Google Analytics Real-Time Alerts (For 2020)

If you're running a business or responsible for one. If every lost opportunity matters a lot to you. If you need to know about every conversion as soon as possible or just trying to fix unexpected things fast. Google Analytics real-time alerts will be a handy tool for you. Check out this guide, and soon you'll become a real-time data expert capable of solving lots of different problems.

realtime alert setup


What is real-time data?

When Google Analytics collects data from your website (or app), it does not appear immediately in your standard report. First, it's formatted, aggregated and only then stored for you to view. This process takes time so to solve this google introduced Real-Time data reports.

Real-time alerts are updated upon each page view (or hit) seconds after it occurs. This allows you to check how many people are on your website at any given moment and which pages are performing the best. To see real-time data visit your Google Analytics view open "Reports", click "Real-Time" and "Overview".

Real-time data shows your current website visitors, what they're looking at now and from where they came.

How can real-time help you?

Not everybody needs advantages provided by the real-time data. However, there are some use cases:

  • Track real-time effect of your content shared via social networks;
  • Check whenever email campaign you've sent is generating clicks;
  • Understand usage of your sales funnel via event tracking in the real-time;
  • Quickly test whenever new changes are making expected goals;
  • Verify that the tracking code is working allright;
  • Check whenever your visitors viewed new pages.

Real-time data allows you to react instantly to the changing conditions of your business.

Is Google Analytics in real-time?

All Google Analytics accounts can access real-time reports. Although you can find them on a separate dashboard, you don't need to modify the website tracking code. To open real-time reports:

  1. Visit your Google Analytics view;
  2. Locate the "Reports" section;
  3. Click "Real-Time" and "Overview";

google analytics realtime overview

Does Google Analytics update in real-time?

Not entirely, while Google Analytics have a real-time dashboard representing currently active visitors, the regular reports update can take up to 24 hours. However, if you're checking yesterday's data at 10 in a morning and your Analytics timezone is set correctly, you can assume that yesterday's data should be finalized.

How long does it take for Google Analytics to show?

Google Analytics can take up to 24 hours to show your data in standard reports. But if your tracking code is installed correctly, you can see traffic immediately by using a real-time dashboard. Visit the page and check whenever the "Active Users" number changes.

google analytics real-time active users counter

What is real time tracking in Google Analytics?

The data collected by Google Analytics almost immediately shows on the "Real-Time" dashboard. It allows you to monitor users' behavior on your page like what links they click, or what events they're sending. Checking real-time tracking data is a simple and effective way to check whenever the Google Analytics tag is installed correctly too.

How define an active user in real time reports?

Active Users, found on a Real-Time dashboard, are people right now visiting your site. It's a uniques number so that if a person is doing two clicks, it will still be a single user. Active Users number can become handy when evaluating whenever your marketing campaigns work now, at this moment.

google analytics real-time active users definition

Does Google Analytics support real-time alerts?

Although real-time data in Google Analytics exists for a long time, GA doesn't support real-time alerts by itself. There is only API access Google opened but using it requires a lot of coding and different specific knowledge. On top of that, you have to perform a request to ask joining their limited beta.

Using StatsGlitch for real-time alerts allows you to save your time and focus on your business, but if you feel adventurous, you can try Google API on the Google Developers Center.

Currently (as of 2020 January) Google Analytics do not support real-time alerts.

How you can use StatsGlitch real-time alerts in your business

1. Track conversions

Consider this if you're using goals in Google Analytics for your conversion events like user sign up or product sale. You can track them in real-time and be informed just a few minutes after they happen. Then you can craft a custom thank you / follow-up email to your customer or otherwise just enjoy the achievement of goal.

Pro tip:  if you're achieving goals frequently then setup a threshold and celebrate only conversion spikes like having 10+ sales over the last 5 minutes.

2. Track individual pages

If you don't have time or resources for goals setup, there is a way to track specific success pages. You can setup a real-time alert that's triggered on product sale confirmation or signup confirmation pages.

Keep in mind that you won't get so much value like having a dedicated Google Analytics goal, but it will work the same way from alert perspective. User buys/signs up / perform any other conversion, and he navigates to a success page. Immediately after visiting that page StatsGlitch will send an alert to you so you could follow-up or just celebrate.

Pro tip: you can track error/cancellation pages too. This way you can immediately follow-up with the person who's just canceled a subscription on your page or received an error while trying to pay via a credit card.

