Interpreting Funnels in Google Analytics

Interpreting Funnels in Google Analytics

Funnels are visual representations of the path visitors took through a process on your website. Instead of looking at text, you can see images of exactly what happened on a visitor’s path to completing a goal that you’ve configured in your Analytics account.

Finding Funnel Reports in Google Analytics

You must have a goal configured, running and collecting data in order to see that data in a funnel visualization. Funnel reports can be found under Conversions -> Goals -> Funnel Visualization. You can also view multi channel funnels under conversions.

Configuring Funnel Reports in Google Analytics

At the time of this writing, the detail of your funnel report and how it will look is directly related to goals in Google Analytics and how you configure them. With the old interface, this was sort of ambiguous, but Google’s new interface has a button that you can click to turn on the funnel option.

turning on funnels in google analytics

Once this has been enabled, you can enter steps for your goal. The data that you enter into the steps of your goal (i.e. name and URL) is that which will appear on funnel visualization reports. Note that if you name your step something and later on in the report you don’t like the way it looks, you can always rename it, and it will dynamically change on the report itself.

Be careful which steps you label as required. Labeling a step as required means that it has to happen or Analytics will not record the goal, and it will not be included in your funnel visualization report.

Interpreting Funnel Reports in Google Analytics

Funnel visualizations show you a lot of data in a condensed image. Along with the conversion rate and overall visitors that completed the funnel, you can also see:

  • The number of visitors who entered the funnel on the page where the funnel began
  • The other pages that a visitor came from to start the funnel
  • The number of visitors that did not complete the funnel
  • The point in the funnel where various visitors may have abandoned the process
  • Segmented groups of visitors and the pages they traveled to after abandoning the funnel
  • The number of visitors who successfully completed the funnel

You can view all of this data for either a specified time period or for the entire duration of time that the goal has been active and running.

Funnel Visualization

Useful Data

Funnel Abandonment

Buildings symbolizing abandoned funnels in google analytics Goals and funnel visualizations are so useful in Google Analytics because they give us a way to see if our online processes are working or not. Every funnel has some kind of abandonment rate, whether it’s a transaction funnel, a signup process, an account-creation process, etc.  At some point, a visitor either decides they don’t want to or cannot complete a process, or there is some technical issue that does not let them complete the process.

With a funnel visualization, you can see areas of concern in multi step funnels. For instance, maybe a lot of people abandon the funnel at the very beginning of the process. Common reasons for this are long or ambiguous forms, confusing checkout processes, bad page design or slow load times, among other issues.

Perhaps you see that visitors are abandoning ecommerce transactions just before they are complete. Maybe your process is seamless, but visitors don’t feel your site is secure. Or maybe there is some technical issue with that part of the process.

Looking at pages that visitors diverted to after abandoning a funnel can also give you some clues as to what they are doing. Maybe you see visitors going to a help page or an FAQ page from the funnel; signs that they could be looking for guidance on how to complete a process.

Referring Pages

You can also see the pages that sent traffic to the start of your funnel process in your funnel visualization report. This data can indicate that calls to action on certain pages, internal ads, links or other sources are doing their job. It could also indicate that one page is better suited to help assist in completing conversions for whatever reason.

Goals and funnel visualizations give you data that you wouldn’t otherwise have and make it easy to read. They help you identify problems with processes on your website, and they also give you visual proof of techniques that might be working out well.


Do you use funnels in Google Analytics? In what ways do they help you measure conversions? Let us know by dropping a line or leaving a comment below.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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