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Sequence segments in Google Analytics

With segments in Analytics, we can analyze a certain group of users on our website. Segments can help us to get conclusions which we can show to our client in order to help them to make better business decisions.

Google Analytics has some predefined segments, for example:

  • Bounced Sessions
  • Mobile Traffic
  • New Users
  • Non-Converters etc.

If we can’t extract a group of users with predefined segments, Analytics has an option to create custom segments. Custom segments give us the ability to group users based on our needs and to analyze their behavior on our website.

But, before you start creating custom segments, it is important to know the difference between User, Session and Hit scopes.

Which scope should I use? Depending what you want to analyze, you will use a different scope in the segment:

  1. User segments – we use them when we want to analyze the behavior of our users on the website (for example, how many users created $5.000 revenue across all their transactions in certain period)
  2. Session segments – they come in handy when we want to analyze certain traffic source or to see what happens inside sessions (for example: what users from newsletter campaign do on our website )
  3. Sequence segments – we use them exclusively when we want to segment users who done something in particular order, when we want smoother segmentation of users behavior (for example: how many users went straight from homepage to contact page)

Let say, we define segment with User scope, where user visited the category /Office and added product to cart:

user-scope-segment

Let’s take an example where we have three users who visited our website. With user scope segment, we will include all three users. The first user in his first session added the product to cart on category /Electronics, while in his second session he visited the category /Office. Although these two activities happen in different sessions (visits), this user will be included in our segment.

The second user who visited category /Electronics in his third session added the product to cart and after that visited the category /Office, will also be included in our segment.

The third user, who in his second session visited the category /Office and added the product to cart will be also included in our segment.

user-segments

What will happen if we create session scope segment with the same conditions?

session-scope-segment

Session scope segment will include only second and third users because these two activities happen inside the same session (visit):

session-segments

Sequence segments allow us more precise segmentation if we want to follow a particular order of activities that users made on our website.

In our previous example, when we created session scope segment, we included only last two users with our segment. If we take a better look, the second user visited the category/Electronics, added product to cart and after that visited the category /Office, where he didn’t add the product to cart.

If we want to segment only users who were on category /Office and added products to cart from /Office category, then we will create sequence segments where we define two steps.

sequence-segment

In the first step we define hit (interaction) in which we want to include only users who visited the category /Office. And in the second step, we define hit where we want to include only users who also added the product to cart.

But, between steps you have two options:

  • is immediately followed by – means the user visits the category /Office and then the next thing he does is add the product to cart
  • is followed by – means the user visits category /Office and then at any point later in the same session (visit) they add the product to cart

Since we chose is immediately followed by we can be pretty sure that user added to cart one of products from /Office category.

With this segment, we will include only third user, for which we can be sure that he added the product to cart from category /Office:

sequence-segments-user

To conclude, if we use User scope segments, conditions that we define in our segment can happen across multiple sessions (visits). If we use Session scope segments, then conditions must happen inside the same session (but without any particular order).

With sequence segments, we define the order of hits (interactions) that user made, which allows us more precise segmentation. It is important to understand scope in segments because otherwise, we can read the data on a completely wrong way.

When creating sequence segments you can set up to 10 steps, and inside one segments you can combine more sequences.

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