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Data Segmentation – Intermediary Guide to Google Analytics for Ecommerce

By Reading Time: 12 minutes

When it comes to selling stuff online, the more you know about the specifics of your business, the better your chances of maximizing your profit.

To help you learn as much as you can without investing in costly analytics tools, this post will teach you how to use data segments – one of the more advanced features offered by Google Analytics, which will help you get your hands on in-depth data about your store’s performance, marketing activity results, and user behavior on your website.

This is our second post about using Analytics. In case you’ve missed it or feel like you could do with a recap, feel free to read our beginner’s guide to Google Analytics for ecommerce. Otherwise let’s cut to the chase!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:

How does it work?

Simply put, data segmentation lets you take your analytics data to the next level.

Instead of looking at data about all your visitors at once, segmentation lets you filter analytics data based on various parameters and metrics ranging from user demographics or geo location to channels through which they arrived or values of their purchases.

In other words, segmentation lets you create highly specific groups or traffic segments based on nearly all of the parameters or metrics found in Analytics, and you can then analyze and compare these segments using nearly all of the reports available in Analytics.

If you’re an ecommerce owner with a highly specific target audience, segmentation can help you filter out visitors that belong to your target audience, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are some of the tasks that can be made easier using segmentation:

  • getting a better idea of where your target audience is located;
  • seeing which products specific visitor groups view/buy the most;
  • checking which marketing campaigns/traffic channels generate better results;
  • comparing performance of different types of visitors.

All users segment

Before going into using segments, let’s go over what happens when you don’t segment.

By default, there is always one segment selected. This segment is caled All Users, and you can see it above the data graph in most sections of Google Analytics:

all users segment

The All Users segment consists of all website visitors within your specified time period.

If you don’t apply a more specific segment, all the reports found in Analytics will display data about all website visitors.

You can slice and dice your segments using any of the reports tabs found along the left-hand side of the platform:

google analytics reports tabs

Important to remember: Some report tabs, like the Adwords, Search Console, and All Traffic -> Referrals tabs within Acquisition are designed to only show data about specific groups of visitors, meaning that these report tabs will automatically apply an additional filter to whatever segment(s) you’ve applied.

You can see if the data sample your looking at covers your entire segment by checking the percentage of sessions displayed below the segment title. If your data sample is not using the entire segment, you’ll see a percentage that is less than 100%.

partial segment data sample

Using data segments

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into data segmentation 101.

To change/add segments, click on All Users, +Add Segment or anywhere in the area:

selecting data segments

This will open a list of segments for you to choose from:

predefined segment list

All the predefined segments have titles that pretty much describe what you’ll get, but you can also hover over them to see a more detailed list of the filters used in each segment:

segment description

Some of the segments that might be more useful for ecommerce include:

    • Made a Purchase – users with at least one transaction;
    • Converters – users with at least one conversion or transaction;
    • New Users – only new visitors;
    • Returning Users – only returning visitors;
    • Sessions with Transactions – only sessions with a transaction;
    • Sessions with Conversions – only sessions with a conversion or transaction.

You can add additional segments by clicking on them. The selected segments will show up on top and become highlighted in the segments list:

applied segments

Click Apply in the bottom-left corner to reload Analytics and display data for the segments you’ve selected.

Each segment will have a different color to help you differentiate between them in any visual representation of your data:

graph colors

Creating custom segments

Now that you know how basic segments work, let’s dive into creating your own data segments.

Custom-made segments are the ultimate tool if you’re interested in analyzing behavior of highly specific user groups, traffic channels, or marketing campaigns, because there is only so much you can do with the predefined segments.

If you want to get your hands on segments tailored to your specific needs, creating custom segments is the way to go!

To create a custom segment, click the red +NEW SEGMENT in the top-left corner of the segments popup:

create custom segment

This will open up the segment creation popup:

segment creation screen

The gray area along the right side gives you a summary of the key elements of your custom segment – number and percentage of users and sessions belonging to your segment, and a list of filters you’ve selected for this segment.

Important to remember: The volume of users or sessions in your segment also depends on the data period you’ve selected.

