6 Things You Need to Know About Custom Alerts in Google Analytics

Most digital marketers know that you can set up custom alerts in Google Analytics. But barely 10% do. Why?
6 Things You Need to Know About Custom Alerts in Google Analytics

Custom alerts are difficult to use and have poor functionality. Most marketers don’t use them because they don’t do anything to make their lives easier.

Here are 6 reasons why.

1. You have to manually specify every alert

I’ve seen a list of 55 valuable custom alerts for Google Analytics, and each one had to be manually defined. That takes a lot of time that I, and most other marketers, would rather be using to do something else. It’s crazy to have to set every alert up from scratch at the start of every new project.

2. It’s hard to set thresholds

You have to dig deep into your data to find the right threshold, using Excel and custom formulas. Again, this takes time… and you can’t help thinking that it could and should be so much easier. It’s difficult to set it up so that you don’t get false alerts constantly, which take you time to deal with. It doesn’t save you time.

You need to constantly adjust thresholds to your data. If your data changes you have to manually update all your alerts settings, which costs time rather than saving it.

3. It’s too easy to ignore notifications

If it’s not set up correctly, Google Analytics provides multiple notifications, many of which are irrelevant. This means that they’re ignored…because users feel like they’re being spammed with constant, pointless alerts. Any alerts that are relevant get ignored along with the rest. One of the reasons for the excessive number of notifications is that custom alerts aren’t adaptive. The threshold doesn’t update automatically and not everyone has the skills to set it correctly.

4. Notifications aren’t real-time

Even if you manage to set up alerts properly in Google Analytics, they’re slow, not coming through until the next day. This means if you’re running PPC ads, you could be losing a lot of money. If there’s a problem with your ad, you won’t get a notification about it until it’s too late. I have 15 years’ experience of working in PPC agencies, I know just how much money can be lost in a day.

5. It has limited functionality

At times, Google Analytics doesn’t seem to offer even the most basic information, such as notifications of a campaign that’s getting zero conversions. You cannot set up useful alerts until you get some data, as you don’t know what thresholds to set.

6. It’s not scalable

Ads are designed to grow your business. But custom alerts simply can’t be scaled. So, if your ads are working, Google Analytics won’t be. This is particularly true if you have multiple people managing ads for you.

Can custom alerts be made to work better?

I’ve seen suggestions that Google Ad Scripts can make custom alerts work better, but that’s not my experience. Not least because many of the points I’ve made here also apply to Ad Scripts.

And what if you’re running ads outside of Google (e.g. Facebook, Bing, Criteo, Instagram or Display & Video 360)? Ad Scripts can’t help you on those platforms.

The bigger your budget, the bigger your problem. Once you reach an ad spend of millions, you have a lot to lose and really need to be able to detect and fix issues as soon as possible. Mistakes become very expensive.

I have a client who once lost 100,000 Euros over a weekend by accidentally enabling an old campaign…that had become a 404 page.

That experience is what prompted the client to sign a contract with us at YetPulse. We now monitor their ads 24/7 and if there ever is a problem, we can deal with it immediately.