How to Use and Interpret Google Analytics Time of Day Reports: Tips and Best Practices

Author's avatar Analytics UPDATED May 29, 2024 PUBLISHED Mar 15, 2022 14 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    The main ingredient of a successful business recipe is data. And what better way to obtain important data than by using Google Analytics.

    In the past, strategizing and updating content on your website required a ton of manpower and exceptional guessing abilities. Google Analytics has simplified this process by providing rock-solid data and removing the guess factor.

    This advanced tool has become one of the essential things that growing businesses simply have to incorporate.

    Google Analytics reporting analyzes your website’s overall performance. However, it can also be more granular and provide you with Time of Day Reports.

    The information you receive from these reports will give you an insight into which time of the day you are getting the most leads, traffic, or making the most sales.

    This type of data can help you create accurate company performance summaries and marketing/sales overviews. Not only that, by analyzing the peak visiting hours of your website, you will know the optimal time of when to add new promotions and products to drive sales. 

    Our guide will walk you through the basics of Google Analytics Time of Day Reports and show you professional tips and practices that you can incorporate to take full advantage of this amazing feature.


    What Are Time of Day and Day of Week Reports in Google Analytics?

    Google Analytics is one of the most commonly used tools by executives because of its thoroughness.

    Using Google Analytics reporting can provide you with a large amount of useful data about your customers’ habits, lifestyle, interests, and overall behavior. Think of it as “user profiling”.

    However, you will need to learn how to analyze this data in order to take full advantage of Google Analytics.

    Time of Day reports in Google Analytics help you figure out the busiest and quietest hours on your website. This type of information can be a huge asset for developing future marketing and promotion strategies.

    Once you know the most likely time users will visit your site, you can launch new products and promotions in accordance with the newfound data.

    Day of Week reports operate in a similar manner. They show you on which days of the week does your website generate the most traffic and provide you with an overall weekly rhythm of your customers.

    Many agencies tend to overlook features such as Time of Day and Day of Week reporting in GA, which is a huge mistake. By not incorporating these reports, you are missing out on some very valuable information.

    Why Are These Google Analytics Time Reports Important?

    Google Analytics Time Reports are highly valuable when it comes to gathering insight into your visitors’ habits. Once you know the most likely time they will visit your website, you can adjust your marketing strategies and make better data-based decisions.

    You can use this data to pick the right time to post new blog posts, special promotions, or offer new products. Also, you can use it to create a general profile of your average customer.

    In addition, you can take advantage of the quietest website visiting time as well. For example, if you need to schedule website maintenance, it’s best to do it in the time when visiting traffic is the lowest.

    Your Google Analytics account captures all of this hourly data but it doesn’t report it at default. You will need to learn how to pull it out.  

    Of course, you can always make assumptions on when your website will generate the most visitors. If you run a B2B website, it will probably be during business hours. Restaurant websites will most likely generate the most traffic during lunchtime. Or, educational websites will have the least traffic during the night.

    But as we said, these are only assumptions. Time of Day reports provide the evidence to support these assumptions.

    Understanding Google Analytics Timezone, Time of Day, and Traffic by Hour

    There are multiple dimensions you can use on Google Analytics to assess website traffic by time. However, you should know that most of these dimensions are helpful only when you and your visitors are living in the same timezones.

    The reason for this is that the time reports are based on the timezone that is set up in your Google Analytics property. This means that if your visitors live in a different timezone, GA won’t catch the time difference unless you configure it.

    For example, let’s say that you run your website from Los Angeles and focus on selling your product across the whole US. Because you are based in LA, your Google Analytics Time Property will be set on PST (Pacific Standard Time).

    Next, let’s imagine that a customer from New York decides to purchase one of your products at 1 am PST. This data can be confusing since New York is an EST timezone country, which means that the user purchased the product at 10 pm EST in their local time (there is a 3 hour time difference).

    If your time reports tell you that someone bought an X product on Friday morning, it might be a completely different story when you take timezones into consideration. Your mornings aren’t necessarily their mornings, and it might not even be Friday in the country your customer is living in.

    You have to specify the exact time by following the timezones. Is it PST, EST, GMT, CST, or a whole other timezone?

