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One of the most important changes ever made to Google Analytics?

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 29 Aug, 2013
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Google rolls out a major update to Advanced Segments

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Timing: Originally announced July 16th 2013, rolled out end August 2013

Recommended link: Google Analytics announcement on new Advanced segmentation feature

I've updated this post as a reminder that this feature is now live in Google Analytics accounts. I haven't seen an official announcement on the GA Blog, but I am now seeing this feature in my analytics at the top of relevant reports:

New segments

A couple of points I've noticed now it's live are:

1. It's not actually labelled "Advanced Segments" with a button unlike the original. Instead you see a slightly intriguing circle next to a drop down - not sure that's the best usability decision.

2. By default you get to see all your standard and custom advanced segments together, for example, we have two based on a custom dimension in Universal Analytics for Basic and Expert members. You can filter standard, custom and starred, so the grid seems more efficient.

Commentary on the new segmentation feature

I’ve long been a fan of using Advanced Segments in Google Analytics since if you’re not using them, then you’re only reviewing the average visitor and it’s similar to marketing without targeting different customer segments.

In 2010 I wrote a guide I have recently updated showing 10 key types of Advanced Segments to use to encourage more use of Advanced Segments since I found that the majority of marketers on Analytics workshops weren’t using them. We also show how to apply segments to identify quick wins to improve a site in our 7 Steps Guide to Google Analytics. To stress how useful they are,  I say in the post:

“If you use Google Analytics and you’re not using Advanced Segments, you’re not really using Google Analytics”.

So, as a fan of Advanced Segments it was good to hear about this major new update to Advanced Segments which makes it easier to use segments.

It features a major update to the UI as shown below, but you won’t see this for a month or two - it’s being rolled out gradually.


But this isn’t the major change… We now have:

  1. User segmentation. In addition to the original visit-based segments you can group users by behaviour across several visits within a date range, for example, users who visit, buy or subscribe within a period (cohort analysis).
  2. Sequence segmentation. Users who perform actions across multiple site visits.
  3. Segment templates. To make it easier to create segments, 6 types of templates are provided as a starting point ‘Demographics’, ‘Technology’, ‘Behavior’, ‘Data of First Visit’, ‘Traffic Sources’ and ‘E-commerce’ for you to start with.

So, lot’s of tools to help you get closer to customers and optimise customer journeys to increase sales! If you want to find out more about the new segment model in advance of the rollout, watch this video or read this Google Analytics Segmentation post by Justin Cutroni who describes this as…

“One of the most important changes ever made to Google Analytics”.

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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