Exploring Google Analytics Pivot Tables

Pivot tables are hidden gems in Google Analytics reports.

They are extremely powerful data summarization tools and are commonly used in spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel.

Through pivot tables you can quickly summarize data in desired format and detect data trends that you can’t determine otherwise.

Even being so powerful, they are not the default table views in Google Analytics reports which is a shame.

This guide consists of following sections:

  1. Getting Started with Pivot Tables in Google Analytics.
  2. Five Components of Pivot Table
  3. Pivot Table Case Study
  4. Using Pivot Tables with Custom Segments
  5. Using Pivot Tables with Filters
  6. Using  Pivot Tables with Custom Reports

Getting Started with Pivot Tables in Google Analytics

Pivot tables are available as ‘table view’ option in several reports in Google Analytics.

To see data in pivot table format, head to a report like ‘Source/Medium’ (under Acquisition > All Traffic) in your GA view and then click on the ‘Pivot’ button:

pivot-table-google-analytics

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The Six Components of a Pivot Table

A pivot table in Google Analytics is made up of following 6 components:

1. Primary Dimension
2. Secondary Dimension
3. Pivot By…
4. Pivot Metrics
5. View Columns Buttons
6. View Rows Buttons

1. Primary Dimension

It is the first column of your pivot table:

The primary dimension selected in the chart above is ‘source / medium’.

2. Secondary Dimension

It can become the second column of your pivot table, if you select a dimension from the ‘secondary dimension’ drop down menu:

By default no secondary dimension is selected.

3. Pivot By…

By default Google pivot the data by the primary dimension you selected.

Since the primary dimension in our case is ‘source/ medium’, the table has also been pivoted by ‘source/ medium’:

You can however pivot your data by any other dimension found under ‘Acquisitions‘, ‘Behavior‘, ‘Technology‘, ‘Users‘ etc:

pivot by google analytics

4. Pivot Metrics

By default only one pivot metric is used in a pivot table:

However you can select the select pivot metric from the ‘select…’ drop down menu (as shown above).

There are 4 categories of pivot metrics available in Google Analytics Standard reports:

  1. Summary Pivot Metrics
  2. Site Usage pivot Metrics
  3. Goal Pivot Metrics
  4. E-Commerce Pivot Metrics.

4.1 Summary Pivot Metrics

% new sessions, goal 1 completion, Transactions etc are examples of ‘Summary Pivot Metrics’.

To view the summary pivot metrics, you first need to click on the ‘Summary’ tab of your report:

summary tab

And then click on the drop down menu next to ‘Pivot metrics’:

summary pivot metrics

Note:  Summary pivot metrics are available by default only when you are viewing your report in ‘Summary’ explorer in Google Analytics Standard reports.

4.2 Site Usage Pivot Metrics

% new sessions, avg. session duration, bounce rate etc are examples of ‘site usage pivot metrics’.

To view the site usage pivot metrics, you first need to click on the ‘Site usage’ tab of your report:

site usage tab

And then click on the drop down menu next to ‘Pivot metrics’:

site usage pivot metrics

Note:  Site usage pivot metrics are available by default only when you are viewing your report in ‘Site Usage’ explorer in Google Analytics Standard reports.

4.3 Goal Pivot Metrics

Goal1 conversion rate, goal2 conversion rate, per session goal value etc are examples of ‘goal pivot’ metrics.

To view the Goal pivot metrics, you first need to click on the ‘Goal set 1’ or ‘Goal set 2’….. tab of your report:

goal set 1 tab

And then click on the drop down menu next to ‘Pivot metrics’:

goal pivot metricsNote:  Goal pivot metrics are available by default only when you are viewing your report in ‘Goals’ explorer.

4.4 E-Commerce Pivot Metrics

Revenue, transactions, average order value etc are examples of ecommerce pivot metrics.

To view the E-commerce pivot metrics, you first need to click on the ‘e-commerce’ tab of your report:

ecommerce tab

And then click on the drop down menu next to ‘Pivot metrics’:

ecommerce pivot metrics

Note: E-commerce pivot metrics are available by default only when you are viewing your report in ‘E-commerce’ explorer.

5. View Columns Buttons

Through these buttons you can navigate to other columns of your pivot table.

However you can view only 5 columns at a time:

view columns button

 

6. View Rows Buttons

view rows button

Through these buttons you can view up to 5000 rows of your pivot table at a time.

Its functionality is similar to the row buttons you normally use in your analytics reports.

Pivot Table Case Study

The usage of pivot tables is extremely broad and depends upon the insight you want to get.

Let us suppose that you run various marketing campaigns on international level and you want to determine, how various marketing channels are performing in each country.

Follow the steps below:

Step-1: Navigate to the all traffic sources report and then click on the ‘pivot’ button.

Step-2: Select ‘country/territory’ from the ‘Pivot By’ drop down menu. In this way you can pivot the table by ‘country’

Step-3: Set the first pivot metrics to ‘sessions’ and the second pivot metrics to ‘bounce rate’ to determine the quality of traffic of various marketing channels for each country.

Step-4: Set the ‘secondary dimension’ to ‘user type’ so that you can determine the behavior of new and returning users.

You pivot table should now look like the one below:

pivot table

You can now easily compare sessions and bounce rate of various marketing channels for each country and for each user type (new and returning visitors).

This can help you in understanding and comparing the volume and quality of traffic generated by different marketing channel for each of your international target market.

You can’t get such type of data summarization in Google Analytics reports without using pivot tables.

Using Pivot Tables with Custom Segments

Custom segments can add many more dimensions to your multi dimensional pivot table and thus can make your pivot tables much more robust.

For example, in order to truly understand the performance of various international campaigns, you may need to know how many sessions included conversions and how many sessions included e-commerce transactions for each marketing channel and for each user type.

You can determine this by applying following two ‘default custom segments’ to your pivot table:

  1. Sessions with conversion
  2. Sessions with transactions:

pivot table advanced segments

Now you can get better understanding of the quality of traffic generated by different marketing channels for each country and user type.

Using Pivot Tables with Reporting Interface Filters

The various filters available on the reporting interface make it easier to analyze large data sets.

For example, if I just want to analyze the traffic from various Google properties (organic, paid, referral, images etc) then I can filter out such data by applying following filter:

pivot table filters

 

Using Pivot Tables with Custom Reports

Pivot tables become extremely useful when you use them in custom reports and apply filters and custom segments.

The biggest advantage of using pivot tables with custom reports is that you can choose the pivot metrics you really want in your pivot table:

pivot table custom reports

I generally use pivot tables in custom reports to analyse the data.

Such type of data summarization is not possible in Google Analytics standard reports.

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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.

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