Segments in Google Analytics: Create and use segments

Would you like to see the behavior of a certain group of users on your website in Google Analytics ? For example, only the users who came to your website via organic search? Or only users who have placed an order? In Google Analytics you can segment and evaluate data exactly according to such criteria. Here you can find out how to use segments, what possibilities they offer you and how to create your own custom segments.

What are segments in Google Analytics?

Segments help you to analyze different user groups in Google Analytics more precisely and to compare them with one another. Basically, segmentation is a filtering of the analysis data based on specific user groups. The advantage that segments offer you over other filter options in Google Analytics is that they can also be applied retrospectively to the data. Filters that you make at property or data view level, on the other hand, only apply from the point in time at which they were made.

Possible user groups are, for example:

  • Users who came to your website via organic search
  • Users who became aware of your website through a specific campaign
  • People who visit your website from a specific device, such as a mobile device

For all these and many other visitor groups, Google Analytics offers a wealth of ready-made segments that can be applied to almost all standard reports and user-defined reports .

Overview report with segments in Google Analytics

For more specific evaluations, you can also create your own user-defined segments. They are then tailored precisely to your requirements. This gives you the opportunity to create segments for very small user groups. There are hardly any limits to you.

Possible user-defined segments are:

  • Sessions that came to your site via a campaign and used a mobile device
  • Users who are between 18 and 24 years old (only works with activated demographic data ) and have accessed a certain sequence of pages
  • Users who achieved a conversion value of more than € 50 and who came to your website via an organic search

Apply standard segments in Google Analytics

You can use the segments in almost all reports. You can find the segments menu in the reports above the trend graph. Here you can select the appropriate segment.

Open the segments menu

If you click on ALL USERS, the segments menu opens and an overview of the standard segments appears.

Overview of the standard segments

Here you can now choose between the various already integrated segments. The segments for the individual channels are very practical: DIRECT ACCESS, ORGANIC ACCESS, REFERENCE ACCESS or PAID ACCESS. You only include those sessions in the evaluation that reached your website via the channel mentioned.

There are also segments for user types, for example:

  • USERS WITH ONE SESSION
  • NEW USERS
  • RETURNING USERS
  • USERS WITH MULTIPLE SESSIONS

And segments that relate to the device people used to access your website:

  • ACCESS VIA TABLETS AND DESKTOPS
  • ACCESS VIA TABLETS
  • ACCESS VIA MOBILE PHONES.

Instead of the tiles, you can also display the segments as a list. Then the descriptions are not cut off and it is partly clearer what exactly the individual segment contains for sessions.

Excerpt from the list display of the segments including filter options and search

TIP: If you do not know exactly which user group contains a segment, simply click on the arrow in the segment tile in the top right corner and select COPY.

Copy a standard segment

Then Google Analytics shows you the conditions that the segment must meet.

Condition of the standard segment “Access via tablets and desktops”

If you use certain segments very often, you can mark them with a yellow star. This makes the favored segments more visible. You also have the option in the navigation bar to only display marked segments.

You can also quickly find the right segment using the search in the menu at the top right. Otherwise, the filtering between ALL, SYSTEM, USER-DEFINED and MARKED helps you to display the segment groups individually. Under SHARED you will find the segments that another Google user has shared with you.

If you have now selected a segment and want to apply it to a report, you can do this simply by clicking on the relevant segment or using drag & drop. To do this, drag the selected segment into the line above the segments menu.

Up to four segments can be used simultaneously on a report. So choose specifically which segments you want to compare with each other. To remove a segment, click on the arrow in the segment at the top right and select REMOVE. If you are satisfied with the selection, you click on the button APPLY and the report will be recreated for these segments. To change the segments, click again in the segments menu and then make adjustments again as described above.

After you have selected the segments, they are displayed in the reports for comparison.

Landing page report segmented by “Access via mobile phones” and “Access via tablets”

Custom segments

With the standard segments you can already carry out very good evaluations. But what if the segments in Google Analytics are not meaningful enough? Then the custom segments will help you.

Google Analytics offers you the option of defining segments based on

  • Metrics
  • Dimensions
  • date
  • Actions
  • and even sequences

to create. You can create segments based on session data or user data, or you can combine both.

