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Google Analytics Best Practices: Using Multiple Views

David Oltean | January 3, 2020 | Measurement & Analytics

Within every Google Analytics property, you’re afforded up to 25 unique views for data filtering, segmentation, and experimentation, yet the vast majority of Analytics configurations seem to only have a single view set up for reporting.

Using only one view in Google Analytics can harm data integrity, provides no safety net or cross reference for filters, and can be time-consuming for segmenting data. In this article, we’re sharing our multi-view configuration recommendations to better preserve data integrity, increase flexibility for testing filters and events, and provide clarity and simplicity when digging into Google Analytics data.

The Three Must-Have Views

When we set up or reconfigure a Google Analytics property, we consider it a best practice to use at least three unique views: one for raw data, one for testing and experimentation, and one for official reporting and goal tracking. This configuration gives you an unfiltered view to fall back on if data integrity is ever compromised, provides a sandbox for testing and experimentation, and maintains a protected view for reporting and goal tracking.

The Three Must-Have Views in Google Analytics

The three must-have views in Google Analytics: a Raw Data View, Test View, and Official View

The Raw Data View

As the title would suggest, this view offers a look at unfiltered, raw data. Having this view is crucial in case a filter ever goes haywire or if the effects of a filter need to be validated or cross referenced.

No filters should be applied to this view and goal configuration isn’t necessary either. Because filters in Google Analytics can’t be applied or removed retroactively, this view simply provides a safety fallback if filtered views are compromised and you need a look at the raw data to make sense of the metrics.

The Test View

As a general rule of thumb, you never want to apply filters to views you’re actively using for reporting without testing them first. Google Analytics filters can not be applied or removed retroactively, so improperly adding, editing, or deleting a filter can cause permanent damage to data integrity within a single view.

A misapplied filter typically results in anything from a minor dip to a major nosedive in traffic or event data, or it can significantly skew behavior metrics. Without a Test View, you can ruin your year-over-year or month-over-month data to compare (or you’ll be doing some serious workarounds to try to capture or estimate that data). Especially for Exclude or Include filters, remember to cross-reference the Test View with your Raw Data View to validate the impact of your changes.

The Test View within a Google Analytics property is your sandbox. Play around. Break stuff. Fix stuff. Test and validate new filters, or experiment with features you’re not familiar with. It may even make sense to have multiple testing views if you have a diverse array of filters or audience segments. Just make sure to clean up test views when you’re finished experimenting and keep active filters to the necessary minimum so you can get an accurate look at filtered data before you copy those changes over to your official reporting view.

The Official View

The Official View is the view that really matters – the one you rely on for strategy and decision-making, the one that feeds into your Google Data Studio dashboard, and the one that’s presented to the execs and bigwigs. Data integrity is preserved in this view by first validating filters and edits within your Test View before they’re applied here.

The Official View is also your hub for goal tracking, though this is another data point that you first may want to validate in a Test View. While new goal setups can simply be deleted and re-configured if they’re improperly set up, brands will often have IP filters applied for their internal team or offices applied, which can make self-testing events and goals impossible within an Official View.

Once you’ve finalized the setup for your Official View and have validated your filters and goals are properly configured, this view can also serve as a template for further segmentation. The “Copy view” feature under “View Settings” makes it easy to take existing filters, goals, and user privileges and re-apply those to another view.

A screenshot of the "Copy view" button

A screenshot of the “Copy view” button

Use Your View Allowance!

You’re afforded up to 25 views within every Google Analytics property, so why not take Google up on the offer? For digital properties with extensive event or goal tracking, we often find that setting views up for specific traffic sources can offer significant time savings for investigating the performance of viewers from a particular channel, medium, or source.

For example, if you wanted to drill down on SEO and organic traffic performance, setting up an Include filter for “organic” as the campaign medium can offer a lot of convenience. Rather than having to drill down into Organic Search traffic within the Acquisition report and individually click through the different Goals to see conversions sourced via search traffic, you’re able to get a complete snapshot of all Goal Completions within the Conversions tab with an Organic-specific view. This approach offers similar convenience for some of the Behavior and Realtime metrics. As mentioned above, the “Copy view” feature makes it easy to mimic goal configuration and necessary filters for a new view.

A screenshot of an organic traffic filter

A screenshot of an organic traffic filter

Traffic sources aside, you’re allowed to create 25 total views and acquisition filtering is just one piece of the puzzle, so feel free to experiment away within your Google Analytics property. Just make sure to maintain the three must-have views mentioned above, and the other 22 will be entirely at your disposal. Keep your naming conventions unique to avoid confusion and know that Google Analytics will automatically sort your Views alphabetically (I had to rename this article a few times to make the header image read correctly).

Looking For Google Analytics Guidance or More Tips?

If you’re looking to get more insight out of measuring your digital properties, check out some of our other blog articles on analytics and measurement or drop us a line for a consultation with our team

We take a holistic approach to measuring the performance of your digital properties and aim to identify how your audience and business goals connect to your potential clients through your web presence. We also offer custom coaching programs and are passionate about sharing our expertise to help marketing teams create data-driven strategies and get the most out of their website’s analytics.

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