    No matter which country you live in, you will have to factor in timezones. They have a huge impact on your analysis process and marketing campaign timings. Simply relying on GA reporting won’t cut it which means you will have to optimize your time reports manually to avoid losing money and missing out on great sales opportunities.

    Also, don’t let this fact discourage you from using Google Analytics. Fact is, the majority of available analytics tools create time reports according to the owner’s local time.

    How to Set Up Google Analytics Hour of Day & Day of Week Reports

    Once you have gotten to know all the benefits of time reporting in Google Analytics, you might be persuaded to try it out.

    Even though Google Analytics isn’t the easiest tool to customize, the process of setting time reports is pretty simple. All we have to do is add custom reporting metrics to your GA account.

    Follow these next few steps to set up your Hour of Day/Day of Week reports:

    • Log into your GA account
    • Press “Customization” located in the left corner
    • Press “Custom Reports”
    How to Set Up Google Analytics Hour of Day & Day of Week Reports - step 1
    • Go to “Import from Gallery”
    • You will see a window containing a search box pop up, type “daily traffic” into it and press enter
    • Find the Track Visits By Hour of the Day, Day of the Week, or Date of the Month options and click “Import” for the one you are interested in
    How to Set Up Google Analytics Hour of Day & Day of Week Reports - step 2
    • Next, you will be asked about the exact location where you want to import the custom configuration. Press the dropdown menu and choose your GA view ( “All Web Site Data” is the name of each one)
    How to Set Up Google Analytics Hour of Day & Day of Week Reports - step 3
    • Lastly, click “Confirm”

    Naturally, once you have enabled time reports, you will want to know how to pull out the data.

    You can view the custom reporting templates with these few simple steps:

    1. Go to “Customization”
    2. Press “Custom Reports”
    3. Find the Hourly & Daily Engagement option and click it
    4. The report will automatically switch to Hour of Day

    Also, you can set “Day of the Week”, “Date of Month”, and even “Location of Visitors” tabs if you are interested in acquiring this data. The date range is customizable as well.

    How to Optimize Google Analytics Time Reports for Conversions from Time-Sensitive Campaigns

    Optimizing time-sensitive campaigns can lead to a huge increase in conversions and sales if you do it the right way. Google Analytics at defaults provides mainly general data and it’s our job to dissect it.

    Here are some data drill-down options you can use to optimize time reports:

    • Traffic source and medium
    • Country
    • Users’ local timezone
    • Users’ local time of day
    • Users’ local hour of website visit
    • Exact users’ local time

    These metrics generate the data you need to enhance time report optimization and create better marketing decisions.

    To gather the essential data for time-sensitive campaign optimization, you can either use custom reports or secondary dimensions. In case you don’t have any custom reports and want to learn how to create them, we have covered the process in the next section.

    How to Create Secondary Dimensions in Google Analytics

    Secondary dimensions are an extremely useful feature you can utilize in Google Analytics. They can provide you with a much deeper analysis by additionally examining already specific website sections.

    You can create secondary dimensions in a few simple steps:

    1. Click on “Acquisition”
    2. Go to “All Traffic”
    3. Open “Source/Medium”
    4. Click on “Secondary Dimension” and go to “Time”
    5. In the options menu, choose the hour option and you will see the complete breakdown of your hourly website traffic

    If you want to take things even further, you can also create custom dimensions for increased granulation. You can combine custom dimensions with secondary dimensions to gather additional insight. 

    Custom dimensions work in the same way as default dimensions do, except you create them yourself. The main reason you should create custom dimensions is to acquire data that GA doesn’t automatically track.

    These are the steps you have to follow to set custom dimensions:

    1. Log into your GA account
    2. Click “Admin”
    3. Find the property in which you want to use custom dimensions
    4. Open the “Property” section
    5. Click “Custom Definitions” and then “Custom Dimensions”
    6. Press “New Custom Dimension”
    7. Enter a name for your new dimension
    8. Choose your desired Scope (Hit, Session, User, or Product Level)
    9. In the Active/Inactive box, check Active
    10. Press “Create”

    We recommend that you create the following custom dimension for the best time-sensitive campaign optimization:

    • Timezone – We mentioned why timezones are important. This custom dimension will let you track the visitor’s local timezone.
    • Time of the Day – Tracks the visitor’s local time of the day.
    • Visit Hour – Provides a report on the exact local hour in which a user visited your website.
    • Visit Date and Time – The most thorough custom dimension, it reports the exact minute and second in which a user visited your website.