In the gray area along the left side you’ll find a list of category tabs, each of which contains various filters you can use to create your own segments.

Depending on your needs, you can create segments using one filter from a single tab or several filters from multiple tabs at once (eg. age group in demographics + mobile as device category in technology).

Most of the filters available in these tabs also offer predefined values for you to choose from, but you might have to start typing and then delete what you wrote before you see the list, as the suggestion library can sometimes be a bit glitchy.

auto complete suggestions

By default, the tool is set to create segments using all the values that “contain” the phrase you’ve written or selected from the list of suggestions.

If you want filter out only the traffic that exactly matches your value, or do the complete opposite and exclude specific values from your segment, click on the gray drop down button and select the option that best suits your needs.

match types

For example, if you want to create a traffic segment consisting of only people using iPhone 5, you have to change it to exactly matches, as the contains option would also include iPhone 5s.

Now let’s go through what you can do with each tab.

1. Demographics tab

Use if: you wish to create custom traffic segments based on parameters that define your visitors themselves, like their age, gender, location or interests.

demographics segment

Example: If your target audience is within the 18-24 age group, you can use the filters in this tab to create two segments – “Women + age 18-24” and “Men + age 18-24.”

To do this, simply tick the age and gender check box you want to select, name your segment in the top left corner and click “save.”

You can use the Behavior -> Site Content ->  All Pages report to analyze and compare audience group behavior across different pages on your site.

2. Technology tab

Use if: you wish to create segments based on the technology your visitors are using to visit your website, like the device they are using as well as operating system, browser, and screen resolution they have on their devices. You can even segment traffic coming from mobile devices based on the brand and model of their mobile phone.

segmentation by technology

Example: If you’re in the custom phone case business, you can use this tab to split your mobile traffic into multiple segments based on the operating system they are using.

To create a segment for mobile traffic from a specific operating system, select mobile as the Device Category and Android or iOS or Blackberry, etc. as the Operating System.

3. Behavior tab

Use if: you wish to create segments based on user behavior on your site, like session duration, number of sessions a user has had, days since the last session, or the number of transactions performed by a user within the specified period or within one session.

segmenting by behavior

You’ll notice that the options for the drop down button are different in this tab.

This is because the platform uses mathematical functions to deal with numeric values, so make sure you change the = (equal) sign to another one when dealing with parameters that can have more than one value.

match type signs

Pro tip: Repeat purchases could be considered as a sign of loyalty, so one possible application for this tab is to create a separate segment for these users.

Setting the Transactions filter to ≥ 2 will create a segment of all the users who have made at least two purchases. You can then use this segment in the Audience -> Geo -> Location report to see where these customers are located.

4. Date of first session tab

Use if: you wish to create segments based on the date of your customers’ first arrival on your site.

date of first session filter

Important to remember: Analytics uses cookies to get this information, meaning that users can reset their first session date by clearing their history.

5. Traffic sources tab

Use if: wish to create segments for specific marketing campaigns or traffic sources.

source medium segmentation

Understanding return on investment from your marketing activities is essential in making sure you’re spending your time and money wisely.

You can use the filters in this tab to create a segment for each of your main traffic sources and then compare their performance using different Analytics reports.

Example: Let’s assume you’ve recently paid someone to write a promo blog post about your store on www.example.com, and you want to see if you’re getting anything out of it.

To create a segment for traffic coming from this site, select referral as the Medium and www.example.com as the Source.

Pro tip: You can use this segment in Conversions -> Ecommerce -> Overview to see if anyone who came from this website made a purchase.

6. Enhanced ecommerce tab

Use if: you wish to create segments based on interaction with your products or the revenue your customers generated.

You must have enhanced ecommerce tracking enabled to use this tab. Here’s a guide on enabling enhanced ecommerce tracking. Once you’ve turned on enhanced ecommerce, you can get back to creating your segment.

The tabs at the top of this tab are used to filter out users who: added specific products to their cart, purchased these products, or performed either one of these actions.

enhanced ecommerce segmentation

For the revenue filter, you also have the option of segmenting users, sessions, or hits. This article on hits, sessions and users offers a great summary on the specific details and key differences between the three.revenue per user hit session

Pro tip: Revenue generated is a clear indicator of a user’s value for your business. You can use this tab to create a segment for users who’ve generated you more than X amount of revenue and then use it learn more about their location, demographics, etc.

