How exactly to use (Advanced) Segments in Google Analytics

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
8 min read

10 methods to segment guests using Google Analytics

When I focus on E-commerce projects to recognize solutions to increase conversion I usually focus on a structured analysis of current effectiveness of customer journeys using Google Analytics to greatly help identify potential improvements to site page templates to check. Segments are powerful given that they assist you to isolate and compare different traffic sources, so in the screngrab below we’ve selected organic traffic to just learn how these visitors behave, for instance, which landing pages do they arrive on?

Note that to encourage usage of Advanced Segments, Google renamed them after some duration ago to ‘Segments’ to make them less scary and encourage adoption amongst GA users who don’t see themselves as advanced.

A key section of this approach would be to exceed the headline conversion rate and review conversion rates by referrer. To recognize improvements I take advantage of a structured method of segment visitors with different needs and characteristics and I present this here put on Google Analytics, although an identical approach pertains to other #measure services like  Adobe Analytics or Webtrends. You will get a sign of the variation in E-commerce conversions by channels with this particular compilation by Monetate.

But different traffic sources are simply one method to segment an analyst might use, therefore i thought it will be beneficial to show the people I commonly use throughout a project. Several are standard segments already obtainable in Google Analytics, nevertheless, you can make custom segments too. Do tell us other segments you utilize and if you need to use some prepared custom advanced segments, start to see the Solution Gallery from Google Analytics or the Custom Report Sharing Community that have many pre-prepared advanced segments.

What is really a Google Analytics Segment?

As with traditional customer segments in marketing, in Google Analytics, segments group visitors who share common characteristics. There are many characteristics of visitors which are collected automagically by Google Analytics, from information regarding their browsers and screen sizes to the websites that they result from and the forms of pages they view.

My ten recommended segments for Google Analytics

The ten segments for Google Analytics I would recommend using, in rough order of value to marketers, are:

  • 1. Segmentation by Referrer / Traffic source
  • 2. Segmentation by Visitor Type
  • 3. Segmentation by Location / Geography
  • 4. Segmentation by Content Viewed
  • 5. Segmentation by SQUEEZE PAGE Type
  • 6. Segmentation by Action taken
  • 7. Segmentation by Value
  • 8. Segmentation by Demographics.
  • 9. Segmentation by Engagement
  • 10. Segmentation by Technology platform

I’ve explained these in greater detail by the end of the article.

Using segments in Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides great home elevators audience segments, nonetheless it takes a different method of considering segments and you also have to know where you can look.  The area to look may be the Advanced Segments menu option in the very best Right of the reporting area. The examples above show the way the standard or default segments could be presented showing paid and non-paid search traffic.

As with traditional customer segments, in Google Analytics, segments group visitors who share common characteristics. There are various characteristics of visitors which are collected automagically by Google Analytics, from information regarding their browsers and screen sizes to the websites that they result from and the forms of pages they view.

How do I create segments in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics provides great info on customer segments, nonetheless it takes a different method of considering segments and you also have to know where you can look.  The area to look may be the Advanced Segments button in the very best Left of the reporting area which introduces the Advanced Segment selection box in the very best left of the post.

Why isn’t analytics segmentation used more regularly?

The best marketers put effort into understanding their customers’ behaviours, characteristics and needs, so initially, Google Analytics could be frustrating to utilize to greatly help marketing since there is not a clear report about customers. The closest we are able to get may be the visitors report, but these seem anonymous and undifferentiated.  Where may be the information regarding our different segments you ask?

I thought I’d share it with you here when i do with folks on my  classes since I discover that many marketers aren’t alert to, or aren’t using segments for web analysis sufficiently (and I counted myself in this category until a couple of years ago until I did so this interview on web segmentation with web analytics with fellow web analyst Hugh Gage).

In fact, I’d go so far as to state that…

If you’re using Google Analytics rather than using Segments, you may aswell not bother using Google Analytics apart from for trend reporting.

But I don’t blame the users, I believe that generally, all analytics systems don’t help users sufficiently by prompting them on the situations where they ought to apply segments. Hopefully to show this “on its head” with the digital marketing software service we’re developing at Smart Insights through intelligently incorporating segments in various management dashboards to greatly help. More with this in the months ahead!

There’s always a “light-bulb” moment when I explain the idea and show all of the choices for real-time segments which were available for after some duration now and Google evangelist Avinash Kaushik did a fantastic job to advertise the usage of segments – see this classic post introducing advanced segments.

I have grouped the segments into 10 categories and marked them into standard segments and custom segments. I’ll save establishing custom segments to some other setup.

My checklist  of 10 Key forms of segments to utilize to analysis in Google Analytics Reports

The easiest way to take into account many of these segments is really as behavioural segments instead of demographic segments, although as we’ll see, we are able to access demographic segments too.

