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!

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:


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


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:


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:


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


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:


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.

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