How to build visualizations for conversion funnels in Looker

Kyle Libra
Jan 23, 2017 · 2 min read

File this one under: sometimes a product’s FAQ section doesn’t quite do the job.

Looker is this amazing tool we use at the office to work with our data. It provides a UI visualization layer on top of our data warehouse which pulls in and standardizes data from every source imaginable: Google Analytics, Salesforce, our application itself, etc. On top of visualizing everything, it can also serve the data back via API and do a bunch of automated reporting. I’m probably doing a bad job of describing it, but Looker is a really great tool.

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Conversion funnels and plumbing, same things, right?

My favorite part is that once the data is properly warehoused, it doesn’t require any additional engineering effort to build complex reports or queries. As a Product Manager, I can do everything else myself and let the rest of the scrum team focus on feature work. The downside is that the learning curve is a bit steep, but it’s totally worth taking the time to figure it everything out, given how powerful it can be.

With the steep learning curve, there are times when things aren’t quite as obvious as they should be. How to make visualizations for conversions funnels is one of those things. Specifically, how to make the percentage change between steps show up is obscure. Even google search failed me when I tried to find a solution. since figuring out how to do this I’ve even had several other product owners at the company ask me the same question, probably because they were also unable to find an answer easily.

There’s a great article about how to model the funnels using MySQL select, but it doesn’t cover the visualization bit. You could do that, or you can just get an Explore setup with the the right data all in the same table and put it into a visualization.

Either way, once your data is in a table, you want to go to the visualization section of the Explore and click the gear icon. Under series positioning select “grouped” and then click the toggle next to “show percent of previous.”

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I’m assuming most people will just scroll to this image and be set.

That’s it, your conversion funnel should now have a nice visualization to go along with it. Hopefully given the contextual keywords around this article, I help others trying to google a solution when using Looker.

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