September 19, 2023
During a FullStory Onboarding call not too long ago we had a participant ask, “When do I use a Funnel vs. Journey in FullStory?” and although a rather simple question, we found my rather complex and overly verbose answer worth sharing with the others.
tl;dr: Funnels are for defined user flows, i.e. we know and can list out the steps that a user takes on our site or app, and Journeys are for undefined users flows, i.e. they start or end with a page or event but all the middle bits are unknown or uncertain.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, if you're pretty new to FullStory, here's a help article on Funnels.
When building a funnel, you’re going to be explicitly defining out the actions, visits, or events that your users are doing throughout the funnel. Users could be doing a number of things before, between, or after these steps as well – we only care about the success of defined criteria that is including them in our funnel.
In the below funnel, we see three defined events, but people could have clicked Add to Cart multiple times, visited checkout, gone out of checkout to add more to their order, verified items selected on a /cart page, then went back into checkout, and finally clicked the Purchase CTA. So log as the user completes these actions and in this order at least once, then it’s a successful funnel. Therefore, when building a funnel you already know the steps that users are taking, and will build it accordingly.
In the above, we aren't requiring users to visit a /cart page either. This might be because we have a mini cart handled dynamically with no URL and a /cart page where people can review their purchases. In some cases you might want to use "or" logic but in the case above, we don't care much about the cart interactions, just if users added to cart and eventually got to checkout pages.
Funnels are perfect for measuring count and percent of users and their continuation, dropoff, time spent, and a few other insights per step into a flow. Ideal use cases would be user flows like checkout progression, registration steps, or form completion.
TIP 💡 in the above typical ecom flow, users could have [clicked] [text is] [Purchase] but not made a purchase, – they could have experienced credit card declinations, codebase errors, or other points of friction during checkout, so we at CXperts highly recommend you add a success criteria as your final step – something like [visited URL] [is] [/order-confirmation] – to capture actual conversions, not just conversion attempts.
TIPx2 💡 1. it’s best to start by building your Funnel in Segments first, and once built you can easily port over into Funnels (it doesn’t work the other way around), and 2. when doing so, use the word “Funnel” in the name of your Segment to easily search for all Funnels that were created there to make porting over a breeze.
Again, before we dive in and you're not familiar with Journeys, here's a help article from FullStory on Journeys. Also, note that Journeys is currently an Enterprise feature in FullStory, so if you’re wondering why you might not have access to Journeys that could be why. Speak with your FullStory points of contact to talk about if Journeys can be added to your subscription.
Okay, when building a Journey we are defining an action – visited page or triggered an event – that people start or end with and from there FullStory tells us the rest.
In the below example, you would be wondering “how do people get to Order Completed?” so you definite it as such (first image below) and voila, here are the various popular pathways users are getting to that end event (second image below).
TIP 💡 Named Elements – although retroactive in Segments – are not retroactive in Journeys, so you may need to define a few popular Named Elements and let them collect data and cook a bit before building out super insightful Journeys.
From your Journey, you can click on each of the Pages or Events and then easily view as a Funnel or a Segment to investigate and analyze further (see image below). Here's more info from FullStory on porting data from a Journey to a Funnel or a Segment.
To wrap things up, if a stakeholder or someone on your team says, “hey, how many people are succeeding when going the checkout pages?” or “what’s are the drop off rates of our progressive lead gen form?” those sound very much like Funnels to us. Whereas if someone says, “how are people getting to X page?” or “What are people doing after landing on the X page” then Journeys is likely your tool du jour.
So what do you think? How you you decide to tackle something via Funnels vs Journeys? What other tips do you have for using either of these features? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.