Creating Custom Segments

In my latest post, I explored Google Analytics’ new custom segment tool and provided details on ways to compare segments and access libraries of pre-built segments. While important, these recommendations barely scratched the surface of the capabilities of the tool. There are a number of other ways to segment your data, using the new segments.

Two additional uses for the tool include creating your own custom segment based on standard dimensions and creating a custom segment using unique conditions or happy holidayssequences. These methods can be somewhat complex. Below, I walk through both, using a holiday themed campaign example. It is the most wonderful time of the year, after all.

Let’s get started!

Create Your Own Segment

The ability to create your own unique segments is a powerful element of the new custom segment structure. If you choose “Create New Segment” you are directed to an interface that enables basic and advanced segmentation.create new segment

The basic options provide filtering on Demographics, Technology, Behavior, Date of First Visit, and Traffic Sources. Each of these options can be used to gain insight into the behavior of your unique visitor types. For the purposes of getting started, I’ll provide an example and demonstrate how to create a new “Traffic Sources” segment.

It’s holiday time and if you are in business, it is likely that you are preparing to initiate a holiday campaign (if you haven’t already). Using the Traffic Sources segmentation you can find out how your campaign performs. Provided that you are using UTM parameters, we can go into the “Traffic Sources” section and build a “Holiday” segment.

For my example, I am going to filter on users instead of visits. This filter allows me to see the full picture of individual users versus the results of all visits. “Users” are more interesting because I’m looking to understand how unique visitors, associated with the holiday campaign interacted with my site.

This is what my configuration looks like:

traffic sources segment

Now, once I save, I can apply this segment to standard and custom reports to see the behavior and performance of all users associated with my Holiday campaign. I suggest playing around with and testing different filters to see what you find. Use the “Preview” and “Test” options to make sure you are filtering on the correct terms.

If you are seeking more specific filters, you’ll want to use the “Advanced” options to…

Target Specific Behaviors, Demographics, and Sources

Within the Advanced section, there are “Conditions” and “Sequences” options.

Conditions allow segmentation of your users and/or their visits according to single or multi-visit conditions.

google analytics conditions segment

In the example above, I chose to set the conditions for my segment as users, on a tablet, who came to my site through the “Holiday” campaign.

I can now filter standard or custom reports using this segment to see which keywords are performing well for my “holiday” paid search campaign or the highest performing display, email, or social sources tagged with the “holiday” campaign tag and see how these visitors, on a tablet, perform.

Now, if you want to create a segment of visitors that performs a very specific set of tasks in a defined order, use the Sequences option.

Sequences, segment your users and/or their visits according to sequential conditions.

The sequences segmentation enables an analyst to look at the dimensions of visitors who follow a defined set of conditions. For instance, I want to look at the behaviors, most visited pages, and demographics of visitors coming from Google who are engaged (visited more than three pages on my site.) Here is how I configure a segment to get the data I’m looking for.

engaged organic

When creating a sequence segment, you have the option to determine if you would like to filter by Users or Visits. In this example, I chose Users, just like I did in the Conditions example.

An additional option in Sequences that isn’t offered in Conditions is the filter for “Sequence Start.” You can choose to configure the segment based on “any user interaction” or “first user interaction.” For this example, I chose “first user interaction.” I then defined the sequence as Users from Google who visited more than three pages.

With this new segment, I can find out a number of things, such as:

  • which pages perform the best for my engaged organic first time visitors
  • view the behavior flow
  • explore how keywords perform for this segment
  • find out the devices these engaged visitors are using
  • and more…

Another example of a valuable way to use a Sequences segment is to look at the outcomes of users who follow a very specific series of steps. Sequences allow you to combine dimensions such as pages, events, transactions, revenue, etc. to analyze very niche user groups.

The new segment tool is powerful, with a lot of opportunity. There are a number of different uses depending on your conversion goals, types of customers, and marketing strategies. Over the next few weeks, I will provide examples of ways to build and use different segments in your standard web site analysis.