Unlocking Your Audience With Analytic Segments

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Google Analytics segments will transform your business. How and why? Well, data in aggregate is a poor story – totally useless, arguably. In fact, if you get an email from your SEO agency that just says “hey, organic traffic is up 40% year over year!” something has gone wrong.

“What’s wrong with that?” you might ask. “That sounds great!” It’s a solid increase, to be sure, but if that’s the only thing the email says you are missing key customer data like:

  • What is that traffic from? Key markets, new markets, struggling markets?
  • Where is that traffic going? Blog articles, product pages, company information?
  • How is that traffic converting? At the same rate, a better rate, or not at all?

What you as a business owner care about, ultimately, is how your digital marketing efforts impact the bottom line. It’s nice to get high ranking keywords or traffic spikes, but it’s more important to get new customers and returning customers who rave about your service. Custom reporting bridges a lot of that gap between top metrics and ongoing strategy, but segments are what take you from ongoing strategy to truly understanding your audience and their online behavior.

How Analytic Segments Improve Your Marketing

Aggregate data hinders insights. Adding a segment in Analytics means you’re seeing only the crucial subsets of data – say, the customers who convert, or visit on mobile, or view a specific product. This unlocks trends and behavior that could otherwise be lost, allowing you to better refine strategy. Instead of thinking about digital marketing as a lump sum of failure or success, we’re thinking about a custom strategy that optimizes page by page, customer by customer, or location by location.

Let’s say you’re looking at traffic by geographic region and trying to decide where to spend some additional budget on underperforming markets. We’ll make this really simple: users by state.

Chart that shows users from different states. Total of 6,944 users. 1. California: 2,996, 2. New York: 525, 3. Texas: 378, 4. Washington: 304, Illinois: 248

At first glance, Texas is outperforming Washington – the customer base is 20% larger. You might stop there and start spending.

But let’s utilize an analytics segment to get a sharper picture. Compare all users with users who made a purchase:

Chart showing users from different states, each state shows "all users" and "made a purchase." 1. California: 2,996, 250. 2. New York: 525, 39. 3. Texas: 378, 18. 4. Washington: 304, 31. 5. Illinois: 248, 10.

The conversion rate for Texas is a measly 5 percent. The conversion rate for Washington is 10 percent. The amount you pay for Washington’s traffic could bring in twice as much revenue! That shift in strategy is going to pay off in a serious way. A few seconds of time, a change in reporting tactics, and you’ve doubled ROI.

How to Use Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

Now you can find that information without using a segment, yes, but it’s a lot more difficult and time-consuming. There’s really no reason not to be using audience segments and they come built-in. Google has a great walk-through guide and pre-set segments that include:

  • All Sessions (this is the segment on by default)
  • Bounced Sessions (why and where do customers leave?)
  • Converters (who is my best audience?)
  • Direct Traffic (who are my most loyal customers?)
  • Made a Purchase (who is buying online?)
  • Mobile (and Tablet) Traffic (is my site performing like it should?)
  • Multi-Session Users (who keeps coming back?)
  • New Users (how did I win their business?)
  • Non-Bounce Users (who is my engaged audience?)
  • Non-Converters (how do I win over these users?)
  • Organic Traffic (how is my SEO performing?)
  • Paid Traffic Traffic (how are my PPC campaigns performing?)
  • Performed Site Search (a must for ecommerce)
  • Referral Traffic (what sites are bringing me traffic?)
  • Returning Users (who are my loyal customers?)
  • And quite a few more

These segments are powerful and you can also add free ones created by experts from the Analytics Solutions Gallery. I absolutely recommend playing around with these: as they are just overlays, they do not change or corrupt your data. Put up a few, contrast and compare, and transform your marketing strategy.

The only thing greater than using these segments is creating your own. Customize your audience targeting to your exact business needs. Alongside your unique conversions, you might want to understand people visiting your website who are potential employees rather than customers. If you have a login system, like for a purchase loyalty program, comparing sessions with and without logins will isolate those types of users and how they interact with your website. Maybe you’re curious in customers who don’t bounce but also aren’t ready to convert. Maybe you want to see sessions that have high revenue, “best” customers to reach out to again. Are customers who read your security policy more likely to rent a storage unit? Do customers logged into their checking account more frequently apply for a mortgage loan than those not? How many new visitors brought in by a blog article go on to contact you? There are a hundred fascinating questions that go far beyond “traffic is up”.

Driving Marketing Results Holistically

Digital marketing has to be focused on your company’s success – not on vanity metrics. It’s nice to enjoy traffic and conversion increases and to thank your agency for bringing them. That just can’t be the end of the conversation. How did they bring you these improvements? What are they doing to bring you more? It’s easy to drown in data or to be reassured by large numbers and percent change over time. It’s not as easy to dive into that data and customize analysis, create a strategy, and optimize for hyperlocal and hyperspecific results – but one big, simple step is to start applying audience segments. Unlock your audience and you can focus performance in an incredibly meaningful way.

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