Using Google Analytics Segmentation for Effective Web Traffic Analysis
Do you want more revenue from your website? Use advanced Google Analytics segmentation to optimize and improve your web traffic.
Why do you really use an analytics application for your website? It identifies improvement opportunities, measures performance, and boosts revenue of your digital properties, such as your website and apps.
A marketer who doesn’t evaluate the data and improve campaign performance based on that is a blind man shooting in the dark.
Say, you have an ecommerce website for young women’s clothing, shipping to the Eastern US states. You should already have a customer profile developed, like the following:
- Location: East Coast of the United States (New
York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc.)
- Age: 21 – 40
- Sex: Female
- Occupation: Doesn’t matter
Now, with this customer profile, you launch your website and aim for the best results.
But how do you know that you are reaching your target audience and they are buying your products?
Most professionals and businesses implement a web analytics platform such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics or Facebook Analytics to track the visitors. Some use even session recording tools.
Google Analytics is the leading tool used by 39,898,129 websites. And the user base of GA is diverse, across business, art & entertainment, people & society, and ecommerce.
However, most marketers stick with the basic page view data. They don’t take advantage of advanced reporting features of Google Analytics that will give insightful decisions and strategies for their brands.
Let’s see how to take advantage of “segmentation,” a powerful feature of Google Analytics.
- For full benefits of Google Analytics’s segmentation features, you should enable Advertising Features.
- Ecommerce websites should enable Enhanced Ecommerce as well.
Let’s take the ecommerce site example above. You can use segmentation to find out whether your target audience is visiting your website.
The following image shows a segmented report that contains women aged between 21 to 40 from the eastern states of the US.
This report clearly shows that the site is not effective in reaching its target market. More than 98% of the visitors don’t belong to the target demographic.
Clearly, some local search optimization is required to improve its ranking on those locations.
Do you understand now why we use Google Analytics segments?
It tells you exactly how your website performs for several different segments of users. You can segment your traffic data based on many factors as shown in Table 1f.1.
Segmentation brings exceptional specificity and granularity to your data. It allows you to learn whether your website is reaching the right audience and performing well.
Let’s learn how to create your first segment.
Segmentation is available on any report on Google Analytics. Once you create a new segment or apply an existing one, all other reports will automatically display the segmented data, until you clear the segment.
Open a report, like the “Audience Overview.” At the top of the report, you will find “All Users,” which is the default segment. You can create a new segment using the “Add Segment” option.
By default, when you click “Add Segment,” GA shows all the existing segments. At the top, you will see the “+New Segment” button, using which you can come up with an entirely new segment to visualize your data.
Click the button and configure your segment based on various parameters shown in the Table 1f.1.
Check out the image below that shows how a sample segment is set up.
I have highlighted the key aspects of the segmentation feature.
You need to give a name for your segment and select the various parameters.
The number of options you select is highlighted next to each option as you can see.
Also, Google Analytics updates the number and percentage of users that fall into the segment in real time.
You can see the segment definition below the summary.
After finishing the segmentation, you can preview it by clicking the “Preview” button.
Once you click “Save,” the segment will be added to your segment library. You can call this segment from any Google Analytics report.
Why do you use segments? They give you important visualizations and insights on your data that you can never get from regular reports. Here are the reasons why smart marketers use segments.
As a marketer, you have a clear understanding of your customer. You probably already created your customer profile. Now, you need to see whether this target demographic is visiting your website.
Create a segment that narrows down to your target market and see how many of your visitors qualify. If it’s too small as in the ecommerce example above, you need to do some promotional activities to reach your potential audience.
Are you planning an expansion to other potential locations? For instance, nearby states? Create a list of all potential locations you are planning to expand to and create a segment based on that.
Look at the traffic data from that segment, and it will give you an idea of whether you are justified to expand to those locations.
To add multiple locations, you can use the advanced “OR” condition.
After you create the segment, go to the city-wise location report with the segment turned on and you can see which cities most of your segmented visitors are from.
From that you will have a clear idea of which cities you can expand to. In this example: Nashville, Louisville, Columbus, etc.
After you develop your website, you must test it thoroughly. Typical website testing involves the following.
How do you ensure that your website is doing well across all these areas and all kinds of devices? It’s not easy for you to test on all devices, even with a device emulator such as BrowserStack.
This is where segmentation comes in.
First, open your Audience -> Technology reports to find the top browsers, OSes, screen resolutions, screen colors, etc., of your traffic.
You can identify any anomaly here itself. For instance, what if your Safari traffic from iPhone 6 shows unusually low average session duration?
Take the information from this report and create your segment. Here is my Mac Safari segment, for instance.
Now, take this segment to another report, such as the Behavior -> Site Speed -> Page Timings.
It will allow you to easily spot some site issues, such as the one highlighted above. The Safari visitors from Mac find the website twice slower than the average.
Now you know that there is some issue with your website that makes it slow for Safari on Mac.
A normal browser test would not identify such an anomaly.
Similarly, you can create segments across several devices and test them on all the reports on Google Analytics.
Ecommerce websites should turn on Enhanced Ecommerce tracking feature of Google Analytics. It allows you to track your ecommerce website with deeper granularity and gather information on impressions and clicks, shopping cart additions, checkouts, transactions, receiving funds, etc.
You can create specific segments of your ecommerce customers and see who are the most loyal.
In the segmentation form, select the “Enhanced Ecommerce” option to set up the segment.
You can segment based on high revenues. Another way is by the number of purchases. A high number on either case represents a loyal customer.
Here are some other segment definitions you can create for identifying loyal visitors for all kinds of websites:
- Count of sessions > 3
- Page depth > 2
- Conversions > 1
- Transactions > 1 (completed purchases)
As you saw in Table 1f.1, Google places people based on their interests in three category sets.
