analytics retroactive goal funnels

Advanced Custom Segments and Retroactive Goal Funnels

This is Part 3 of the Custom Segments series, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Setting up a Goal Funnel in Google Analytics is easy. Just give it a name, a location, add a funnel (if you have one) click save and it’s ready.

However, the main problem with goal funnels is that they are not retroactive. This means that you will only be able to analyze data only after you have started the goal.

But what if you wanted to see how many users completed that goal before you have even created it?

What are Sequences?

Sequences are Advanced Segments that let you analyze user actions on your website. With the help of sequences you will be able to analyze past user behaviour and make combination from the different actions that they have taken. There is a maximum of 10 steps that you can input in a sequence, but this is more than enough to create almost any user flow imaginable.

Sequences

Retroactive Goal Funnels

I’ll use the Google Merchandise Store Master View for the following example.

They have a Checkout complete goal in place which also has a funnel attached to it. This way, they are able to see which step of the checkout process is representing the biggest drop off point and needs to be improved. If you have a multi step checkout and forgot to set up a funnel then you won’t be able to see exactly what might be the cause of your checkout abandonment.

Let’s look at the existing Checkout complete funnel. This can be found in the Conversions -> Goals -> Funnel Visualization report.

Google Merchandise Store Checkout Complete funnel

This report displays how many users proceed to each step of the Checkout complete funnel as well as what are some of the exit pages for each step.

Don’t forget the most important thing about goal funnels: They are not retroactive!

How to create a retroactive goal funnel

Open up Google Merchandise Store’s Analytics and go to Audience -> Overview.

We will have to create a new Segment, I have already covered the basics in the previous parts of this series (Part 1, Part 2).

In order to replicate this funnel you will have to add 4 steps in the sequence.

Checkout Complete Goal Setup
  1. The first step of the funnel is the Cart page – URL: /basket.html
  2. The second step is the Billing and Shipping page – URL: /yourinfo.html
  3. The third step is the Payment page – /payment.html
  4. The fourth step is the Review page – /revieworder.html
  5. The final step is the Thank You page – /ordercompleted.html

In the sequence tab, select Filter -> Include -> Users, Sequence start -> Any user interaction.

In the first step you will have to select Page -> matches regex -> /basket\.html

First Sequence step

Take note of how many users have seen this page. I have used the timeframe 1st of May to 26th of July for this example and I got 18,092 Users.

Number of users that have seen the /basket.html page

Add another step to the sequence to see how many users proceeded towards the Billing and Shipping page:

Second step of the funnel

Take a note of the number of users displayed on the right:

Number of users that have reached the second step in the funnel

Continue doing this for the following 3 steps while also taking note of how many users proceeded in the funnel.

In the end, you should have these numbers (for the timeframe mentioned earlier):

  1. Cart page – 18,092
  2. Billing and Shipping – 3,400
  3. Payment – 1,153
  4. Review – 42
  5. Thank You – 2

As you will notice, these numbers are way off compared to what the Funnel visualization report is showing, this can be due to many reasons, probably one of the most important is that some of that user data has been deleted from the storage. 

Analytics stores the number of users who have completed the goal in a separate data set, the method that we have used relies entirely on the data still available in Analytics right now, and if that data has been deleted then all the information has been lost.

This should be treated as a last resort and YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SET UP GOALS.

Now that we have some numbers we can notice that the biggest drop off point is the Payment page and the second biggest drop off point is the Review page. 

How to calculate the drop off rate

To calculate the drop off rate of the Payment page: you can divide the number of users that have seen the Review page (42) by the number of users that have seen the Payment page (1153) and multiply it by 100, then subtract 100 from that number.

In the end you will see that the drop off rate of this step is 96.36%.

I have made this Spreadsheet for you, just change the page and the number of users and the Spreadsheet will auto calculate everything.

If you need help with your optimization process, you can always get in touch with us at contact@ontrack.agency or just leave a comment down below. We’re always happy to hear from you!

Dan Cucolea
I am a conversion rate optimization specialist at Ontrack Digital. I am a Spreadsheets Wizard who can translate any data into a lovely graph that even has a story behind it.
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