My Favourite Google Analytics Advanced Segments

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | 5:45 PM

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Analysts often consider an aggregated view of their visitors when assessing reports in Google Analytics. Every visitor is assumed to be of the same type. Looking at the information in an aggregated form is not nearly as useful as assessing the data for individual audience segments. The ability to segment these visitors is extremely important if the website owner wishes to optimise their site for user experience and conversions. Different types of visitors - whether new, returning, organic, paid, and so on - behave differently and have vastly different expectations. The ability to understand what each of them wants and how to cater for them is important towards building a successful online presence.

Google Analytics makes it easy to segment your audience with advanced segments. There are a number of predefined advanced segments (e.g. new visitors, paid search visitors) that you can take advantage of immediately. More useful, however, is the ability to create custom advanced segments tailored to your own specific needs.


One of the new Google Analytics features announced in November is the ability to share custom advanced segments with other users across accounts. It is through this feature that I want to share with you some of the custom segments that I have often found useful for analyses.

For any of the custom advanced segments below, click on the provided link to copy the segment to your account. Be sure to customise it to your needs before saving it. Make use of the "Default Segments" menu for any of the default advanced segments mentioned below.


Bounced Visits [link]
Reducing the bounce rate for your site is one of the key steps towards creating a compelling user experience for your visitors. This segment allows you to gain insight into those visitors who are bouncing (single-page visits). By understanding what they were looking for (eg look at keywords and ad copy), how they got there (organic, paid, referral), their language, and so on, you can gain insights into what it is that is discouraging them from interacting with your site.

Non-bounce Visits (default segment)
Similarly you have visitors who find your site engaging enough to move beyond the landing page. We should be taking interest in what they want and what they do in order to better serve their needs. Comparing their experience with visitors who bounced will also help you generate ideas for improving the site experience for those that bounced.

Visits with conversions (default segment)
These are visitors who hold value for your site and your business. They visit your site and perform the actions (e.g. make a purchase or subscribe to a newsletter) that you want them to perform. Understanding what makes them tick is important towards generating more conversions for your site.

Visits that dropped out of the funnel [link]
Just as it is important to know who is converting on your website, it is equally, if not more, important to know who started the conversion process but did not complete it. Understanding why these visitors dropped out of your funnels will help you determine the steps needed to optimise your funnel (a topic for a future blog post) in order to capture more conversions.

Brand keyword visits [link]; organic [link]; paid [link]
It's always satisfying when visitors come to you by searching for your brand name. They represent your audience who have an affinity for your brand. Ultimately these visitors exhibit different behaviour and purchase patterns when compared to visitors who come to you via generic search terms (see below). Understanding and leveraging these patterns, and further breaking them out into organic and paid traffic, will help you strike a deeper relationship with these visitors.

Non-brand keyword visits [link]; organic [link]; paid [link]
This segment is indicative of visitors who you haven't established strong brand awareness with. They discovered your website through generic category terms (eg "smart phones") rather than brand-specific keywords (eg "Nexus One"). It will make a difference to your business if you can establish brand awareness with these visitors and convert them to loyal customers.

Visitors from Country X [link]
If your site targets an international audience, it's always interesting to understand how visitors from a particular country interact with your content. What type of content do they have an affinity for? Which special offers and deals do they like? What content do they have difficulty understanding? Take this advanced segment and customise it to your needs. Copy and re-use it for as many countries as you would like to segment by.

First-time buy visits [link]
The holy grail for any e-commerce website is the ability to convert first-time visitors into buyers. While this advanced segment may only identify a small segment of your total visitors (if it identifies a large segment, then congratulations!), it's important to understand what motivated them to buy on their first visit. These lessons can then be applied to motivate new visitors to purchase in as few visits as possible.

Return visit buys [link]
If you aren't converting visitors to buyers on their first visit, then hopefully you are converting them on subsequent visits. Better understanding their behaviour will enable you to optimise your site's user experience so that these visitors are motivated to purchase sooner.


These are just a few ideas for custom advanced segments that can help you gain more value from your data. To take full advantage of them, copy them to your account by clicking on the links below, customise them to your needs, and start segmenting away!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Do you have custom segments that provide you with valuable insights? If so, please share them with us in the comments below, and we will feature the best ones in a future post.

23 comments:

Phil said...

Great post! Think you can be fairly sure there are quite a few lazy readers (a'hem) who appreciate the links provided here.

Hugh Gage said...

In find segmenting based on entry point / landing page is pretty handy. It's a nice way to get a more detailed understanding of visitor behaviour based on how they were greeted when they entered the site. Especially nice to look at in context of overall conversion.

phil said...

Great post Vinny, some really useful segments right here! I had a question relating to 'Vistors from country X' segmentation I hoped you may be able to answer - once the filter per country is activated in the dashboard will any event tracking also be segregated by that filter giving the events carried out per country?

Vinny said...

