How to Create a Complex Funnel Visualisation in Data Studio
Google’s Data Studio is a fantastic free data visualisation tool but it doesn’t have a complex funnel visualisation chart for calculating your conversion rate. In addition it doesn’t allow you to use the funnel steps from Google Analytics goals. Most blogs suggest using a standard bar chart in Data Studio and creating a goal for each step in the funnel.
However, this doesn’t look like a funnel and what if your funnel has more than one option at some stages, but users go through the same pages or events at other steps? Goals in GA do not give the ‘or’ option and so your funnel won’t reflect your real drop-out rates. Users with the free version of GA are also limited to 20 goals per view and so this is not always ideal.
If you have a simple funnel without any alternative pages or events within an otherwise identical journey I recommend the Data Studio community visualisation funnel chart from Ayima. You will need to enable community visualisation under the Resource – Manage added data sources – Edit tabs. This uses goals which is fine provided you don’t have alternative pages or events at any single step for the same overall funnel.
Since I wrote this blog I have created an alternative method for automating a complex funnel visualisation in Data Studio which is simpler than what I have outlined below. Check it out if you want a visualisation you won’t need to adjust when the date range changes.
Creating a Complex Funnel Visualisation in Data Studio:
If you have a more complex funnel (i.e. with multiple pages or events at certain steps in the user journey) you may want to try a different method. This enables you to create a complex funnel visualisation chart in Data Studio which can be used to automate the process of calculating the drop out rates for important user journeys and your overall conversion rate.
1. Google Analytics – Create a segment for each step in the journey:
Before going to Data Studio use Google Analytics to set up a segment for each stage in the funnel journey. Use the ‘Sequence’ option to define the series of steps for each stage in the journey. For steps where there are multiple potential pages or events simply use the ‘or’ option when defining a step. It can take a few hours for GA segments to become available in your Data Studio console. Ideally create all your segments the day before you plan to create your complex funnel visualisation so that you have access to all of them before you start.
2. Data Studio – Create a new report
To minimise the amount of work formatting a new report either use an available template or go into an existing report to make a copy. Don’t forget to amend the report data source, title and other headings as required.
3. Create your first step in the funnel:
In your Data Studio report insert a bar chart and then go to ‘Style to change this to a horizontal chart. Now set the ‘Dimension’ as either a ‘Page’ or an ‘Event’ if you have virtual page views set up that way. You now have the option of setting the metric as ‘User’, ‘Page views’ or ‘Sessions’ depending upon what you want to measure.
Next add a filter to define the page(s) or event(s) you wish to begin your funnel with. Add the segment from Google Analytics that you previously set up. This will ensure there are only bars displaying that relate to your first step. Normally this is a single page or event, but it will allow for multiple first steps if required.
Then go to ‘Colour’ and change it from the default to something bright or whatever you prefer. You will now need to adjust the height of the bar to allow for the number of steps you have in your funnel.
Go to the ‘Style’ tab and un-select ‘Axes’ and for ‘Legend’ select ‘None’. This will prevent duplication of information and give the impression that the funnel is a single chart.
4. Add a Scorecard Chart:
Now add a Scorecard chart to sit on top of the bar to display the absolute number represented by your metric (i.e. sessions, users or pageviews). Set the metric you have decided upon and use the identical segment you used for the bar chart. Edit the name of the ‘Metric’ to either ‘Step 1’ or a short version of the page URL. You don’t have to use the URL or page title because when a user hovers over the bar the full URL will be displayed anyway.
Next set the ‘Comparison date range’ as the ‘Previous period’ to show any change over time. You should now have your first step completed. We will add the conversion rate later when we have all the steps set up.
5. Create your second step in the funnel:
Copy and paste the first step and position it just below according to how many steps you have to accommodate. Once you have changed the filter and segment to the second step of your funnel you may need to adjust the size. Unfortunately, Data Studio hasn’t created a way of retaining the relative size of separate bar charts according to the data they represent.
We can now copy and paste the Scorecard chart for the first step. Position it over the bar for the second step and edit the segment and metric name to ‘Step 2’ or a short version of the page title or URL.
6. Replicate for each additional step:
Just keep repeating the process for each step until you get to the last step in our funnel. Where you have multiple potential pages or events for a single step you can create a filter using the ‘or’ option for pages or events. The bar char will then display the same number of bars as you have alternative pages or events. I prefer this to only displaying a single bar because it means report users can hover over each individual bar to see how many user or sessions each option represent.
7. Add the percentage proceeding to the next step:
Create a text box to add a heading for the percentage proceeding to the next step in the funnel. You can now select the Scorecard for the second step and then by keeping the ‘Shift’ or ‘fn lock’ button pressed select the Scorecard for the first step. Once both steps are selected you should ‘Right click’ and this will open a menu which allows you to select ‘Blend data’. This will generate a new Scorecard result from the formulae of ’Step 2/Step 1’.
The blended data Scorecard can then be positioned opposite Step 1 to show the percentage proceeding to Step 2. If required you can also select the appropriate ‘Comparison date range’ which I prefer to use the ‘Previous period’ but there are a number of options to choose from.
Repeat this process for each step in your journey until you get to the last step. For the final page in the journey (i.e. your success or thank you page) you can blend data for that page or event and the first step of the journey. This will give you your overall conversion or completion rate for the journey.
Well done, you have now completed the complex funnel visualisation. To help the report user I normally also add a few KPIs to the top of the page in the form of some more Scorecards. Discuss these with your client to give them the most relevant information you can provide.
8. Adjust the size of the journey steps:
The only downside to this approach is that when the date range is changed some of the bar charts for individual steps can get too large given their relative position in the journey. I’ve found that if I try a number of different date ranges I can identify which are the problematic steps and adjust them accordingly.
However, even if you don’t share the report widely I find it very useful as it automates the process of calculating the conversion rate at each step of a complex funnel.
Use Data Studio to automate Google Analytics reports so that you can spend more time doing more complex analysis and providing useful insights for your conversion optimisation strategy.
If you have a simple funnel to visualise use the community visualisation funnel chart from Ayima.
When you need to a complex funnel visualisation try the approach outlined above. Create segments for each step in the funnel. Where there are multiple potential pages or events for a single step use the ‘or’ option in the sequence. You can then utilise individual bar charts and filters to create each step in the journey.
Adding Scorecards to each step then allows you to blend data to calculate the percentage proceeding to the next step. Finally, calculate your overall conversion rate at the final step and you have your funnel visualisation that looks like a funnel.
Don’t forget to try a few different date ranges to adjust the size of some of your steps.
- About the author: Neal provides web analytics and CRO consultancy services and has worked in many sectors including financial services, online gaming and retail. He has helped brands such Hastings Direct, Manchester Airport Group Online and Assurant Ltd to improve their digital marketing measurement and performance.
- Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on CXL and Usabilla.com. As an ex-market research and insight manager he also had posts published on the GreenBook Blog research website. If you wish to contact us please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter @conversionupl, see Neal’s LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.