Google Analytics is a powerful reporting tool all digital marketers are familiar with. The depth of GA knowledge from one marketer to another, however, can vary significantly.
Pre-configured reports and charts such as the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions overviews are easy to access, and more importantly, rather intuitive to comprehend. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most commonly used functions of Google Analytics, such as its pre-configured reports, aren’t its most prized function. The real value lies in the custom reports.
The custom reports feature allows marketers to build reports as specific and detailed as their needs require them to be. While some may be overwhelmed when initially skimming over the multitude of options and combinations, we guarantee that a tailor-made Google Analytics report is easier than you might think.
Where to start
Once you log into your company’s Google Analytics account go to the “Customisation” tab at the upper left corner and click on the “Custom Reports” option. There you will see the option to create a new customer report and/or edit an existing customer report.
In the example performance report below you will see a simple flat table layout with some of the most important metrics that help us track online traffic:
- Entrances – The number of times visitors entered your website through a specific page or set of pages.
- Page views – The total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
- Unique page views – The numbers of sessions during which the specified page was viewed at least once.
- Bounce rate – The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds.
- Average time on page – The average amount of time users spent viewing a specific page or screen, or set of pages or screens.
- Average session duration – The average length of a session. Session – a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame.
- Social actions – The number of social actions, such as social shares that occurred.
- % Exit – The (number of exits)/ (number of page views) for the page. It indicates how often users exit from this page when they are viewing it.
Another nifty feature is the ability to create filters in addition to the metrics above. There is a myriad of options of what you can exclude and include – a destination page, landing page, social networks, ads, users and their demographics, cities, browsers, time and date, custom variables, etc.
In the example below I wanted to exclude a set of job post URLs because the goal of the report is to track the content performance on StoneShot’s blog. How does that work? Pick “Exclude” and “Destination Page.” Note that the drop-down menu also offers options such as “Page,” “Landing Page,” “Page Depth,” “Page Group.” Since we want this rule to apply to a set of URIs, not only one, pick “Regex,” regular expression, then list all the URIs (different from URL as it contains only the second part of the link) separated by the “|” sign, but leave no spaces in-between the two URIs and the sign.
Another way of filtering your reporting data is through the “Filters” in the Admin menu. The caveat is that should you decide to add filters this way the data will be 100% excluded from all Google Analytics reporting.
To illustrate, StoneShot’s blog has a jobs board section, “Work with us,” where we post current openings. While we don’t want job postings traffic in our content performance report, we still want to have access to that data and maybe create a report of its own that could help the HR team; hence, in this case, we filtered within the report. A good example of a filter on an admin level is excluding your company’s internal traffic from your website analytics.
Once you’ve set your parameters, applied the necessary filters, and your report is ready, just click over your preferred metric to sort the data. You can adjust the time frame from the calendar at the top right corner, export the report in different formats and/or email it, as well as add it to your GA dashboard.
Creating custom reports in Google Analytics can be a fun and exciting process of discovery and enlightenment. To learn more, you might want to start with the source itself – Google Analytics Academy. Once you’ve covered all the basics, browse the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery for data inspiration and jump right into it!
In case you’re overwhelmed by the seemly infinite analytics possibilities and need assistance, the StoneShot team will gladly help you track your performance, be it website traffic, email campaign reporting and everything in between. Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.