To create a segment based on revenue generated, set Revenue filter to per user > X (replace X with the desired minimum revenue value). This will filter out all users who have generated more than X in the specified period of time.

7. Conditions tab

This is one of the two advanced segment creation tabs that let you create segments based on virtually any parameter or metric found in Analytics, ranging from the landing page visitors land in or keywords they used in Google when they clicked on your link to the internet service provider they’re using.

conditional segmentation

Most of the metrics and parameters found in the previous tabs can also be found here. The key difference is that the conditions tab lets you create segments using filters based on goal completions and other not so often used parameters.

You can also create segments based on multiple parameters, and you can specify if you want the segment to consist of traffic that conforms to all of the values you’ve or just one from a list of many.

Use the dropdown at the top to specify if you want to filter users or individual sessions:

session user dropdown

The key difference between users and sessions is that one user can have multiple sessions, and the filter you’re selecting only needs to be met during one of these sessions for the user to be included in your segment.

You can use the include/exclude dropdown to specify if you want to include or exclude parts of your traffic defined using the conditions tab filters:

include exclude dropdown

Use the AND connector if you want to create a segment based on a combination of factors, all of which must be true for a user to belong to your segment:

and connector

Use the OR connector if you want your segment to include traffic for which either one of your filters needs to be true.

or connector

Use +Add filter if you want to create two different sets of filters where one set applies to sessions while the other applies to users, or if you want to create a segment that uses include and exclude filters at the same time:

include exclude filter

Example: Let’s assume you want to look at only new users who belong to your target audience and arrived at your website through any channel except for direct (as this would suggest they had already heard about you before they arrived).

To do this, you would create an age, gender, geo location or some other filter that includes users who fall into your target audience. You would then add a second filter that excludes users who belong to the User type – Returning visitor AND came from the Source – (direct).

8. Sequences tab

The sequences tab is much like the conditions tab, except it lets you identify a segment based on a specific order of events.

sequence tab

Use the Sequence start dropdown to decide if the event you’ve specified in STEP 1 can occur at any point or it needs to be the very first thing a new user does upon arriving at your website:

sequence start

Use the is followed by…  dropdown to clarify if the event specified in STEP 2 (or any consecutive step) needs to follow the previous event at any point during a session or immediately after the first event:

followed by sequence

Example: You can create a segment for users who arrived through a specific landing page, then visited another product page and then later on made a purchase on your page:

sequence segment filters

Importing segments

In addition to choosing from predefined segments or creating your own, you can also import segments others have created for their own needs and then shared with other Analytics users on the public gallery.

Click Import from gallery to access a list of segments created by other Analytics users:

segment gallery

You can use the search bar in the top-left corner or filter the gallery using the filters displayed along the left side of this window to find segments you want to import.

Sharing segments

Any segments you’ve imported or created yourself will only be available to you (i.e. the gmail account used to access Analytics). Luckily, you also have the option of sharing your segments with others.

Sharing segments comes in handy if you’ve created segments specifically for your website and you want to share them with your partners, colleagues, etc.

To share a segment, open the segment selection window, then click Share segment:

sharing google analytics segments

This will take you to the Share Assets page, which can also be accessed through the admin panel at the bottom of the VIEW settings:

share assets view

Select the segments you want to share:

sharing segments

Click Share to see your options for sharing the selected segments:

sharing options

Choosing Share template link will generate a URL, which you can then send via email or instant messages.

To import a segment someone else has shared using this method, simply open the URL in a web browser:

importing segments

You can make the imported segments only available in specific views using the Select a view option, or make it available for any Analytics account you have access to by selecting the Any view option.

Final remarks

Data segmentation is one of the most powerful tools in the Analytics arsenal because it lets you create, analyze and compare highly specific data segments that will help you better understand your store’s performance, marketing activity results, and user behavior on your website.

Did we miss anything? Feel free to leave your comments and questions below!

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