Google Analytics 101: Using Alerts

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Google Analytics provides so many different ways to slice web traffic data into multiple dimensions, metrics, and customizable views.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming to look at all the different ways to analyze your data.  Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate some of the hassle with triggered alerts.

What are alerts?

Alerts in Google Analytics are ways to get notified about any changes in your analytics.  Google categorizes alerts under “Analytics Intelligence”, which is defined as “reports that automatically monitor your website’s traffic and highlight any significant changes, making you smarter and your work easier. Analytics Intelligence is an algorithmic engine that detects any significant changes in your traffic patterns.”  So basically, alerts are triggered when something special happens to your web traffic and you get an email or text message ping about this event.

From Google Analytics- there are two kinds of Intelligence alerts:

    • Automatic alerts are generated whenever Google Analytics detects a significant change in the traffic patterns on your site. Automatic alerts are created for all data in your account, so you can use this report to review past anomalies.

    • Custom alerts are triggered and generated when traffic reaches a specific threshold you specify in your account. For example, you can set a custom alert to appear when traffic from Paris decreased by more than 20%. You can opt in to receive email or text message notifications when you create a custom alert, so you’ll know when the event happens even if you’re not checking your reports.

So what?

Looking over standard and custom reports are definitely great ways to see what’s happening on your site.  There can be situations you might not have the time to dig through these reports or maybe you just want to get updated when there is some sort of spike.  Alerts are designed for these situations.  They can also be set so you are informed only if a specific activity happens.

You can find these alerts in the Intelligence Events menu under the Home tab. Alert reports are aggregated by day, week, and month. The Overview report displays both automatic and custom alerts for a given date range.

Google Analytics Intelligence Events

Notice that the first few listed alerts under Automatic Alerts are your custom set goals.  Below these alerts are the standard alerts made by Google Analytics.

Google Analytics intelligence events overview

If you click on the “Details” link for any alert, you also get more nifty information about that alert.

Google Analytics alerts review

Both automatic and custom alerts appear in a widget in your default dashboard.

Google Analytics alerts custom and automatic

How to create custom alerts in Google Analytics

Now the fun part!  To create a custom alert, go to the admin tab and click “Custom Alerts”.

setting up google analytics alerts

From here you can create custom alerts.  You will need to note a few items on this page before hitting save and releasing your alert.  By specifying the alert Period, you are telling Google Analytics how often to check your web traffic for the alert conditions and possibly notify you.  If the alert is triggered, then you can decide whether to receive an email or get a text message sent to your phone.  Of course you can’t forget the most important part, what your alert will be about!  Similar to the other reporting dimensions and metrics, you need to specify what you want to be notified about.

create google analytics alert

Here are some examples of commonly used alerts:

    • “Thank you” page reached, after a possible newsletter sign up or purchase made.

    • Average time on site exceeds 5 minutes, usually highlighting heavy user engagement on your site.

    • Number of pageviews per visit exceeds 10, same as above with high engagement.

    • A particular landing page total visits reaches a level of traffic that you consider strong or note worthy, particularly useful if during a campaign where you are trying to drive traffic to this page
So, now that you are an alert-making-whiz, what happens if you want to modify or delete a custom alert you created?  Easily go to the “Custom Alerts” tab to manage all alerts you created.

Google analytics alerts report

Re-using alerts, no problem.  Google Analytics allows you to copy alerts on multiple profiles.

custom set up google analytics alerts

To see all the action I highlighted above, check out this video from Google Analytics.

And there you have it folks, making Google Analytics alerts in a nutshell.  You are now on the road to data clarity, making your analytics easy to understand, and actively make better marketing decisions!  If you have any questions, comments or concerns feel free to reach out to me at amin@infotrustllc.com.

Article Written by Amin Shawki

Sources:

Google Analytics Support

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Last Updated: August 9, 2012

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