Don’t forget to set up Views in Google Analytics

google-analytics-funnelAdvanced segmentation has been a feature of Google Analytics now for almost 4 years (introduced back in October 2008). It has been my go-to feature in Google Analytics because (A) custom segment can be easily created and applied to past data and (B) the visual graphs tend to quickly pinpoint and highlight interesting trends and (C) there’s no strategic planning required — you just find the right dimension or metric and slice your data.

The inherent flexibility of advanced segmentation has also made Views (aka Profiles) seem archaic and possibly unnecessary. That point has made me question why you’d set up Views instead of advanced segments?

The answer to this question came out of a recent attempt to learn more about visitors via audience demographics and interest. As I updated the Google Analytics tag, I decided to set up the following Views:

  • All Traffic Profile. My default profile with all raw/unfiltered data. This is a must have master profile!
  • US Only Profile. A location-based profile for traffic within the United States. While my blog has always received a decent amount of international traffic, my core target audience (at this time) is within the US.
  • Desktop and Mobile Only Profiles. Screen-based profile for traffic of visitors via a desktop or mobile (including tablet) devices. NOTE: I’ve recently considered shifting tablet visitors to the desktop profile since tablets seem to augment laptop use.
  • New and Returning Visitors Profiles. Recency-focused profiles for traffic of visitors that are on their first visit (or returning visit) to my blog.
  • Direct Traffic Profile vs. Referral Traffic vs. Social Traffic Profiles. An alternate set of source-based profiles for visitors that have bookmarked my site vs. referred via another site. I have also set up a profile for visitors that have arrived at my site via social network.

These View represented segments that I commonly reviewed. During the setup I also added filters that excluded traffic from internal IP addresses (aka, me working from home or the office). After watching the data flow in I realized that the three biggest benefits of permanent Views (Profiles) are:

1. You get a snapshot of the activity for each segment. Using the All Account screen, I can quickly see the visitor count, average session time, bounce rate and goal conversion rate for each view/segment (see below).

strategic-google-analytics-profiles

2. You also get a detailed view of activity for each segment. Using the Reporting screens, I can easily dig into the content preferences or interest of my blog’s visitors. I can also identify content flow roadblocks for a specific group of visitors.

3. You can’t exclude IP addresses via advanced segmentation. That’s a feature that’s only found in View!

The third point is a no-brainer reason for employing Views. And while I am currently the only user who accesses my analytics account, the security controls for Views make it a great feature for enterprise clients that want to limit access for a campaign or a microsite to a third party vendor.

Do you still use Views in Google Analytics? Which one have you found to be most useful?