Web analytics expert and Google's Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik once said, "All data in aggregate is crap," because insights aren't found when looking at large amounts of data, but rather through focusing on important segments.
Lucky for us, Google Analytics advanced segments received an extensive update back in July, and the new features can be used to create segments that highlight your best-performing inbound efforts. Let's start with a refresher about what has changed and then explore 10 Google Analytics advanced segments that reveal search and social ROI.
User Segmentation and Other New Segmentation Features
The interface for Google Analytics advanced segments isn't the only thing to be re-imagined. In fact, the very way segments are calculated changed. To illustrate what this means, let's go visual.
This graphic represents a visitor and her behavior on an imaginary website throughout three visits.
The smallest bars for our visitor represent data at the hit level, which occurs each time the Google Analytics scripts fire as a visitor navigates your website. Page views, events, goal completions, and other metrics are hit-level metrics.
The medium-sized bars represent data collected from the visitor that is at the session, or visit level. Metrics at this level include a landing page URL, campaign source, conversion rate and time on site. Google Analytics has traditionally segmented data up to this level, leaving us to report success solely based on the visits where conversion occurred.
The new Google Analytics advanced segments allow you to reveal visitor insights across multiple visits and tie the customer journey together. Visitor-level data includes lifetime value, campaign source of first visit, days to purchase, etc. – the type of metrics that allow you to look at multi-visit and multi-channel data and the cumulative effects of your marketing efforts. For the first time, we can see the complete journey of our visitors in Google Analytics.
The new multi-channel segmentation capabilities are best demonstrated by looking at some common scenarios in search and social media campaigns. Let's take a look at some advanced segments, sequences and cohorts made possible by the new framework.
10 Search & Social Google Analytics Advanced Segments
I polled the audience at SES Chicago during my presentation on Google Analytics advanced segments and asked how many people had noticed the new advanced segments features. A few people raised their hands.
I then asked attendees how many had seen the real-time reports. Everyone raised their hands. This is a shame considering real-time analytics is eye candy while segmentation can be business-changing.
Here are 10 Google Analytics advanced segments featuring user segmentation, sequence building, and cohorts, which will help you string together the value of organic search and social media strategies over the course of multiple visits.
1. Organic Search as the First Interaction
How is organic search contributing to the acquisition of new visitors to the top of the funnel?
This segment is handy when organic search isn't getting its fair share of credit in last-click reports. The first step toward better attribution is a conversation around which channels are driving value throughout the sales funnel, from the first visit to the last click.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/organic-1st
2. Organic Search as Any Interaction
Similar to the first segment, this one looks across all of your visitors and isolates those who have been to your site through an organic search visit at least once in their visit history.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/organic-any
3. Social Media as the First Interaction
This advanced segment helps illustrate social media's ability to acquire new visitors through content marketing, events and other community-related efforts by driving traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media websites.
This segment uses a little regex to bunch social media sources together. Use it as is or modify it yourself if you see a network that's missing.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/social-1st
4. Social Media as Any Interaction
This segment allows users to identify visitors who have started a visit on your website as a result of a social media network.
Get a better idea for how your community management efforts are paying off with social media as a whole, or save a copy of this segment for each social network to see where the core of your community plays the most.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/social-any
5. Blog as the First Interaction
More and more, a website's blog accounts for anywhere between 10 and 75 percent of the total traffic on a domain, depending on the level of engagement on the blog and other areas of the site.
This segment identifies visitors whose first interaction on the website began with a visit to your blog. This segment is set up to capture landing pages containing the word "blog," so feel free to change it accordingly if your blog has as different article navigation structure.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/blog-1st
6. People Who Have Converted on Your Website and Who Have Also Been to Your Blog
If you're building out a content marketing strategy on a website involving content at every phase of the sales funnel, this is the segment for you.
How many of the monthly converters on your website started at the top of the funnel and made it all the way down to a conversion activity? If this is a relatively large percentage of your converters, you're doing OK. If only 5-10 percent of people have seen your content marketing efforts, keep trying.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/blog-converters
7. Visitors Through Both Paid and Organic Search
This segment demonstrates the interplay between organic and paid search by only showing those visitors who have been to your website through both a paid and organic search visit.
Note: In this example, "Banner" is a medium assigned to all display ads for a site I manage. This segment groups together all pay-per-click search traffic and all search-based display into a paid search segment. You can do the same on your website by being aware of the paid search query parameters for your display advertising.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/both-searches
8. Ebook Downloads or Other Micro-Conversions
Sometimes you'll want to track things from one profile within another profile, such as tracking micro-conversions within your main ecommerce or lead generation profile. In cases like this, take the thank-you page URLs corresponding to all of your micro-conversions and put them into a regular expression when creating your new segment. You'll be able to see how many of your ebook/whitepaper downloads or other micro-conversions fare in the grand scheme of things.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/eBook-downloaders
9. Converters Where the First Interaction Was Organic Search
You probably know what your overall share of revenue is based on in your company's last-click attribution model. But what if you also knew how many people converted on your site where organic search was the first visit on your site?
Similar to the first segment in our series, this segment narrows traffic down to seeing visitors who were introduced to your website via organic search and then went on to convert in that or a subsequent visit.
Recreate this advanced segment: http://bit.ly/organic-1st-touch-conv
10. Conversion Cohorts
Last but not least is a series of four segments that let you cohort the experience of visitors who convert over the course of several visits.
The conversion cohorts segment series allows you to create a segment that shows all visitors with a conversion, converting visitors on their first visit, converting visitors on their second through third visit, and converting visitors in their fourth or greater visit.
It is amazing in this segment to see how the behavior of visitors changes as they make their way through your content strategy and website navigation.
Recreate this segment: http://bit.ly/conversion-cohorts
Segmentation is one of the most powerful tools we have in analytics, and user segmentation takes what we've been getting to an entirely new level.
What's your favorite new Google Analytics advanced segment that utilizes sequences, user data and/or cohorts? More importantly, what decisions have you been able to drive in your organization as a result of this segmentation?