    How to Optimize Newsletter Campaigns

    After you have set up your custom reports/secondary dimensions, you can start taking advantage of your data and use it to optimize your time-sensitive campaigns efficiently.

    The most popular example of a time-sensitive campaign is a newsletter campaign.

    Picking the right time to send out your newsletter is crucial to its success. By going through the time of day reports and analyzing your website’s peak hours, you will know the optimal time to launch these campaigns. 

    One of the first things you will have to do in advance is organizing different user groups. These groups are categorized upon common characteristics such as similar visiting hours.

    After creating a few different groups, you can start targeting them individually. Remember, all of these different groups should be categorized based on their local time, so make sure you send your newsletter campaigns in accordance with their timezones.

    Sending out newsletter campaigns to all of the users at the same time can be a costly mistake. Your conversions, sales, and CTR could all decrease significantly if you don’t use the right tactic.

    Custom Google Analytics Time of Day and Day of Week Report Examples

    Custom reports are a great way to capture all the data drill-downs that we mentioned. They can also make the analytical process much easier since they include all the important metrics and KPIs in one place. Also, they can provide you with the flexibility to examine larger date ranges.

    Analyzing data can sometimes be a grueling process which is why you should always try to simplify the process through various methods.

    To create a custom report in GA, follow these few steps:

    1. Press “Customization” in the right corner of your Google Analytics account
    2. Click “Custom Reports”
    3. Click “New Custom Report”
    4. In the new screen that appears, you will see dimensions like “Source/Medium”, “Country”, “Time Zone”, “Time of the Day”, and “Visit Hour”.
    5. Choose the dimensions and metrics that you want to incorporate
    6. When you get to the “Dimension Drilldowns” part, click the “Hour” option to include hourly traffic tracking
    7. Finally, save your new custom report

    Creating custom reports isn’t a difficult process. The real problem can sometimes be finding inspiration for the type of report you want to create.

    But don’t worry.

    Here are a few options you can try out in case you get stuck in a creative rut:

    • Hourly Traffic Report
    • Day of the Week Traffic Report
    • Hourly Conversion Rate Report
    • Day of the Week Conversion Report
    • Day of the Month Conversion Rate Report
    • Hour & Day Traffic Report
    • Hour & Day Conversion Report

    These custom report types provide you with a graph that indicates the peak visit hours of your website. If you don’t have much experience with analyzing data, these graphs can make the process much easier. 

    For example, if the graph indicates that your peak hours are around midnight, you can use this information to your advantage by creating last-minute offers that end at midnight. This will drive more sales during the busiest visiting hours of your website.

    This is just one of the suggestions, depending on which time your website has the most visitors you can create different strategies to implement.

    Also, if you have Google Analytics eCommerce tracking established, that’s another advantage. Ecommerce tracking can let you know which time brings the most conversions regardless of traffic levels.  


    Optimize Google Analytics Reporting with Databox

    Google Analytics is one of the best tools you can implement in your business.

    Using GA reporting can provide you with some extremely useful data regarding the way people interact with your website. This data is later used to improve your CRO and increase website sales.

    However, it isn’t the easiest tool to navigate. As an executive, you will have plenty of things to manage in your business, and finding time to analyze all the data you receive from GA can be hard.

    Databox can help you with this.

    With Databox, the most important KPIs and metrics you receive from Google Analytics will be organized into meaningful insights. You can use our Google Analytics dashboards to track all of these insights in one place and free up time for other meaningful activities.

    You can visualize all of the important metrics in one click, track performance history, and combine multiple data sources in one dashboard.

    Interested? Sign up for a free trial and experience the benefits of Databox first-hand.

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    Article by
    Filip Stojanovic

    Filip Stojanovic is a content writer who studies Business and Political Sciences. Also, I am a huge tennis enthusiast. Although my dream is to win a Grand Slam, working as a content writer is also interesting.

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