Funnel Best Practices in Mixpanel - The Signal
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Community Tip: Funnels Best Practices

This Community Tip dives deep on Mixpanel’s Funnels report. In this tip, we’ll talk about using Custom Events to increase your power, tracking conversion rates over time, and fuzzy ordering.

Funnels are the best way to evaluate the success of your most important user flows, like Account Creations, Purchases, Content Creation, and whatever else matters most to your app. With Funnels, you can zero in on exactly where in the process they’re dropping off and then iterate accordingly. On top of all of this actionable analytical power, it’s also amazingly easy to set up a Funnel. As easy and awesome as Funnels are, however, there are a number of tips and best practices to employ to make sure you’re enjoying all of the insights that they can offer. Let’s jump in:

Renaming Steps / Re-using the Same Event with Different Properties

You may already know that Mixpanel’s funnels allow for Custom Events that allow you to combine multiple events into a single compound funnel step (i.e., User did Event A OR B OR C, then went on to do D), thereby allowing you to make combined funnels for parallel processes (i.e., purchasing via Paypal versus via Credit Card). What you may not know is that there’s also an even simpler application of custom events: you can also rename funnel steps for easier readability.

Why is this useful? One of the best overall best practices in Mixpanel is to minimize distinct events where possible, and differentiate your steps with descriptive properties instead. To review this point: you wouldn’t want separate events for “Add Shirt to Cart”, “Add Pants to Cart”, and “Add Socks to Cart”. You’d want a single “Add to Cart” item, with a bunch of descriptive properties such as item type, price, color, and brand. By minimizing distinct events in the right places, you can segment and filter to your heart’s content in Mixpanel. When you get around to building funnels, however, you might end up with something like this:

This report shows a confusing funnel. Although all three steps have different properties, they are marked as the same event, confusing the conversion rates.

In other words, multiple funnel steps with the same event name, but different properties describing the specific action that’s taking place. In the example pictured above, each step is a “Nav Item” event, but they each have different properties representing different specific actions. This looks confusing, and ideally this would be depicted with different funnel step names, so that you can tell what’s going on without opening up the “Edit” menu to look at your segmentations.

So here’s where Custom Events come into play for a more intuitive display in funnels. Whereas normally you might use a custom funnel step to combine multiple steps, you can also simply use a single event (with as many filters as you’d like) and give it a different name, like this:

The The Edit custom event box allows you to rename the event based on a condition.

This will leave you with a much nicer and more accessible funnel, readable right away by anyone on your team:

This report is much clearer than the one before, establishing a clear conversion rate from event "Next Page" all the way to event "Save."

Deep Filtering

Here’s another less obvious use for Custom Events. From working in Segmentation, you’re probably used to setting unlimited property filters for your data, so you can get exactly as granular as you want with who you’re including in your reports. At first glance, Funnels don’t seem to allow for this. There’s only one slot for a filter on the Funnel editor. The UI looks nice and clean, but what are you supposed to do for deeper filtering? Once again, the answer is Custom Events, where you can filter as deeply as you want.

The New custom event tool allows you to deep-filter funnel events the same way you would in Segmentation.

Conversions Over Time

A great sage once said: you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. Naturally, this applies to conversion rates as well. The best way to contextualize your current funnel conversions is to know what they used to be. Are your product iterations actually improving conversions over time? Funnels can tell you!

You can always just adjust your date range to check out historical funnel conversions, but there’s also an easy way to view conversions-over-time at a glance, on a granular step-by-step level. Just click the eye icon between two of your funnel steps to get a chronological view of your conversion between steps.

This funnel charts a product conversion rate.

How Funnels are Calculated

For full details on how Funnels are calculated here.

This is a bit of a niche tip, but it can be handy for apps in which users blow through sequential events in rapid-fire mode. Examples that spring to mind are mobile games (fast!), or swipe-based dating apps (possibly even faster?). Anyway: Mixpanel Funnels has a built-in two-second window wherein if two events have timestamps within two seconds of one another, they’ll actually be treated as sequentially interchangeable. This means Mixpanel can be a lot more accommodating of the limitations of cross-platform or mobile time tracking. In other words, if we have a two-step funnel for Events A -> B -> C, and a user who has completed Event A goes on to complete Event C, then Event B, within two seconds of one another, that will count as a funnel conversion.

And there you have it. A handy set of tips and little-known features that will let you up your Funnels game and amaze coworkers with your analytical prowess. We hope this was helpful! If you need anything, email support@mixpanel.com to speak to someone smart, quickly.

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