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Spotlight on new Google Analytics features: Analytics Intelligence and Custom Alerts

Tuesday 1 December 2009 | 14:43


We recently launched an exciting new feature in Google Analytics called Analytics Intelligence and today we want to tell you all about it.

Analytics Intelligence will automatically alert you to significant changes in
your website's traffic. In addition to automatic alerts, you can also specify custom alerts that you would like Analytics Intelligence to monitor and highlight for you!

You can find Intelligence reports in the right hand menu within your Google Analytics account. Reports are divided between daily, weekly and monthly alerts.

Automatic alerts:

Google Analytics looks at past performance information from your website and makes a prediction about your expected performance. If there is a big difference between what actually happens on your site, and what Analytics Intelligence expected would happen, you'll see a green bar appear in the bar graph above the alert details. The significance rating found to the right of every metric can help you gauge the performance of your site according to the expected target performance.

In the example below, you can see that Analytics intelligence expected an increase in traffic of 75-79%, but actual traffic was up 91.93%. This triggered Analytics Intelligence to alert us via the green bar graph. When you click on the bar graph you are then shown details of the alerts for that time period, in this case a weekly alert. Automatic alerts are applied to historic data in your account as well as all new data going forward.

Custom alerts:

With a custom alert, you control what Analytics Intelligence will alert you about. To easily create a custom alert in your account follow the steps here. When using a custom alert it's important to define what information is important to you and what exactly you would like Analytics Intelligence to monitor for you. Unlike automatic alerts, a custom alert does not trigger when used with historical account data.

Not sure why you'd use a custom alert? Here are 5 really useful applications for this new feature:

1. Revenue Drop Alert

This condition is triggered if traffic from the medium 'cpc' (meaning paid traffic), such as Google AdWords, has a revenue decrease of more than 15% compared to the same day in the previous week. We selected 15% to account for normal fluctuation, of course you can select a percentage that makes sense to your business.

We selected the 'Same day in the previous week' over compared to 'Previous day', because certain days (e.g weekends) might have lower revenue rates as a matter of fact. So we want our alert to only trigger based on week-week performance.

In our example we used Revenue as our metric which will only apply to websites using E-commerce reporting. However if you measure return on investment using goals and goal value you can just as easily change this metric to Goal Value to get the same insight.

2. Landing Page Bounce Rate Increases

This alert allows us to examine the performance of a specific landing page. If the bounce rate of the page increases by more than 20% an alert is triggered.

Use Case:

Running a large website with multiple departments separated by different categories with different stakeholders?



You could change the dimension condition to 'Starts with' /kids/ to monitor the performance of the kids section of the website. Of course bounce rate is just a suggestion. You may try other metrics such as revenue.

3. Campaign Performance

Launching a new AdWords campaign on the Google Content Network with lots of interesting creatives for Christmas or any special promotional period? Want to be notified quickly on its performance? Create some alerts...

Alert 1:

Alert 2:

We create 2 alerts because we want to monitor performance in both directions positive / negative.

We used compared to "previous day", because an online retailer would typically see a steady increase in sales leading up to Christmas day.

The first alert lets us know that our campaign is increasing in revenue which is great! The second alert informs us that something may be wrong or the campaign may require tweaking.

If we start to see a negative trend we can click on the alert in the Intelligence interface and it will tell us what changed in our website's traffic. This can help you pin-point what area of your campaign needs work.

4. Keyword Performance

If you know a particular keyword is important to your return on investment, you may want to monitor it more closely by creating an alert. This can be especially important for seasonal keywords where many advertisers could be competing for top listings in search results.

The above alert will let you monitor any drop in expected visits, and give you the opportunity to make changes to your advertising to compensate.

For those paying close attention, this will include both organic and paid traffic. However when you view the closer details of the triggered alert you can easily distinguish between the 2 traffic mediums by using "group by" dimension

5. Country Performance

If you are specifically targeting a region using Google AdWords and want to ensure you get a consistent number of visitors, simply select the dimension Country/Territory. If you need even more granular detail, select the dimension city and provide a value such as Munich.

This alert could also be useful for monitoring non AdWords traffic such as local newspaper, television or radio advertising.

Want to learn more? Check out this YouTube video on the Google Analytics channel:

Thought of any other useful reasons to use Custom Alerts? Let us know, drop us an email or post a comment below.

Posted by Gavin Doolan, Google Analytics Team.


mostwanted said...

wouldn't it be great if an custom-alert-email would be sent to admins in case of activating the alert?

Anonymous said...

Those features are nice, but instead of new fancy "reporting features" i'd love to finally see a good way to track webservices.

It would be very convenient if there was an API that would allow us to "tell" google analytics "the user with the ip w.x.y.z just did the action x" and google analytics would log - without any javascript.

In our case for example we have:
1. a client application on the computer of our user
2. a webservice

the client application interacts with the webservice.
now it would be extremely good if we could send "log requests" to google analytics in certain situations.

for example:
1. the client app authenticates with the webservice
2. the client app retrieves certain data from the webservice
3. the client app stores certain data on the webservice

Of course it's possible to "hack the logging" into the client application (emulating the javascript requests), but it would be so much better if we could do it from the serverside - we just need an API to "inject" this data into GA (including the IP address of the client computer, because we don't want to log the ip of the webservice all the time) :-)

mobile apps tracking for iphone is a step into this direction, but also very impractical for webservices... it would be so much easier to do it on the serverside...!

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