What is session data and what is user data?
Session data is limited to the behavior of a user during a session. This includes, for example, the number of goals that he has achieved or the turnover that was achieved during the session. In the case of user data , the data of all sessions within the selected period (maximum 90 days) are included. This means that several goals or transactions can be added up during this period.

Create custom segments in Google Analytics

To create your own segment, first navigate to the segment menu and from there click on the + NEW SEGMENT button. Another menu now opens, in which you can choose between different categories in the navigation on the left.

The conditions for the demographic characteristics are shown by default. Use the left navigation to get to the individual elements. After you have filled in the individual conditions, they will be displayed in the right half of the image. This way you can keep track of which conditions have to be met for this segment.

You can use many filter options when setting the conditions, including the same as with normal report filtering. You can also use regular expressions. These offer you the option to combine several conditions in one element and thus work more effectively.

Examples of custom segments

To better illustrate the possibilities that custom segments offer you, here are some examples:

The sessions from the example segment above must meet the following requirements: The sessions must have reached the website via the AdWords campaign “Discount Promotion” with the keyword “Corkscrew”.

Here is another example that you can implement with the two items CONDITIONS and CONSEQUENCES.

The second example segment includes

  • all male users,
  • who are between 25 and 34 years old,
  • came to the page via the ad group for the “Vinothek” campaign
  • and have called up the registration page.

Here are a few more examples of custom segments:

DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS : With this you segment the users according to demographic characteristics such as age, gender and interests. This only works if demographic data is enabled.

  • Female users between the ages of 25 and 34 who enjoy watching TV
  • Male users who are between 35 and 44 years old, are interested in food and come from Munich

TECHNOLOGY : Here you can segment user sessions by operating system, browser or device.

  • Sessions made on a Windows 8 PC in which a Chrome browser is used
  • Sessions made using a mobile device (including a tablet)

BEHAVIOR : Here you segment your users according to the number of sessions or transactions carried out.

  • Users who were on the page for more than five minutes per session
  • Users who have made more than three transactions

DATE OF THE FIRST SESSION : Here you can evaluate users whose first session took place after a certain date.

  • Users whose first session occurred after the campaign start date

VISITOR SOURCES : Segment users based on the sources from which they came to your website.

  • Sessions that came to the page via a specific AdWords campaign
  • Users who searched for a specific keyword in organic search engines and thus came to the website

E-COMMERCE : At this point you can segment users according to purchased products or sales.

  • Users who have generated more than € 300 in sales
  • Users who bought a specific product

CONDITIONS : Here you can specify several conditions that should apply. You can use this function to configure conditions that the other points do not provide.

  • Users who  entered a certain term in the internal search
  • Users who have carried out an event from the “Download” category
  • New visits that have reached the goal of “contact request sent” and have come via direct entry

FOLLOW : With this you segment users and their visits according to certain step sequences that they must have taken.

  • Visits that came via the source “reference” and landed on the target page / products / corkscrew / overview
  • Visits that first went to the / campaign landing page and then to the / products / cart page

Limitations on custom segments

However, there are a few restrictions with the custom segments that you should be aware of:

  • You can define a maximum of 100 segments per data view and user.
  • If you create custom segments that are based on user-based data, these can be created over a period of up to 90 days. These 90 days start from the start date you set. So it is possible that more recent data are not included.
  • There is also a restriction on the condition for the DATE OF THE FIRST SESSION: The period that you can select here is limited to a maximum of 31 days.
  • Demographic data is only applied to part of the users. Therefore, segments with this condition only show a part of the users.

Test custom segments

If you create custom segments, Google Analytics shows you immediately how many users and sessions meet your criteria.

Sample test of a user-defined segment

So you can be sure that the conditions you have selected for your segments will work. Sometimes the settings are so tight that there are hardly any sessions that meet all the conditions. Or you combine conditions so unhappily that they are mutually exclusive. You will then not receive any data in the evaluations.

You can also test the segment in the open report by clicking the preview button. Then you can see directly which data is changing in the report.

Conclusion

Segments in Google Analytics help you to view data from specific user groups separately and to compare them with one another. If the standard segments provided by Google are not sufficient, you have the option of creating user-defined segments that enable even more detailed analyzes.

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