How To Benefit From Segments In Google Analytics

by John Rosato

What Are Google Analytics Segments?

Acting as a subset of your Google Analytics data, segments take a granular look at data to provide you with more in-depth and specific information – in this case, users, sessions, and hits.

  • Users: Actual people visiting your site.
    For e.g.: A person who is a returning user to your site.
  • Sessions: Interactions made by a single person (user) are grouped into sessions
    For e.g.: All sessions where a user made a purchase.
  • Hits: Interactions during a session.
    For e.g.: A purchase of $50 or more.

Segments Vs Filters

The key difference between segments and filters is that segments are considered to be at the “session” level of Google Analytics and filters at the “hit” level, which you can learn more about in Dorca’s post here.

  • Segments give you a broader set of data that you can use to further explore, without affecting any historical data.
  • Filters, on the other hand, are narrowed down to a specific date range and provide a more precise look at the data, which alters your historical data.

The Benefits of Using Segments

  • Using segments is a great way to drill-down our data and take a closer look at what caused a shift in an upward (or an unfavourably downward) direction.
  • Segments allow you to narrow down your reports to the most “important” users. This will obviously vary from business to business, as some organisations value a user that converts in a single session, some value a user that spends an “x” amount of time on a specific page on their site, and others value a user with completely other sets of variables.
  • Custom segments allow you to further narrow down an audience from a range of demographics, the technology used (mobile/desktop), behaviour, date of the first session, traffic sources and e-commerce.
  • Custom segments allow you to create a drill-down segment like the example below, specifying ‘Men Aged 25-34 in Melbourne’.

  • Through analytics, these segments can then be used to create re-marketing lists in Google AdWords. Here’s what Google has to say.

How To Use Segments

  • You can apply a maximum of four segments within one report.

  • In the example below, we have selected All Users, Made a Purchase, Mobile Traffic and Returning Users.

  • These segments are then compared side by side, allowing us to easily and comprehensively analyse and interpret this subset of data.

  • Segments can be applied to any report within Google Analytics. Following these steps will allow you to take a closer look at your data and make better-informed decisions regarding your business. Keep in mind that applying segments does not permanently alter your data the way filters do, so feel free to dig deep. For a further look at how to use segments refer to this Kissmetric's blog.

Most Commonly Used Segments

There are many frequently-used segments within Analytics – in fact, Google creates most of them for you!

These ‘System’ Segments include:

All Users: This is the set standard segment for Google Analytics. It includes all of your users across the entire account. It’s good to use this segment as a starting point before building the confidence to wade in and take a deeper look.

Converters: This segment shows you who has converted on your website or property. Basically, it counts anyone that has had one or more Goal Completions and/or Transactions. This segment is extremely useful for a business that has multiple goals set up as conversions – for example making a booking, signing up for a newsletter, enquiring about a product, making a phone call or making a purchase.

Non-Converters: Providing a complete reverse look to the above, this segment shows you who has not converted on your website or property. As you might guess, this counts every user who has fulfilled zero Goal Completions and/or Transactions. It’s great to use this segment to find out what percentage of your customers have not converted at all on your site, as well as digging a little deeper to gain a better understanding of what occurred during their user journey that may have influenced their decision not to convert.

Sessions with Conversions: Like the Conversions segment, Sessions with Conversions looks at anyone who has fulfilled one of more Goal Completions, minus the Transactions. This allows you to look specifically at customers who have completed goal conversions you’ve put in place – whether that’s filling in a form, making a booking, or sharing their user experience.

Sessions with Transactions: In the same way that you can view sessions with users who have only fulfilled your Goal Completions, you can also see users who have fulfilled one or more Transactions. In other words, it helps you discover who has made purchases on your site, which is a fantastic tool for e-commerce businesses in particular, who want to get a better understanding of the channels used to make a purchase, the demographics of their customers (age group or location), and the buyer journey users went on.

Bounced Sessions: This segment shows who has bounced (left the site after viewing only one page) on your website or property. Analytics counts any user who has a bounce metric equal to zero. It’s a great way for businesses to understand how many pages are being viewed by their audience in one standard session. You can also use this segment to compare bounce rate between landing pages to understand how engaging your content is and where it needs improving.

Non-Bounce Sessions: The opposite of the above, this segment shows you who has viewed more than one page in one session on your website or property. Businesses can use this segment to understand what percentage of their users have viewed more than a single landing page during a session as well as which pages they are using to do so. This information can then, in turn, be used to better understand what content is working and keeping your audience engaged.

Made a Purchase: Each user who makes one or more transactions through your website or property is counted in this segment. It is very useful for narrowing down your most ‘important’ users – i.e. converted customers – and understanding their purchasing behaviour. One of the ways you could use this segment would be to overlay it with the user’s demographics (age and location) or to look at what channels these conversions came from.

Returning Users: This segment counts any user that has visited your website within the past 2 years and then returned using the same device. It’s a great way of determining whether your returning users are converting higher than your new users, and then using the data to analyse the reasons behind it. For example, you can look into bounce rates and if they’re increasing, or ensure your content continues to be engaging.

