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Questions about Backfilling

  • 11 September 2018
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I heard about the term "backfilling" in Funnels, but I'm not quite sure what it does or what it means. Can you clarify on "backfilling", and if possible, provide examples of what would be the best types of properties to set in my events with "backfilling" in mind?


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Best answer by spark 11 September 2018, 21:39

Hi John!

Sarah here from Mixpanel Support. Happy to clarify on backfilling.

Backfilling is when an event property "fills in the blanks" from a later event (step) to an earlier event.

For example, say we were tracking a Funnel that had three steps. Imagine a scenario where in steps 1, and 2, the user completes the steps with their 'Browser' property having the value of 'Chrome'. However, that same user completes steps 3 with the 'Browser' property having the value of 'Safari'. In this case, there's a product question- do we put them in the table as a converted 'Chrome' user or a converted 'Safari' user? If we put them as both, that will create two conversions for a single user.

The product decision our team made was that we would keep the last converting value and backfill it to the previous steps. Thus, in our previous example, the last converting value was 'Safari', so steps 1, 2, and 3 will all be considered 'Safari' values, despite the fact that they did 'Chrome' in steps 1, and 2.

Does this make sense, @john.austin? Let me know if you require additional clarification, and feel free to check out this awesome article on backfilling if you want more info.


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Userlevel 1
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Hi John!

Sarah here from Mixpanel Support. Happy to clarify on backfilling.

Backfilling is when an event property "fills in the blanks" from a later event (step) to an earlier event.

For example, say we were tracking a Funnel that had three steps. Imagine a scenario where in steps 1, and 2, the user completes the steps with their 'Browser' property having the value of 'Chrome'. However, that same user completes steps 3 with the 'Browser' property having the value of 'Safari'. In this case, there's a product question- do we put them in the table as a converted 'Chrome' user or a converted 'Safari' user? If we put them as both, that will create two conversions for a single user.

The product decision our team made was that we would keep the last converting value and backfill it to the previous steps. Thus, in our previous example, the last converting value was 'Safari', so steps 1, 2, and 3 will all be considered 'Safari' values, despite the fact that they did 'Chrome' in steps 1, and 2.

Does this make sense, @john.austin? Let me know if you require additional clarification, and feel free to check out this awesome article on backfilling if you want more info.


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Thanks @spark! I was wondering this too, and this makes sense.


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That makes sense, although for us, it is a bit bad. We use properties to tie different event types together, as they belong to the same journey. But if a user has Event A,B & C for journey #1 and then the system backfills the step D from journey #2, the funnel becomes meaningless.

I understand that we can fudge this by adding the journey # property as a filter on each campaign step, but with about a few hundred different journeys that we might want to look at (we add and remove some every day), that becomes... tedious 🙂.


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wait, yes! @christian, i run into a similar problem and if there were funnels that were session/journey based that would really help out.

i made an idea post for session funnels, and it would be awesome if you added a vote

https://mixpanel.cloud.answerhub.com/idea/250/session-based-funnels.html


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