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In Google Analytics Essential Training, Corey Koberg shows how to use the Google web analytics platform to generate and evaluate information about the visitors to a web site, including data on site traffic, user behavior, and marketing effectiveness. This course covers the out-of-the-box functionality, from account creation to reporting fundamentals, and explains how to glean insights from the vast array of data available.
Google does a really good job of constantly scanning your account and looking for things you may be interested in. But we also have the ability to simply go in and create our own alerts for things that we know we are interested in. We can also tell Google to contact us directly when those things occur so we don't have to worry about logging in. It's a sinking feeling when you log into your Analytics after some time and found that something has changed on your site that has broken your analytics tracking and your goals haven't been tracking for the last month. Or worse yet, what if you realize something was wrong with your site and you didn't realize it, because let's be honest, how often we actually go in and use our own contact form to contact ourselves? Relying on your visitors to alert you when something is broken isn't a great strategy either.
So one obvious custom alert might be to tell us when there has been a drastic drop in some of our own key performance indicators. So first let's create an alert based on goal conversion rate dropping by more than 80%. If we go here to the Home tab > click on Intelligence Events > Overview, we see our Custom Alert tab. Click on Manage custom alerts and Create new alert. The first thing we want to do is give it a good name. We have the option of applying to the current profile or other profiles at the same time. We can also select the period we want to be analyzed.
In this case we will keep it at one day. I also want it to email me when this alert is triggered. If I wanted to receive text messages when these alerts are triggered, I can just click here, enter my cell phone number, and Google Analytics would send me a text message with the instructions on how to verify my phone. Down here we set the alert conditions. In this case I want it to apply to all traffic, and I am going to select when the goal conversion rate drops by more than 80% based on the same day in the previous week. Same day in the previous week is important because this keeps us from getting alerts when our traffic coming from the weekday drops to the traffic on Saturday, even though that's a normal trend, so we don't want to get an alert when that happens.
We click Save Alert. Now we see that we have this custom alert goal conversion drop by 80%. Now one potential problem with what I have done here is that the goal conversions are based on quantity, not value. You may have heard of instances where stores do a typo and they put items for sale for $10 that would normally cost $1000. Well, their goal metrics probably would be through the roof, as people will be snapping up those items and the quantity of conversions would be very high. In these cases we wouldn't be getting any alerts if it was based on goals. So instead, figure that out, we have to send an alert based on revenue rather than goal conversion rate.
For example, I could say if revenue drops by more than 80% based on the same day in the previous week, I want to receive an alert. Another thing we'd like to think about is traffic. Hopefully if your site goes down for an extended period of time, you won't need Google Analytics to tell you about it. But what we see quite often is that when your site changes and it breaks your Google Analytics tracking code by mistake, you wouldn't necessarily know anything is wrong until you actually log in to Google Analytics and notice it, and by then you've lost all that data. So setting up a page-view based alert, say a 60% drop, would help with that.
A similar traffic based alert is also hopeful for when Google Analytics sees a traffic drop due to an implementation problem or a marketing problem. So let's say here that traffic drops by more than 60%. So again we put in our name here. We select the period that we are interested in. We want this to apply to all traffic and alert me when visits is going to decrease by more than 60%. So we created that alert, and it's going to tell us when traffic drops.
We can also think about setting this up based on different types of marketing. Let's say, for example, that you want to track if your site suddenly got dropped out of the search engine rankings. What we could do is set this up on a weekly or a monthly alert based on organic traffic rather than all the traffic. Let's go ahead and set that up. Create a new alert. In this case, let's set it to be the Month. I want to be emailed. Instead of All Traffic here, I am looking specifically in Traffic Sources or Medium matches organic.
In this case, I want to know when visits drop by a percentage decrease more than let's say 20% in this case rather than 60%. My organic traffic is pretty steady, so in this case I'll want to know if it drops by 20% as that would be quite unusual. Another thing that I might want to do here is create another alert that would be the case where if my percentage of traffic increases by more than 20%, as that would be an interesting event as well. The last example here will be something measuring response to branding efforts.
Measuring that response can be somewhat difficult, but if you're about to launch a viral campaign and you want to see when the buzz hits, this can be done very easily with custom alerts. Let's say you want to set up an alert based on specific keywords that you care about. In that case, we want to have Google send us an email if let's say our metrics go up or down by 20%. We are going to call this our branding traffic, and we'll say up by 20%. Our alert conditions in this case applies to a specific keyword.
Rather than matching exactly, I simply want to put in here either that it contains or if you know how to use regular expressions, you could do that. Alert me when the visits increase by more than 20%. You could set this to be the day or the week, however granular you want to be. Now there is only one caveat with all of these: these alerts are generated each night, so the tightest timeframe you can select is a day. So if your web server goes down at 9 a.m. it's not like you're going to be immediately paged.
This isn't a minute-by-minute uptime monitoring service per se, so if you need that kind of thing, there are plenty of tools out there that do that, but this isn't going to be it. However, custom alerts are a powerful tool that keep a lookout on your behalf and keep you from getting blindsided when things do change.
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