Funnel Visualization vs. Goal Flow

When reviewing the Funnel Visualization and Goal Flow reports, you may notice some discrepancies. The table below outlines some main features of the two reports and highlights why you may see some differences. In general, the Goal Flow report is more flexible and most accurately reflects your users' path before completing a Destination goal. LunaMetrics further discusses some issues with the Funnel Visualization report.
 

  Funnel Visualization Goal Flow

Loopbacks

What happens if someone navigates from /step1 > /step2 > /step1?

The Funnel Visualization report only shows one session to each step in the funnel, so if a user sees the same step twice—either by navigating back to it from another step or refreshing the page/screen—the second session shows as an exit to that step's page/screen.

In the example, you would see one session to /step1, one session to /step2, and an exit from /step2 to /step1.

The Goal Flow report shows loopbacks. If a user loops back or refreshes a particular page/screen, you see two pageviews/screenviews. (You may need to increase the level of detail to see more connections.)

In the example, you would see a pageview from /step1 to /step2 and then a loopback to /step1.

Backfilling Funnel Steps

What happens if someone skips one of the steps in the funnel?

The Funnel Visualization report backfills any skipped steps between the step at which the user entered the funnel and the step at which the user exited the funnel.

For example, let's say your funnel is defined as /step1 > /step2 > /step3 > goal, and a user navigates from /step2 to goal, skipping /step1 and /step3. In the Funnel Visualization report, you'd see an entrance to /step 2, a continuation to /step 3, and a continuation to goal.

The Goal Flow report does not backfill steps. You will see flows from the originating dimension to the first step in the funnel that the user saw. You may see flows that skip a step altogether.

Order of Funnel Steps

Is the order in which the steps in my funnel were viewed reflected in the report?

No. The actual order in which the steps were viewed isn't represented in the Funnel Visualization report. Google Analytics scans through each session, checks if a certain step is viewed, and then increments that step by 1 in the Funnel Visualization report.

The entrance to the funnel is always assigned to the step in the user's path that was highest in the funnel (i.e., the step with the smallest number), even if the user actually entered lower in the funnel. The exit to the funnel is assigned to the step in the user's path that was lowest in the funnel (i.e., the step with the biggest number), even if the user actually exited higher in the funnel. This is why you may see entrances from or exits to unexpected pages/screens.

For example, let's say your funnel is defined as /step1 > /step2 > /step3.html > goal.html. A user then had this session: /xyz > /step3 > /step2 > /abc. The Funnel Visualization report would show an entrance from /xyz to /step2, a continuation to /step3, and an exit from /step3 to /abc.

Yes. Using the example in the Funnel Visualization column, the Goal Flow report would show an entrance to /step3 from the originating dimension, a loopback to /step2, and an exit (red waterfall) from /step2 to /abc.

Historical Information

If I add a new funnel to a goal or change an existing funnel, will I be able to see historical information for that funnel?

No. The Funnel Visualization report only reflects data going forward and doesn't show retroactive data.

Yes. The Goal Flow report shows you data retroactively.

100% Exit Rate or Continuation Rate

Why do I sometimes see a 100% exit rate from a step or a 100% continuation rate?

In the Funnel Visualization report, you may see a 100% exit rate from your first step or a 100% continuation rate if multiple steps contain the same pages or screens. Keep in mind that funnel steps accept regular expressions. For example, if your first step is your homepage—i.e., '/'—then it actually matches all pages that contain or begin with '/'. In this example, you'd see a 100% exit rate from that first step. To resolve this issue, adjust the regular expressions you use for your funnel steps.

The Goal Flow report displays pageviews/screenviews to each step of the funnel, so you should rarely, if ever, see a 100% exit rate from a step or a 100% continuation rate.

Advanced Segmentation

Can I view the funnel for a specific segment of sessions?

No. The Funnel Visualization report doesn't support advanced segmentation.

Yes. The Goal Flow report supports advanced segmentation. You can apply one standard or custom advanced segment to the report at a time. You can also use the dimension picker at the top left of the report to change the dimension by which the report is segmented.

Date Comparison

Can I compare two date ranges?

The Funnel Visualization report's date comparison feature shows you the difference in the total conversion rate for a specific goal, but it does not show you that difference for different funnel steps.

Yes. Use the Goal Flow report's calendar feature to compare two date ranges for all steps of the funnel. Watch this video for more information.

Required 1st Step

What happens if I mark the first step of the funnel as required in the settings?

The required first step applies only to the Funnel Visualization report. When you mark a first step as required, the Funnel Visualization report only includes goal conversions that pass through that required step. Other sessions are just dropped from the report.

If you see a conversion rate in other reports but a zero conversion rate in the Funnel Visualization report, this indicates that the required step wasn't viewed during sessions that converted.

The required first step is not taken into consideration when viewing the Goal Flow report. For example, if a user skips the first step, then you will see a flow from the original dimension to the second step.

Overall Conversion Rate

Why does the conversion rate differ between reports?

The conversion rate for the Funnel Visualization report is the number of sessions that completed the goal divided by the number of sessions that entered the funnel. The number of sessions that entered the funnel may be smaller than the total number of sessions to the site. You may calculate the total number of sessions that entered the funnel by summing the bolded numbers to the left of each step.

Remember, if the first step is required, this will also affect how many users enter and complete the goal in the funnel visualization report.

The conversion rate for the Goal Flow report is calculated the same way as for other Google Analytics reports; it is the number of sessions that completed the goal divided by the total number of sessions to the site.

Sampling

When is the data in the report sampled?

The Funnel Visualization report shows up to 50,000 daily unique paths. If you have more than 50,000 unique paths per day, then you may see (other) reported.

The Goal Flow report is sampled based on 100,000 sessions. To reduce the effects of sampling, try decreasing the date range.

Data Freshness

When can I expect the report to display data?

The data in the Funnel Visualization report should meet your normal data freshness expectations. For Standard accounts, it could take up to 24 hours, and for Premium accounts, it should take 4 hours to populate data.

The Goal Flow report generally has a longer data freshness delay. It may not display data for the current day for both Standard and Premium accounts.

Completed Goal Multiple Times in 1 Session

Are goals incremented each time a user completes the same goal in a single session?

No. Each goal is only incremented once per session.

No. Each goal is only incremented once per session.

The table below the diagram will reflect the number of sessions that completed each step.

Unique Pageviews/Screenview

Why doesn't the number of goal completions always match the number of unique pageviews or screenviews?

Goals are a count of how many sessions reached a certain page/screen or group of pages/screens. This may not exactly align with unique pageviews and unique screenviews. For example, your user went to /index > /step1 > /thankyou > /thankyou/confirmation, and you've defined your goal as /thankyou using head match or regular expression match. In this example, there are 2 unique pageviews for /thankyou and 1 goal completion.

In web views, unique pageviews are determined by the URI and page name combinations. For example, if you had a URI /thankyouconfirmation with the names 'Thank You' and 'Confirmation', then there would be 2 unique pageviews but only 1 goal.

(Same)

Types of Goals

Can I create funnels for all types of goals?

No. You may only create funnels for Destination goals. Funnels don't currently work with other goal types.

(Same)