Introduction to segmentation

Segmentation in Google Analytics is a way to view a subset of data in a report. You can create user segments or session segments. User segments can span multiple sessions with a maximum date range of 90 days. For example, you can build a user segment that shows data only for a specific age range, date range, gender, or a combination of these.

Session segments are confined to user behavior within a single session. For example, you can create session segments for a Goal users completed during the session or the amount of revenue a user generated.

A powerful part of segments is the ability to add multiple segments to a single report for comparison. You can compare segments of users who made a purchase with those that didn’t, to better understand what influences people to buy. Or you might choose to build segments based on a specific traffic source like paid search and compare that to sessions that originated from email campaigns. This helps you see which types of users each source delivers.

Both user and session segments can be built using dimensions, metrics, session dates, and even sequences of user actions.

In a report like the Audience Overview, notice that the “All Users” segment is automatically applied and will include every user within the selected date range. To add additional segments, click "Add Segment" to open up the segment builder. 

There are two types of segments: default segments and custom segments. Default (or System) segments are segments already available in Google Analytics and show up under the System section. Custom segments are segments that you create and show up under “Custom.”

You can also import segments that other users have created or share your own custom segments. You can favorite any segments you think you’ll want to use often and can view the segments currently selected.

Default Segments

To select a default segment, click the System section and select the segment you wish to apply. 

If you select Tablet traffic, for instance, and click Apply, you’ll be able to compare Tablet traffic with all of the traffic in any of your reports. These segments will be applied to every report you open until you remove the segment or exit Google Analytics.

To remove a segment, click the down arrow and select “Remove.”

To compare new and returning users in reports, you can select the New Users and Returning Users segments. Notice that these segments will show up at the top next to the All Users segment. 

If we want a cleaner report for comparison, we can turn off the All Users segment and click Apply. This now compares only new and returning users.

Click the Plus icon to add additional segments. You can compare up to four segments at one time.

Notice that there’s an Actions drop-down menu on each segment. “Copy” lets you copy the segment and edit it for customization. “Build audience” let’s you build an audience for remarketing (which we’ll cover later).

Custom Segments

In addition to default segments, you can also create your own customized segments.

Simply click “Create New Segment” beneath the applied segment fields.

Here you can add your own characteristics to create a custom segment. You can segment by demographics, technology, behavior, session dates, traffic sources, and ecommerce (if implemented). 

For example, under Demographics you can choose age “25 to 34” and language contains “es” for Spanish, which will filter the data for users between the ages of 25 and 34 who have their browsers set to Spanish.

You can also create more advanced segments that let you match dimensions and metrics to specific values that you enter. You can even specify multiple filters that make up conditions within the segment.

You can also create segments based on sequences of user interactions. For example, you can segment users that viewed a specific page and then watched a video. Sequences can be a mixture of pageviews or events.

You can import segments or share them to the Solutions Gallery by clicking “Share segments.” When you share a segment you do not share any of your data. You only share the segment. You can also import new segments that other users create from the gallery. 

Note that segments are applied after sampling. So if the data being shown in your reports is a sample, the data shown in your segments will also be a sample.

As you encounter more complex questions about your customers’ behavior, you can create segments to isolate subsets of data and find opportunities to improve your website’s performance.

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