Create Custom Alerts for 10% Weekly Variation in Visits and Conversion Rate

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You can set up daily, weekly, and monthly Custom Intelligence Alerts for your key metrics.

Many Web analysts evaluate their data on a monthly basis, but 30 days is too long an interval for monitoring key metrics.

In Google Analytics, you can set up daily or weekly Custom Intelligence Alerts for visits, conversion rate, and any other critical performance indicators. (You can also set up monthly alerts, but that is not our current focus.)

With filters and advanced segments, you can apply your alerts to very specific portions of your audience.

Remember: you do not receive email alerts for the automatic, built-in daily, weekly, or monthly Intelligence Events. To receive emails, you must set up your own custom alerts.

As a related post, see Set Up an Error Page Alert.

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12 Google Analytics Resolutions for 2013

 

1) Set up goals for all form submissions.

Goals aren’t retroactive, so make sure to set them up for all form submissions as early as possible in your Google Analytics implementation. Without conversions, there are no conversion rates.

 

2) Learn the ins and outs of funnels.

Once you have a goal, it’s very useful in many instances to build a funnel on top of it so Google Analytics can calculate metrics such as Abandonment Rate, but to use funnels most effectively, you should understand a few of their idiosyncrasies and limitations.

 

3) Don’t ignore Page Value.

The unassuming and underused Page Value metric (formerly $index) is indispensable in determining which pages are pulling their weight towards goal conversions and e-commerce transactions. (For this reason, make sure to assign values even to non-monetized goals, in a separate profile if you don’t want to skew actual e-commerce and goal monetization.)

 

4) Tag all inbound links with campaign parameters.

How effective is your monthly email newsletter at driving visits and conversions? How about your press releases? There’s no excuse to be in the dark on these basic questions – tag those links!

 

5) Track PDFs views and external links with Virtual Pageviews or Events.

It’s easy to forget that views of PDFs (and most other document formats) and clickthroughs to external sites are not captured with the default, pageview-based Google Analytics Tracking Code. Virtual Pageviews and Events provide an easy solution.

 

6) Avoid the built-in “Non-paid Search Traffic” Advanced Segment.

Lumping branded organic traffic and non-branded organic traffic is, for most purposes, a very bad thing. Define your own non-branded organic Advanced Segment. (And define other Advanced Segments of your own as well – better segmentation generates better insights.)

 

7) Track different social actions differently.

A Facebook Like that originates from your website can mean two very different things. Understand how social actions differ and track them appropriately.

 

8) Keep a chronology with Annotations.

When did the new home page go live? When was our company mentioned in the Wall Street Journal? You can’t make correlations between your Web data and relevant events if you don’t remember when those events happened. Maintain a comprehensive timeline with the convenient Google Analytics Annotations feature.

 

9) Incorporate qualitative evaluations into your conversion optimization plan.

An in-person or online user test can quickly reveal a conversion pitfall that could otherwise lurk in your Google Analytics reports indefinitely.

 

10) Run Content Experiments regularly.

Nothing like a head-to-head contest to tell you quite definitively what works better for conversions. If you haven’t yet run a Content Experiment or used a third-party A/B testing tool, start now.

 

11) Establish core KPIs (key performance indicators), and check them at least monthly.

As Brian Clifton says, Web analytics is like going to the gym: if you don’t do it regularly enough, you’re not going to be satisfied with the results. Consistent scrutiny of meaningful KPIs will lead to useful and actionable insights across the board.

 

12) Use Those Same KPIs for Daily or Weekly Custom Email Alerts

Don’t wait unnecessarily to find out that visits or conversions have dropped by 20%. Take advantage of Custom Intelligence Events to actively monitor your essential metrics and receive email alerts for substantial deviations.

 

Best wishes for a customer-focused, data-driven, conversion-optimizing new year!

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You Don’t Receive Email Alerts for Built-in Intelligence Events

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Intelligence Events can be useful, but you have to remember to check them yourself.

Intelligence Events are sometimes referred to as Intelligence “Alerts”. “Alert” is somewhat more applicable to the custom Intelligence Events that you configure yourself and for which you can set up email or text notifications (latter available in the U.S. only).

For the daily, weekly, and monthly Intelligence Events that Google Analytics generates automatically, no actual alert notifications are sent; you must remember to check these yourself.

Using its own criteria, Google Analytics classifies automatic Intelligence Events by importance. Within the specific Daily, Weekly, and Monthly alert reports, you can set the sensitivity threshold for each of these reporting periods, such that a lower sensitivity setting displays Intelligence Alerts only of higher importance and vice versa.

If the Intelligence Events reports are bogged down with too much extraneous information, it may indeed make sense to lower the sensitivity for the reporting periods. Certain events, such as a daily spike in bounce rate, require more immediate investigation than others, so you won’t want to lose these among events that aren’t important enough to act on.

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Set Up an Error Page Alert

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You can configure a custom alert to trigger each time you error page is viewed.

How will you find out that something has broken on your website? Wait for a customer complaint or stumble upon a conversion dropoff weeks later?

Expanding on the previous discussion regarding custom email alerts, today we’ll configure a custom alert that can proactively notify you of error and page-not-found pageviews.

Setting up your error alert involves a few main steps:

  1. First and foremost, make sure that your Web server is using your own error and page-not-found pages and that these pages contain the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) as all other pages on your site. Your Web server’s default error and page-not-found pages (sometimes referred to as “500″ or “404″ pages based on their associated server response codes) do not contain the GATC.
  2. Set up a Destination URL goal – let’s call it “Error Page Viewed” – based on your error or page-not-found page.
  3. Assign a goal value of 1. Since you cannot set up a custom alert based on goal count, we’ll use goal value as a proxy in the next step.
  4. Set up a Custom Intelligence Alert to trigger when the value of the Error Page Viewed goal goes higher than 0.

Whenever you receive error alerts going forward, you can review your error or page-not-found page in the Navigation Summary to quickly isolate and fix the issue and thereby limit damage that could have otherwise gone undetected indefinitely.

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Set Up Custom Email Alerts

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With custom alerts, you can receive email notifications for critical changes that you specify.

Google Analytics automatically generates daily, weekly, and monthly Intelligence Alerts based on changes in activity for various audience segments.

While these alerts can be very helpful in identifying trends or anomalies that you may not have otherwise noticed, they do present certain drawbacks:

  • The number of less relevant alerts may overwhelm those that you really need to be aware of. For instance, a 50% weekly increase in the bounce rate for one of your pay-per-click landing pages might be hidden among alerts such as conversion rate decrease for visitors from a specific geographic area, which may not be as important or actionable.
  • For automatic alerts – again, alerts that you have not yourself set up – you can’t receive email notifications. You can view these alerts only in the Intelligence Alerts reports within Google Analytics.

If, on the other hand, you configure your own custom alerts, you can focus more precisely on the metrics and audience segments that are for you the most crucial, and you can also configure email notifications to be sent to yourself and others each time the alerts are triggered. (Within the United States, you can also configure text notifications.)

In an upcoming post, we’ll examine special uses of custom alerts based on goals.

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