Website Analytics & the Power of Segments
Tune out the Noise. Segment your Website Data (and Everything Else)
I’ll admit. I have a crush on Avinash Kaushik. He’s truly an Internet marketing guru and that’s not just because he understands website analytics and metrics but because he understands what a business really needs to know from their data.
Unfortunately more often than not, businesses have no clue what nuggets of info they need to extract from the mountains of website data they gather. There is the tendency to only want to focus on how many visits received this month versus last or how many onsite goal conversions occurred.
Great. But these top level numbers don’t tell the whole story. And as Guru Avinash will tell you, they don’t give you actionable insights or allow for data-driven decision making.
As someone managing a business you are not running a website just to be popular; you are running it to achieve business goals. Forget that, and you will not be looking at the website metrics that will give you insights you can actually act on.
So where you do start? Well if you have defined your business goals and then based your website goals on the stated business goals (you have done that right?), then the next step is one word: SEGMENT.
You have to segment all data to make it meaningful. You can segment data based on many things:
- What country a visitor accessed your site from
- What medium they came to your site from (organic search, facebook campaign, PPC campaign, etc)
- How they behaved on your site – did they do something specific such as fill in a form
- How often they have been to your site
The options are endless and why you need to start with business goals first—so you know what questions you want answered.
Here is a real world example of how segmentation can provide deeper insights. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Client X & the Tale of Looking for Traffic in all the Wrong Places
Client X sells products and a software-based service that can be used with their products but only in certain parts of the world. They have 7 different lead generation forms on their site, all set up to be tracked as Google Analytics goals. For months, traffic is going up and goal conversions are hovering around 100 per month.
Sounds nice right? Not so fast. First of all, all conversions are not counted equal. Only 4 of the forms really mean anything in terms of lead generation for their software based service, the most valuable for them because it means recurring revenue. Okay, so now if we just look at those 4 forms, we’re down to about 20 or 30 a month. Still not bad.
We also track the amount of traffic that actually spends time in the key paths where the most important lead gen forms reside. Traffic is going up in those paths, also a good sign.
But then we segment the visitors, grouping them into people who are from Services regions where the service can be obtained and those from Parts Regions, regions where parts can be bought but no software based service can be offered.
What we find out is that most of the traffic and leads are coming from people in Parts regions. These are people who filling out lead forms for a service they can’t have. Now certainly, the sales department can still make a sale of a product with these leads but the point is, without segmenting goals, traffic and visitors, we’d have only looked at the aggregate numbers and thought everything was going well.
With a truer picture of what is going on, we can take focused action to attract more traffic from visitors in the Service Regions. Since those in these regions likely spend time on different sites than those in the Parts Regions, we begin to see more targeted places to focus our link building strategy. We also may want to create onsite content that is more optimized for the keywords people in these regions are searching for. And finally we want to review the messaging in the path and on the lead gen form. Have we missed the mark for the very people we want to attract?
Is this starting to make a little more sense?
Even if you feel intimidated grabbing this info from Google analytics (or any other website analytics), the person you have hired to do this for you can create the segments for you but they have to know what questions you want answered. The more specific the question, the better data they can provide you that you can take action on.
The Power of Segmentation beyond Website Analytics
Segmentation isn’t just for website data. In your email campaigns, segment your email list so that you can send highly targeted messaging to subgroups. This is easy to do in popular email platforms such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor.
Segmenting also can be used to make you a more effective Twitter user. Twitter is noisy if you follow a lot of tweeps. Segmentation of your followers and friends will allow you to focus. Add people to lists and monitor the lists separately. In some lists you might be looking for ways to help or reach out to followers; in other lists, you might be more focused on finding interesting information to share with your followers.
Segmentation is Something you Already Know How to Do
If all of this segmentation stuff still sounds a bit foreign to you, remember, it’s something you are already doing when you create specific products to appeal to certain target markets or create offers that will appeal to only one segment of your customer base. You never think of selling the same thing the same way to absolutely everyone, right? Right. Now get out there and slice and dice some data.