3. Be aware of the traffic spike

Sometimes you can get unexpected links/shares from social media or other popular websites. This event can lead into some valuable traffic flowing into your page/business without you even realizing it. By setting up StatsGlitch real-time alert, you can be sure that you won't miss that traffic spike and will be able to use it at your advantage.

The very first thing after having a traffic spike is to find out from where it comes. Open Google Analytics and navigate to real-time:

google analytics realtime

Select "Traffic Sources":

google analytics realtime traffic sources

If traffic is coming from social media be sure to follow-up it there and answer/ask any questions to boost it's potential and keep the post alive. Re-sharing or otherwise promoting via your account would be a good idea too.

If traffic source is not from social media, look for any comments section to interact with the audience. If there are no comments be sure to share the source via your social media channels as it's gaining some traction.

Pro tip: do not forget that more significant traffic can sometimes affect your website/services and prepare to fix things quickly. On the positive note, it can generate some serious amount of conversions/sales for you especially if you'll keep things rolling.

4. Know whenever the email campaign is warming up

When crafting your email campaign be sure to correctly setup Google Analytics utm variables for an email campaign. Each link in your email should have utm_source=newsletter_name&utm_medium=email&utm_content=link_name_or_logo_name&utm_campaign=broad_campaign_name_like_blackfriday tracking code

Utm codes explained:

  1. utm_source=newsletter_name: Indicates that the source of a click is from some specific newsletter
  2. utm_medium=email: Shows which medium was used to distribute your campaign
  3. utm_content=link_name_or_logo_name: Helps to figure out which exact link was clicked on the newsletter
  4. utm_campaign=broad_campaign_name_like_blackfriday: With the help of campaign name you can combine all newsletters and mediums to figure out whenever the campaign was successful

Utm variables will help you to find out which users are converting in your project.

More information about campaign parameters (utm codes) you'll find on Google Analytics Help Center.

After setting up a proper email campaign, you can track in the real-time when users are starting to click the links in your email.

Google Analytics real-time goal completions

Google Analytics goals (conversion tracking) is an essential part of your analytics setup. Unless you have a hobby website, you have some conversion action on your page, and this means it's critical to know and understand when users convert. Google Analytics goals are designed for just that purpose and are available for both standard reports and a real-time dashboard.

To see Google Analytics real-time conversions:

  1. Visit your Google Analytics view;
  2. Locate the "Reports" section;
  3. Click "Real-Time" and "Conversions";

google analytics realtime goals

Google Analytics doesn't have real-time goal alerts, but you can use StatsGlitch to get notified. Below are some use cases on how you can do this.

1. Be alerted when your goal is completed

google analytics realtime alert goal recently completed

Select the corresponding goal you want to track and set its value greater than 0. If you have lots of conversions and would like to be notified only upon unexpected high traffic, set the value to a higher number.

Pro tip: Google Analytics API returns goal completion fact for 30 min. So if the goal completes at 10:00, it will still be reported at 10:29. To combat this, set the "Notification frequency" value to 30min.

2. Get notification when you don't have conversions

google analytics realtime alerts working hours

If you have a high traffic website and a lot of conversions during the day, you can setup an alert to track zero goals. A received notification can signalize potential problems on the site, purchase, or payment errors. Similarly to the first example, change the goal completions condition to be "less than" 1, then set your business hours when you expect conversions. You'll receive a notification if there are zero conversions during those days/hours and can immediately investigate whenever there's a problem on your website.

Pro tip: this approach works brilliantly for established E-commerce or SMB websites, also high volume marketing campaigns.

3. Real-time goal alert, when goal value exceeds your threshold

google analytics realtime alert goal value

Getting a notification for each purchase on your website might be a bit overwhelming. However, you can setup goal value alert so that you would be notified only upon more significant purchases or transactions on your website. Choose the "Goal Value" metric and specify any desired value. Notification can arrive at Email, Slack, or anywhere else via Zapier integration.

Google Analytics real-time events

If Google Analytics goals are useful only for conversion tracking, events can be used for almost anything. They're very flexible and also available on the real-time dashboard. You can setup events for individual button clicks on your website, some user behavior, or even the same conversion actions.

