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Thanks for visiting GA Tip of the Day. Please see current posts on the Cardinal path blog.

Apply the Converters Segment to Focus on Success Factors

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The Converters segment includes users who have completed an Ecommerce transaction or a goal.

Google Analytics now provides the Converters advanced segment, which you can apply to your reports to view the pageviews, events, sources, and other characteristics that constitute successful visits.

More accurately, the Converters segment is defined with Users as scope, so it segments based on users who have converted or transacted during any session. If you instead want to segment only for the same sessions during which the conversion or transaction actually took place, you can copy the Converters segment and change the scope from Users to Sessions.

Similarly, if you want to focus only on Ecommerce transactions or the completion of a specific goal, you can define an advanced segment for users or sessions with goal 2 completions greater than 0, as an example.

In any case, segmentation in general is essential for gaining actionable insights from your reports. The Converters segment, or a similar segment that you create yourself, can specifically help you identify your success factors so you can adjust your Website navigation and marketing initiatives to generate more Ecommerce transactions and goal completions.

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Report Displaying Exactly How You Want It? Save It as a Shortcut

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Shorcuts preserve report settings.

If you’ve applied any special report settings that you want to easily access again, you can save a shortcut. In this way, shortcuts are somewhat akin to custom reports, in that they preserve specific report settings.

Shortcuts save the report as configured with any of the following features:

advanced segments

secondary dimension

• table filters, default and advanced

• table sorting by column

Comparison, Percentage, and other display types

One point to note is that shortcuts are not available under Share Assets in the view admin. Although it certainly would be useful to share shortcuts, advanced segments are created on a user-by-user basis, so the other GA users with whom you’d want to share the shortcut would not necessarily have all the necessary dependencies to recreate the shortcut configuration on their end.

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Device/Browser Inventory for Responsive Testing (Custom Report Template Provided)

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This custom report drills down from Device Category to Browser Version

Before rolling out a responsive or adaptive Website update to your users, it’s important to test the design changes on the same devices and browsers that your visitors are already using.

You can click the following link to import a basic device/browser custom report into one of your Google Analytics views:


If you are unable to source physical devices to test on, a fallback option is the device emulator built into Chrome or other available device emulators.

Note that in addition to the Users and Sessions metric, the custom report also includes Bounce Rate, just to demonstrate how current users are (and aren’t) interacting with your site across different devices and browsers.

In fact, if you have not yet incorporated any responsive/adaptive capabilities into your website, you could easily add metrics such as goal conversion rate and return visitors to the custom report to assess the need for a mobile strategy in terms of user counts and associated performance metrics. (Hint: the need is probably more urgent than you may think.)

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“Unique” Pageviews and Events Can Sound Like the Opposite of What They Mean

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Unique pageviews represent the number of sessions during which the page was viewed at least once.

In Google Analytics, unique events and unique pageviews almost mean the opposite of what they sound like.

The unique events metric doesn’t indicate the number of unique times that an event occurred, but instead the the number of sessions during which this event occurred at least one time. Same thing for unique pageviews: the number of sessions during which the page was viewed at least one time.

It seems like the idea behind these metrics is that sometimes the fact that someone saw a page or completed an event at least once during a visit/session is more important than the number of times that this happened.

For instance, a page gets page value or counts towards a goal funnel the same way whether it was viewed one time or ten times prior to a goal or transaction. Similarly, if you set up an advanced segment based on page or event, the number of times that the page was viewed or event was completed during a session (or across all sessions if you set you advanced segment to User scope) doesn’t matter, as long as this happened at least once.

When you see unique as part of a metric name, think in terms of sessions.

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Use the Landing Pages Report to Isolate Self-Referrals

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With Full Referrer as a secondary dimension, the Landing Pages report can identify cross-domain issues.

In a recent post, we identified missing tracking code and incorrect cross-domain setup as the two primary causes of self-referrals manifesting in the Referrals report within Google Analytics.

We can take advantage of the Landing Pages report to isolate both of these issues. Specifically, if we apply Full Referral as a secondary dimension, and also apply the built-in Referral Traffic advanced segment just to temporarily hide other traffic mediums, you can see specifically where the breakdown is occurring.

• If the landing page and full referrer are on the same domain, the referring page is probably missing the Google Analytics tracking code. Easy fix: include the tracking code.

