Making Your Life Easier

Custom Dashboards show all the most important data in Google Analytics (GA) on one page. While they’re easy to set up compared to other GA configurations, they are underutilized. Marketing managers can easily create reports for clients with their top metrics, facilitating client involvement in campaigns – or just easy data consumption. Clients can view everything they need in one sitting, while marketing managers can spend more of their time getting granular with GA data.

The Google Analytics demo account allows for personal dashboard creation or to use pre-defined dashboards. There are two ways to create your dashboards: manually or when viewing any data within GA reports.

Pro Tip: Create a dashboard manually on the demo account for practice! Access the demo account here. (The GA demo account is real data from Google’s Merchandise E-commerce store)

Adding Widgets

The first step to creating dashboards is identifying which metrics are the most important and then creating mini-presentations of those metrics with Widgets.

  1. Navigate to Dashboards (the first option on your GA side bar)
  2. Click New Dashboards.
  3. From here you can name your Dashboard and start adding metrics. In order to populate your dashboard, you will use what GA refers to as Widgets.
  4. Adding a new widget is easy, click + Add Widget and start forming your data!

You can choose to measure all dimensions found in Google Analytics with their corresponding metrics. The data in your widgets can be presented in 6 different ways: metric, timeline, geomap, table, pie and bar graph. Add up to 12 widgets in one custom dashboard.

There are two types of widgets, real time widgets and standard widgets. Real time widgets show data in real time, but are limited to presentations of Active Users or Pageviews metrics. Real Time widgets update automatically, while standard widgets, update when you load or refresh the Dashboard.

When you create a widget and give it a name, make sure the naming convention accurately describes what data the widget displays. This will make reading the dashboard efficient and unambiguous.

Types of Widgets Explained

  • Metric—displays a simple numeric representation of a single selected metric.
    These are best for overviews or vital metrics that do not need much customizing like Total Revenue.
  • Timeline—displays a graph of the selected metric over time. You can compare this to a secondary metric.
  • Geomap—displays a map of the selected region, with the specified metric plotted on the map.
    I like to use the map for E-commerce clients that have multiple locations for an overview on how well each is performing.
  • Table—displays up to 2 metrics describing the selected dimension, laid out in tabular format.
  • Pie—displays a pie chart of the selected metric grouped by a dimension.
  • Bar—displays a bar chart of the selected metric grouped by up to 2 dimensions.
    The table, pie and bar help organize complicated data since you can choose the number of rows, slices and bars you will need (10 maximum rows, 6 maximum slices, 9 maximum bars).

Segmenting and Filtering Dashboards

Once the appropriate metrics have been added for tracking, filter each widget to include only the most necessary information.

First, choose to include or exclude the filtered data. Then choose which dimension the filter should be applied to and how GA will match the data (regex, containing, beginning with, etc.).

widget with filter

Choose to include or exclude a certain dimension from your widget’s data.

Segmenting takes all website users and separates them based on the chosen segmentation options. It’s appropriate to apply segments when you want to analyze a portion of your users based on the widgets that have been set up. Segmenting can be used to create audiences like a subgroup that bought a certain product then you can market to that group specifically.

To add a new segment, click + Add Segment (located above the widgets). Once clicked, a drop down list of defined segments will appear. Simply click to apply a segment, and the selected segment will show up across each widget.

I chose the Segment: Mobile and Tablet Traffic, so now mobile user data is separated in my widgets.

Google Analytics has a vast amount of pre-defined segments to practice with inside the demo dashboard, but also gives the opportunity to create your own. Creating segments can be one of the more challenging portions of creating a custom dashboard, so Google Support has created resources to aid in defining custom segments.

Sharing Data

Another reason to use Custom Dashboards (instead of creating laborious custom reports) is because they can be easily shared with clients or across departments.

There are 4 options for sharing Dashboards, so regardless of if the recipient is a GA user, they can still receive the data.

Sharing Data Within the Current View

To set up a Dashboard for a client, create a private Dashboard so you can perfect it and make sure it’s working how you want it. Once you’re satisfied, share the view by placing it in your shared dashboards folder (in the demo account this option is not available).
1. Navigate to Share at the top of the page, under the title of your Dashboard.
2. Click the drop down and choose Share Object.
3. A version of the private dashboard will now be in the Shared folder for anyone with access to that view.

dashboard sharing options

Choose how you want to share your dashboard or choose Email to send as a PDF

NOTE: Once the Dashboard is in the shared folder, it can be modified but your private version cannot. If it needs to be restored, just re-save the private version to the Shared folder.

Sharing Outside of the View (to another GA user)

This option is useful for clients with multiples views and properties, or when creating dashboards that will be shared with coworkers or across departments. When you share your dashboard outside of the view you made it in, only the configurations are shared, the data is not passed to the different view.

Instead of clicking Share Object, you will click Share template link and send the provided link to the intended recipient. When a dashboard is shared this way, the recipient will import your dashboard through the link and their data will be applied to the widgets you set up.

Sharing Through Email or PDF

This can be one of the most helpful Dashboard since it saves time on reporting by automating reports for you.

Say a client requests a weekly/monthly report, just click Email and a popup will provide sending options. You can set up the how frequently reports will be sent and which days they’ll be sent on.

Conclusion

Now that Google has rolled out Demo accounts, it’s easy to manipulate data without worrying about permanently altering valuable historical insight.

Start by familiarizing yourself with Custom Dashboards to automate your workflow by providing custom reports that update every time you need to send them.

Make custom metrics with Widgets and filter them to only include what you need. If you want to analyze a subset of your overall data, try a predefined Segment and once you get good, make your own!

Use your Dashboard as a reporting tool so clients can be easily updated on their metrics, through email or by logging into their GA account.

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