Advanced Segments Apply to Emailed Dashboards and Reports

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Advanced segments remain applied in dashboards and reports emailed as attachments.

You do not have to sacrifice any advanced segments, whether built-in or your own, when you email dashboards and other reports as attachments.

If you have an advanced segment such as “Google Organic Nonbranded” applied to a report and email that report as a PDF attachment, the advanced segment remains applied, as the PDF indicates.

For other file formats, such as CSV, the advanced segment does remain applied even though the output data may not be labeled to indicate this.

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Dashboard Widget Filter and Advanced Segment Based on Same Page Value Operate Differently

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A dashboard widget filter operates differently from an advanced segment based on the same page value.

A Page filter applied to a Google Analytics dashboard has the expected effect: it includes or excludes pages that match the specified criteria.

This is not a problem in itself, but it’s important to be aware that an advanced segment based on the same page value would not have the same effect.

For instance, an advanced segment based on “logged-in.php” would include all pages viewed during the same visit as logged-in.php, whereas a widget filter would include only that page itself.

Each of these two options has its advantages and disadvanges, but it’s important overall to remember that they have very different effects on your data display.

For a related post, see Use Advanced Segments Instead of Dashboard Widget Filters Based on Page.

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Use Advanced Segments Instead of Dashboard Widget Filters Based on Page

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A Page filter in a dashboard widget and an advanced filter based on Page do not do have the same effect.

Google Analytics recently announced nine interface changes. Many of these are primarily cosmetic, impacting navigation and layout, but at least one change is a very significant enhancement for reporting: the availability of advanced segments in dashboards.

Up till now, if you wanted to emulate advanced segments capabilities in a dashboard, you had to apply filters to individual widgets. Apart from the inconvenience and the maintenance overhead, at least one type of widget filter – the Page filter – worked quite differently from its very useful advanced segment counterpart.

For some strange reason, a Page filter in a dashboard widget worked basically like a Landing Page filter, and not, as you would expect, like an advanced segment based on Page.

With the welcome addition of advanced segments in dashboards, you can now avoid the Page filter within individual widgets. If you still opt instead to apply filters to individual widgets, you should probably steer clear of the widget-level Page filter nonetheless.

One small caveat: PDFs generated from the dashboard do seem to correctly reflect any advanced segments that you have applied while viewing the dashboard, but the name of the active advanced segments(s) do not appear in the PDF. As a workaround, you may want to include the segment name in the subject line (for email) or filename (for direct PDF export).

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Create a “Welcome-Back” Page and Campaign for Customer Emails

If you send newsletters or other types of emails to existing customers (or prospects), you should:


  • include a link back to your site
  • tag that link with campaign parameters so resulting traffic is not counted as direct
  • consider pointing to a specialized welcome-back page instead of the home page


Regarding the last point, your return customers may respond better to specialized recognition on a dedicated welcome-back page than to the messaging presented to all other visitors. If you can A/B test your email campaigns, try sending only half of your emails with a link pointing to the welcome-back page (and containing separate campaign parameters) so you can compare conversions and other metrics against visitors pointed to the general home page.


For visitors to the welcome-back page, you might be tempted to skip the campaign parameters and just create an advanced segment as needed later on, but remember that this segment would only apply if the welcome-back page were viewed during the visit; it would not apply to any direct visits that occurred subsequently and bypassed the welcome-back page.


With campaign parameters, on the other hand, Google Analytics will continue to attribute subsequent direct visits to the welcome-back campaign, as long as visitors don’t delete cookies from their browsers and don’t return from another source, such as an organic search result, that overrides the campaign.


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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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Non-bounce Visits Advanced Segment Isolates Hidden Conversion Problems

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The Non-bounce Visits segment can help to isolate more subtle conversion problems.

Google Analytics recently included Non-bounce Visits in the pool of built-in Advanced Segments. This segment is useful, but in a somewhat subtle way.

Virtually every website experiences some level of bounce. No matter how carefully you have crafted your unique value proposition and positioned your call to action, there will always be a certain number of visitors who lie outside your target audience but still find their way to your site. This portion of visitors is more likely to bounce.

For this reason, it can be useful to evaluate metrics such as Conversion Rate specifically for the Non-bounce Visits segment. With this segment applied, you can track conversion patterns for traffic that was at least engaged enough to view a second page on your site. In this way, you may be able to uncover conversion issues that would be more obscured with the All Visits segment.

Keep in mind that discussions of Bounce Rate generally do not apply in the same way to blogs, since blog visitors can be fully engaged without ever leaving the home page.

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“Page” Segment: Very Useful, Easily Misunderstood

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An Advanced Segment based on Page value is not limited to pages that match that value.

When you define an Advanced Segment using a specific value for the Page dimension, that segment includes not only pages that match that dimension value, but also all pages viewed during the same visit as pages that match that dimension value.

Using a membership website as an example, if everyone who logged was redirected to /login.php, you could use that as the Page value for the Advanced Segment and thereby view all visitor activity before, including, and after /login.php pageviews.

You could similarly define Advanced Segments based on one of your goal pages to analyze overall activity on your site for visitors respectively do and do not complete the goal.

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