For those of you that don't know, Google Analytics' Segments feature allows you to break your data down to a certain section of traffic so you can get a better understanding of how they behave.
Like most features in Google Analytics however, Segments can at times be hit or miss. Some segments will be immensely useful, while others offer little value.
While each website will have a unique set of segments that can help provide insight, here are some of the most universally useful.
Some segments will be immensely useful, while others offer little value.
Every website will have some kind of goal: to get people to read content, to make a purchase, to get in touch, etc. Google Analytics' Goals feature allows you to keep track of how many of your visitors complete these tasks, and it's of course important for you to understand how these converters behave.
Google Analytics comes with a pre-built segment for all of your goal completions, but if you want to narrow it down, just click on Custom with the following parameters:
Similarly, if you use ecommerce to track purchases, you can limit your data to particular products, higher vs. lower revenue etc.
Once the segment is set up and active, you're probably wondering why it's so useful to look at. An easy place to immediately start getting some insight is under 'Overview':
Here you'll get an immediate look at how people who convert may behave differently to your other visitors. For instance:
Always remember the context around your users' behaviour. For example, is a longer session time for converters normal? If it seems too long, it may be that they're struggling to find the information they need. If a checkout process is involved, maybe it's a confusing process that's putting off potential converters.
Another report to consider is the All Pages report. Take a look at the page your conversions are taking place on (e.g. a Thank you page, or an Order Confirmation page).
If time is high for these pages then perhaps users are not getting stuck where you think they are. Instead, they may be keeping the final page open longer, rather than getting lost somewhere in your process.
Finally, it's worth looking at your user flow report. Without segments, this report likely provides little insight for you, but once you limit the data going into it, it can start to give you lots of useful information. It'll now tell you where your converters are starting their journey and what path they tend to take. For instance, are your users starting at the home page with a saved basket? This could justify giving your remarketing efforts a boost.
Another Segments feature that I will admit I'm slightly late to the party for is Sequences. A reservation I always had is that people could take so many different routes to convert, surely limiting it to one would give a skewed perspective?
However, one sequence that's definitely worth checking is when someone adds a product to their basket, but does not complete your goal of a purchase. For Webcredible training course purchases, the segment looks like the below:
A key insight you can get from this (besides the obvious of where people are abandoning their cart), is where people go instead of completing the expected journey.
For instance, for Webcredible training courses, we found that people often abandoned the training pages to take a look at our case studies pages. It tells us that it may be worth providing evidence of our expertise on projects on our training pages, so we can give all the information required to convince people to buy our courses.
For those of you using Adwords, you'll no doubt want to get as much information as possible on which of your ads is performing best. There are multiple ways to define 'best' of course:
Some of these provide clearer information for decision-making than others, but all of them are worth knowing as you continually optimise your Adwords spending.
Everyone likes to look at bounce rates, and use them to help guide decisions, but what about looking at the amount of time users spend on your site?
It's worth knowing whether your users are spending a long time on your site, as it may serve as an indication that they're lost looking for something, or (hopefully!) because you have very engaging content that keeps them interested. Given the base stat of dwell time can't tell you whether someone is engaged, lost, or just browsing, it's worth analysing your data by segmenting it to just those who spend a long time on your site.
It's likely that lost users will look at many pages in one session, while those who are more engaged will spend more time on fewer pages. If you're finding the former, it's worth reassessing how you structure your site and content. If you're finding the latter is more prevalent, it's time to produce more content to support what's already engaging users.
Of course, these are just a few segments among many potential ones that can help you get more insight into how users are engaging with your site. If you use any others that are helpful, do share them with us!
Mark teaches our Google Analytics courses.