Monday, 16 March 2009

User Segmentation in Google Analytics

You're probably using Google's free webstats product Analytics on at least one site. And to be honest, unless you're an anti-Google-domination zealot, there's little reason not to. It's easy to install and the tools are pretty good.

It's a shame there's no simple hourly traffic graph, and the Advanced Segments produce some fairly questionable results, but they are still in Beta and they do clearly state the "report is based on sampled data."

Aside from that, it's very easy to set it up, give the marketing guys "user" access and forget about it - which is what many of us do. This is where we fail. There is a lot of useful segmentation data Google Analytics collects that can give us technical insights.

Web-stats are so much more than unique visitors and page views. Analytics can give you a good grasp of your customers' browser version, operating system, screen resolution, java support, Flash version and even connection speed.

Geolocation stats can help you decide if your global reach warrants employing a Content Delivery Network.

You can even create your own segmentation using User Defined values. I like to use it to identify users as Anonymous, LoggedIn and Admins, but you can pretty much set any value you like using this statement after the usual tracking script:

<script type="text/javascript">pageTracker._setVar('SegmentX');</script>

As long as you don't go crazy inserting a unique id per user (remember this is a segmentation tool), you should be able to get some useful data back.

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