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Goal tracking and experiment activation

andreasH 04-12-16
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Goal tracking and experiment activation


I have a pretty basic question regarding the way, Optimizely works and could not find a definite answer in the knowledgebase.

In our scenario, we have a three step checkout funnel and added an experiment to the first step. The confirmation page in the third step is tracked as a goal. Assuming, a customer visits the site and reaches the second step of the checkout, but doesn't complete the order, it is possible he comes back a few days later and starts directly in the second step. Now the experiment wouldn't get activated, because the Target URL is set to the first step. If he now completes the checkout, would the goal get tracked with the assigned variant?


I assume yes, because I see events getting tracked in the logs even if no experiment is shown as active. How would this change, if the bucket cookie would be deleted in between? Would now no goal tracking occur, since no variant is assigned?


Any clarification of this matter would help my understanding of Optimizely immensely.


Thanks in advance,



Level 1

Re: Goal tracking and experiment activation

Hi Andreas,

Thanks for your question! Indeed, what you're saying is correct: if the visitor comes back later, the goal will get tracked with the assigned variant. Optimizely counts visitors not on a session-basis but on a visitor-basis (through a cookie that we set for longer than a session). Once a visitor has entered an experiment, by default that visitor will be in that experiment regardless of the visitor closing their browser session and opening a new one.

Your explanation in the second paragraph is also correct. When a visitor that cleared their cookies, then converts without activating the experiment on the first step of your funnel again, they'll not be counted in the experiment since Optimizely doesn't recognise the visitor as having activated (been) in the experiment before their conversion.

I hope that helps!