3 Ways to Use Treemaps in Google Analytics

3 Ways to Use Treemaps in Google Analytics

If you are a regular Google Analytics user, you may have recently noticed a new report show up in your Acquisition section—Treemaps.

Perhaps you clicked on it and found a colourful mosaic like the one below!

Treemap report in Google Analytics

Treemaps report in Google Analytics

Treemaps were actually introduced to GA back in October 2014, but were limited to analyzing only AdWords data (and could be found under Acquisition > AdWords).

Google has since promoted the Treemaps report to the All Traffic section in GA, where you can now use it to analyze the performance of all of your acquisition channels.

So what exactly is a treemap?

A treemap is a visualization that uses nested blocks to represent a hierarchy (tree) of your data. Each block represents a branch of the tree and contains smaller blocks that represent its “children” or sub-branches. At each level, the relative sizes and colours of the blocks represent the relative values of your selected metrics.

The default Treemap in GA shows your acquisition channels (defined in the Default Channel Grouping), compared by sessions and pages/session. You should interpret the report as follows:

  • The larger the block, the larger the proportion of sessions for that Channel
  • Channels with higher pages/session are shown in shades of green (darker green means higher pages/session)
  • Channels with the lower pages/session are shown in shades of red (darker red means lower values)

In general, larger blocks indicate higher proportions of the primary metric (e.g. sessions, transactions, new users), while greener blocks represent more favourable values of the secondary metric (e.g. pages/session, bounce rate, avg. session duration).

Not sure yet how this can be useful for you? No worries. Let’s jump right in and take a look at 3 simple examples of using Treemaps to analyze and visualize your data directly in Google Analytics better than you ever could before!

1. Landing Page Optimization

You can use a treemap to visualize the performance of landing pages on your site. As an example, we wanted to analyze visits to our blog posts from organic search.

After clicking into the “Organic” sub-branch, we configured our treemap as follows:

  • Primary Dimension: Landing Page
  • Primary Metric: Sessions
  • Secondary Metric: Avg. Session Duration

Below the Treemap, you will find a table of the underlying data, where you can change the primary dimension or apply report-level filters. In this example we have selected “Landing Page” as the primary dimension and filtered the report to only show pages on our blog.

Google Analytics Treemap of blog posts engagement

Treemap of engagement with blog posts from organic search visits

This treemap provides an at-a-glance view of which pages are receiving the most traffic (larger blocks) vs. which pages are generating higher interest (darker green). From a report like this, you can identify which pages are your best performers and try to replicate that success with other pages.

2. Campaign Performance

You can use a treemap to drill-down into your email, social, or paid media campaigns to identify top performing messages, posts, or ads.

Social Media Campaigns

If we’re interested in social media campaigns and referrals, we can click into the Social channel and configure the treemap as follows:

  • Primary Dimension: Social Network
  • Primary Metric: Sessions
  • Secondary Metric: Avg. Session Duration
Google Analytics Treemap of Social Networks

Treemap of interest from social network sources

From this report, it’s clear that Facebook and Twitter generate the vast majority of social media traffic, however YouTube visitors (darkest green) spend much more time on the site. As a result, you may look into why visitors from YouTube are more interested in your content and try to attract more of them.

AdWords Campaigns

Treemaps can still be used to visualize AdWords data. You just need to use the Treemaps report listed under the AdWords section of GA.

You can use this treemap report to compare the performance of your campaigns, evaluated by the bounce rate of campaign visitors:

  • Primary Dimension: Campaign
  • Primary Metric: Sessions
  • Secondary Metric: Bounce Rate
Google Analytics Treemap of AdWords campaigns

Treemap of bounce rate from AdWords campaigns

Here you can see that there is one campaign (darkest green, with 697 sessions) which has a relatively low bounce rate compared to the rest, but has lower volume than other campaigns. From this report, you can look into why that one campaign is acquiring more interested visitors and use this insight to optimize your other campaigns.

Note: for the Bounce Rate metric, the treemap colour scale works in reverse—higher bounce rates (which are generally bad) are displayed in red and lower bounce rates (good) are in green.

3. Ecommerce Conversion

If you have ecommerce tracking enabled in Google Analytics, you will have a few additional metrics available in your treemap report (i.e. Transactions, Revenue, Ecommerce Conversion Rate, and Per Session Value).

You can use a treemap to visualize which channels are the most profitable:

  • Primary Dimension: Default Channel Grouping
  • Primary Metric: Sessions
  • Secondary Metric: Ecommerce Conversion Rate
Google Analytics Treemap with Ecommerce Conversion Rate

Treemap of e-commerce conversion rates among acquisition channels

This report shows that although Display is generating the largest proportion of traffic, Email, Organic, and Paid Search have higher rates of conversion. You would likely need to do some further analysis of conversion paths (with Multi-Channel Funnels), but this data may indicate that you can optimize your marketing spend by reducing your investment in Display ads.

Here’s one more interesting example using ecommerce metrics:

  • Primary Dimension: Default Channel Grouping
  • Primary Metric: Revenue
  • Secondary Metric: Pages/Session
Google Analytics Treemap with Revenue

Treemap of Revenue vs. Pages/Session

This treemap shows the amount of ecommerce revenue generated by each channel along with the average pages/session. Here you can see that Email generates the majority of revenue and that Email visitors view relatively fewer pages/session. Based on this, plus some further analysis, you may conclude that Email visitors not only generate more revenue, but take fewer steps on their way to making a purchase. This could influence the content of your email marketing messages as well as the design of your website purchase flow.

Watch out for falling branches!

Here are a few things to be aware of when using Treemaps in GA:

  • The colour scale is only relative to the data in the report. The shades of green and red have no absolute meaning in relation to the metrics displayed.
    • Just because a block is displayed in green, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good; it only means that its value of the selected metric is higher than others. Similarly, a red block is not necessarily bad; it just has a lower value than the other blocks.
    • Hover over the “comment” icons on each block to see the underlying metric values. As in any report in GA, you will need to decide for yourself whether any metric is good or bad in the context of your website and business.

      Google Analytics Treemap tooltips

      Hover on the “comment” icon to see the values of the underlying metrics

  • The report automatically reverses the colour scale for Bounce Rate, for which higher values are worse (red) and lower values are better (green). For all other metrics, higher values are green and lower values are red.

Looking for future growth

Here are a few features we would like to see added or improved in GA’s Treemaps:

  • Add individual goal conversion metrics to the secondary metric list. These would be much more useful that the aggregate conversion metrics currently available (Goal Completions, Goal Value, Goal Conversion Rate).
  • Enable Custom Channel Groupings to be used as a primary dimension
  • Enable Advanced Segments to be applied to the treemap report (According to the GA Help Centre, this feature may be coming soon)
  • Enable Treemap reports for other sections of GA data, e.g. Audience reports like Geo Location and Device Category. (If you want to do this now, you can import your GA data into a visualization tool like Tableau)

The Treemaps report in GA doesn’t expose any new data, but rather allows you to see your data from a different perspective. In many cases, this can be enough to help you gain new insights into your customers and optimize your digital marketing efforts.

Have you tried out Treemaps yet? Let us know what you think!

By |2019-05-17T11:57:15-04:00May 5th, 2015|0 Comments

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