@Hugh - that's a great suggestion, and will certainly keep that in mind for our follow-up posts

@phil - yes, the country advanced segment will also segment event tracking information

Adrian P. said...

One of my favorite advanced segments comes in handy after some "offline" advertising has taken place. Here it is in a "formula":

([Direct Traffic + Branded Keywords] / Region Ads Ran) / Goal Conversions

Then, click to compare the weeks or month before the ad campaign. See if there's any lift for your conversion metric in the region where the offline advertising took place, and you have a decent idea of the campaign's effectiveness (or not).

Vinny said...

@Adrian P. - that's a great suggestion. Would you mind creating a sample segment and sharing the link here? Would love to feature it in a future post. Also, please email me your contact details to ga-sea@googlegroups.com

Michael Whitaker said...

Great list! I would add the segment "visitors who used site search."

Visitors who used site search

Why? Particularly for paid search campaigns I would like to send my visitors to the most relevant landing page. A high percentage of site search usage may suggest that visitors are not immediately finding the content they were looking for and hence using your internal site search.

Best,
Michael

Adrian P. said...

@Vinny - Glad you liked the segment! Here's the link:

http://www.google.com/analytics/reporting/add_segment?share=Q26JJCcBAAA.RD_MY1rbVaEf7ayaUJLvVElqvOufXb08XbNAoE00em5No2neBhlRoaecHGV50LTaeudWaml9-mbRaq4m16oXpQ.pSTsLsyByo9v2d-FHAAg_w

Please note you can add in multiple variations of your brand keywords by adding "or" statements. Also, our company's default location is New York, so that can be changed when adding the segment to your profile (you can also change the region to country, or even down to city depending upon your needs).

Thanks!

earnshavian said...

Excellent resource - thanks for sharing!

Deven Pravin Shah said...

Very informative post. Thanks for sharing these links.

I will start using this soon.

One Q - what are the ways for me to measure and track off-line marketing avenues? Do I get people to come to web site from those, and then track it?

Thanks,

-Deven

Casey Cheshire said...

First time buys was very helpful to analyze- thanks!

Tali said...

Hi there

Is it possible to segment by "authenticated user group"? I have 4 different groups of registered users (e.g. "sales agents", "vendors", "shop owners"). All have individual logins and use their account to access the public site to see secure pages, but each population obviously uses the site differently.

Can I segment by authenticated user group?

Thanks in advance,
Tali

Vinny said...

@Michael Whitaker - thanks for that invaluable segment! Analysing site search to help drive strategies around relevant landing pages is something that will certainly be valuable to marketers.

@Deven - one strategy is to drive offline traffic to unique/vanity URLs (eg www.mysite.com/nyt-offer). Then redirect the visitor to www.mysite.com/nyt-offer?utm_source=print&utm_medium=half-page&utm_campaign=New+York+Times+offer GA will then recognise these visitors as having originated from a print campaign in the New York Times. You can learn more about tagging your URLs at http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55518

@earnshavian @Casey - glad you found these of use!

@Tail - yes it's possible if you use custom variables - http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/gaTrackingCustomVariables.html You assign a custom variable (eg "user-type") to each user based on their user type (eg "sales-agent", "vendor", "shop-owner"). You can then refer to these custom variable values in your advanced segments.

Ciaran said...

Hi Vinny,

There's an error in the Non-Branded Search Keywords segment.

If you don't filter by the medium (like you're doing for the paid and organic segments), it will include traffic that comes in without a keyword.

So you example should be:

Keyword does not contain brandname
and
Keyword does not contain brand-mispelling
and
Keyword does not contain brand-variation
and
Medium matches exactly organic
or
Medium matches exactly cpc
or
Medium matches exactly ppc

Here's an updated segment for you:
http://bit.ly/bwnEnh

Cheers,
Ciaran

Anonymous said...

The brand keywords organic is error, you use "OR", you must use "AND".

Baby Bedding said...

Google analysis is the measuring rode of your work.

puppy chewing said...

I recently started using google analytics but I was confused with what things meant. Your description is much better than google's.

Learn to speak Spanish said...

The new method of google analytics is better, in my sense the old one not worse.I follow the old version.

Eye On You said...

Can anyone point out the reason why I cannot use the shared links. I click on link and it goes to login page. I log into an account. Nothing. I tried it on single account logins and on MCC accounts same thing no custom segments.

I logged in beforehand same thing now segments added.

Tried different segments.

Nope Nothing Nada.

LB said...

I tried this today too and they did not work. Bummer as these are exactly the segments I was looking for!

Luis Perez said...

Same here, links didn't work.

Anonymous said...

Any chance we could get these updated on both the blogpost and googledoc article?

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1011783?hl=en&ref_topic=1032940

Thanks!
-Tom

Jimmy Jarred said...

I am also using google analytics and its the right solution for my website. I can't think of switching to a different one because no other option offer accurate information like it provides.
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