Web analytics tools make it easy for B2B marketers to get distracted, overwhelmed and then not do anything meaningful with the valuable data. Google Analytics offers two powerful tools, Profiles and Advanced Segmentation that help you focus meaningful data and removing extraneous data. In fact Profiles and Advanced Segments are complimentary features of Google Analytics that make it easier to view data.
A profile is something you set and forget because it “cleans data” based on criteria on a go forward, “permanent” (until you change the profile criteria) basis. For example many companies exclude their employee website traffic from their so they set-up a profile that excludes their employee traffic and then use that profile for their analysis.
On the other hand advanced segmentation is an ad-hoc drill down tool for deeper investigations. For example, looking at traffic from a specific geography, that used a keyword, viewed more than two pages and converted into a sales lead. In this case you would segment your data using the Advanced Segments feature in Google Analytics.
Profiles and Advanced Segmentation have a lot of similarities. For example both;
- Can be customized to pull exactly the data you need.
- Set rules that define what data you can see; for example, visitors from a specific geography, keyword traffic, page performance and bounce rates, etc.
Although similar, there are important differences identified in Table 1 between a profile and Advanced Segment.
Table 1 – Difference between Google Analytics Profile and Advanced Segmentation
|May be applied to historical data||Applied only going forward data|
|Available across all accounts and profiles||Applied to specific web property|
|Compare up to 4 advanced segments side by side in reports||Can be viewed only one at a time.|
|Easier ad-hoc creation for both uses and administrators||Need some planning to create because it impacts data on a go forward basis.|
|Temporary||Permanently affect or restrict data that appears; example; profile only shows cpc data|
|Restricts user access until the filtering is removed or they log out.||Restrict user access to a data subset|
Brian Clifton, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (p. 288-89); Third Edition, 2012.