Dig Deeper into your Data with Advanced Segments

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I love Google Analytics. I love that you’re able to easily dig deep into data to discover hidden secrets about your website that might not be obvious with the basic reports in GA. In order to do this deeper analysis, you’ve got to use advanced segments. It can be scary at first for the average GA user, but once you start using them you discover how powerful they can be and the greater insights you can get from your data.

Recently, we performed a deep dive (aka some advanced reporting) for a client to try to uncover some of these hidden secrets about their website. We wanted to find out if certain features available to users was helping or hurting the sites performance. We could see that people were using these features, but needed to dig deeper to see how that usage affected goal completions and behavior.

Let me set the scene:

This client sells B2B (offline) and B2C (online). The goal of the website is to provide information about their products and also generate sales. For our deep dive, we looked at many data points, but for this post I want to focus on only two:


So to look at both of these, I had to set up advanced segments for visits including blog views and visits with no blog view.

Here’s a look at how those advanced segments looked:

Visits including Blog View

Visits with no blog view

Notice the only difference is one says “include” and the other “exclude”. Now let’s look at the data.

Look at the parts I highlighted. We see from a high level that visits with NO blog view have much better behavior. Sessions have lower bounce rate, more pages per session and higher session duration. Not only that, these visits’ goal conversion rate was 2.5x better.

So now you’re probably asking yourself, “What does this mean?” Well, it means the blog isn’t helping provide value for this site and increase the likelihood of a goal completion. No, they shouldn’t kill the blog and remove it; instead they need to look at their current blog strategy and how it can be tweaked and improved to help increase behavior and goal completions. For our analysis, we stopped at this point due to time constraints but when the client is ready to look at the blog and come up with a new strategy, we’ll dig deeper into this data and look at their top blog posts over the past year and how each of those has affected behavior. Doing that will allow us to get info on which blog posts provide value and which do not. Then we can come up with a strategy to refresh those older posts and create new posts.

Now let’s look at the retailer locator and see how it affects behavior and conversions.

Here is how I set up these advanced segments:

Sessions excluding Retailer Page

Sessions including Retailer Page


Looking at this chart, we can see the retailer locator improves behavior on the site and results in higher session duration, more pages viewed and lower bounce rate. However, it does NOT help ecommerce.

So what does this mean? Well it means, the retailer locator is a good feature to help improve session behavior but shouldn’t be as visible since it doesn’t increase online ecommerce conversions. Currently, the retailer locator was highly visible in the main navigation and the utility navigation. After looking at this data along with other data (not shown in this post) we determined it was best to leave this feature on the site but since selling online was the #1 goal of the website, we wanted to make it less visible and remove it from the navigations and move the link to the footer. This way the link is still accessible from all pages.

Something to note, with the retailer locator, we can only go off the data we have. Unfortunately, for this client it’s not possible for us to get offline information that we could then import into GA to get a clearer understanding of whether the retailer locator helps to increase offline sales or not and should be left highly visible.

As with any website change, it’s very important to annotate the change in Google Analytics so you can easily see if your change has caused any fluctuations in your data. Now it’s your turn! Look at your website and see if there are things on it you would like to dig into deeper to see if it’s helping or hurting engagement. I bet you’ll be surprised and excited with the new data you’ll get!

And by the way, if you don’t feel comfortable digging into GA yourself, let Beacon help! :) We offer GA Training which can be customized to teach you how to set up Advanced segments and reporting or we can do the deep dive for you.