Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Strategy Performance Analytics

Using Google Analytics Segments

Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Strategy Performance Analytics

If you’re a fruit lover you would have noticed that mandarins are particularly good at the moment. Besides the way they taste, I love the way that they pull apart into easy to manage little chunks of yum. Which is also exactly how I like my analytics data – easy to manage and digest.

In his hyperbolically titled blog post The Choice is Stark: Segment or Die, Googles’ Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik goes several steps further in positioning segmentation as the ‘holiest of holy covenants’ of data analysis. All drama aside, he makes some good points.

segmentation is the holiest of holy covenants’ of data analysis

When I initially started using Analytics I was impressed by the amount of data at hand and overwhelmed by my lack of ability to draw any insightful conclusion from that data. At first I thought I just didn’t get it. But the key to understanding analytics data is to know that the data as it stands is aggregated and what you initially view is just one big messy dump of website data. Not very useful however pretty you make the chart options look.

To draw insights you need to shape that data in a way that matches the way that people are using your site. People generally visit a site with different motivations, at different times, from different devices to do different things. Accordingly, you need to split the aggregated data from analytics into segments that match those users on your website.

So how do you tease them apart and do that?

Kaushik suggests three simple ways to get started.

By Source
Where did the visitors come from? Did they type in your URL directly or find you on Google? Perhaps they landed on your site after following a eDM call to action, maybe it was a result of a successful social campaign?

Once you’ve determined how your visitors arrived, then ask questions about the differences between users from each different source. What where they looking for when they arrived? Did they find it? How long did they stay? Did they complete a particular action like making a purchase or abandoning a cart?

By Behaviour
Each visitor will have a unique intent when they arrive on your site. Did they end up there by mistake and are now looking to make a swift exit? Perhaps they’ve found just what they’re looking for and will be sticking around for a while. Whatever the case, users behave differently.

They may visit a lot of pages when they’re on your site or they may visit only one. Perhaps they’re a first time visitor or maybe a loyal user who visits many times per week. Segmenting by behaviour allows you to see how each visitor type conducts their visit and what they’re doing on your site.  Once you have a clear view of visitor behaviour you can look to change elements of your website to cater for those segments you value the most.

By Outcome
Things happen – every situation has an outcome and using those outcomes is another great way to segment data.

Begin by separating out users by the things they achieve when on your site – people who signed up to a newsletter, people who spent more than ten minutes on your site, people who completed one of your conversion funnels. From here, identify what your most valuable outcomes are, find out where the users who are part of those outcomes came from and then invest more in those campaigns that bring that type of user to your site.

So there you have it. Maybe it is a case of segment or die, or perhaps it’s more a case of segmented data being easier to swallow than trying to scoff the whole lot in one go.