than never.

You are right. I am sure the GAACs are lobbying hard and I can respect the massive calculations/data issues that Google has keeping everyone happy with a free product.

I find that the GA API is helpful because you can always check the Confidence Interval on each metric. For example, I include the CI on my app http://gaevolution.appspot.com to ensure that I compare only "real" data. Whenever I pull a query and see a value in the CI column, I reduce the dates and execute more queries so I can group the valid data later on.

I am now working through an algorithm to determine the maximum # of days to use on a profile without triggering sampling and then automatically page through until I get to the date range that I desire. Once I can crack that nut in a scalable way, I'll be all set.

July 16, 2010 7:14 AM

custom car carpet said:

Google Analytics is a great tool to be used once you figure out the basics. This is a great article to get started with. I especially like the funnel report.

July 21, 2010 3:07 PM

Chad Walls said:

Thanks for this article! I am in the process of studying for my Adwords exam and wanted to learn more about funnels. This article was very easy to read and understand.

January 22, 2011 7:55 PM

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