John T O'Farrell's Commentary On The Digital Space and Online Marketing

Smart Phone and Tablet Traffic, No They Are Not The Same. How To Isolate Your Phone Traffic With Custom Segments In Google Analytics.

NOTE: A updated post was published on December 7, 2014 reporting on a Google release that automated this process.  Read that post here.

As a digital marketer or merchandiser you have to realize that your phone and tablet traffic are two different beasts. Understanding how users behave on these two different devices can lead you to insights that can improve the customer experience and ultimately be exploited to achieve your marketing goals.

So how do you do it?

Google Analytics makes it easy to isolate both phone and tablet traffic using their pre-built segments.  To isolate phone traffic, you select the “Mobile Traffic” segment and to isolate tablet the “Tablet Traffic” segment.

However for most advanced marketers using pre-built segments does not help. The pre-builts don’t take into consideration all internally generated traffic nor any of the junk traffic (e.g. bots) that may be making its way to their site.  Analysis with this unwanted traffic leads to "garbage in garbage out".

You would think that adjusting your custom segment to isolate phone and tablet traffic would be easy.  Well it is when you are looking to isolate tablet traffic.  All you need to do is add on “Tablet”, “Contains”, “Yes” and you’re in business.

However isolating phone traffic to a custom segment is not exactly clear cut. Unlike isolating tablet traffic there is no one “phone” option to add on.  If your custom segment is an “Include Segment” here’s what you need to do:

  • Step One: Copy your basic custom segment and name it something like Custom All Phone Traffic
  • Step Two: Isolate all mobile traffic (both phone and tablet).
    • In your custom segment, add a new element by:
    • Start with “AND”
    • Select “Mobile (Including Tablet)”
    • Select “Contains” 
    • Type “Yes”
  • Step Three: In your custom segment, add a new filter.
    • In your custom segment, add a new element by:
    • Start with “AND”
    • Select “Tablet”
    • Select “Contains” 
    • Type “No”
  • Step Four: Select “Save” at the bottom of the custom segment creation page.

Once you have this in place you’ll be good to go and ready to analyze your “phone only” traffic.  Enjoy!

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