Google Analytics can do some really cool things right out of the box. When compared to other stats and analytics packages out there, it has a significant amount of functionality built in that is generally fairly easy for even the most novice user to access.
One of the most commonly underutilise functions of Google Analytics is Segments. They have the power to break down our large (or small) datasets into meaningful chunks to understand user behaviour. An advanced segment is, essentially, a definition of a group of users. Out of the box, your GA account will come with a number of segments based on traffic sources, bounce rates, user type (new vs returning) and device type.
Of the default segments, device and user type are likely to be the most interesting views for you. Examining user behaviors (what content they look at) depending on the device used will help you understand the user’s experience and identify places to start improving your site. Google also includes a ‘converters’ user segment which is interesting, however it’s practically is limited as you’re likely to have a number of conversion events setup for your account that don’t make sense to be viewed in aggregate.
To start making use of segments, select two definitions, view them side by side, and starting asking and answering questions about your users, like:
- How does the behavior of search visitors differ from those arriving directly at your site?
- Similar, what do returning users do that new visitors don’t?
To really make use of segments, you need to create some custom definitions that match you’re own business or site. There are always two that I recommend out of the box:
- Users who have completed a specific action (ie. Lead/Sale etc)
- Users who have viewed a high value page (ie Contact us or Checkout)
To configure a segment for users completing a specific Goal, start by selecting a ‘New Segment’ and navigate to the Advanced tab. I principally use a ‘user’ level definition rather than a segment level definition as I’m more interested in their overall journey than an individual interaction. In this case I’ve named my segment ‘Users Completed Registration’ which is a defined by any user who has completed Goal 1 at least once:
You can make your definitions as complex as you like, down to people browsing and purchasing specific productions or as broad as ‘did not bounce’. The types of segments you define will be driven by your business, the questions you’d like to answer and time amount of time you have to start analysing your data.
After defining your segments, the world is your oyster, for outcome oriented analysis, start with Acquisition or Behavioural reporting. For content viewer based reporting (ie who viewed by bio/about us page) start with the Audience and Acquisition reporting.
Advanced segments don’t need to be scary, just start by defining the questions you want your data to answer and then develop a description of your users.