• If the landing page and full referrer are on different domains (main site and checkout site, as an example), you have probably not configured cross-domain tracking correctly. We’ll examine cross-domain setup in an upcoming post.

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Main Causes of Self-Referrals: Missing Tracking Code and Incorrect Cross-Domain Setup

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The occurrence of your own website in the referrals report usually indicates missing tracking code or incorrect cross-domain setup.

It’s normal to see a few occurrences of your own website in your Referrals report. If a visitor waits more than 30 minutes between two page accesses on your site, the second pageview will count as new session, with medium as referral and source as your own domain.

If, however, the Referrals report shows a significant number of self-referrals, you’re probably dealing with either of the two issues below:

• One or more pages on your site are missing the Google Analyitcs tracking code.

• You are using the same tracking code on more than one domain and have not correctly cross-domain tracking (for a shopping cart that resides on a separate domain, as one example).

In upcoming posts, we’ll use the Landing Pages report to isolate both of these issues, and we’ll walk through correct setup for cross-domain tracking.

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Timeout Is 30 Minutes for Sessions But Only 5 for Real-Time Active User Count

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The Active Users count goes back five minutes.

A user drops out of the Active Users count in the Real-Time Overview report after five minutes of inactivity.

This calculation can be somewhat surprising, since a Google Analytics session terminates after 30 minutes of inactivity.

In either case, each hit that a visitor sends back to Google Analytics refreshes the visitor’s active status for another full five minutes and the session for another 30. Similarly, the expiration of the _ga cookie, which identifies a unique user, is refreshed for two years with each hit, and the campaign timeout is refreshed for six months. (You can override the default user and campaign timeouts in the property admin, but you’re probably fine to stick with the two-year and six-month defaults for most implementations.)

More about campaign timeout in an upcoming post.

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Video Play with Event Eliminates Bounce for the Session

A visitor begins a session on your home page, plays a video, and leaves. Does Google Analytics count that session as a bounce?

If you have used the default YouTube embed, the session will still count as a bounce. This is because Google Analytics records a visitor interaction only when it generates a hit.

If you have instead attached a Google Analytics event to a YouTube Player API embed, a video play will eliminate a bounce, since it will send a hit to the Google Analytics servers.

The same is true for a PDF download that you’re tracking as a virtual pageview, a Tweet link that you’re tracking as a social interaction, or a tracked Ecommerce transaction – all types of hits avoid a bounce for the session.

As a note, you can define an event as non-interaction. For instance, if a video begins automatically after 15 seconds on a page, you could still capture the video play as an event but opt to set the non-interaction parameter to true so that the video play in itself would not eliminate the bounce. For most events that you capture, however, a default interaction event is suitable.

In any case, it’s important to record all significant user interactions as some form of hit so your bounce rate and your overall Google Analytics data more accurately reflect user engagement.

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Abandonment Rate Is a Useful Metric, So Define Your Goals with Funnels

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Abandonment is calculated only for goals with funnels.

Everyone understands funnels, and everyone understands abandonment.

Since a significant part of our role as analytics is to communicate data – to others in our organization, to clients, and to ourselves – in a way that is clear and meaningful, we should define funnels on top of our Destination goals so Google Analytics can fully populate the user-friendly Funnel Visualization and Goal Flow reports and also calculate the emotionally resonant Abandonment Rate metric.

The more visual and emotional we can make our data, the more effectively we can demonstrate the need for, and the benefits of, optimization of key user interactions on our websites.

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Email Dashboards Monthly to Remind Colleagues, Managers, and Clients about Analytics

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Apart from the specific data points, emailed dashboards can be valuable as basic reminders.

Apart from the virtually endless combination of metrics and filters that you can configure into your dashboards, emailed dashboards can serve the very basic purpose of reminding executives, managers, colleagues, and clients that Google Analytics data is being collected and is available for further analysis at any time.

If your dashboard includes the most relevant metrics for your recipients, it is likely that they will periodically ask you to drill down into the data in ways that you, as the analyst, may not have thought of on your own. In short, they can help you ask the right questions for achieving actionable insights.

You can also email individual reports, but the inherent advantage of the dashboard is the variety of metrics it can present.

In any case, make sure to use the email feature in Google Analytics to keep your stakeholders engaged so they can help you focus your analysis on meaningful outcomes.

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