Why you should use Segments in Google Analytics
Looking at all of your Google Analytics data at once sucks like a sour lemon. If you don’t segment the data, you will never find the good, the bad, or the wonderful. Plus, we all know that customers take different journeys to, and on, your awesome website. So, it’s great to know how your marketing channels are performing, and how to find your best customers, as well as how to enhance channels and help those customers that are struggling.
Ideally, you’d want to use Google Analytics to find answers to your question like an easy-peel clementine, so let’s dive into what you can do with these little gems.
In particular, if you use the Advanced Segment options, Conditions and Sequences, you can really power up your work.
This post dives into those Advanced Segments.
If you want to learn more about what Segments are, we have a handy, free PDF explainer ‘How To Use Segments’.
Google Analytics reports are all built on the basis of Dimensions and Metrics. Segments are looking at your data set to find a match for the Dimensions and Metrics you want to focus on.
You can create user Segments on the following terms:
You can look at your data – and dive into people, places, ages and language.
Isolate users or sessions by device, so things like mobile/tablet/desktop. The browser they are using or the size of screen resolution.
This is all down to recency and frequency, so the number of sessions. The days since their last session, how many transactions they had.
Date of First Session
Create a Segment based on cohorts, that match a definition, for instance, the dates between their first and last visit to your website.
How do your users find you? Which campaigns, channels, mediums, sources, paid keywords etc.
Segment your users by their shopping actions. Revenue per user, the product they bought, the brand they purchased etc.
Advanced Segments: Conditions and Sequences
These options allow you to really build out and power up your work. This function gives you more flexibility, as you can layer Dimensions and Metrics, and mix things up. For example, you can create a Segment for Traffic Sources, but if you wanted to look at a Traffic source AND the page a user viewed you would need to use an Advanced Segment to do that.
They both work on the basis of you defining what the dimensions and metrics are; and you can opt to include or exclude dimensions and metrics. Then define what the conditions are, so which dimensions and metric values are we looking for, and then, if the next part of the Segment is to be included as an and/or.
Please note – And / Or statements behave differently. You are putting together two or more Dimensions and Metrics. You use AND to say that both conditions are required, the OR means that only one condition must be met.
Condition Based Segments
This is where you are building a set of conditions. You can pick what you want, provided that the dimension, metrics and their values actually exist in your data already. Segment your users and/or their sessions according to single or multiple-session conditions.
Sequence Based Segments
This gives you the same flexibility as Conditional Segments, the difference here is that you are segmenting your users and/or their sessions according to sequential conditions. Specific steps in a journey rather than conditional ones.
You do this by Filtering> Include or Exclude> Sessions or Users> then define the Sequence Start > Any User Interaction or First User Interaction. Then you put in your Dimensions or Metrics and assign a value for each step. That value uses basic math symbols (greater than, less than, etc) you also get the option to use And/Or statements to further qualify this.
You need to make sure that you select the correct type of Advanced segment as they behave a little differently overall.
Scope of Segments
We’ve talked about getting the scope of the segment correct, but the difference between a user based segment and session-based segment are equally – super important.
In your Condition and Sequence Segments, you can filter between Sessions and Users. As you might expect, this has an impact on your data, even more so when you are using the And / Or statements.
Let me explain.
If you create a Condition Segment that is Session based on Source = organic and, say for example Event = info pack downloaded and Event = Free resources sign up. This will only pull in an answer if these two criteria happened within the same session.
But what if the traffic from Organic doesn’t always assist in these events happening? You would need to swap this out to a User based segment.
Hold up, when we do this, look what happens to our data. Zero ? That can’t be right surely? There must be users that came from organic and downloaded content to fire our event tracking. What’s going on?
Well, if you change it to a User based in this Condition Segment, here’s the kink, it will only pull the data if the conditions happened within the same Hit.
That is down to the criteria box. This Segment works on what is in the box specifically.
So you need to change this by adding a new box (we will demo this in our Google Analytics Course).
Basically, if you want to see two conditions for a user based segment but not the same hit, then you have to split the box to capture the two respective criteria.
Now, to further emphasis the Sequences point. Here you can change the filter to have Session or User. But – for each of the steps, GA will look at each step as a single hit. This can be quite handy when you want to look back over a 90 day period (which is the limit for User Segments). When you build a session based sequence segment, it will give you the number of users too.
Found this post interesting?
We have a whole module on Segments in our Online Google Analytics Course.
You’ll work through all the types of Segments available to you, and understand the pros and cons of Segmentation in general, as well as some issues that come along with using it.
And, as no one likes a blank sheet of paper, we’ll walk through a process to work out the types of Segments you may want to consider for your business.
You know you want to have a look 👀