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How To Use Custom Funnels in Google Analytics Premium

Custom Funnels are the best new feature in Google Analytics, since Multi-Channel Funnels came out. In this blog post I will share with you everything you need to know about Custom Funnels for Google Analytics. Lets say you have implemented YouTube tracking using readily available scripts from LunaMetrics or Cardinal Path. For the first time you can visualize how users consume video!

Custom Funnels Video

Custom Funnels: Features and Benefits

Custom Funnels is currently a Google Analytics Premium only feature. The value this feature can provide for many organization will be a huge use case for the investment in Google Analytics Premium.  Custom Funnels address a number of key limitation that have long existed in Google Analytics. Here are the best features:

  1. Visualizations can be created that include sequences that include both pages and events at the same time.
  2. Unlike the Funnel Visualization report, when you setup custom funnels they are retroactive and utilize historical data.
  3. Unlike the Goal Flow and other Behavior Flow reports, Custom Funnels are available at a much higher sampling rate. Behavior Flow has sampling kick in at 100,000 sessions compared to Custom Funnels where I’ve seen it kick in at 50,000,000 sessions.
  4. Custom Funnels can be user scoped. This means you can have the steps in the funnel occur across sessions. You can finally create true User-level checkout funnels.
  5. Unlike the Funnel Visualization report you can add advanced segments to your Custom Funnels.
  6. Integrate directly with Google AdWords to send Funnel Segments for powerful remarketing lists.

In summary the best part is that once these funnels are created they work retroactively with historical data, will be completely unsampled for most reports, can be user or session scoped, and integrate directly with Google AdWords for creation of remarketing lists.

How To Create Custom Funnels

Lets get started on creating your first funnel! You can create one by clicking on ‘Customization’ in the top menu bar, click the ‘New Custom Report’ button and lastly click the ‘Funnel’ tab in the type section, which is directly underneath the title and name fields.

Overview: Funnel Builder

This image covers a quick overview of the features you need to utilize and know are available.
Custom Funnels Setting Overview

There are some really great feature in here. Including custom dimensions and goals there are over 200 different dimensions available for you to choose to include in your funnel. No other visualization in Google Analytics allows you to get this granular. With regular expression and exact match types, in addition to the options to include or exclude values, you will be able to match a wide range of use cases and different funnel types. I am a big fan of the time saving options that Google has included, with the ability to quickly duplicate steps, copy the entire funnel, and save it to any view needed across accounts.

Advanced Features:

There are more features available in the ‘Advanced Options’ dropdown. This is where you can specify to make your funnel open or closed. Currently, open funnels will only be available if you select the ‘Analysis Type’ of ‘All stages must occur within a session’, which is above  the dropdown. The open funnel allows the user to enter into the funnel at any of the steps. The visualization will explicitly show these additional entrances within each step. Next, you have the ability to change the metric to sessions, instead of users if desired. Lastly, just like Advanced Segments that use sequences, funnels also have the ability to specify when the next action in the funnel occurs. You can specify that all next steps occur at any time after, directly after, or specify it individually per step. Selecting ‘immediately after a stage’ means that it has to be the next hit sent. If any hit such as a pageview or event occurs before the next path the user will show as an exit in your funnel.
Custom Funnels Advanced Features

Funnel Creation

Here is an example of a 5 step funnel. For this we want to follow a specific path to understand how many users peform the following actions in order: visit our blog, watch a video, visit our store, add an item to their cart and ultimately complete a purchase. You can see the power of this feature in the image below. We have used five different dimensions with hostname, event category, event action, page and transaction ID to achieve this.

Custom Funnel Step Settings

Below is the resulting custom funnel that is presented when this report is saved. I’ve highlight some of the most important aspects. The report is available completely unsampled and in this instance pulls in over 10 million sessions. The funnel, which should look very familiar if you use Enhanced E-Commerce, shows how many users complete each step as well as abandon. By clicking on any of the blue bars or the abandonment boxes a segment editor is shown. Using this you can quickly create funnel segments and even immediately have them available in AdWords to utilize in remarketing campaigns to recapture lost revenue. The last feature pointed out is that you can apply Advanced Segments, which would allow you to compare Desktop vs. Mobile or New vs. Returning or any other segment you would like to create.

Custom Funnels Example

Missing Features

Just like every good consumer, I always want more. There are a few features that I hope are added to Custom Funnels to make them even more powerful. I have found that only being able to create at most 5 steps is very inconvenient and limiting. There are work arounds I have used by creating multiple funnels with the same ending and beginning paths, but it requires a lot more effort to get them to work right. It is also really annoying to not be able to have to click on each Advance Segment applied to the report, instead of simply having them shown side by side. Unsampled exports need to be added, as I’ve found with very large data ranges sampling can be a factor. It would also be nice if this was available for all Google Analytics users, not just Premium customers =)

If you are a Premium customer there is not excuse for not using these. If you are currently considering Premium, this would be a great feature to convince others in your organization of the value. Already, Custom Funnels is now an essential tool for my reporting and insights that I perform for my clients. If you have any questions about anything Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager related, leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter.

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