Walkthrough: setting up custom reports in Google Analytics
One of the questions we’re asked a lot, here at Click Consult, is how to set up and read custom reports – never let us hear you say we’re not listening
What is a custom report?
A custom report, as the name suggests, is a report within analytics that is defined by you according to the metrics you want to measure.
Why use custom reports?
While there are dozens of different report types available to you within Google Analytics, there is something to be said for having regular report types available to you quickly. By setting up custom reports that provide you with all the information you need in order to assess the performance of your brand in various specific, well defined areas, you are able to improve the efficiency of your measuring and data gathering.
How to set up custom reports
Obviously, to set up your custom report, you’ll need to be signed in to Google Analytics and, once you’re in, you will find custom reports in the side bar under ‘customisation’ (below the home option).
You’ll then need to select the ‘New Custom Report’ option from the list of options.
This will bring you to the screen below.
This screen requires you to make a number of decisions. Firstly, you’ll need to choose an overall name for the report – you should ensure that reports are named clearly and relevantly, so much so that anyone seeing the report would be able to ascertain its purpose. This will ensure that you never lose track of the reports you have in your account.
The same goes for the name of the initial (and any subsequent tabs). Names are important – there is little point in improving potential efficiency of reporting and measurability if you then have to spend time searching through your reports for the right one.
You also have three ‘types’ to choose from – explorer, flat table and map overlay – which will each offer their own peculiar insights into the data you are looking at reporting on. While some might not be suitable, or may lack the capacity to provide any serious insight, it is important that you look hard at selecting the right kind of display for your data and don’t discount anything on a whim, or without having explored all the available possibilities. Having data represented in varied forms can lead to insights you may not otherwise think of.
Dimensions and metrics
Your next choice is between a group of dimensions and metrics (or zoom level and location for the map overlay) – this is the data that will feed in to the reports, so choose it well. For more information on choosing the right data, see our resources section and data and analytics section of the blog.
What are dimensions?
Dimensions describe characteristics of your users, sessions and actions – such as geographic location, browser or device type for example.
What are metrics?
Metrics are quantitative measurements, describing a characteristic of sessions – such as bounce rate, session duration, goal completion, to name a few.
Next up is data filtration, at which point you restrict the data that will enter your report – for example you could restrict it to specific browser types, devices, or by various other location and demographic factors (and many more).
This is the final piece of the puzzle for your custom report, and refers to the overall analytics account – allowing you to limit the data in your report to the data that exists within a previously designated account ‘view’. Like the filters section, this is entirely optional – and depends on you having previously set a view.
From this point, you’ll have a report and it will be down to you whether you add secondary or tertiary report tabs. However, as always, keep things as tight as you can in order to get the information you need. Think of ways to reduce your reports to the least number of distinct reports you need in order to make decisions.