Segments and Segmentation in Google Analytics

If you want to look at the behaviour of a certain group of users, Google Analytics enables you to segment your data according to precisely such criteria. In this article, you will learn how to use segments, what options they offer you and how to create your own custom segments.

What are the segments in Google Analytics?

Segments help you to analyze different user groups in Google Analytics more precisely and to compare them with one another. Basically, segmentation is a filtering of the analysis data based on specific user groups. Another advantage of segments is that they can be applied retrospectively to the data. Possible user groups are, for example:

  • Users who came to your website via organic search
  • Users who became aware of your website through a specific campaign
  • People who visit your website from a specific device, such as a mobile device

Apply standard segments in Google Analytics

You can create segments in almost all reports. You can find the segments menu in the reports above the trend graph: Here you can select the appropriate segment:

segmentation in analytics

Open the segments menu

If you click on All users, the segments menu opens with an overview of the standard segments

Here you can now choose between the different, already integrated segments. There are also segments for user types, for example:

  • User with one session
  • New users
  • Returning users
  • Multiple session users

And segments that relate to your users’ device:

  • Access via tablets and desktops
  • Access via tablets
  • Access via mobile phones

If you have selected a segment and want to apply it to a report, you can do this simply by clicking on the relevant segment or using drag & drop. To do this, drag the selected segment into the line above the segments menu.

Up to four segments can be used simultaneously on a report. So you can specifically choose which segments you want to compare with each other. To remove a segment, click the arrow in the segment at the top right and select Remove.

When you are satisfied with the selection, click on the Apply button and the report will be recreated for these segments. After you have selected the segments, they are displayed in the reports for comparison.

Create new, custom segments

With the predefined segments, you can already carry out a very good evaluation. But what if the segments in Google Analytics are not meaningful enough for you? Then custom segments will help you.

You have the option of creating segments based on the following aspects:

  • Metrics
  • Dimensions
  • date
  • Actions
  • and even sequences

Tip: You can also import segments from the Analytics solution gallery. This is a free marketplace through which Analytics users share segments and other self-developed solutions.

Create Custom Segments in Google Analytics

To create your own segment, click on the + New segment button in the segment menu. Another menu now opens, in which you can choose between different categories in the navigation on the left.

The conditions for the demographic characteristics are shown by default. Use the navigation on the left to go to the individual elements. After you have filled in the individual conditions, they will be displayed in the right half of the image. You see: you can use many filter options when setting the conditions.

An example of a custom segment could look like this:

Demographic characteristics: This allows you to segment users according to demographic characteristics such as age, gender and interests.

  • All-female users between the ages of 25 and 34

Technology: Here, you can segment users’ sessions by the operating system, browser or device.

  • Sessions made using a mobile device (including a tablet)

Behaviour: Here, you segment your users according to the number of sessions or transactions carried out.

  • Users who called up the registration page

Date of the first session: Here, you can evaluate users whose first session took place after a certain date.

  • All users whose first session occurred after the campaign start date

Visitor Sources: Segments users based on the sources they came from to your website

  • Everyone who came to your page through a specific campaign

Manage segments

Here are a few more general tips to keep in mind:

  • You can define a maximum of 100 segments per data view and user.
  • If you create custom segments that are based on user-based data, these can be created over a period of up to 90 days.
  • There is also a restriction on the condition for the date of the first session: The period that you can select here is limited to 31 days.
  • Demographic data is only applied to some of the users, so segments with this condition only reflect some of the users.

Create target groups based on segments

Once you’ve isolated subsets of data as described above, they can be used as the basis for targeting audiences. This enables you to use ads campaigns or optimize tests that are tailored to specific user groups. Here is a concrete example: Suppose you own an online shop and have identified a group of users who put items in the shopping cart but cancelled the purchase. This group is the perfect audience for a remarketing campaign.

And this is how you create a target group based on a segment:

  • Open the data view that contains the segment you want to use
  • Open reports and start with any report
  • Click + Add Segment
  • Here you are now looking for the segment that you want to use to create your target group.
  • Click here on Actions → Build target group.
  • Set up the linking options
  1. Data view: Select the Analytics data view in which you want to save the target group.
  2. Target account: Select the account with which you want to share the target group (e.g. Google Ads, Display & Video 360 or Optimize)
  • Click on Next Step to the options Define your audience to open.
  • In the next step, define the definition for your target group:

Tracking period: Set a tracking period of 7, 14 or 30 days. Within this period, users are considered for the target group.

Users in the last 7 days: The estimated audience size based on the number of users of your website or app in the last 7 days that meet the audience criteria.

Validity period: Here, you define how many days eligible users will be shown ads if they meet the criteria for your target group.

Eligibility: Here are the possible goals for this target group based on your definition.

Name of the target group: Here, you should enter a meaningful name for the target group.

You can now keep the current definition of the target group or edit it.

  • The last step is to click on Apply.

Done! You have learned everything you need to know about working with segments, as well as how you can define target groups for yourself based on these segments. In the next chapter, we’ll look at the controls for your reports.