Last month I wrote an article called “I see Bounce People” with a view to demystifying the difference between two easily confusable website metrics – bounce and exit rate. I did this in a rather crude way by starting with you imagining people falling through the ceiling of your office onto printed copies of your high traffic website pages.

For some this was all too much. People? Nope that’s too hard – for them their website is ruled by items like “visits and page views” or, at an even more detailed level, “website hits”. While all three require a human to click on something, the measurement is not on them but the action they have taken. Big mistake.

This month our group customer conference call talked about the levels people go through to achieve online marketing mastery. Customers have access to the full recording but suffice to say in both cases the path to mastery involves getting closer to the people behind the screens visiting your site, not just the actions they are taking.

Thankfully, Google is making this task a bit easier with a recent change to Google Analytics. The area of focus is the way the application helps you segment your website visitors. Here’s a brief explanation of the change.

First off let’s re-cap on how Google Analytics defines a visit and a visitor. A person (think visitor) visits your website in the morning – they then leave and arrive back later that afternoon. These are two visits (if they came back within 30 minutes of the last session expiring they are seen as the one visit). If you run a report, say, for the month these occurred you will see just the one visitor but all the individual visits they created.

Previously Google Analytics allowed you to create segments based on actions at a visit level. For example: “please show me all the visits last week where, during their session, the visitor read this content, visited from this paid ad or arrived from our social channels during a single visit.”

The change is subtle but has extreme potential. Now you can build segments at a visitor level rather than a visit. To do this, at the moment Google goes back through 90 days of data to find those visitors who fulfilled your request.


OK let’s work through how this could work. Let’s say you want to look at all the visitors who purchased from your e-commerce store – a simple segment called, say, “people who purchased”. This is built and then applied to your results for last month’s data.

Google will then trawl back through your data and find all those who purchased over the last 90 days and then show how they interacted with your website last month, Now some of them may have purchased during the month, some earlier – but even so, you can now see how their website interaction is different compared to those who have yet to buy. Sound good?

Now let’s see how this can be used to help validate the value of your marketing channels. How about segments like all those whose first visit to my website (remember we are going back just 90 days) was from paid advertising, or social media, or from a Banner campaign that is costing me the earth, or even when my TV advertising isrunning?

Furthermore, we could use this “90 day look back” feature to find out which pieces of our content are actually producing the most results. Segments like all visitors who played my video for more than 10 seconds, and what % actually converted. Remember, the behaviour could be “Arrive day 1, play the video – Arrive day 5, and then convert”.

Or “which visitors downloaded my buying guide PDF and then went on to click onto they our dealer location page?”

Finally, let’s use this tool to learn a bit more about where our audiences are from and their differences by location. For instance, Australian visitors having a time to purchase time half that of those from NZ. And Christchurch visitors taking four times longer than those from Auckland.

In each case you are taking 90 days of data to build your segment and then seeing how this group differs compared to the rest. Most websites need repeat visitors to work. Tools like this help you see this in action and learn: a) which channels are great at finding them, and b) what content / product set positively influences behaviour.

Take time this month to try building some segments like these yourself. And of course, call into the office if you need any help.