But the issue is knowing which segments are most relevant. If you are not used to segments, this is actually the way we suggest you see your segments:

1. Segmentation by Referrer / Traffic source (offsite customer behaviour)

For example, should you have campaign tracking setup, you can view how these visitor types differ within their journeys through the website and the worthiness they generate:

  • Email campaigns and enewsletters
  • Social media sites (a custom segment of most social media sites or a person site like Facebook)
  • Affiliates
  • Display
  • Direct traffic
  • Search engine marketing

Since search is this type of major potential value contributor for some sites, it is important to break this down further:

  • Paid search (standard segment “Paid Search Traffic”)
  • Natural (standard segment “Non-paid Search Traffic) or I sometimes setup a segment for “Google SEO traffic” since that’s what counts most
  • Paid and natural brand and non-brand keyphrases (Requires custom segment including or excluding keywords that have variants of the brand).
  • Significant high volume phrases or terms including a signficant keyword

2. Segmentation by Visitor Type (customer engagement with brand)

For example, common visitor types to segment on are:

  • New visitor vs returning visitor
  • Non-registered vs registered visitor (requires usage of custom variables)
  • Non-customer vs customer (requires usage of custom variables)
  • Technology platform used, e.g. iPhone, Safari browser (see below)

3. Segmentation by Location / Geography (Visitor characteristic)

A company would want to observe how its performance varies in its main markets such as for example:

  • UK
  • US
  • FIGS
  • ROW

Creating a custom report is usually a better solution to show this breakdown.

4. Segmentation by Content Viewed (on-site customer behaviour)

Visitors who’ve seen a specific page type could be more prone to buy, or it is possible to understand related pages they view:

  • Key landing page
  • Product page
  • Checkout complete
  • Folders for large organization

5. Segmentation by WEBSITE LANDING PAGE Type (mix of off-site and on-site customer behaviour)

In Google Analytics, landing pages may also be referred to as entrance pages. For those who have lots of visitors arriving through landing pages, you can observe how they behave.

6. Segmentation by action taken.

These show which customers have completed conversion goals and bought products as shown the through the E-commerce. (on-site customer behaviour). That is much like segmentation by content viewed for the reason that it highlights specific behaviours.

  • Segmentation by conversion types

7. Segmentation by value.

This is really a more classic segmentation technique utilized by email and direct marketers, but everyone can see the advantage of identifying the foundation and customer journeys of one’s most effective customers.

You’ll only have the ability to do this in case you have setup Google Analytics to track value (see steps X and Y) for conversion goals and E-commerce. You’ll then develop a custom segment showing visits where in fact the value is above a particular value.

8. Segmentation by demographics.

Another segmentation approach marketers will undoubtedly be acquainted with, but I’ve left it to close to the end since it’s tricky to create. It requires one to use custom variables to record customers who’ve provided information regarding their characteristics such as for example:

  • Age, Sex, Gender for business-to-consumer
  • Business size, sector or person role type for business-to-user

You’ll only have the ability to do this perhaps you have have setup Google Analytics setting custom variables in the Google cookie whenever a visitor takes and action such as for example completing an application with profile information or much like segment type 6, browsing a category, performing a search or investing in a product (see steps X and Y).

Note that you can’t add the e-mail address or any unique customer identifier that is personally identifiable information into this cookie otherwise you’re breaking Google Analytics terms of service. Unless you wish to accomplish this, and you also shouldn’t, your only choice is by using another analytics systems…

9. Segmentation by Engagement,

For example, different degrees of customer engagement with the website include:

  • > 5 pages,
  • <3 pages
  • > 10 seconds
  • < 10 seconds

This enables you to filter out pretty much advanced segments. These could be setup as custom segments or using goals in the brand new (Oct 2009) Engagement segments and created as a custom segments.

10. Segmentation by Technology platform (visitor device characteristics)

  • Browser type and version
  • Screen resolution
  • Mobile platforms (for instance iPhone, Blackberry and Android models) can be found.

So there you own it; there certainly is not a shortage of options to segment. The most crucial ones will change by your organization, but we’ve put them in rough order worth focusing on and simple setup.

You can easily see I’m the sort of person who loves to cover all of the bases, but you will never do that without learning from others, so do i want to know for those who have other favoured segments to greatly help gain more value from the site. Alternatively, if you want to learn detail on how best to set up a specific segment tell us in the comments and we’ll then do another post explaining how.
How to utilize Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

The first approach to using segments in Google Analytics would be to compare performance of segments.

For each segment you apply in Google Analytics yet another row is put into your report that you can compare against performance for your site along with other segments.

Once you’ve applied the segment, voila!, after that you can review measures of volume, engagement and value generated and compare these to other segments or the website average to greatly help determine why some segments are performing much better than others.

As a good example of comparing performance, in cases like this, for Keyword 2 the natural search segment is slightly underperforming with regards to initial engagement with the website (as seen by bounce and time on site nerated contrary to the natural segment. Therefore the marketer would want to investigate why, for instance here the keyword takes visitors to the house page rather than tailored website landing page so engagement isn’t nearly as good. Looking also at the volumes, we are able to note that keyword 1 is driving plenty of paid search traffic, but relatively little natural traffic, so perhaps optimization with this term for non-paid will be worthwhile.

You may also see preference for particular forms of content or products for visitors with different characteristics that is incredibly useful. For instance, first-time visitors have a tendency to go to the “About Us” much more, so maybe we’re not performing a sufficient job of explaining our value proposition on the page or we have to focus on improving the “About Us” showing our appeal?

The other solution to use segments would be to decide on a single segment which in turn has the aftereffect of filtering out all the visits similarly to developing a new profile. For instance, you can decide on a single segment of New Visitors or Returning people to understand their behaviour. For returning visitors who return direct you can view which pages they’re most likely to reach on which they will have bookmarked indicating popular content for returning visitors.

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

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