Interpret a Flows Report

Flows identifies the most frequent paths taken by users from or to any event. Use Flows to understand how your users sequentially perform events in your product, and analyze drop-offs or unsuccessful behavior. This article explains how to interpret a Flows report. To learn about the basics of the Flows report click here, and to build a Flows report here.

Analyzing User Flows

User Flows displays a Sankey diagram where the height of the bar is proportional to the number of users who perform that specific event, and the height of the lines that connect bars are proportional to the number of users who perform the the two events in sequence.


In the above example, more users moved from the A event “Exit Tutorial” to “Experiment Started” than any other path. This is graphically signified by the height of the line.

Hover over a stage of the diagram to highlight it and see details of that section. This includes the total number of unique users who moved between those two steps on that path, as well as the percentage. 


Select any blue node representing an event on the Sankey chart to highlight the most popular paths that led to or from that node. The selected node is indicated in a lighter blue.


Event types in Sankey Diagram

Selected Events

These are significant moments in a users lifecycle around which you would like to explore user behavior (for example, you may wish to view what users do after a Sign Up event).  Selected events are picked in the query builder and are annotated with an alphabetical label (A, B, C) that is shown in the query builder and the sankey diagram. 


In the above example, we picked two anchor events "Exit Tutorial" and "Experiment Started", and are viewing the events that were performed by users between them.

Intermediate Events

Once an event is selected, Mixpanel calculates the most common events performed by users immediately before or after the selected events. These intermediate events can match either regularly tracked events OR the most used custom events in your project. The icon will let you know at a glance the type of event being displayed.


In the above example, Install or Open is a custom event, while Experiment Started is a regular event.

Click here to learn more about custom events in flows.

Other Events

At each step in the flow, Mixpanel by default displays the top 3 intermediate events performed by users ordered by the number of users who performed them at that step. The rest of the events performed are grouped into a single bar called "Other events".


Click here to reduce the number of events grouped into "Other events"

Drop off

“Drop-off” represent users who did not do any further events in the next step during the time period specified in the report, and therefore dropped out of the flow. Users are considered dropped off at future anchor steps selected in the query builder if they do not perform that particular anchor in the time period.


Adding more events

Viewing more steps

By default, flows shows you the first 3 events performed by users after the selected event. If you wish to see what users did further along in the path, you can adjust the number of steps directly in the Sankey visualization as shown below.

Use the "+" on the right of the visualization to add steps after your selected events of interest to see what paths your users took following these key events.


The "+" on the left of the visualization will add steps before the events you've added in the query builder. This will allow you to see what paths your users took that led up to these events of interest.



To add steps in larger quantities, you can adjust the number of steps directly in the query builder section as well.


Viewing less frequent events

By default, flows only shows you the top 3 events performed by users ordered by the number of users who performed them. Less common events performed by fewer users are combined into an "Other events" section. (Click here to learn more about other events). To view more events, simply right click the other events node and Add a row of events.


To expand a large number of steps at the same time, you can select the number of rows you want directly in the advanced settings



Selecting Multiple Steps

You can add multiple steps in the query builder. 


This allows you to examine flows between targeted events. The "+" on the left of the breakpoint line (marked with ≈) will show you the events that happened directly after the first anchored event.

In the following example, Flows is showing the event that happened right after App Open before the made a Purchase. 


Use the "+" on the right of the breakpoint line (marked with ≈) will show you the events that happened right before the later anchored event.

For example, below Flows is showing the event that happened directly before a Purchase, but only after the user did App Open.


Analyzing Top Paths

In the top bar of the visualization, you will see the option to toggle between User Flows and Top Paths.


Top paths will show the 50 most common event sequences of up to the number of steps you had selected in the User Flow sankey visualization. 


The total percentage of users who reached the ultimate destination of a flow is indicated on the top left, while the total users that reached a given step and the percentage of users who converted from the previous step are indicated on the bottom of each step.


Breakdown and Compare by Cohorts

Beside the Filter button, select the Breakdown button to select one or more cohorts from the drop-down list. You will be shown both users in and not in the cohort.


If you have selected multiple cohorts, the chart below will be broken down by those cohorts. Cohorts will appear in the chart in different colors, making it easy to follow the paths the cohorts took in your flows.

In the following example, the cohorts “Android Users” and “iPhone Users” are being compared. As shown in the Legend on the left of the chart, “iPhone Users” are indicated in purple, “Android Users” in orange.


To see the percentage breakdowns of these cohorts in more detail, click on a node to highlight the strongest path to that node. The box that pops up shows the percentage of each cohort that followed that path.

In the following example, of the users that reached this Exit Tutorial event, 22.2% of users are iPhone users, 77.8% of users are Android users.


Hide Events

You can choose to hide events from the flows report to simplify and clarify the results. This is useful if you have common events that add noise because they are not relevant to the workflow you are examining.

Click the Hide Events button at the top of the chart and check any events you want to hide from the query, then click Apply.


You can also choose to hide a specific event from the flow by right clicking on it in the Flows chart. 


Custom Events in flows

Custom events as start/end events

You may pick custom events as the starting or ending events directly in the query. For custom events that are composed of multiple events, paths consisting of either event are combined into a single flow.

Custom events as intermediate events

Mixpanel automatically considers the most used and common custom events in your project, displaying them in intermediate steps instead of showing the underlying events. When a custom event is shown instead of the underlying event, it is annotated with the custom event icon to indicate that the event displayed is a custom event.


Click here to learn more about all the event types shown in the flows report.

Mixpanel uses the following criteria to decide which custom events are shown in user flows:

  1. Custom events that are shared with all users in the projects are the only ones picked to be shown in flows right now
  2. Only the 50 most frequently queried custom events in the project are used in flows analysis.
  3. If custom events have overlapping definitions (e.g. both custom events operate on the same event), we will choose the more frequently queried custom event to show in the report.

Expanding custom events

You may also expand custom events by event name to view the underlying events if required.



Disabling custom events

You can disable custom events for flows by toggling the Show Custom Events in the dropdown menu below. Custom events that have been manually chosen as steps in the flow will continue to show up, but no other other custom events will be shown.


Beta Capabilities

Have you ever wished to apply some more targeted Funnel Criteria to a Flow? Examples of this could be: 

  • Time to Convert Window- i.e What are the event flows of users for only the first 7 minutes after Signing up?
  • Holding a Property Constant- i.e What are the event flows in between Song Play and Add to Playlist but only if it's for the same song?
  • Exclusion Steps- i.e What are the event flows between Add to Cart and Checkout, but only if the user does not Abandon their Cart in between?
  • Sessions specifications- i.e What are the event flows for only a single session from Signing up? Only the first 3 sessions?

If these are questions you have been looking to answer, check out our Conversion and Drop-off Flows beta!

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