Advanced segmentation is a new feature in Google Analytics that lets you segment all data in a profile. Why is this important? We now have an incredibly powerful segmentation tool that we can use to identify which segments of our traffic are performing and which are not. This leads to more analysis on the under performing segments and (hopefully) increased site performance.
In the old days (i.e. last week) we needed to use filters and duplicate profiles to segment data. This approach worked, but it was a lot of work and had many pitfalls.
Feel like segmenting by time on site? No problem. How about average order value? We can do that two. Remember my post about segmenting time on site in Google Analytics? This technique is now dead. Rest in peace.
By the way, advanced segments are RETROACTIVE! This means that there is no need to reprocess historical data in Google Analytics. Well, there is no reason unless you mess up the implementation. You’re still out of luck if you do that.
For those of you that don’t feel like reading, here’s a quick video tour of advanced segments.
Creating an advanced segment is pretty easy. Google added a cool interface where you drag and drop dimensions and metrics you want to use in your segment.
Dimensions are the attributes of site visitors or the visits that they create. Think keyword, campaign, medium, new vs returning, etc. Metrics are basic counts of things that occur on the website. Think pageviews, visits, revenue, transactions, etc.
The concept here is that you choose a dimension or metric that you want to segment by, specify a value for that dimension or metric, and then create a relationship between the two.
Let’s start with an example. Let’s create an advanced segment to view all visits that last at least 10 seconds. Why? Because those people are leaving aweful fast and I want to understand why.
We start by choosing the Time on Site metric and dragging it to the correct location. HINT: If you don’t know whether you’re looking for a metric or dimension try the search!
Once we place our metric we specify a condition that it must meet and a value. In this case we want the time on site metric to be ‘greater than’ 10 seconds.
I want to call your attention to the Value field. This is no simple text field. This is a dynamic field that updates with all potential values while you type. The interface is reaching back into the data to show you which values have been collected for the metric or dimension used in the segment. Pretty slick, huh?
If we really wanted to get sophisticated we could add more dimensions and metrics to our advanced segment. Say we wanted to see all segments longer than 10 seconds from Google paid search. No problem, we can add ‘and’ and ‘or’ logic to link mulitple dimensions and metrics. Then we just keep dragging and dropping dimensions and metrics into the interface and adding values and conditions for each.
Once we’ve created our segment we can apply it to a profile. Once applied all the data in the profile will be segmented. Again, this includes historical data as well!
All Advanced Segments can be accessed via the Advanced Segment button in the top right corner of the screen. Click the button and you’ll see a nice big drop down with all your defined segments.
Advanced Segment area grouped in two categories: default segments (created by google) and custom segments (created by you). Notice how you choose a segment using a check box? This means that you can display multiple segments at the same time.
After you apply your segments the reporting interface will update and all reports will be segmented based on your criteria. We’ll see the results in a number of locations.
First, notice that the data over time chart will update to include all of the segments that you chose. (Note that you can only display 4 segments in the data over time graph even if you choose more than 4 segments).
Now you can trend multiple segments of traffic on one graph. This is really great for visualizing how multiple campaigns, mediums or geographic segments perform over time. How cool is that!
When you create an advanced segment it is tied to your specific user name. This means that you can use your advanced segment in all accounts and profiles that you have access to, which is pretty cool. Think of your advanced segments as a library that you can apply to different sets of data.
I’ll be writing a lot more about Advanced Segments in the future, especially some really cool segments that help analysis. But this should be enough to get you going. :)