Are you generating enough site traffic? Are there enough visitors each month that engage with your content and spend time on your site? Those are good things, but the important question is how you are doing with conversions, as that is where the magic happens!
For many businesses, there will be slumps where conversions are not where you need them to be and increasing conversions is tougher than bringing in visitors. The reasons for not converting are many, which could include a poorly designed landing page or frustration with a slow page load time.
Fortunately, the technical aspects of your site are somewhat clear cut and influence all users to the site. Either it loads quickly or it does not. It responds to mobile devices or does not. But there are principles that are about the groups visitors to a site. What do they search for and can you provide it? How are they different from each other? How are they similar?
In short, you need smart segmentation if you want to continue to increase conversions. Here’s a quick guide to using segments in Google Analytics.
Segments vs personas
In this post, we will build on some of the work you have hopefully done to create personas and highlight the value of segments when optimizing for conversions. Personas help you be empathetic to your customers. Visualizing a 35-year old professional female makes it easier to create the right message for her rather than general messages to all women. This is not about stereotypes. Personas help you hypothesize about similarities in how people behave.
So how is that different from segments? There is confusion with segments versus personas and you want establish a definition for your team so you all work from the same framework. In the simplest terms, you segment your audience with existing data and create campaigns based on personas.
Start with your segments. With Google Analytics, you can use segmentation to group people by identifying criteria such as location. Think of segments as the somewhat objective view of your audience based on raw data. (There is still some subjectivity when deciding the makeup of segments). Personas are very subjective – based more how a person thinks or feels.
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Get to know your audience with Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides a lot of data that helps us understand our segments if we go beyond basic metrics, such as pageviews. Below are a few ways to learn more about your segments with the goal of increasing conversions and adding depth to your personas.
Pages per Session: This is a basic metric in Google Analytics but you can go beyond scenarios, such as users visiting two pages compared to those visiting seven pages. Look at which pages they visited. Did they visit the intro offerings (probably a newcomer) or the help section (probably an existing customer)? Did they read the entire section about a topic (more methodical) or buy on the first visit (maybe more impulsive)? Note these are assumptions about motivations but you can develop hypotheses based on behavior.
Content Grouping: Content grouping categorizes your site content based on rules created in the Admin section of your Google Analytics account.
Once you have these rules, you can view content groups for different scenarios, such as where people are the journey, how they flow through content, how they came into your site (traffic source), and how much time they spent on there. For sites with thousands of pages, this makes it more manageable than viewing individual pages. You can analyze conversions on the categories of your site rather than a specific page.
Cohort Analysis: Found in the Audience section of Google Analytics, this is used to examine the behavior and performance of groups of users related by common attributes. It allows you to view a group of visitors based on a shared acquisition date. If you have a drip campaign scheduled for May, you may want a Cohort Date Range of May 1 to May 7 to target people who first visited the site during that time period. You can learn if people who visited on a specific day were more inclined to visit again than other members of that group.
User Login: Custom Variables can be fired when users login. That provides additional data for more advanced segments by identifying the behavior of different customer types. Site visitors self-segment when they log into the site to take an action. With Custom Variables, you can see how behavior is different for those who log-in versus those who do not.
Bounce Rate: We all get hung up on this metric. People see a site bounce rate of 78% and begin to panic but you need to drill in to see if that matters. Do existing customers and regular visitors bounce from a blog post? That is expected. However, if new people regular bounce from the site, look at the landing pages. There could be a message mismatch with the source that sent them to a particular page.
Affinity Segments: Use affinity and in-market segments in Google Analytics to help define your personas. They are broad classifications about users which may be helpful when layered on top of other characteristics. For example, you may discover segments that prefer one content grouping over another.
Collect metrics that matter
When there is a difference in the conversion rate and user journey among segments, it indicates your identified segments truly represent distinct types of users. Read that again because whether your segments make sense determines whether your data is any good. With the right segments, you can determine which groups to cultivate or which ones to not pursue with limited resources. For example, if one segmented group regularly buys add-ons for product, that might justify allocating more advertising dollars.
With target segments identified, you can also look at which marketing effort attracted them to your site. Some of this is obvious. If users in their 30s never respond to a CTA on your site from Facebook, you may not want to pay for ads on that channel or even post to it regularly. So yes, we all care about who converts compared to those who do not.
But remember there are stages leading up to a conversion and this Facebook audience could still have a role, so watch where in the process people drop off. And hopefully by now you realize that non-converters are more than just non-converters. View this by segment too to identity what non-converters may have in comment.
As data comes in, additional segmenting can be done by on locations, time of conversion, brand search terms versus early stages searches. But do not collect data for the sake of collecting data. Although it is easy to do with the abundance of data available in Google Analytics, it does not guarantee a return for your efforts.