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Creating and Using Formulas for Calculated Metrics in Google Analytics

Posted on 12.31.2015

As discussed in the January 2016 print issue of Website Magazine, Calculated Metrics are user-defined metrics computed from existing metrics available in a Google Analytics account. There are plenty of benefits of using them but creating the actual formulas can be quite a chore if you're unfamiliar with the process.

Let's take a quick (visual) look at how to create a calculated metric in Google Analytics:

+ Start by navigating to the Admin tab and selecting the appropriate view; then click on Calculated Metrics to access the interface a create a new calculated metric.

+ Populate the fields with name (this will appear in the Metric selector section for custom reports), the external name (which is automatically populated based on what was entered in the Name field; don't modify this), and the formatting type (integer, currency, time, float or percentage).

+ Here's where things get interesting. In the Formula field, start typing and predefined metrics will appear automatically; include operators (plus, minus divided by, multiplied by, etc) to get at teh data you want and you're on your way to creating a Calculated Metric in Google Analytics.

Say for example that you want to create a Calculated Metric that shows revenue per user. The setup, including formula, would look like this:

Creating the calculated metric (when you have the optimal measurement strategy in place and know what needs to be tracked) is actually the easy part - it gets far more difficult when you need/want to use it within Google Analytics. As it stands today, Calculated Metrics can be used in two ways - as a metric in a custom report or as a metric for a custom dashboard widget.

When adding to a custom report, add the Calculated Metric you just created and then add the appropriate dimensions (you'd select country, for example, if you needed to know how much revenue was generated based on those specific geographic designations). It's a straightforward process (and the same process should you need to createa widget) but there is no room for error.

Calculated metrics provide an efficient way to get at the data and intelligence necessary to optimize the user-experience. Since all the number crunching can be done within Google Analytics, the feature could prove to be quite popular with Web analytics professionals.


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