How to Use Google Analytics Alerts (Bonus: Better Alternative)

Let’s start this off by simply asking: why do we want to be alerted? Alerts prevent us from having to check in with our data constantly, most people only want to know when something occurs without having to check constantly. Then again, there are always the ones who love their data, charts and analytics, but even the most data-centric of us need alerts because you can’t be everywhere all the time.

Why use Google Analytics custom alerts

Let’s look at a scenario where alerts are crucial.

An e-commerce manager at ABC company logs into his analytics account to look over the previous day’s performance, only to see that revenue has visibly plummeted. He sees this after it has occurred because he didn’t have his alerts set up to notify him of any issues regarding changes in revenue. Revenue is merely one parent metric that he has to look at- in order to accurately prevent revenue dips, the e-commerce manager needs to look at hundreds of metrics to make sure that all is ok.

Here is where Google Analytics alerts can help. By setting up custom alerts; analytics users can rest assured that if something goes wrong, their static alerts will be able to notify them.

The case for alerts is clear, Google search results exceed  10,000,000 for the search query “custom Google Analytics alerts” – people have shown the demand and need. If you feel overwhelmed and think that it’s hard to be constantly checking and monitoring your metrics, you need to set up Google Analytics Alerts.

We’re going to go over how to set up analytics alerts and the key metrics that you need to set up so that you don’t skip a beat going forward.

How to Create Custom Google Analytics Alerts (Step by Step)

Step 1: Make sure you’re logged into Google Analytics

Step 2: Go to the admin option

Step 3. After clicking the “Admin” option, you’ll see settings columns. Go to View column and go to the Custom Alerts option below Personal Tools and Assets. Click Custom Alerts.

Step 4. After clicking “Custom Alerts”, you’ll see your “custom alerts” overview along with the New Alert button. There will be no items in the list if you haven’t created any custom alerts. Click “New Alert” for a new custom alert.

Step 5. A new page where you can add a new custom alert will be shown.

Substeps:

Step 1: Alert name – Enter an alert name i.e Revenue dropped

Step 2: Apply to – If you have more than 1 Analytics property, choose the account from the apply to option.

Step 3: Period –You can select how often you want to be alerted in the Period option. You can choose by Day, Week, or Month. If you choose Day, it creates alerts based on daily changes in traffic or interactions.

Click Send me an email when this alert triggers. To send alerts to other members of your team add their email addresses from the “also include” option.

Step 4: Alert Conditions – In the Alert Conditions, you can set up the following:

  • This applies to: You can choose for it to apply to All Traffic or specific dimensions.
  • Alert me when: Apply the alert to a specific metric.
  • 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 condition value.
  • Compared to: If % Increases/ Decreases by more than is chosen, you can then choose to compare it to the previous day, week, or year.

Once you have entered all of the necessary information click Save Alert, and hopefully, by now, you have successfully added an alert for one metric/dimension combination.

Useful Google Analytics custom alerts

Here I am going to map out some useful custom alerts that are essential along with some more advanced alerts.

Essentials

Page 404 Alert

Alert Name: +10% 404 Increase (WoW) – xyz.com

Apply To: Production (Filtered View) and

Period: Weekly or Daily (depends on your preference, business model, frequency etc)

Alert Conditions

Condition 1:

  • This applies to: Page Title                    
  • Condition: Contains
  • Value: Not Found (Title Tag displayed when 404 error is returned on site)

Condition 2:

  • Alert Me When: Session
  • Condition: % increases more than
  • Value: 10%
  • Compared to: Previous Week

Organic Session Decline Week-Over-Week

Alert Name: Organic Sessions Drop -20% WoW (xyz.com)

Apply To: Production (Filtered View)

Period: Weekly

Alert Conditions

Condition 1:

  • This applies to: Medium
  • Condition: Contains
  • Value: Organic

Condition 2:

  • Alert Me When: Session
  • Condition: % decreases more than
  • Value: 20%
  • Compared to: Previous Week

No Transactions Recorded

Alert Name: No Daily Transactions (xyz.com)

Apply To: Production (Filtered View)

Period: Day

Alert Conditions

Condition 1:

  • This applies to: All Traffic

Condition 2:

  • Alert Me When: Transactions
  • Condition: is less than
  • Value: 1

Social Media Surge

Alert Name: Social Media Surge +100 (xyz.com)

