Why Track Google Analytics Custom Alerts?
Have you ever noticed a sudden drop or spike in your website traffic? Or, you may have noticed an increase or loss in eCommerce sales, email signups, or forms conversions. Sometimes, such a sudden increase can be fake and harmful to your site unless you’re running a specific campaign.
Imagine you’re busy with something more important and weren’t checking your Analytics data for quite some time. Chances are your Analytics reports showed unusual spikes or drops in user interaction but you missed them. When you finally got back, you discovered a massive loss.
Google Analytics custom alerts help to prevent such losses. You can set up alerts for certain changes in your Analytics data, so when the reports meet the threshold, Analytics immediately sends you an alert email. Then, you can instantly fix the issues.
Google Analytics custom alerts are really useful as they help you to monitor huge changes in your Analytics reports and notify you immediately. Thus, you can instantly investigate and find out what’s causing the changes in your Analytics data. It protects you from some unfortunate conditions like referrer spam, loss in business, etc.
Now, let’s go ahead and take a look at the process of creating custom alerts in Google Analytics.
Creating Custom Alerts in Google Analytics
To get started, make sure that you’ve signed into your Google Analytics account. Then, navigate to the Admin option at the bottom of your Analytics panel on the left.
Upon clicking the Admin option, you’ll see 3 columns of settings there. Go to the View column and scroll down to the Custom Alerts option under Personal Tools and Assets. Click the Custom Alerts.
Now, you’ll see your custom alerts overview along with a New Alert button. If you haven’t created any custom alerts yet, you’ll see no items in the list. To create a new custom alert, click New Alert.
Then, you’ll see a page where you can add a new custom alert.
1. Alert name: First, enter an alert name.
2. Apply to: Then, choose the proper Analytics account from the Apply to option if you have more than 1 Analytics property.
3. Period: Next, you can select the frequency for the alert from the Period option. You can choose Day, Week, or Month. If you choose Day, it creates alerts based on daily changes in traffic or user interactions.
Make sure to check Send me an email when this alert triggers. If you want to send the alert to other members of your team, you can add their email addresses from the Also include option. If you’re in the United States, you can also set up your mobile phone to receive a text message when the alert triggers.
4. Alert Conditions: In the Alert Conditions, you can set up following:
- This applies to: You can select All Traffic or specific dimensions to which the alert applies.
- Alert me when: Choose the metric to which the alert applies.
- Condition: Condition options include Is less than, Is greater than, Decreases by more than, % Increases by more than, etc. If you aren’t sure about the average value of any metric, you can choose % Increases/ Decreases by more than option.
- Value: Enter the value for the condition.
- Compared to: If you choose % Increases/ Decreases by more than, you can choose comparing to previous day, week, or year.
Sales & conversions
Sales and conversions are the most important things to monitor because they’re what make businesses thrive.
For heavy-traffic e-commerce websites, you should make sure, by setting up alerts, that there are always at least X active visitors that converted or at least Y people that bought in the last hour. For these businesses, every minute counts because transactions are constantly occurring.
If you have less traffic, your window for getting relevant feedback is probably a bit wider. Monitoring by the hour might be overkill. You could set up an alert if you didn’t do at least X sales yesterday or Y amount of money yesterday. It may sound like a long feedback loop, but it’s massively faster than noticing you didn’t have sales when you look at your numbers a few days after the drop.
You should also monitor the conversion rate to make sure it’s not catastrophic. For instance, if you typically have a 2% conversion rate that suddenly drops under 1%, there’s probably something unusual going on that deserves your attention.
Metrics to monitor:
- E-commerce sales
- Conversion rate
- Specific goal conversions
- Events (filtered on category and action)
- Similar metrics
How to set up sales & conversion alerts in GA
Here’s an example of a low conversion rate alert:
In native GA alerts, you can’t use a number of conversions as an alert threshold, only conversion rate and value. But you should be fine with this in most cases.
Here’s another example of a Low revenue alert:
These can be checked once per day, the shortest period of time we can do with native Google Analytics alerts. Or you can select “week” and “month”, which are — admittedly — pretty useless for most people. Stick with “day” as your main focus for these alerts.
High error rate
In a perfect world (often referred to as “theory”), we would never have any errors on our sites or apps. A world without 404 or 500 sounds fantastic, right? Well, this doesn’t exist. Sorry to burst your bubble.
It’s okay to have some errors, but what if you suddenly have hundreds or thousands of 500 errors? It could be the symptom of a major issue. You might (and should) use an error reporting tool.
But what about 404’s? You should create a GA alert for that too. You should set alert thresholds so you know ASAP when you get an issue and can start fixing it right away.
Metrics to monitor:
- Visits to a 404.html or /404 page
- Events filtered on something like category=error action=404. This one will vary quite a bit for each site and app.
How to set up error rates alerts in GA
Here’s what your newly created /404 alert might look like in GA:
High bounce rate on advertising traffic
Ads for cold target audiences typically result in high bounce rates, and you can live with it.
However, when it comes to highly specific retargeting on engaged leads or intention-based advertising (i.e., Google ads based on keywords) bounce rates are way more concerning. These should have a much higher conversion rate.
You’re probably already putting a significant amount of money in these ads, so you want to know as soon as possible when they’re performing poorly.
The metrics you’ll decide to monitor here depend on the goals of your ads campaigns (conversions, leads, etc.)
Metrics to monitor:
- Bounce rate and/or average session duration.
How to set up ad traffic bounce rate alerts in GA
Here’s what a typical ad traffic monitoring alert could look like in GA:
Above, we’re monitoring if bounce rate on the landing pages for a specific Ad Group in Google Ads increases by more than 15% on a daily basis.
What if it does? Well my friend, you better review that Ad campaign targeting of yours and/or landing pages real quick! Because money’s flying out of your window hehe.