Google Analytics custom reports are extremely helpful and very easy to configure, yet they aren’t used nearly as much as they should be. Let’s discuss some of the advantages of custom reports and set up a few quick examples.

Easy, Useful, Focused, Underused

As any Web or software designer can attest to, user interfaces require sacrifice and compromise. No single interface will ever provide the right combination of features and information for all users. The Google Analytics built-in reports provide a great selection of dimension and metric configurations, but in some circumstances, a custom report is more effective at combining and isolating the relevant data.

It’s safe to say, however, that many Google Analytics users never venture to the Customization tab or click the Customize button at the top of a report.

Creating a Custom Report

There are two ways to get started on a custom report:

  • Customization tab in the top navigation: click to start with a blank slate
  • Customize button in a report: click to customize a built-in report configuration

Note that a built-in report, once customized, will appear only under the Customization tab; it will not replace the built-in report.

Click the Customize tab to start with a blank slate.

Customization tab

Click the Customize button within a built-in report to customize the dimensions and metrics.

Customize

Page Value by Landing Page

Speaking of neglect, the Page Value metric is extremely useful in understanding which pages are supporting goal conversions and encouraging Ecommerce transactions, but Page Value does not get nearly as much attention as it deserves.

If you’re meeting with your landing page designer and trying to focus on positive and negative indicators for the landing pages, you could easily configure a custom report that displays just three metrics for each landing page: entrances, bounce rate, and page value.

This report illustrates two very important aspects of custom report configuration:

  • flexibility: page value doesn’t appear in the built-in Landing Pages report. You can certainly add it to a custom landing pages report.
  • conciseness: custom reports are often most useful for what they don’t include

We can focus on just three metrics, including page value, which does not apppear in the built-in Landing Pages report.

landing page configuration

This customized report highlights the data that may be most relevant for your landing page designers.

landing pages customized

Conversion Rates by Campaign Name

Website optimization boils down to the right visitors doing the right things. If you’re correctly tracking your campaigns, you can set up a custom report that focuses on the most important metrics: goal completions or conversion rates.

The custom report below does just that, and also demonstrates filtering: we’re removing those sessions in which the campaign name dimension was (not set), thereby displaying only actual campaign traffic.

We’re filtering out campaign name (not set).

Campaign custom report configuration

Conversion rate for two goals by campaign – nice and concise.

customized campaign report

Map Overlay

Let’s make sure not to overlook Map Overlay as a custom report option. What better enhancement to geographic data than a map?

As the primary dimension, we’re displaying Region (the dimension that corresponds to U.S. state).

Map Overlay configuration

Wouldn’t your sales manager rather see this succinct and graphical custom report than a wall of data?

Revenue by State

Custom Dimensions and Metrics

So far, we’ve only used built-in dimensions and metrics in our custom reports. For truly customized reporting, you can also configure your reports with any custom dimensions and metrics that you are populating into Google Analytics. (In fact, the custom dimensions and metrics don’t appear by default in any of the built-in Google Analytics reports.)

We’re basing this report on the Category dimension that we’re populating with each pageview.

Custom dimension in custom report configuration

The report shows bounce rate and conversion rate for sessions that included a pageview within the category.

custom report with custom dimension

Additional Considerations

Feature Parity with Built-in Reports

All built-in report features are also available for custom reports: segmentation, advanced filtering, adding to dashboards or shortcuts, and display formats (Percent, Performance, Comparison, and Pivot).

Email and Export

If you’ve set up the perfect custom report for your IT manager, CFO, or client, take advantage of the automated email feature and keep them engaged in the analytics process.

Created per Google Analytics User – Edit Rights Not Needed

Don’t be afraid to experiment with custom reports: until you share them from the admin screen, no other Google Analytics user will see them.

Any Google Analytics user with Read & Analyze access can create a custom report.

Sampling

If you’re generating a custom report based on a date range that includes more than 500,000 sessions, sampling will apply, so be aware of sampling alerts.

Custom Reports in Google Analytics Premium

If you’re a Google Analytics Premium user, the sampling threshold may extend to 50,000,000 sessions, beyond which you can export unsampled data. You also have the option of configuring custom tables from which you can pull immediate, unsampled custom reports regardless of session count.

Also, for Google Analytics Premium users, Custom Funnels have become available in beta as a new custom report type.

Solutions Gallery

Need more ideas for custom reports? You can import the custom report configurations that others have contributed to the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery.

Go Custom

If you haven’t already used custom reports, now is the time to get familiar with this useful feature. Never again will you limit yourself to built-in reporting when a custom report would do a better job.

No pain – all gain, for yourself and your stakeholders.

About the Author

Eric Fettman
Director of Education & Technical Application
As analytics instructor and coach for E-Nor’s Analytics University online courses, customized enterprise training, and public workshops in major cities worldwide, Eric translates complexity into understandable ideas, real-world examples, and actionable next steps. He concretely supports and inspires individuals and organizations as they develop analytics skills and programs. Eric is the developer of www.GoogleAnalyticsTest.com and coauthor of Google Analytics Breakthrough: From Zero to Business Impact. He earned a B.A. with high honors from Harvard University and is grateful for the tremendous opportunities for lifelong learning and impact that digital analytics offers.