Segementing Reports In Google Analytics to Gain Valuable Insights

Patrick McKenzie writes software that allows you to make bingo cards and often blogs about programming and business on his MicroISV on a Shoestring site.

He’s recently published The IE CSS Bug Which Cost Me A Month’s Salary and in it details a problem in which users in MS Internet Explorer 6 & 7 were not seeing the “Sign Up” button. Although they can still press enter to submit the form most users had a pretty hard time converting.

As you read the article you’ll see Patrick makes use of custom segments and can instantly see how different browser versions converted.

Using custom segments (a power-user feature from Google Analytics that I’ve literally never had any useful purpose for before), I’ve graphed the conversion rates among IE8 users (orange line), IE6/7 users (green line), and the site average (blue line).

Conversion Segmentation by Browser

As you can see, IE6/7 and IE8 are pretty much neck and neck in the month before the bug is introduced. This makes sense, as we would not intuitively assume those two user populations would be very different from each other. You can also see that they both track the site average reasonably well, which is practically true by definition as IE users make up the majority of visitors on my site (about 65%, give or take).

Then, after the bug gets introduced, the conversion rates for IE6/7 take a nosedive relative to IE8.

Creating custom segments is pretty easy, and as you will see from Patrick’s experience can provide actionable insights which is one of the main goals of real analytics study. After all what’s the point of knowing the data unless there is something you can learn and do from it?

To create a custom segment look to the left hand navigation and spot the “Advanced Segments” link. Click it and then select “Create new custom segment”.

Enter the Dimensions > Systems > Browser into the “Dimension or Metric” and enter a value. Normally Google Analytics will update the drop down so you can select a browser such as Internet Explorer from there.

Click the ‘Add “and” statement’ and now drag the Browser Version into the “Dimension or Metric” area, this time add the value you want to track, for instance, 8.0 for Internet Explorer 8. Name and save the segment something sensible.

Repeat that for every browser you want to segment.

Now your reports will have a custom segment available, if you visit your e-commerce reports you can easily see how that section of visitors compares to others. If you run the report e-commerce reports every week or so and segment the data you’ll be in a position to learn how different users interact with your site.

Try segmenting for different bandwidths, perhaps your pages are too slow for non ADSL visitors, or conversely don’t contain enough imagery for visitors with high speed internet access.

Watch the device types and see how mobile users compare to “normal” computers. With segmentation the insights you can gain from your visitors is only limited by your imagination.

2 thoughts on “Segementing Reports In Google Analytics to Gain Valuable Insights

  1. Many thanks for your comment Gab. Another interesting segment is by time on site. Normally one would assume that the longer spent on site, the more the visitor would convert but in several cases I’ve found that not to be the case at all.

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