One thing that I like about Google Analytics custom reports is the ability to actually do analysis with this feature. Sure, custom reports is a great way to change how data is displayed (for the annoying manager that only wants to see visits), but the reporting framework also offers a great way to do quicker, relevant analysis. This is done through the segmentation feature.
One challenge that many people face when trying to use custom reports for analysis is determining what data relationships they should create in order to do segmentation.
An easy way to get started is to consider what you have control over. I like to segment by advertising parameters that I can change, like time of day. Why? I can make immediate improvements based on the data in these reports. Let’s take a look.
Google Analytics Custom Reports
You’ve all probably seen the custom reports interface. You can drag metrics and dimensions to create your own report. The columns are different metrics (counts, ratios, etc) and the rows are dimensions, which are the attributes of our visitors and the visits they create.
We can also create a drill down functionality by nesting multiple dimensions in the interface.
Creating the Report
Getting back to our example, let’s segment marketing campaigns by the time of day. Remember, I can run my ads at different times during the day using almost all online advertising tools. Nothing new here, this is called day parting.
Here are the settings for the custom report. Nothing crazy, just a column for visits and a column for conversion rate (in this case a conversion is a sale).
So this custom report will show all our campaigns and if I click on a campaign we’ll see data for the selected campaign at all hours of the day:
Here we can see the traffic and conversion rate for our chosen campaign at different hours of the day. 6.25% conversion rate at 16:00, not bad! [Website conversion rate is 2.1%]
Now check out this data:
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like paying for traffic that does not convert. Here we can see that traffic sucks from 02:00 – 06:00. We may want to curb our spending at these hours and move the spend to a different part of the day.
[I know, some of the traffic may be 'upper funnel' traffic that is just starting the buying process. But we could easily modify this report to drill down to the individual keywords driving to make that determination.]
I could also create a different visualization that starts with the medium/source dimension, then shows the hour of day, and finally campaign name. This report would be useful if we wanted to look ‘across’ all paid traffic, regardless of campaign, but still retain the ability to drill down to the campaign level.
So here we have some really actionable info. If you’re looking to save some money you may want to see how well your time-based advertising performing at different times of the day.
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