Affinity Category: People in this category have shown lukewarm interest in certain products and services. They are high up in the sales funnel—the perfect audience for awareness campaigns. To convert them, you’ll have to put in more time and effort. Remarketing campaigns can be the next step here.
In-Market Segment: Unlike the Affinity Category, In-Market Segments constitute visitors who are actively searching for specific products and services. These are people at the lower end of the purchase funnel, readier to take the action.
When Google is unable to classify certain visitors to the other two categories, it posts them in the “Other Category” section.
If your target audience is in any of these categories, create a segment based on that and check reports with that segment turned on.
As mentioned earlier, you can have multiple categories selected with the “OR” or “AND” operators.
Take this segment to other GA reports to study how your visitors with specific interests perform on your website.
At the “Traffic Sources” section, you can create a segment to analyze the performance of traffic from specific marketing campaigns.
In the “Campaign” box, put the name of the Google Ads campaign that you want to analyze. Moreover, any custom campaign that you have tagged with the “utm_campaign” parameter can be selected here.
In addition, media, sources, and keywords can be selected in the segment.
- The various “Media” include organic, referral, CPC, CPM, or affiliate.
- “Source” is the domain from which the traffic originates. For instance, if you want to analyze only the traffic generated from YouTube, select the source “youtube.com.”
- The “Keyword” option allows you to add any keyword that your visitor might have used to come to your site.
Oftentimes, it’s essential for you to analyze the search queries of your visitors. Long-tail search queries give a lot of information about what your visitors are seeking. They are highly specific visitors who are on your site for a reason.
To identify such visitors, you need to create a segment that checks for long-tail search queries, usually 4 words or more.
In order to create a segment like that, you may need a little bit of knowledge on regular expressions.
Create an advanced segment with the following regular expression matching the “Keyword” dimension.
This regex matches for search queries with 3 spaces or more in them—4 or more words.
Take this segment to the “All Pages” report to see which pages appeared for long-tail search queries.
You can use a Google Analytics filter to fight referral spam. Another easy way is creating an advanced segment that excludes traffic from spammy domains, as shown below.
This is an advanced condition segment that includes sessions to your hostname (domain name) and excludes sources which correspond to known referral spam.
Do you have goals set up on your account? Do you track ecommerce transactions and the value of each? You can use a special Google Analytics report known as the “User Explorer” (Audience -> User Explorer) to track the path of a conversion.
First, create a segment to isolate users who have purchased from you.
The only parameter for real customers is a non-zero revenue.
The above image shows the real customers sorted by revenue. There are customers who were converted in one or two sessions and those who needed more than 10 sessions.
Click on each client ID to study how they interacted with the website and which paths led to conversions.
The above user visited the website for three consecutive days. First day, he had 23 ecommerce events, 14 normal events, 2 goals, and 38 page views (no revenue). Second day, he had one page view in a session. On the third day, he had 26 ecommerce events, 17 normal events, 4 goal conversions, 29 page views, and accounted for a revenue of $2,063.45.
You can expand each session and see which pages he visited and what actions he took. This is an amazing way to understand a converting visitor.
Social media is a key aspect of search engine optimization and organic ranking today.
You need to keep analyzing your social media visits to ensure your social campaigns are effective.
To do this, create an advanced segment with the “Source” Dimension pointing to the base URL of the social media sites you want to track.
When you type the URL of the network, Google Analytics will show you the options you can select.
Take this segment to other important reports, such as page views, behavior, etc., to study how effectively the social visitors perform on your site. You will get valuable insights into which network to target and which network needs your attention.
Besides the basic segments across demographics, technology, behavior, traffic sources and ecommerce, you have Advanced Conditions and Sequences to get more from your segments.
Conditions are used to include or exclude users or sessions that conform to specific conditions.
For instance, you want to exclude all users who came from Russia. Here is how you create that segment.
Under Advanced Conditions, select “Users” and “Exclude.” In the Dimension selector, select the Dimension “Country,” and put “Russia” in the field.
As shown in the example, you can use the OR operator to add additional conditions. Here, I am excluding users from Russia or Ukraine.
If you use the AND operator, people who have visited from both Russia and Ukraine will be excluded.
This can be a little confusing to some people. Let me explain.
Imagine a user visited your site from Russia. The same user then traveled to Ukraine and visited the site from the same system and browser. In such case, Google Analytics would identify the visitor as coming from both Russia and Ukraine. Under the above segment, it will exclude such users.
As another example, if you exclude visitors who use Android AND Firefox browser, then everyone who uses Firefox from an Android device will be excluded. Android users who use another browser and Firefox users from other operating systems will not be excluded.
If you use the OR operator, every Android user (despite the browser) and every Firefox user (despite the OS) will be excluded.
Using the “+Add Filter” button, you can add additional filters.
Advanced Sequences feature is useful when you want to segment based on the users’ sequential actions.
For instance, imagine you want to track a sales funnel in which a user visits the home page, then the sales page, and then the checkout page. This can be quickly created with an Advanced Sequences segment.
The above example shows a funnel in a site in which a user visits the home page, then the store page, and then does a checkout confirmation.
The “is followed by” operator signifies that an action follows the one above it, immediately or two hits later. “Is immediately followed by” signifies that the action must follow immediately after the one above.
With Advanced Sequences, you can quickly visualize various funnels in your site. As per the above example, you can see that 0.41% of users have gone through the funnel we defined.
If you want to generate critical insights into your traffic, you must use advanced features of Google Analytics, such as the segments.
Here are a few more things to note about segments.
Unlike Google Analytics filters, segments do not alter your data. Note that you can add only four segments in a report at a time. When you create a segment, it identifies only the qualifying traffic within the mentioned time frame. Also, note that the reporting time frame for user-based segments is up to 90 days.