At the end of last month, I wrote “Google Analytics – The Basics” because conversion rate optimisation and your website’s analytics should go hand-in-hand. I don’t think you can really begin to work on improving your website’s conversion rate without understanding your users, and the wealth of data in Google Analytics in terms of user behaviour is such a strong starting point, you’d be crazy to ignore it.

That being said, Google Analytics can be a pretty daunting place if you’re not familiar with it. While the standard reports are a good place to start, we’re looking at all website data, which isn’t as useful as drilling down into specific user groups, or types of users. So here we go: Time for some Advanced Segment action.

Getting started with Advanced Segments

When you login to Google Analytics, you’ll see the ‘All Sessions’ segment selected by default.

GA Advanced Segments - locate segments

Click that segment to open up a world of ready-made segments:

GA Advanced Segments - system segmentsNow, let’s say you want to break down your user data and just look at users on mobile. Deselect “All Sessions”, scroll down and tick “Mobile Traffic”, then hit “Apply”:

GA Advanced Segments - mobile users

You’re now looking at the user data for just mobile users.

You can improve the accuracy of this report by ‘asking’ Google not to minimise the processing time, and instead increase the precision of the report. Do so by using the sudoku-esque icon in the corner:

GA Advanced Segments - improve accuracy

Custom Segments in Google Analytics

Import a Custom Segment

If you’re looking for further segments outside of those already available in the segment list, click “Import from gallery” and take a look at segments created by other Google Analytics users, and members of the Google Analytics team.

GA Advanced Segments - import from gallery

Create a new Custom Segment

To create your very own Custom Segment, hit that big red button in the top left corner of your segment options drop down, and then start building:

GA Advanced Segments - new segment

You can use Demographics to segment your users by age, gender, language, etc if you’ve enabled Advertising Features. Technology will allow you to segment users by OS, browser and device, Behaviour allows users to be segmented by number of visits, days since last visit, and visit duration, and Date of First Visits lets you, well, segment users according to when they first visited your site. Traffic Sources is great if you’re using campaigns to drive traffic to your site, as you can segment according to the UTM parameter tags you used in your urls.

The Advanced options include Conditions, which mean you can add 20 and/or filters (If you’ve got more than 20 filters, you’re going to need to start your RegEx education):

GA Advanced Segments - custom segment

and Sequences, which will segment users based on a series of conditions:

GA Advanced Segments - custom segment 2

Once you’re happy, and you’ve named your segment, you can save it, and edit it any time:

GA Advanced Segments - edit segment

You’ll see there’s also an option to share your segment with another user. Note that this will only share the conditions of the segment, not your website’s data.

Successful Segments

This is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reporting in Google Analytics, but the ability drill down into the data means you can learn even more about your users than if you were just sifting through top level data. It can be insightful and also very useful to create your own custom segments, which are different for everyone based on the purpose of their website, but the ability to import and share segments means that those less comfortable with doing so can take advantage of the knowledge of others who’ve been using it for yonks.