Using Regular Expressions in Google Analytics Goals / Funnel Visualisation

Google’s overhaul of all their service UIs seems to be made up of some parts improvement mixed with some parts confusion. I recently wasted a bit of time scratching my head on the Google Analytics goal setup page – it seems pretty obvious once you’ve got it working, however I can see that the UI has potential to let other people make the same mistake I did.

The issue I found comes when you’re looking to use regular expressions in your funnel steps. I was setting up a goal for a site which had multiple steps in its wizard, where each step added an additional parameter to the query string.

The funnel setup looked something like this:

Google’s docs said they supported regular expressions, and it was tracking the percentage of people hitting the goal’s destination URL correctly, however the funnel visualisation wasn’t working at all. What I realised is that in order to use regular expressions in any of your steps, then you have to select “Regular expression” next to your goal’s destination URL, even if you’re not using one to match/find the goal, as is the case in my example.

I’d assumed that “equals to” was fine because the final goal URL was a completely separate page, and didn’t really expect that this dropdown selection applied to the matching logic used for the steps.

When you edit a goal, it applies over the top of your previous data, so this is hardly the end of the world as you can tweak and view data until things appear correct, however it did cause a few “WTF” moments during debugging. Hopefully this post saves someone some time!

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Posted on Saturday, April 05, 2014 4:48 PM |

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