No need for ice breakers, you have data! Getting to know your audience using Google Analytics

Kelly CurrieGeneral, Market Research, Measurement

A well-developed, user-centric strategy leans on data. With the right tracking in place, information on the demographics of people visiting your site, how they find it, and what they do while on your website is powerful information. 

Google Analytics (GA) is one tool that can shed light on these aforementioned insights, and more. In fact, GA provides so much information that it takes time to narrow down what reporting views will truly be helpful to you and your organization.

Where you spend time analyzing in GA all depends on what questions you are trying to answer. This is the first post in a series where we will explore:

  1. Who is visiting my website?
  2. How are they finding it?
  3. What are they doing when they visit?

First let’s delve into question number one, and get to know who is coming to the site, shall we?

Warning: These data insights can sometimes challenge our long-held assumptions about our audience. Get ready!

Demographics

To look for true trends, adjust the date range to a six month span or even an entire year  to make sure there is an ample dataset. One thing you’ll notice in the “demographics overview” view in GA is that in the top right of each block, there is text indicating what percentage of the total site users the charts and graphs represent. This is because Google does not have demographic information about all the folks who come to your site. Whether it be because of privacy settings, or because that person doesn’t use a Google product and therefore does not have a Google profile with age and gender details provided. 

For the users where Google does have this information, though, it can be helpful. Remember that by default, you are viewing the insights for all users. That means current customers and new visitors. If you want to see demographic info for only those coming to the site for the first time, you are able to adjust this in the segment filter. 

Interests

This data helps remind us that our users are multi-dimensional. They are not just sessions on a report – they are a person with a wide variety of interests. For those that Google has information on, GA scans for patterns in their online behavior. Things like what terms they search and what they buy online. They categorize these into Affinity Categories and In-Market Segments. 

For the former, think “things they are interested in” and for the latter, think “what they want to buy”. These categories are also available as audiences in Google Ads. So if your company is also running a search or display campaign, and you notice that there is a high percentage of website visitors that are also Technophiles, you might consider targeting them with specific language in ads or on landing pages and/or you can increase the bid for that audience category. 

Technology 

Gaining insights on the devices most commonly used to access your site can inform so many aspects of a marketing strategy, from landing page design to campaign targeting. The “mobile overview” view in GA breaks this down for us. 


What do these numbers tell us?

First, we want to take note of the overall distribution between desktop, mobile, and tablet. How many users are in each category? 

Next, what is the bounce rate for each? If there is a high bounce rate on mobile, for example, this calls for an audit of how well your site content is rendering in mobile view, and what the average load time is. 

If you have goal or conversion tracking set up in GA, you can take note of where users are taking key actions. For some organizations, users tend to research on mobile but convert on desktop. Let the data tell you if the same is true for your audience.

Why, you might ask, is it worth taking the time to create awareness around the demographics and behaviors of those visiting your website? Because you care about the user, for one (duh!). But also because who they are and what their online behavior is, indicates how they spend their free time (and available money, for that matter). You can use this data to deliver messaging that resonates, suggest where to place content that will land, and more. To us nerds, it’s a key convergence of human connection and numbers. Analyzing this data will help you be a better marketer and a more strategic communicator.  

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