Google Just Upped the Digital Analytics Ante, Yet Again

  |  September 16, 2013   |  Comments

A glimpse into the new and updated functionality of Google Analytics' Advanced Segments.

I have to admit, with all the amazing updates Google Analytics (GA) keeps pushing out, the past few years have felt a bit like the seven years of mobile, "This is the best analytics feature enhancement ever!" "No, this is!" No, this is!" - you get the point. But I have to say, after getting my hands dirty with the most recent updates to Advanced Segments in Google Analytics, this just introduced a whole new yard stick for all other digital analytics tools to be up against.

With the new segmentation functionality beginning to roll out to GA accounts, let's take a look into the Advanced sections of the updated Advanced Segments functionality, Conditions, and Sequences.

The Business Problem

Let's assume we have an analytics implementation where we utilize standard page level tracking and custom events for user interactions like video plays and button clicks. We want to look at users that progress through a certain flow on the site, such as visitors from paid search who landed on the home page or a specific landing page > interacted with a specific video on the page > visited the contact form > converted to a lead.

The Problem

Using legacy methods of advanced segment creation, this specific flow couldn't be defined. That's because the segmentation engine that was in place would look for all of these items, but in no particular order. Now on the other hand, you can define the segment path you want to analyze, and it can even be across multiple visits!

The Solution

In the new user interface (UI) for Advanced Segments, you click on the "+ Create New Segment" button in the top navigation.


This will display a new UI for creating Advanced Segments in GA. The top six sections in the left navigation are fairly close to what was in GA previously, so we won't cover this here. What we're interested in is the Advanced section, specifically "Conditions" and "Sequences."


From this view you'll create your new advanced segment. Similar to creating a goal funnel, you add in the different steps that identify a target set of users. But that's pretty much where the similarities stop. The three most impactful new abilities of the Advanced section are:

  1. Multi-dimension and metric identifiers. Not only can you analyze the outcomes of users with specific flows via the Sequence tab, you can now use practically all dimensions and metrics to segment by, not just URLs. This means you can now combine pages, events, transactions, revenue thresholds, etc.
  2. Directly sequential vs. indirectly sequential steps. Going back to our above scenario, what if users don't go straight from watching your video to the contact page? Not a problem. Marketers now have the availability to select whether the steps users take immediately follow one another exactly, or follow one another with optional steps in between, or a mixture of both.
  3. Single-session > multi-session identifiers. What's the long-term impact/value of certain blog entries? Previously, a user had to convert within the same session to make use of this type of analysis. Now, a user can visit the site, read a blog post and bounce, then come back later and sign up for the service you were writing about. With about five clicks in the Conditions tab, you can now see what content pieces convert which product or service offerings, which influence higher average value customers, etc.


So that's a pretty small glimpse into the amazingly powerful capabilities of the updates to Advanced Segments in Google Analytics. The granularity and specificity of segmentations is practically endless (I left out in the above section that all of these new features can be combined on top of each other and the standard advanced segmentation, creating something worthy of being dubbed "Inception 2").

So go forth; start using the tool and creating even more amazing segments than ever before. Get to know your customers better than ever before. Start creating more value than ever before. And don't wait, because you never know. Google just may come out with something even more amazing by the time you've mastered this gem.

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Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a Senior Analyst at Search Discovery. He is actively involved in industry organizations, such as the Analysis Exchange and the Digital Analytics Association.

With the Analysis Exchange, he helps non-profits capitalize on their website data, and educates aspiring digital analysts about the foundation of digital analytics, from the implementation of a digital analytics tool to performing analysis and making data-driven recommendations for organizations.

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