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Should we add goals for each step of checkout?

simonh 04-22-16
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Should we add goals for each step of checkout?

We've created a test one the first step of our checkout funnel and this may have different implications on different steps further down the funnel. With that in mind, is it viable that we create goals for each step so we can track the impact across the whole funnel, right down to purchase confirmation?


Or should the goals simply be:

  1. moving on to step 2 in checkout
  2. purchase confirmation

Further to this, should we consider moving the user to the next step in the checkout the ultimate goal, even above purchase confirmations? or does purchase trump everything? the problem with the latter is that it obviously takes much longer to get a statistically significant result on the effect on purchase confirmation.


any thoughts greatly appreciated!

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DavidS 04-25-16

Re: Should we add goals for each step of checkout?

Hi there,


Thanks for reaching out!

With Goal Targeting, you will be able to track pageviews, or clicks on pages that are outside of your experiment targeting conditions.

In your case, this means that one visitor bucketed into the first step of your checkout will be able to be tracked on other pages on your website even if the experiment is not running.


To answer your first question, it is viable to create goals for each step of the funnel. You could create a page view goal that will track the progression of your visitors down your funnel. Please note that the Optimizely snippet needs to be on every page that you would like to track visitors on (in your case, you will need to implement the snippet on each page of your funnel). 


The primary goal is the most important goal of the experiment and decides whether your hypothesis is proven or disproven. It is up to you to define what will determine whether your experiment is successful or not. Usually, when dealing with checkout funnels, the way to go is to set the primary goal to track checkout conversions. 


Let me know if this helps or if you have any other questions!





JasonDahlin 04-25-16

Re: Should we add goals for each step of checkout?


You should have separate goals for each step of your checkout funnel.


If the sole goal is to increase the number of users who visit "checkout step 1", you can easily increase that metric by adding code that redirects the user to checkout step 1 as soon as they add something to their bag.  But, I doubt this would be good for total conversions or revenue per conversion.


Similarly, you could move almost all of the form fields from Checkout Step 1 to Checkout Step 2 which would drastically increase your Checkout Step 2 rate, but probably not help overall conversions very much or at all.


These may be wildly one-sided examples, but they illustrate the points:

1-  Optimizing sub-goals is only beneficial if it does not sacrifice your end goal.

2- Optimizing one sub-goal may not impact sub-goals further into the funnel.


For these reasons, you should measure end-point to end-point and use sub-goals to measure how the change impacts the customer experience.


Even with end-point goals, you will still want to apply some sort of margin analysis ... (revenue per order, revenue per visitor, etc.)

"free shipping, no minimum" may increase the number of orders, but if it costs you $5 to send the package and the user is buying $5 item... then that's not a good thing.  If your change brings in 50% more leads but the leads are unqualified with a much lower value, the cost to process the leads may make them not worthwhile to have given their lower marginal benefit.

--Jason Dahlin
Analytics and Testing Guru Smiley Happy

Experimentation Hero
simonh 05-17-16

Re: Should we add goals for each step of checkout?

Thank you both for your considered replies, it makes total sense. With these thoughts in mind I guess our next conundrum is finding test variations that nudges the conversion rates enough to generate a statistically significant result in a reasonable time.
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