Analytics Intelligence

May 19, 2011

One of the most overlooked features of Google Analytics is the Intelligence Alerts tool, that constantly monitors Internet traffic using a sophisticated algorithmic intelligence engine that detects any statistical variations in traffic patterns. The algorithm is intelligent enough to know the difference between a “natural” change that can be attributed as part of a larger trend and an “unnatural” change that might require your attention.

Every time something out of the ordinary affects the traffic patterns in your website the software adds an alert in the automatically generated Intelligence reports. You can also configure custom alerts that are triggered by a number of factors, such as for example, a sudden increase of traffic from a particular city or referring site.

By default, Google Analytics delivers three kind of reports based on frequency, Daily Alerts, Weekly Alerts and Monthly Alerts. Analytics Intelligence sorts through all the historical data and alerts automatically get posted to your account.

Analytics Intelligence is fairly easy to understand and configure. First you must select the type of alert you’d like to display: Custom, Web Analytics (automatic), AdWords (automatic). Then, in order to display the dimensions, metrics, and significance ratings of alerts for a particular time segment (day, week, month), you have to click one of the bars in the graphs that are presented.

You can compare the actual performance with the expected performance. Analytics calculates expected performance from previous performance values, and calculates significance from the difference between actual performance and expected performance. As the difference between actual and expected values increases, so does the significance rating.

The Alert Sensitivity slider allows you to set sensitivity for automatic alerts. As you reduce alert sensitivity, you receive fewer alerts, but each alert has a higher significance rating. The opposite happens with a higher setting that will generate more alerts, but each with a lower significance rating.

To create a custom alert follow these steps:

  1. Open one of the Intelligence reports (Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Alerts).
  2. Below the bar graph, in the Custom Alerts field, click Create a Custom Alert.
  3. Alert name: Enter a name for your custom alert.
  4. Apply to: If you want to apply the alert to additional profiles, open the other profiles menu, then select the check box for each profile to which you want to apply the alert. The alert is then available to you in any of the other profiles you select.
  5. Period: Select the frequency at which the alert can be generated (Day, Week, Month).
  6. Send me an email when this alert triggers: Select this check box if you want to receive an email when the alert is generated.
    If you want other people to also receive email, open the other email addresses menu, click Add new email address, enter the address and label, then click OK.
    Learn more about the email alerts that Analytics sends.
  7. Set up your mobile phone: Click this link to enter your mobile phone number, and configure the system to send a text message when an alert is generated.
  8. Alert Conditions:
    • This applies to: Select the dimension to which the alert applies.
    • Alert me when: Select the metric to which the alert applies, the condition that generates the alerts (e.g., Is less than, Is greater than), and enter the value for the condition (e.g., Is less than 20).
  9. Click Create Alert.

Watch the video below for a graphic explanation on how to use Analytics Intelligence in the new version of Google Analytics:

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