Are you wondering, “What are Google Analytics alerts?”
Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool. It helps you track your traffic, engagement, sales, and more across your website.
It also offers alert notifications for abnormalities in your most common metrics. But there are a few drawbacks that not everyone is aware of when it comes to using these alerts.
So, in today’s post, we’ll answer the question “what are Google Analytics alerts?”
Then, we’ll talk about why you might want to invest in a tool that gives you an advantage over using Google Analytics alerts natively.
Let’s get started.
Google alerts are notifications that let you know when there are inconsistencies with your site’s data trends. This can include things like:
- Direct sales
- And more...
See, as a data monitoring tool, Google Analytics has many strengths.
It helps you track loads of useful metrics, set up conversion goals, and create custom reports. And it’s free, which is another bonus.
But even the most data-smart marketers don’t have their attention on their Google Analytics dashboard 24/7. Which means you might not notice for a while when something isn’t going to plan.
Sudden spikes or drops in website visits, conversions, or revenue are cause for concern. And they often indicate an issue that can’t wait until the next time you happen to wander by your Google Analytics dashboard to check on your data.
No. When there’s a problem, you want to know as quickly as possible, so you can rectify it.
This is where Google Analytics alerts come in handy.
You create alerts based on a set of conditions that will tell you if there’s an issue. You might look out for a sharp decrease in revenue or conversions, for example, which could indicate a problem with your checkout flow.
Or you might monitor site-loading time or traffic from your most popular referral sources.
When those scenarios occur, an email notification pings into your inbox to let you know there’s a problem. Depending on how you have alerts set up, you might also get a text notification, which is useful on those days when your inbox is overflowing.
Of course, it isn’t only problems that might need your attention.
Sometimes changes in your data indicate something has gone well. A sudden increase in traffic or conversions could suggest one of your marketing campaigns has taken off.
You’ll still want to know as soon as possible, so you can control the situation, alert your sales team, and make the most of the opportunity.
Whether changes in your usual data are positive or negative, you still need to know as quickly as possible. Having alerts set up for your website is essential. Without them, you could miss vital information about your site’s performance.
In the worst-case scenario, that could equal thousands of pounds of lost revenue if your checkout process breaks during a critical sales period. Like Black Friday, for example.
Sounds great, right? But you should be aware that there are a few drawbacks to relying on Google Analytics alerts.
Let’s take a look at why you may not trust Google’s native alerting system.
At this point, you know that you need alerts set up to monitor your website and ensure you’ll catch any issues as soon as possible. The next decision you need to make is what tool you’ll use to create those alerts.
One option is to use Google Analytics itself. You can set up custom alerts via your dashboard. Just go to Customization in the left-hand menu and then click on Custom alerts to start creating the conditions that you want to trigger an alert.
Now, I’m not going to pretend there are no advantages to doing it this way. The main one, obviously, is that it is free.
But I will also warn you that there is one very big problem with relying on Google Analytics native alerts to catch issues with your website or digital marketing.
And that problem is time.
When issues occur, every second is precious. Especially if it is during a high sales period. You need to know as soon as possible that there is a problem, so you can get it fixed before it costs you too much money.
If there was a problem with your payment processor stopping your customers from making a purchase, when would you want to know? Obviously in these kinds of scenarios, every second counts.
Unfortunately, if you’re relying on Google Analytics native alerts, 24 hours is exactly how long you’ll have to wait. The custom alerts aren’t based on real-time data. The shortest monitoring period you can set when you create your alerts is a day.
And this was done intentionally. Many people don’t know that Google Alerts were originally set up to be in real-time. But the developer who had the idea was told “no.” Why?
Because it trains people that they don’t need to check in with their Google Analytics dashboard. Less active users equals less money for Google, so they wanted business owners to make checking in with GA a daily habit.
To be fair, it’s hard to complain about a tool that gives you such powerful information for free. But the time-delay is still annoying.
Even for situations that might be a little less urgent, the timing of native alerts from Google Analytics lacks some nuance. I’m thinking of positive situations, where you get an influx of new customers.
You might not need to know about the increase in website visitors within minutes. But considering how fast the world of digital marketing moves, you probably don’t want to wait a whole day either. You want to leverage your success and boost the reach of your successful campaign as early as possible.
But the custom alerts in Google Analytics can only be set to three time periods: a day, a week, or a month.
For me, that lacks the flexibility that modern-day digital marketing requires. I want to be able to set alerts that respond to changes in my data by the minute or hour, not a day or more.
And, finally, I want my alerts to be flexible enough to respond to expected changes in my data.
That’s because the flow of sales is never consistent for any website. You might be an eCommerce site, for example, that sees the vast majority of sales in the evening or at weekends. In which case, what indicates an issue at 8pm on a Thursday is different from what would be a red flag at 9am on Monday.
Google Analytics does attempt to get around this by letting you configure alerts that compare with the same day in the previous week. But what if the same day the previous week was the day your big summer sale email hit inboxes? The data is no longer comparable.
That’s why I created custom Google Analytics alerts with Metrics Watch:
Now, you may know Metrics Watch as one of the best report building tools on the market. But it also delivers Google Analytics notifications in real time.
That means you get the most updated information and can have alerts sent to you via:
That last one is particularly useful.
Imagine having a bug in your shopping cart at 5:00 am on a holiday where you’re running a major sale.
Thanks to Metrics Watch’s alert, though, your team gets notified on Slack. That means the first person to see the issue can get to work fixing it immediately.
This gives you a headstart as you troubleshoot problems that drastically affect the success of your business.
And the best part? You can get started totally free!
All you have to do is click below to begin your 100% risk-free trial of Metrics Watch real-time Google Analytics alerts (no credit card required):
And that’s all for today. I hope that this post cleared up the question, “What are Google Analytics alerts?” I also hope it shed light on the fact that your store won’t be as protected if you’re using Google Analytics native alerts.
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll definitely want to check out the following resources:
- Setting up Google Real-Time Alerts
- Google Analytics Audit: The Most Comprehensive Guide Around
- The New Google Analytics (GA4): Should You Make the Switch?
These articles will have everything you need to improve your marketing efforts with Google Analytics and create a better, data-driven sales strategy.