Knowing your customers is a key component of running a successful business. Yet many digital marketers don’t realize what a trove of user data Google Analytics is and how much it can tell them about their site’s visitors.
In this post, you’ll discover how you can use the Users Flow report, as well as a few other Audience reports in Google Analytics, to learn more about your site’s visitors and improve conversion rates across the board.
Using the Audience Reports in Google Analytics
To make use of the full power of the Audience reports that Google Analytics creates for you, you’ll first need to enable this functionality:
Make sure you read through and understand the instructions provided by Google, as this change might have significant implications for what data you collect about your site’s visitors and how you use that data. (If you’re not the administrator of your Analytics profile, you might have to ask someone else to enable this functionality.)
Once enabled, it might take a while before you see any data in the Audience report. Google wants to show data that’s both anonymous and relevant, so depending on how much traffic your site gets and how much Google already knows about your visitors, it might be as much as a month before you start seeing any information in these reports.
Next, let’s look at the actual reports, what kind of data they provide, and how you can use that data to improve the performance of your website.
Getting to know your customers starts with the basics – identifying their gender, age group, where they live, and what language they speak. All this information will allow you to customize your strategy so that you’re targeting the right audience.
You can find this data in the Demographics report in Google Analytics. Remember that your target customers and your site’s visitors might not always fit the same profile. For example, your blog might have a much larger and diverse audience because of the type of content you publish. In this case, it’s important to remember who you’re targeting and make sure your content and promotions are tailored to that ideal customer.
If you find that your key demographic isn’t as engaged as your general audience, it may be time to review your content strategy. Targeting a specific demographic will help your business grow faster than blindly investing in generating traffic that results in few conversions.
The Interests report gives you an overview of what your website’s visitors are interested in, divided into three segments:
- Affinity Categories:
In this report users are split into categories based on general online activities. Visitors in the affinity category are higher in the purchase funnel, right near the beginning of the process. You can use the Affinity Category to reach potential customers and make them aware of your brand. Expect to see labels such as “Technophiles,” “TV Lovers,” and “Shutterbugs.”
- In-Market Segments:
This sub-category tracks what products your active users are looking for online. Users in the In-Market Segment are more open to purchasing your product, and thus they’re lower in the purchase funnel at the end of the process. In this report, you’ll see entries like “Employment” and “Travel/Hotels & Accommodation.”
- Other Categories:
These categories are more detailed and let you know what other topics your users are browsing; “News/Weather” and “Arts & Entertainment/Humor” are just some of the categories you’re likely to find here.
These reports give you a plethora of information about the particular topics your visitors are interested in, in particular where they spend their time on the Internet when they’re not browsing your site. Use this information to identify opportunities for cross-selling and partnerships, advertising and retargeting opportunities, and content ideas.
The Behavior report is more focused on users as a whole and less so on your site’s particular pages. But it does allow you to see how engaged your users are as a whole, including how many of them visit only once versus how many are repeat visitors. Also, you can see how long your visitors stay on average.
Whatever industry you’re operating in, it’s highly unlikely that a visitor will become a customer the first time they come to your site. But the more exposure and engagement you have with a particular person, the more likely they are to become a customer. Therefore, aim to make your first-time visitors into return visitors.
Use newsletters, lead magnets, and content upgrades to bring users into your marketing funnel, and try to re-engage them periodically back to your site by sending them useful, interesting information.
People are no longer confined to using a single device to access the web. Thus, it’s become necessary to know what devices your customers use, along with the operating systems and networks.
Even though mobile and cross-platform interoperability have become increasingly important, what matters most is how they’re reflected in the people who use your website. The Technology report in Google Analytics shows you just that by providing information on what devices, operating systems, and networks they’re using.
The most basic way to use this report is for making sure your website runs smoothly and looks great on every browser your visitors use, so make it a habit to monitor and run tests periodically.
Don’t be surprised if you find that the majority of your visitors use mobile devices (phones and tablets) to browse your site. It’s crucial to make sure all your web properties are optimized for these types of devices—not just for the comfort of your visitors, but also because in 2015 Google started penalizing sites that don’t provide a mobile-friendly experience.
At a later stage, you might decide that it’d be better to build a mobile app that specifically targets mobile visitors. In that case, the Technology report will be an invaluable guide when it comes to deciding which platform to build first.
Finally, the Users Flow report is the hidden gem of Google Analytics, largely because not enough people realize how useful it can be.
This report is immensely helpful for business owners trying to rope in more customers. You can see on what page(s) visitors land the most often, how they navigate your site, and even where they leave. You can also filter data and see the flow of all users through a particular page. For example, if a page shows a high dropout rate, then there must be a problem you need to fix. Users Flow allows you to analyze how your users are viewing and consuming all the information on your page.
Even more importantly, this report shows whether those users are converting into customers. If your site setup is such that you send customers to a special page (sometimes referred to as a “thank you page”) once they successfully complete their order, you can filter the Users Flow report so that it only displays users that reached that page. Then, you can analyze the most common paths they take to end up on your thank you page. For example, you can identify common landing pages where they start, then invest into getting more traffic to these pages (such as through PPC or SEO). Or you can identify pages with a high dropout rate along that funnel and work on fixing them.
The Audience reports are a valuable feature of Google Analytics that allow you to learn more about your site’s visitors and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
We’ve covered some basic ways to use Google Analytics’ reports, but we’re curious to learn some of the ways you’ve utilized them. Feel free to share them in the comments.
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