Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation

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).


Click to Enlarge.

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. :)

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    Comments

    1. Balaji says

      Great introduction to GA’s advanced segmentation, Justin. While I am glad to know that advanced segments created are tied to the user name so it can be applied to other profiles, it would be very helpful if GA can also allow to share advanced segments between GA user names within an account. May be it is an enhancement request to GA.

    2. says

      Balaji,

      Those are great ideas. There has been much discussion among some friends re: how to give other GA users access to segments. Opinions range from a segment manager, similar to the filter manager, to some type of social network for sharing advanced segments.

      Thanks for sharing,

      Justin

    3. Bob says

      How do you remove All Visits from segments – it is masking the actual data I would like to see ie the number of visits to two separate URLs.

    4. Bob says

      Thanks, Justin but if you add two or more custom segments the All Visits check box is checked and disabled so you can’t remove it.

    5. says

      It seems to be one of the best feature of GA, but when can we see it live?
      BTW, I’ve been waiting for segmentation for a long time. Great job and congrats to GA team on this.

    6. says

      Hello,

      First of all, congrats for the website!

      I have been trying for a while but I dont manage to do it.

      I want to see my visits and other statistics by time of the day but also filtering it by country. So for the visits from Spain I can see the statistics by time of the day, also from other countrires.

      How do you do that? I have tried with segments and dimensions but no way…

      Thanks

    7. says

      Any idea if there is a way to segment by number of visits? I want a report only containing keywords with at least 10 visits, but as the segments are applied to visits themselves this doesn’t seem possible.

    8. Pablo says

      Hi Justin,
      I began to use this feature recently and i`ve created segments for one of my accounts and when i select another account those segments also appear. I’d like the segments to appear only in the account they belong to. is there any way to achieve this?
      Thanks for posting and your help for using GA.
      Regards
      Pablo

    9. says

      Hi Antonio,

      You can create segments based on time of day and country. You’ll need to create a segment that looks at country and time of day.

      The first dimension will be country. Set a value for that dimension that equates to the country you want to look at.

      The second dimension will be hour of day. The value for that dimension should match the hour you want to analyze. Remember, GA records hour of day based on a 24 hour clock.

      Another way to do it is to simplify your segment. Just create a segment based on hour of day and then use the country report to evaluate performance.

      The one thing to remember about Advanced Segmentation is that it gives you the opportunity to slice the data in many different ways.

      Hope that helps,

      Justin

    10. says

      Matt,

      Try using “Count of Visits” dimension along with a medium specific to the type of keywords you want to see (organic vs paid). I think that this will show you which keywords were responsible for the Xth visit by the visitor.

      Pablo,

      Unfortunately segments are tied to your Google Account. So if you have access to multiple accounts then ALL of your segments will be visible in all of your GA accounts.

      Thanks for the comments and I hope that helps!

      Justin

    11. Think ux says

      Hi Justin,

      There is one thing im not clear about with this advanced segmentation thing…

      We run an internet radio station,
      and we wanted to segment out top strip (18:00) so we can tell how many returning users do we get on it over time.

      So i figured to segment Hour of the day with Exact match and the Value 18:00, and than check the trend for returning visitors.

      So far so good.

      But when i do this segmentation and go to the visits report, and than view it by hour i see weird stuff.
      The line shows Visits BEFORE and include 18:00 but nothing after. Wasn’t i supposed to see only 18:00 visits???

    12. says

      Think ux,

      Great question, and I’m not 100% sure. My guess is that, because advanced segmentation is visit level segmentation, it’s taking all visits that started before the selected time and then persisted into the selected time.

      Really interesting question,

      Thanks,

      Justin

    13. Thinkux says

      Hi Justin,
      Apparently it seems that this is the answer:
      The visits reported are the ones *ended* at the time specified in the segment (my case 18:00)
      but the graphs are reporting those visits based on their starting time (just like page dimension includes all traffic to the visit which touched the page)

      If you set the logic this way, it works:

      Hour of the day: (Condition) Greater than or equal to > (Value) 18:00

      AND

      Hour of the day: (Condition) Less than > (Value) 19:00

      Than it works…

    14. says

      Hi Justin,

      I recently attended your seminar in NYC and you suggested using segments as a way to view combined statistics for separate-but-related content areas of our site. (Our site includes sections for two hospitals — I’d like to see combined statistics for “maternity” content at both hospitals, for example.)

      However, when I view the report for my segment, it’s including top-level pages (such as the homepage) that shouldn’t be there based on my segment criteria. Do you know what might be causing this? Not sure if this is enough info for you to provide an answer, sorry…

      • says

        Hi Elaine,

        I vaguely remember our discussion :) If I remember correctly you’re using Advanced Custom segments. These are visit level segments and therefore include all of the data from a visitor’s visit. So if they traverse different sections of the site you’ll see data from all of those sections.

        If you need to really segment, and only see what happens in the separate sections I would recommend a new feature called Custom Variables today. It was just announced today, so there’s not much documentation, but this seems like a logical way to go.

        Thanks for the comment,

        Justin

    15. says

      Thanks for this article! I am studying for my second Adwords exam (Reporting & Analysis Advanced Exam) and needed to learn more about Google Analytics features. I found your post very informative and the video you made was of superior quality. Articles such as this one make the daunting task of studying actually enjoyable.

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    1. [...] Advanced Segmentation: Advanced segmentation is a new feature in Google Analytics that lets you segment all data in a profile. […] 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. [...]

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