Apply To: Production (Filtered View)

Period: Day

Alert Conditions

Condition 1:

  • This applies to: Medium
  • Condition: Matches Regular Expression
  • Value: twitter|facebook|instagram|reddit (this is the regular expression format for social media sources add according to the ones you want to track)

Condition 2:

  • Alert Me When: Session
  • Condition: increases more than
  • Value: 100
  • Compared to: Previous Day

Advanced Alerts

High Bounce Rate on Paid Traffic

Alert Name: Bounce rate on Paid traffic > 10%

Apply To: xyz.com – Master

Period: Day

Alert Conditions

Condition 1:

  • This applies to:  Google Ads: Ad Group
  • Condition: Matches Exactly
  • Value: “ad group name”

Condition 2:

  • Alert Me When: Bounce Rate
  • Condition: % increases more than
  • Value: 10
  • Compared to: Previous Day

Low Revenue Alert

Alert Name: Low Revenue

Apply To: Master

Period: Day

Alert Conditions

Condition 1:

  • This applies to:  All Traffic

Condition 2:

  • Alert Me When: Revenue
  • Condition: is less than
  • Value: 1000 (or your business’ low revenue threshold)

Low Conversion Rate

Note: In order to trigger alerts for conversion rates, you must have set up a Google Analytics Goal with its goal being either a purchase or what you consider to be a conversion in your funnel.

Alert Name: Low Conversion Rate

Apply To: xyz.com – Master

Period: Day

Alert Conditions

Condition 1:

  • This applies to:  All Traffic

Condition 2:

  • Alert Me When: Purchase (Goal 3 Conversion Rate)
  • Condition: is less than
  • Value: 1 (i.e your business’ low conversion threshold)

Google Analytics Alerts: Drawbacks & Limitations

Static Google Analytics alerts most definitely make our life easier, as we saw from the above, there is a multitude of static alerts that can be set for a variety of analytics metrics.

BUT, is your business static?

I’m assuming the answer is most definitely no.

As your business or organization evolves, so do its metrics. This causes static alerts to quickly become irrelevant to the current business structure and thus, must be adjusted constantly to prevent false alerts. A good example of this is again with revenue, let’s say month 1, your business is new and your revenue is low – your alerts will be set accordingly. But, as your business grows you might set your low revenue alert at a higher point in comparison to the past, and this leads to the main drawback of static alerts.

If you run a relatively low-growth, low-impact business with a finite number of metrics (under 6) to track; that are relatively stable and static then yes, by all means, set up alerts.

But if you are part of a data-centric, fast-growing, and metrically dense business, then you need your own team of analysts just to deal with the constant adjusting and tweaking of the analytics alert rules.  This can get very pricey and unrealistic very quickly.

On top of all that cost, even if you have the team of analysts to work with and constantly tweak the alerts; what do you do with the data you’ve been alerted to? You still need to chart and visualize the data and try to make sense of it all.  Even after visualizing everything, doing metric tracking and analysis with manpower opens you up to a host of biases and human errors.

A solution to this madness

Static metric monitoring with static analytics alerts manually done by manpower is becoming increasingly inefficient. As more data flows in, there are more metrics, and therefore more rules, more alerts, more analysts, more costs. Is there a better way?

Indeed.

Today with machine-learning algorithms, automated and constant metric tracking is a reality.

That’s what companies like Millimetric.ai have set out to do.

One of Millimetric’s main features is that it can automatically alert you to pertinent changes in your metrics. More importantly, these automatic alerts aren’t for a specific group of metrics you predefined, the alerts are for all your metrics across multiple data sources.  

Say good-bye to the team of analysts you’ve employed to tweak rules, analyze your data and derive insight from it. Millimetric does all of that for you.

Millimetric is not human, therefore, the types biases and human errors that would exist when you employ a team of analysts instantly disappear.

What are you waiting for?

Instead of hiring a slew of analysts and buying thousands of dollars worth of BI Tools – try Millimetric – you’ll reap the benefits of being alerted without the hassle of creating them.

Millimetric.ai creates thresholds and rules automatically from your business’ historical data and automatically alerts you to any anomalous activity. To put it simply, Millimetric is the opposite of static, it’s variable, just like your business.

Get Started with Millimetric Today!

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