How to Set Up Mixpanel Funnels for User Onboarding Success

Written by: Guru Mahendran Guru Mahendran 

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Product managers who have defined their onboarding steps and are ready to get started with Mixpanel will get the most of out this post. We’ve written an identical guide for Amplitude. If you’re interested in building a funnel in Amplitude or need help defining your onboarding steps first, refer to that post. 

User onboarding not only creates a lasting first impression for users, but it also has a measurable impact for your company’s bottom line. The ability to quickly build and improve your onboarding experience lets you deliver immediate value and retain more users in the long term.

To help, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide on setting up and optimizing a user onboarding funnel in Mixpanel, an advanced web and mobile analytics tool.

You’ll need the help of a developer to set up Mixpanel. We’ve provided summaries for developer-heavy steps, but developers may want to go through Mixpanel’s resources for detailed instructions (links provided).

Install Mixpanel and Set Up Your Onboarding Funnel

Install Embed Script

The first thing you’d need to do is install Mixpanel. Developers may want to consult Mixpanel’s master guide. Below is a quick start guide.

This is the code for installing the Mixpanel JavaScript library (without a personalized token): mixpanel installation code

For new users, Mixpanel will provide the snippet pre-populated with your token on the welcome page.

mixpanel welcome page

If you do need to find your token, click on your name in the upper righthand corner of your dashboard and select "Project settings" in the dropdown menu:

mixpanel project settings menu.pngmixpanel token.pngIf you use Segment, a platform that collects and sends customer data through to other tools, you’ll need to set up the integration through Segment.

Create Profiles and User Properties

Mixpanel assigns a default unique identifier to each unique user. Assigning your own user ID is optional but recommended if users access your product on multiple platforms. You can assign your own user IDs by using mixpanel.identify.

After assigning your own user IDs, you can also store user profiles, which contain properties about a specific user and include information like email address, where they came from, and name. This is optional, but doing so will help you identify specifically who is completing each stage of the onboarding funnel.

Here is a sample user profile:

mixpanel sample profile.png

[source]

Add the tracking code to the page to create a new profile.

Mixpanel also lets you link anonymous user data to a user ID, which is helpful if users browse your product anonymously before signing up. You can do this by creating an alias from the new user ID to the old anonymous one. Mixpanel recommends calling mixpanel.alias only once when the user signs up and mixpanel.identify when they log in.

More information on creating a profile: https://mixpanel.com/help/reference/creating-a-profile

More information on using alias: https://mixpanel.com/help/questions/articles/how-should-i-handle-my-user-identity-with-the-mixpanel-javascript-library

Set Up Event Tracking

Product managers should name the events they want to track and pass these names onto the developer.

The developer will then track each event using the following code in your application source code when or wherever the event happens.

mixpanel.track("EVENT_NAME_HERE");

You can also add properties to each event for more detail. Properties can describe the user, as mentioned above, or relate to a specific event. Mixpanel recommends keeping events general and built around meaningful actions. If “Signup” is an important event, a property could then be “Browser.”

More information here: https://mixpanel.com/help/questions/articles/how-should-i-name-my-events-and-properties

Create Your Funnel and Order Your Events

Now that your developer has entered the events into Mixpanel, you can start to order them into the sequential steps that a new user would take.

In your Funnels dashboard, click the plus sign to create a new funnel:

Mixpanel new funnel dashboard

Then, fill out basic information:  

Mixpanel create new funnel

Optimize Your Funnel

Wait for Your Funnel to Populate with Meaningful Data

Mixpanel will start collecting data immediately, but it can take a few days, or weeks if you have a smaller user base, before you can derive meaningful insights from your funnel.

Once you have meaningful data flowing into your funnel, here’s what you might see:

Appcues old onboarding Mixpanel funnel

This is real data that we collected from one of our onboarding flows at Appcues. Since we saw the largest drop-off between steps 2 and 3, we decided to start investigating here.

Improve Your Onboarding Experience Based on the Data

To troubleshoot why our completion was much lower between the “completed welcome” and “created Appcues flow” steps, we took a close look at the value we were trying to provide users at those steps.

This is what our onboarding screens for steps 2 and 3 looked like:Appcues_Onboarding_Old_Modal.png 

Appcues_dashboard.png 

We had a hunch that step 2 gave one too many options, and neither option directly steered users to publishing their first Appcues flow. Users who chose to create their first flow still had to click a “create” button in step 3 to get started.

To fix this, we created a new modal window with less text that redirected users straight to the design page:

 Appcues onboarding new modal

Appcues new onboarding create flow

These became our new steps 2 and 3 respectively. While it was a quick fix using our own onboarding software, it did have an immediate impact on our completion rate:

Appcues new onboarding Mixpanel funnelExperiment with Cohorts 

There may not be an issue that applies to all users equally. In these cases, breaking down your data by cohorts can be tremendously helpful.

Here’s what an onboarding funnel might look like for a music streaming service:
Mixpanel Onboarding Funnel Example-1.png

While the data suggests that there's an issue between steps 1 and 2, cohorts can provide more details as to why. Try segmenting by different user properties, and look for any differences in the conversion rate. In Mixpanel, you can filter results by the different properties you had previously set up right below your funnel.

Mixpanel segment by source example.png

After segmenting by source, our fictitious music service found that the drop-off point for looking up a song was far higher for users who found the service through Google, compared to users who were invited by friends. This data might lead the music app to improve its user onboarding steps and double-down on its referral program.

The beauty of analytics is that it shows you behaviors you may not expect, so don’t be afraid to play around with different cohorts and dig deeper into your user experience.

Continue Optimizing Further Down the Line

Setting up Mixpanel and building a user onboarding funnel are just the first steps to understanding the value you deliver to your users. This post has just scratched the surface of Mixpanel's capabilities. 

For help acting on the insights you learned from funnel analysis, Appcues offers code-free user onboarding software for building and quickly iterating personalized user experiences.  

Funnels help you analyze the effectiveness of your onboarding experience against a meaningful task, but user onboarding never really ends. There are many opportunities to guide your users through more of your product's value and deepen engagement. Mixpanel and Appcues are both powerful tools to help you do so.  

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