New Users: This segment is designed to count any user that is visiting your website for the first time ever, the first time using a new device, or the first time in more than 2 years. You can use it to determine what portion of your audience are brand new visitors, which could, in turn, measure the effectiveness of new brand awareness marketing campaigns.

Paid Traffic: Here you can see any traffic that has come to your website or property through paid search results. You can use this segment to better understand the performance of paid search, compare it to organic search, and even better understand buyer behaviour for this segment by adding location or device into the mix to examine where your audience is located and if they are on a mobile, tablet or desktop when they saw your paid search results.

Organic Traffic: Conversely to paid search, this segment shows you any traffic that has come from organic search to your website or property. You can use this segment to take a closer look at specifically your organic search traffic, in order to better understand and track its performance over time. For example, you could view this segment to calculate historically how long it typically takes to start seeing results come through after SEO changes have been made.

Direct Traffic: Here you can see any traffic that has come from direct search on Google to your website or property, although often the majority of this segment shows traffic that hasn’t been tagged properly. This is due to the parameters around it, which is set up to count any traffic that has come through where the medium is recognised as “none”.

Search Traffic: Combining the Organic Search and Paid Search segments, this segment allows you to see the total traffic that has come to your website or property through search. It allows you to take a complete look at all of your search traffic through Google and can be useful to, for example, compare with traffic from emails or referrals to better understand how your business benefits from these various different channels.

Referral Traffic: This segment shows you any traffic that has come from referral channels to your website or property. For example, you may have an article posted on a third party site with a link through to your website – someone who finds and clicks this link will be counted in the Referral Traffic segment.

Mobile Traffic: People using their mobile device to visit your website or property will be counted in this segment. This allows you to see what portion of your audience is using a mobile device to view and/or convert on your website, providing valuable insight into your buyers’ behaviours. It also ensures you can better understand how people use your mobile site, and whether you need to make your website more mobile-friendly.

Tablet Traffic: Similar to Mobile Traffic, this segment shows you any traffic that has come from a tablet device to your website or property. It can be used in much of the same ways as the above segment, providing you with information on how much of your audience uses a tablet to view your website, and whether or not your website is properly optimised to support this platform.

Tablet and Desktop Traffic: Combining traffic from both tablet and desktop users, this segment gives you a broader view of what percentage of your audience use these devices to view and convert on your website. You can use this segment to better understand if your business needs to be more tablet/desktop friendly, and if your focus should be more skewed towards tablet/desktop users rather than mobile.

Mobile and Tablet Traffic: This segment shows – you guessed it – all of the traffic that has come from a mobile and tablet device to your website or property. It’s a great way to determine how much of your audience views your website on the go rather than from a desktop. It also allows you to understand whether you should focus more attention on creating a website that is better for mobile/tablet users rather than simply focussing on traditional desktop optimisation.

Single Session Users: Using this segment, you can see all traffic where a user has visited your website or property and had only one session (a new session is counted after 30 minutes of inactivity). This way, you can determine how your audience is using your site and what content is being viewed.

Multi-Session Users: This segment shows us any traffic where a user has visited your website or property and has had multiple sessions (a new session is counted after 30 minutes of inactivity). It’s also a great segment for seeing how your audience is using your site, albeit in a different way to those only visiting for a single session.

Performed Site Search: If you have a site search function on your website or property, this segment can be used to determine how many users have used it. Not only can you use the information from this segment to get a better look into user behaviour, but also see how well-designed your site’s navigation is. For example, if customers are continually performing site searches, it may be that they are not finding the information that they need easily through your site’s existing structure.

Segments We Use

High-Value Users: You can use this segment to view all of the users that have had a high number of conversions on our website or property. You can customise this segment to determine what that ‘high number’ of conversions is; setting parameters to show users that have purchased more than an “x” amount in one session or have had a high amount of goal completions depending on your definition of a high-value user. It’s great for taking a closer look at these “high-value” customers, to begin to get a better understanding of how they differ from other users and create plans to keep them converting.

Users by Age: You can use this segment to filter users visiting your website or property by their age. You can set up custom age groups – for example, 25-35 year-olds – to take a closer look at users within specific demographics and analyse their particular behaviours.

Users by Location: This segment can be used to view where users visiting your website or property are located. You can view it by continent, sub-continent, country, region and/or city. It allows you to gain an insight into where your most valuable users are located, as well as comparing different users based on their interactions with your site and subsequent location – i.e. how users from Melbourne view your site vs. users from the Gold Coast.

Here’s how Google suggests analysing data with segments.

Import From Gallery

If the segments offered through Google Analytics are not quite specific enough for you and you’re all out of ideas on how to look at your data from an alternate perspective, you should look into importing segments from Google’s shared library.

Have you tried any of the above segments? What are some segments that you like to use that give you the most useful data for your business?

Let us know your thoughts, or explore our website to find out more about the services we offer.