I'm gonna be straight with you: Google Analytics is a beast. I've been learning and using it for over two years, but I'm still discovering new (or at least new to me) tools and reports that I should be using. With nearly a gazillion reports (okay, I'm kind of exaggerating here), it's easy to feel overwhelmed when you're trying to learn everything at once.
All the reports, and their sub-reports, and those sub-reports' sub-reports all start to blend together ... leaving you right back where you started: confused.
Instead, I've found that learning specific use-cases for Google Analytics allowed me to actually understand the platform and not just click a certain set of keystrokes to get a desired result.
So today, we're going to get back to the basics to start digging into Google Analytics a bit more and use data to understand your already-created buyer personas. (Need help on creating a buyer persona in the first place? Check out this free template to help you build one from scratch.)
Different buyer personas will act differently on your website because, well, they're just different. Some groups of people will want to know tons and tons of information about one subject before buying your product, while other groups may want a deep dive into another. Some groups don't want information at all -- they just want to go right to your "Contact Us" page. Once you know what your personas do on your website, you can begin to experiment and optimize your website to make it easier for your personas to do what they want.
That's where Google Analytics comes in. In Google Analytics, you can create custom audience segments that can be applied in any of the Google Analytics reports. These custom audience segments help you get a much more accurate and useful picture of who is visiting your website and what they do once they get there.
Luckily for us, creating custom segments is also pretty quick and easy -- you just have to know which semi-hidden buttons to select. Here's how you do it.
How to Create Custom Audience Segments in Google Analytics
1) Open up Google Analytics and choose the domain you want to use.
2) Click the drop-down arrow in the top-left corner.
3) The menu will drop down.
Yep, there's lots of segments already in there -- these are the default segments that come with Google Analytics.
4) Click '+ Create New Segment' in the top-left corner.
5) Refine your parameters to align with one buyer persona.
For example purposes, we're going to pretend that we only segment personas based on computer usage -- Mac vs. PC. True buyer personas are much more robust than that -- and you can narrow down your audience by adding more parameters in GA -- but we'll keep it simple for this post.
6) To segment just Mac users, select 'Technology,' then click on the form field next to 'Operating System.'
7) A drop-down menu will appear. Select which metric you want to segment your list by.
8) Click preview to see what the graph representation looks like, or click 'Test' just to see how much of your total population is in this segment.
9) Click 'Save.'
10) Ta-da! You have a new custom audience segment!
You can use this anywhere inside Google Analytics, which can then allow you to compare overall traffic between segments or drill down into different pieces of content to see what specific content types your audience likes.
If you create more than one custom segment, you can also compare them against each other. Does one buyer persona use certain technology than the other? Does one spend more time on site than the other? You get the picture -- there's lots of things you can find out once you have a custom segment in place.
Bonus: If you can monitor and report on how that segment changes over time in your monthly metrics, your boss will be one happy camper. So think about it, eh?
How have you used custom audience segments in your marketing?