Setting Up a Custom Alert in Google Analytics for Your Business

analytics dashboard
Alex Corral
Alex Corral
May 30, 2018
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First things first. If you are looking for a plain and simple guide on how to set up these alerts, then I hate to break it to you, but this is not it. If you came here for that, then it is best to get it straight from the horse's mouth. Google shows you how to set them up here.

If you are looking for some alerts that you can setup to keep an eye on things, then you are in the right place.

We can all agree that time is a luxury in the hospitality industry. That is why you hired a company to manage your online brand! You don’t have the time to make sure that everything is on the up and up, but you still want to make sure that you know where the account stands when you get a chance to take a look.

That is where these wonderful alerts come in handy.

What is A Custom Alert in Google Analytics

These custom alerts are your eyes and ears. They help you keep an eye on analytic-related events that are important to your business. The “alert” part comes into play because you can have Google Analytics alert you if condition X or condition Y is met -- or not met. Let me give you a few common examples:

Large Increases

Let’s say that you want to be alerted when there is an increase in people coming to your website. You might be testing new promotion channels to see if they help increase your goal completions. Whatever the case may be, you will want to set up an alert that gives you a heads up when the increase passes a threshold that you determine. I typically set one up to alert me when there is a 20% increase, but it will always depend on the type of traffic that you are getting. 20% of 10 is a lot less than 20% of 10,000. Just keep that in mind.

Decreases

You can’t just pay attention to the good. You also need to keep an eye on things so that they don't spiral out of control. Just like you setup an alert to let you know when something you did went right, you should set one up to let you know when things have gone south. Setting up an alert that lets you know when there is a significant traffic drop can let you know if your website is having issues. Maybe your domain expired, or there was an issue with a developer. Setting this up to monitor daily can help you stop a problem like this dead in its tracks.

Website Usability Issues

Sure, general indicators of traffic are good, but how can you be certain that this increase in traffic was good traffic? The answer is that you can setup an alert that monitors your bounce rate during the same time span that you are monitoring the sessions. If there was a 40% increase in sessions, but an 80% increase in bounce rate, then you know that the traffic was no good. I find this alert to be helpful because it doesn't let you get caught up chasing something that looks good, but isn't at all. Imagine putting more of your time into something that you saw was bringing you more traffic, only to find out that you revenues are steadily decreasing! Make sure that you catch these before it is too late.

Page Load Time

No-one, and I mean no-one likes a slow site. Google is pushing its mobile-first index, and there are more people now than there have ever been that are accessing the internet from their smartphones. If you have website issues, or your server is causing page load problems, you want to be alerted as soon as possible. The average site is hoving around 3 seconds, so I would try to set your alert somewhere around there to make sure that you are in the clear. If this seems out of the question for you, then you just need to make sure that you are beating your competition. See where their sites sit and adjust your alert accordingly.

Conclusion

Don't get too carried away with these. If you do, then your inbox or cell phone will be bombarded with alert after alert. This could completely defeat the purpose of saving you time. If there were two things that I would make sure to recommend, it would be this; Number 1, make sure that you are setting up your alerts at different intervals. Set up the most I-have-to-know alerts as daily. Pick up on interesting trends by setting weekly alerts and set up monthly alerts to give you a bird's eye view of how the account is trending. Number 2, use this to open dialog with the people handling your account. Calling in irate because your traffic is down 20% week-over-week isn’t going to make the partnership go any more smoothly. Maybe there was a new algorithm tweak, maybe there is a clear explanation as to why you are seeing X or Y. It is better to simply just ask.

If you are ever in analytics, then you will know that there are now “intelligence events” that already do the hard work for you. Google uses their artificial intelligence to point out anomalies to their users. Using these, in conjunction with the custom alerts that you setup to monitor the metrics that matter to you, are a recipe for success. If you would like more assistance setting these up, feel free to reach out to me.

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