Top 15 Google Analytics Custom Alerts

October 23, 2012By:

Unless you regularly take your laptop to bed with you, you can’t monitor your Google Analytics account 24/7. Luckily, Google Analytics gives you the option to set up email alerts. You will receive an email notification once the action you set is triggered in Google Analytics. This can be life (well, data) saving in a few situations described below.

You can set up an alert by following these steps:

1. Go to Admin
2. Select the profile of your choice
3. Click on “Custom Alerts” under the first tab called “Assets”.
4. Click on “Create New Alert”

When setting up an alert, you will need to do the following:

1. Choose the profile(s) to apply an alert to
2. Choose the frequency for which you want to collect data (Day, Week, and Month). Most alerts will be set using “Day,” since we don’t want to wait a week or a month to get notified about an issue, but some data will require week over week data comparison, for example.
3. Identify the segment of traffic you want to monitor. You can track data for all traffic or be more specific (Organic, referral, etc.)
4. Choose what metric you want to monitor (Visits, conversions, bounces, etc.).
5. Set the amount your chosen metric has to change to activate the alert (ie. increase, decrease, etc.).

Create Custom Alert in Google Analytics

Below are 15 useful Google Analytics custom alerts that can allow you to react quickly to an issue and not lose hours/days of data:

1. Traffic Drop
2. Traffic Flatline
3. Traffic Spike
4. Google Adwords Traffic Drop
5. Drop in Conversion
6. Spike in Conversion
7. 404 Pages
8. Different Domain Traffic
9. Usability Issues
10. Non-branded Traffic Drop
11. Keyword Drop
12. E-commerce Alert
13. New Markets
14. Average Time Load Increase
15. Social Traffic Increase

1. Traffic Drop

If your traffic is dropping suddenly, you should know about it so you can start assessing the issue as soon as possible and taken appropriate actions.
Here is how to set up the custom alert:

Traffic drop - Custom Alert in Google Analytics2. Traffic Flat Line

Have you ever experienced a website redesign or CMS version update, only to realize your updated version doesn’t include the Google Analytics tracking code anymore? This is an easy fix but could cost you hours or days of data if you are not notified.
Traffic flat line - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

3. Traffic Spike

It is also useful to get notified in the opposite situation: a sudden traffic spike. It’s probably caused by a marketing effort on your part, but might also be from a third-party (social media mention, article, review etc…). You want to monitor and potentially interact with that mention, because it could be positive or negative. A traffic spike is not always a good thing.
Some sites have very heavy traffic during the week and low traffic during the weekend. This might end up triggering the traffic drop and traffic spike alert so you could choose the following option instead:

Traffic increase - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

4. Google Adwords Traffic Drop

When Google Adwords traffic suddenly drops, it usually means that the credit card on file has expired, payment got denied or the budget has reached its expiry. In any case, it is good to know in a timely manner to remediate and not lose traffic and conversions.

Adwords Traffic drop - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

5. Drop in Conversions

When there is a sudden drop in conversions, it is usually one of three reasons:
1. The thank you URL changed and the goal has not been updated in Google Analytics
2. The event tracking code was removed by mistake
3. A form/cart is broken and needs immediate fixing
Here is how you can set up the custom alert:

Goal Conversion drop - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

Of course, the percentage of this alert may need to be changed if Goals are added / removed. This alert can also be set up for a specific goal, which would save you the time of investigating which goal’s conversion rate dropped.

6. Spike in Conversion

If something worked, you should know about it and try to replicate it. A product might be selling really well, so you might want to feature the hot product on your site and push the sales even more. It might also mean that there is an issue with the way conversions are being tracked and you might be recording double conversions.

Goal Conversion spike - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

7. 404 Pages

You can monitor the number of 404 pages on your site through the Google Webmaster tools and you might even get a message for it if there is an increase of 404s. However, a quicker way to correct these pages would be to set up an alert in Google Analytics like this:

404 pages - Custom Alert in Google Analytics8. Traffic From Another Domain

This is a very handy Google Analytics custom alert to catch people who are stealing your content by just copy/pasting your code (thieves AND lazy!). Because your Google Analytics code will be on that page on their site, it will be triggered but under a different domain name. You can then set up an alert like this one to get a notification and deal with the stolen content issue:
Hostname - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

9. Usability Issues

Is your website offline? If your website is experiencing some usability issues monitoring sudden high bounce rate or low average time spent on site, this will allow you to respond quickly to these issues.

Bounce Rate - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

10. Non-branded Traffic Drop

You can also use Google Analytics custom alerts to monitor SEO issues. An alert such as this one will let you know quickly if something has gone awry with your rankings:

non branded Traffic drop - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

11. Keyword Drop

This is another Google Analytics alert to monitor SEO issues.This alert is more specific and tracks keywords by group or categories:
non branded Traffic drop specific SEO - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

12. E-commerce Alert

If your e-commerce revenue is suddenly dropping or increasing, you need to be notified to take immediate actions:

E-commerce drop - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

13. New Markets

If your visits are booming in a certain country, province/state, or city, it’s useful for you to know about it. Using the regular expression that will match anything, you can set up an alert like this one:

Regional GA custom alert

14. Average Time Load Increase

Is your server running on one leg? Is the last WordPress plugin you installed causing the site to load slowly for those who don’t have it cached? Don’t wait for one of your customers to be kind enough to complain about it. Be proactive and get a notification with an alert like this one:

Average page loading time increase - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

15. Social Traffic Spike

This one could be good or bad for you. Either way, if traffic from social media suddenly spikes, you HAVE to monitor and respond. One way to be aware of it is via a Google Analytics alert. Google Analytics has not yet included their social network part of the report into the custom alert so you have to use regular expressions:

Social Traffic increase - Custom Alert in Google Analytics

Do you use other Google Analytics custom alerts? I would love to hear about it. Drop a comment below and add your feedback to this post and I might edit the post to add yours.