To see Google Analytics real-time conversions:

  1. Visit your Google Analytics view;
  2. Locate the "Reports" section;
  3. Click "Real-Time" and "Events";

google analytics realtime events

Events are compelling when you combine them with other dimensions. For example, you can monitor whenever there are more than ten signups from the United States to indicate that your marketing campaign is working well. It creates a lot of different possibilities to received highly targeted alerts for your business-specific situations.

google analytics realtime events spike

Pro tip: Google API requires an "equals" operator for your event category, action, and label. It's not possible to specify a partial match. Also, all names are case sensitive, so be sure do double check whenever it's "signup" or "Signup"!

Google Analytics real-time ecommerce

Ecommerce tracking can combine both Google Analytics events and goals. On analytics dashboard and API, there are no real-time ecommerce metrics, but you can still track ecommerce related goals or events. Below you can see a couple of examples of possible real-time ecommerce alerts.

Real-time ecommerce refund notification

google analytics realtime ecommerce refund alert

If you're sending your refunds via Google Analytics events, you can track them with real-time alerts. Returns are an unavoidable part of any ecommerce business, so better prepare for them. You can get a notification via Email/Slack, or your internal admin via Zapier.

Pro tip: do not forget that your event names are case sensitive.

Real-time ecommerce alert of $500 purchase in your store

google analytics realtime ecommerce $500 purchase

Celebrate small wins by receiving a real-time alert of purchases of your desired amount. While this kind of alert does not bring direct value, it helps you to keep motivated and keep going.

Pro tip: you can read more about ecommerce setup on an Google Analytics Ecommerce - Ultimate Guide for 2020.

Three simple steps to start using real-time alerts

You can manage all your different websites/businesses in one place via convenient alert setup. Nothing to install and no changes required on your site:

  1. Connect your Google Account;
  2. Setup a real-time alert;
  3. Via read-only access, StatsGlitch will watch your business metrics and generate alerts. Alerts are sending via email, Slack, or webhooks.

Real-time alerts features

1. Choose a real-time alert preset

google analytics realtime alert presets

Alert Presets helps you to start faster by choosing already predefined templates based on the most common use cases. It guides you upon setting up upon active visitors spike detection, users are coming from your email campaign, or you've just had a conversion/signup.

Pro tip:  try to start with a preset, and then customize it to your needs, add filters and change notification frequency.

2. Consider adding a dimension filter

google analytics realtime alert filters

Dimension filters allow you to narrow-down your metrics and focus upon the audience you really care. Select between traffic source, user platform and browser, user geographical location, event category/action/label, and more.

Pro tip:  do not use too many filters. You might end up with an alert which is never triggered.

3. Select notification frequency

google analytics realtime alerts frequency

When you have a pageview spike, it's usually lasting more than 5 minutes. Set the frequency to 15-60 minutes that you won't get overwhelmed by many notifications. Moreover, Google Analytics real-time API keeps active goals set for 30 minutes. It means if the user did a conversion on 11:00 am, the real-time API would return the same goal on 11:29 am too. Set the frequency to 30min to avoid this situation of multiple notifications.

4. Check alert timezone and choose your audience countries

google analytics realtime alert timezone and holidays

Your website traffic is always depending upon the week of days and national holidays of your users. By setting your audience countries, in the alert notification, you'll receive a piece of additional information about what happened on that day, that might impact your site traffic. For example, if your primary audience is from US and you received an alert on July 4th, you'll know it that it also might be because of the Independence Day.

Pro tip:  it might be tempting to choose all the countries, but we don't recommend it. You'll get overhelmed as almost every day somewhere in the world some country celebrates or mentions some occasion.

5. Receive real-time alerts via Slack, Webhook or anywhere else via Zapier

google analytics realtime alerts over slack

Having real-time alerts are great, but you might wonder that sending them to your mailbox might be not an optimal solution. So we recommend connecting your Slack workspace, use a Webhook, or directly send a notification to your favorite CRM/To-Do software via Zapier.

Pro tip:  try to start with a preset, and then customize it to your needs.

6. Adapt alerts to your working day

google analytics realtime alerts schedule

Some of us live in a constant 24/7 flow, and some of us love Mon-Fri 9-5 routine. That's fine either way, and your real-time alerts should adapt to your schedule. Leave the fields blank for 24h alerts, or fill your usual business hours. Outside of your working hours notifications won't bother you so that you can relax and spend your time elsewhere.

Now you know:

  1. What Google Analytics real-time data is;
  2. How it can benefit your business;
  3. How to get started with real-time alerts;
  4. How to setup GA real-time goals and events alerts.

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