Most important Advanced Segment for Conversion Optimization in Google Analytics

What if I tell you, that majority of your analysis could be geared around optimizing your website for people who don’t really matter.

Today I am going to share with you  the grand daddy of all advanced segments, which completely changed the way I analyse data in Google Analytics for good.

But before I share this advanced segment with you, allow me to refresh your memory a bit, about how Google Analytics calculate and report conversion rate:

Goal Conversion Rate = Total Goal Completions / Sessions from all over the world

E-Commerce Conversion Rate = Total transactions / Sessions from all over the world

The problem here is, Google Analytics calculate conversion rate all wrong.

It computes conversion rate under the assumption that every person on the planet, is a part of your conversion funnel.

Every person on planet earth, is somehow your potential client.

But this is rarely the case.

So even if your target market live only in London, you have to optimize your conversion funnel for a person living in Alaska.

If the person from Alaska is not converting then something is wrong with your website/product and you are not doing a very good job of converting visitors into customers.

This is the message, Google Analytics reports send to those marketers, who don’t apply advanced segments every time they interpret any report.

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Let us suppose that your target market is UK i.e. you sell your products only in the UK and nowhere else.

Let us also suppose that your website gets traffic from all over the world and the non-UK traffic is 40% of the site total traffic.

So if your website gets say 100k sessions a month, 40% of that traffic is 40k.

This 40k non-UK traffic has little to no commercial value for your website/business.

Yes this traffic is visiting your website, yes it is consuming your website contents, subscribing to your newsletters and may even be, completing many micro conversions.

But since they are not your target market, they will never buy from you.

They are not going to impact your business bottomline.

But still, often such traffic is a part of the data analysis and conversion optimization process because we don’t bother to apply advanced segments and that too each time before we interpret the data.

Advanced segment is not a tool which you apply once in a while when reminded by someone or by some article.

It is a tool which you use all the time.

Whenever you look at any Google Analytics report, to which you have not applied this advanced segment (which I am going to disclose soon), you are analysing and interpreting the wrong data.

Any analysis based on inaccurate data, can never produce optimum results.

The most important advanced segment in Google Analytics, for optimizing conversions is the Target Market/location segment:

target market location segment

If your target market is only UK and you are reading any Google Analytics report, without applying this advanced segment first then you are analysing and interpreting inaccurate data.

Similarly, if your target market is only US and you are reading any Google Analytics report which does not include only US traffic then you are analysing and interpreting inaccurate data.

Google Analytics take all visitors of your website into account (regardless of their geo location) while computing every non-ecommerce metric from: sessions, goal conversion rate, goal completions, bounce rate, average time on site, pageviews, unique pageviews, page value, new visitors, returning visitors etc.

So if you don’t segment your data by location, you won’t be looking at the website usage of your target audience.

You would be looking at the website usage of the people, from all over the world.

For example following is the ‘New vs Returning’ report from Google Analytics, which you see by default:

new vs returning

From this report, we can conclude that 74% visitors are new visitors and 26% are returning visitors.

So not many people are returning to our website, which is crucial for increasing sales, as people rarely buy on their very first visit.

We need to work on improving user engagement.

Now when you apply the ‘Target Market’ advanced segment to this report, you get a completely different insight:

new vs returning 2

From this report we can conclude that the website acquisition strategy is questionable.

Whoever is in charge of traffic acquisition, is doing a very bad job.

Majority of new visitors are not even our target market, so what is the point of acquiring them.

Similarly majority of returning visitors, are not our target market either.

What is even more concerning is that only 33% of the total website traffic consist of our target audience.

The remaining 67% traffic is not going to convert into sales, no matter what you do, to influence their buying behaviour.

You can’t get such type of insight without applying this advanced segment.

The context in which you will make your marketing decisions is going to be different, once you apply this advanced segment.

Another example,

Following is the list of top 10 cities in terms of goal completions:top 10 cities

If your target market is only UK, then this is not your top 10 converting cities.

The 50k+ goal completions, are misleading too.

What people in the non-UK cities do, to engage with your website should not be your concern.

Even if they are completing micro conversions like signing up for your newsletter or spending certain amount of time on your website, it should still not be your concern.

Such type of user engagement is not going to impact your business bottomline, as it negatively correlates with business bottomline.

They are not your target market. They will/can’t buy from you.

Following list is actually made up of your top 10 converting cities and 6094 goal conversions are, what that should matter to you:

top 10 cities - 2

All of this look so obvious.

What is new here?

The ‘new’ is the new top 10 list and the new and better context in which you look and analyze the data.

Whenever you apply the ‘target market’ advanced segment to any report, the first thing that you will notice in a report, is the new list of the top 10 which has a big impact on making business and marketing decisions for many people, as not many look beyond the top 10 of anything in GA reports.

This top 10 can be: top 10 converting locations, top 10 articles consumed by the visitors, top 10 traffic sources which drive conversions, top 10 campaigns which drive traffic that has the potential to convert,…………………..and the list goes on and on.

Basically this advanced segment, fix the top of your conversion funnel and give you a better insight of the target market’s drop off from one funnel step to the next.

You are then guaranteed to work on things, which actually matter to your target audience.

target market read

The data is all there, whether you apply this advanced segment or not.

But when you apply this segment, the real insight becomes so glaringly obvious and you work on analysing and interpreting the data that really comes from your target audience.

If you are like me, who juggles between dozens of different analytics accounts, it is pretty hard to remember to apply this advanced segment every time, before starting the analysis, of any report.

The best way to solve this problem is to create a filtered view/profile which includes only the traffic from your target market and use only this view, to analyse and interpret the data and make marketing decisions.

Another advantage of using filtered view is that, by using it, you automatically filtered your: funnel visualization report (which can not be filtered otherwise), goal flow report, multi-channel reports and include only that traffic for analysis which has the potential to complete macro conversions.

Off-course you can refine this advanced segment by using other customers’ attributes like: age, gender, cart size, repeated purchase etc or use it with other custom/inbuilt advanced segments.

But segmenting the data by location, is the least you should be doing, to get one step closer to understanding your target market.

Other article you will find useful: Understanding Enhanced Ecommerce tracking in Universal Analytics

Learn about the Google Analytics Usage Trends Tool

The Google Analytics usage trend is a new tool which is used to visualise trends in your Google Analytics data and to perform trend analysis.


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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

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