introduction to google analytics

An Introduction to Google Analytics Segments

With Google Analytics, what you see in plain sight is not all that it has to offer. To draw an analogy, Google analytics is like an iceberg; the larger portion of it is below the surface. So while you may be happy to receive standard reports and your monthly visitor count, you are actually not even getting (and taking advantage of) 10% of what Google Analytics has on offer for you. The rest of it is just waiting to be discovered. The best way to explore the hidden portion of this analogous iceberg is through Google Analytics segments. This article aims to explain the concept of Google Analytics segments (both simple and advanced), their applications, the best among them, and how to create advanced segments in Google Analytics and leverage them to your advantage.

What are segments?

A segment is essentially a subset of your data. It is a small piece of the larger pie. Segments allow you to access the information provided by Google Analytics in smaller, more easily manageable chunks of data. For instance, within the entire set of your users, one segment could be users from a particular city. Another segment may be users who visit a particular part of your site or who buy a specific product. To give a daily life example, each color in a box of assorted jelly beans is a segment. And if you isolate your favorite red ones so that you could eat them last, then that process is called segmentation.

Why use Google Analytics segments?

Google Analytics segments help you isolate and analyze subsets of data and subsequently enable you to examine, understand and respond to component trends in your business. For instance, if you find that your users from a specific geographical area do not purchase a particular line of products in the volume that they previously and normally used to, you can verify if a competitor is offering the same or similar products at lower prices. If that is in fact true, you could respond to the situation by offering loyalty discounts to the users from that specific location and lure them back towards you.

The 3 segment levels – users, sessions, hits

Before moving any further, let us understand the 3 segment levels.

  • User: People who visit your site
  • Session: Site interactions by a user
  • Hit: Site interactions during a particular session

A single user could generate multiple sessions and each one of those sessions may have multiple hits.

Google Analytics Segments

Let us say, for instance, that you wish to isolate users who have spent £200 or more on your site. User A may have spent £150 in one session and another £50 in another session. User B may have spent £200 in a single session. A user segment would include both users A & B but a session segment would only include user B.

Types of Segments

Google Analytics segments are differentiated into the following types:

  • Demographics: Segment your users based on demographic information like gender, age, language, etc
  • Technology: Segment the users’ sessions based on their web and mobile technologies (browser, device, etc.)
  • Behavior: Segment your users on the basis of how often they visit your site, session durations, and transactions
  • Date of first session: Segment the users based on when they first visited your site
  • Traffic sources: Segment your users based on the source of traffic, i.e., how they found you
  • Enhanced Ecommerce: Segment your users according to their shopping behavior
  • Conditions: Conditions are advanced segments that enable you to segregates your site’s users and/or their sessions based on single or multi-session constraints or conditions. For instance, if you wanted to find out how and if reading your store’s about us page impacts your revenue per visitor, you could do that by applying conditions in this manner:

Google Analytics Segment Example

  • Sequences: With sequences, you can segment the users and/or their sessions based on sequential conditions. Sequences have great utility for the E-commerce sector. For example, if you wanted to isolate the users who abandoned their cart, this sequence will help you do just that:

Google Analytics Sequence Segment

Google Analytics custom segments

There is a host of default system segments (such as All Users, Bounced Sessions, Direct Traffic, Mobile Traffic, New Users, Organic Traffic, Returning Users, Search Traffic, Single Session Users, etc) that you could use right away. However, Google also offers you the functionality of creating your own segments. You can choose from the parameters mentioned above, set conditions and sequences, and use them in combinations to create Google Analytics custom segments.

How to create advanced segments in Google Analytics?

Creating an advanced segment in Google Analytics is quite a hassle-free process. Just take the steps discussed below and you can create your own Google Analytics advanced segments.

Step 1: Open Google Analytics and click on ‘+ Add Segment’ at the top.

Step 2: You will get options such as ‘All’, ‘System’, and ‘Custom’ under ‘View Segments’. The default system segments have already been mentioned above. To create a custom segment, click on the bright red ‘+ New Segment’ button at the top.

Step 3: On the next screen, you will find the 6 types or parameters of segmentation listed in the ‘types of section’ subheading in this article, along with the advanced options of conditions and sequences. Choose your parameter and name your segment.

Step 4: Customise your segment by adding filters. For example, if you were to segregate users based on the parameter of their behavior, you could segment them based on the number of sessions initiated in a particular time frame.

Google Analytics Filter Segment

Step 5: Your custom segment is ready. Click on the ‘Preview’ button to ensure that the segment has come out just the way you wanted it to. When you click on that button, you will see the updated data at the right. If the segment has been created properly, click on ‘Save’.

Google Analytics behavior segment

The best Google Analytics segments

The key for successful utilization of segments lies in identifying and creating the best and most relevant Google Analytics advanced segments for your site. The following segments would usually provide tremendous utility for most types of businesses and websites.

  • Mobile traffic excluding tablets: This segment helps you find out how many people visit your site using a mobile phone and how many use a tablet. This information helps you ascertain how and if conversions and performance vary across devices.
  • High-value customers: Identifying the big spenders on your site (customers who spend twice or thrice of your average order value) and analyzing their behavior is a highly insightful proposition.
  • Converters and non-converters by source: This segment may help you identify why traffic from particular sources converts better than others, or why a particular source isn’t converting much.
  • Social ads: IF you spend a decent amount of time and money on social media ads, then this segment may be useful to evaluate the performance of the paid traffic.

Related Article:  Using Google Analytics Custom Channel Groupings for Attribution Modeling

Google Analytics custom segments provide you with genuine insights about your website’s performance. They help you find just what you want to. If you use them correctly and leverage the findings, you could rest assured that your online marketing activities and the overall performance of your business would improve considerably.

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