Google Analytics Custom Segments 101

Imagine a warehouse full of items. A place where you could find almost everything that you need, completely free. The only downside of this warehouse is that all the items are stocked together in a big pile, electronics over apparel over vegetables, all mixed together.

Of course, you can find something useful just by scratching the surface, but what if you were able to sort things out and discover exactly what interests you.

This is the case with Google Analytics: you have a whole lot of data, divided into reports. You can break down these reports using a secondary dimension, but sometimes this is just not enough to gather the information that you are looking for.

Introducing: Google Analytics Segments

GA explanation of segments (dark version)

How to create a Google Analytics segment

Fire up your Analytics and browse to Behaviour -> Site Content -> Landing Pages. Or go directly to Google Merchandise Store Demo Account.

For this example we will analyze what landing pages are most common amongst mobile users that have made at least 1 transaction. This is a really important piece of information as it will help you narrow down your targeting so that you send traffic to the page that is converting the best. At least on mobile.

1. Create a new segment

Every report is segmented by default. As its name suggests, this segment covers All Users. 

In order to create a new one, go to the top of the page and click on the “+ Add Segment” button.

Side note: GA provides some segments by default. You can find them in the left menu of the Segments screen under “System”. However, these only cover basic segmentation like Traffic Source segmentation (Paid Traffic, Organic Traffic, etc.), Devices (Mobile users, Mobile and Tablet Traffic, etc.) or types of sessions (Sessions with Transactions, Sessions with Conversions, etc.).

Now you will have to click again on the “+New Segment” button at the top of the screen.

2. Set conditions

In order to make your life easier, Google Analytics provides basic setup conditions like Demographics or Technology. You can go to these if you need to create a quick segment for male users that browse your website from their mobile phones. 

I don’t use these as I find it way better to create these conditions myself. I have used the Advanced tab for this example.

Let’s set up our brand new Segment. 

First you will have to go to Conditions. On the top part of the screen, right besides the Filter, you will have to select Users (marked with red). I have talked about the reason behind this in another article (In my humble opinion it’s just more reliable). 

Next you will have to search for “Device Category”. As we want to see only mobile users, make sure to select “exactly matches” and type in mobile. Because this dimension only has 3 metrics: mobile, desktop and tablet, you could just select “contains”. However, getting used to all of the comparison options might help you in the long run.

Once you’ve finished setting up the mobile users, click on “AND” (marked with the black arrow). This will open another filter field. You will have to search and select Transactions. We are interested in a per user analysis so choose this option followed by greater than “>” and 0. 

3. Finishing up

Almost done now. You will have to give your segment a descriptive name, something like: “Mobile users with at least 1 transaction”. This will help you find it easier in the future and save you some valuable time.

Last but not least, be sure to select the correct Segment Availability. Depending on the type of permissions that you have, there might be 3 types of Segment Availability options. 

As I do not have Edit permission on the GMS Analytics account, I only got 2 options:

The first one will make the segment be available in ANY View that you have access to.

If you segment users based on a certain URLs that they have visited, it would not make sense to have this exact same segmentation on a different website with a different URL layout. In our example, if you have access to a content website and an ecommerce store, it wouldn’t make sense to save it to all views, as there can be no Transactions registered on a 100% content website.

I usually always select the second option. As is part of my daily job to create custom segments for different clients, I want to have everything nice and tidy. I suggest you select the same option for all the segments that you will be creating, after all, you will only do this once for a single view.

You are all done, now click save and let the magic happen.

If you have followed my example step by step, your report should look like this:


Now you can see that the Homepage is the Landing page for the most mobile users that ended up making a purchase. 

There is an endless number of possible combinations that can be achieved via Segments. In the next article I will explain how to analyze A/B test results using Google Analytics Segments.

If you need help with your optimization process, you can always get in touch with us at [email protected] – we’re happy to hear from you!

By Dan Cucolea

I am a conversion rate optimization specialist at Ontrack Digital.
I am a Spreadsheets Wizard who can translate any data into a lovely graph that even has a story behind it.

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