19 Jan 2012

Start the Year Off Smart With a Little Google Analytics Intelligence

Start the Year Off Smart With a Little Google Analytics Intelligence

Last month I attended a couple of Google Analytics classes and they explained that one of the most underused areas of Google Analytics is Intelligence. It was introduced in 2009 and yet many claim to not know about it or just don’t use it.

Intelligence is so smart that it keeps track of events behind the scenes, and when something unexpected happens it sets up an alert to let you know, “Hey, something occurred that you might want to investigate, even though you’ve already played 72 holes so far this week.” These alerts are on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. So when you don’t have time (should have used my 9 iron) to go in a view all the reports in Google Analytics, a quick glance in Intelligence can give you snapshot of any anomalies that have occurred.

There are two kinds of alerts in Intelligence: Automatic and Custom.

Automatic Alerts

These are already there for you to view. In the new version of Google Analytics go to “Home” and then “Intelligence Events” and you can view by break down of events first in Overview, then by Daily, Weekly and Monthly events. You can adjust your alert sensitivity, which controls the amount of alerts that will be reported. Just open one of the perimeters and move the sliding bar located on the right. Low will produce less alerts and High will produce more. Also, if your site tends to have multiple events, you can choose to group them by “Metric” or “Dimension” which is helpful with the arrangement of the data.

Google Analytics Intelligence


Google Analytics Intelligence

 These alerts are great, and a quick look each day can give you a good idea if anything super terrific or super weird happened in regards to your various traffic metrics. When you click on the bars from the graph it displays the information about the alert. But the next type of alert can really be helpful and can show you the specific types of alerts you want to see.

Custom Alerts

So this is where you can identify the changes in metrics that you really need to monitor, and you can have the alerts emailed to you or have a text sent directly to your mobile phone.

For example, say you’re on vacation and you want to be alerted if your site experiences a significant drop in traffic (come on, we all know you work while on vacation). Depending on if your site has steady traffic throughout the week (you could set up a daily alert), or heavier traffic on the weekdays (set up a weekly alert), you would click on that sub-heading under “Intelligence Events”, then click on “Create a Custom Alert” near the right side. Here is what your set up would look like for this daily alert for a more than 50% drop in traffic over the previous day:

Google Analytics Intelligence

Under the drop-downs for the Alert Conditions you have many choices for the different metrics and perimeters for the alerts, even for e-commerce. So you can sit on the beach burning to a crisp and have no worries until you get a text!

Here are some alerts that you might want to set up:

  • Significant drops or spikes in traffic
  • Increases in bounce rates for a campaign (you need to know when to stop a campaign)
  • Sizeable drop in Google referrals (possibly lost some ranking in the SERPs)
  • Large changes in time on site (usability issue, broken links or very engaging content)
  • Increases in goal completions (yay!)
  • Analytics failure (traffic decrease of 95% or more could mean something happened to your Google Analytics code)
  • Fluctuations in revenue
  • Landing page bounce rate (keep track of your content marketing)
  • Keyword performance (see example below – you are certain “long sleeved Hawaiian print shirt” is going to be a winner)
  • Changes in metrics for advanced segments you’ve set up
  • Sizeable changes in traffic from surrounding areas (great for local businesses)

Google Analytics Intelligence

These alerts are very helpful but they shouldn’t be considered a substitute for frequent review and analysis of your data. In other words, you shouldn’t just “set it and forget.”

If you’re already using custom alerts, please share your favorites in the comments below. Or, if this post has inspired you to start using Intelligence, what custom alerts are you going to set up? We would love to hear from you!

1 Comment

  • FivedoesIT Jan 19, 2012

    This is great. Google knows real time is in and they have responded. Marketers are being squeezed more for time and need more time to go after business and to have more time for family and recreation. So congrats to Google for Google One+ and congrats to Google for real time analytics and alerts.