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How to uncover personalization opportunities using Google Analytics

Your Analytics data is a treasure map full of personalization ideas that will increase your conversions. Here's how to find them.

Website personalization - what started out as a buzzword has evolved into a major trend in the conversion optimization space. Many thought leaders, including Mary Meeker, consider it the biggest conversion rate optimization (CRO) trend since A/B testing. In fact, it could be argued that website personalization is closely related to A/B testing. Both require a structured approach to testing and data analysis, however, there is one aspect that sets them apart - the way they look at website visitors.

Where A/B testing views your visitors as a homogenous group, personalization is about understanding who those visitors are and how to segment them into audiences. In other words, where A/B testing can help you achieve your "local maxima", personalization can help you reach your "global maxima".

The result of personalization can be game-changing; visitors become more engaged, the UX improves, and ultimately you benefit from more conversions and higher revenue.

However, the segmented approach towards CRO, is also what makes personalization so challenging. Understanding how to group visitors into audiences is the most daunting part of any personalization project and with personalization being a relatively new discipline there are no industry standards yet. Don't worry. Here at Unless, we've been living and breathing website personalization and we found that the solution has been right under our nose all along - Google Analytics.

When trying to understand the personalization needs of our customers, we always ask for access to their Google Analytics account - a treasure chest full of personalization ideas. If you're using a different analytics solution that's okay too. The ideas that we present here can be applied to any tool that allows for page-centric analysis (as opposed to user-centric analysis done by tools like Mixpanel). So, here's your treasure map for creating better audience segments (and ultimately better personalizations) using Analytics data.

Google Analytics & Website Personalization

In this guide, we want to teach you how to translate your analytics data into audiences and how to better understand for whom to create personalizations. We won't detail how to set up your Analytics account or how to interpret the data. There are many Google Analytics guides that do a great job teaching you how to find your way around the tool. Instead, we will jump right in and show you what reports to study and what metrics to look at. Plus, we will provide some ideas on how to translate each uncovered audience into meaningful personalizations.

Audience segments based on the Location Report

personalization ideas google analytics

How to find this report?

Audiences → Geo → Location

What to check?

How is your traffic distributed geographically? Do you provide relevant information to your “top 5” countries? Which countries convert best? Do you receive a lot of traffic from countries you don’t operate in? Use the data to segment your visitors into location-based audiences.

Personalization ideas based on geography

  • Acknowledge visitors from unserved locations: If you have a local business or a business that doesn’t operate in certain parts of the country, create a personalization targeted at these countries. It's an elegant way to sort out visitors whom you can't help and lets you focus on "real" leads. This personalization is popular in B2B, where business often get significant amounts of traffic from regions they don’t operate in. You could, for example, hide the “schedule a demo” button for visitors who will never turn into leads.

  • Localized social proof: Swap out generic testimonials for social proof from local customers. This will increase trust, reassure visitors that they've come to the right place, and showcase your local track record.

  • Localize information: Do you sell a physical product or in-person service? Don't hide localized information about shipping, availability, and support in your FAQs, make them part of your product page or show a personalized smart bar. It is even possible to do this dynamically for multiple locations at once.

Audience segments based on Frequency & Recency

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How to find this report?

Audiences → Behavior → Frequency & Recency

Reports about Engagement, Session Quality, and Conversion Probability can also give some good insights into your visitors' behavior. Use the data to segment your visitors into new vs. returning audiences.

What to check?

How is your traffic split between new and returning visitors? How often do visitors return? How many pages do they view on average (visible under Engagement → Page Depth)? Taking a closer look at frequency and loyalty indicators can be especially useful for Publishers and eCommerce websites.

Personalization ideas based on Behavior

  • Experiment with your messaging: Returning (anonymous) visitors are clearly interested in your offer but if they haven't taken action yet, maybe they're missing some information. So instead of showing them the same content over and over, rephrase your message for returning visitors.

  • Lower conversion barrier: While studying your frequency data you'll find that the number of visitors who return more than once tends to be low. So make that returning visit count, it could be the last one. How? Try out different CTAs or lower the conversion barrier. For example, ask for the visitor's email address instead of pushing them into a sales call.

  • Show off your success: In B2B, the return of an (anonymous) visitor is a good sign. They like what they see but are not yet ready to commit. Try to convince them by showcasing your customer success stories and put an emphasis on social proof. An add-on that only triggers for returning visitors can be a great vehicle for that. For example, you could offer a case study download in return for an email address.

Audience segments based on Referrer

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How to find this report?

Acquisition → All Traffic → Referrals

Referral traffic is Google's method of reporting visits that came to your site from sources other than search and direct. When someone clicks on a hyperlink to go to a new page on a different website, Analytics tracks the click as a referral visit to the second site (the originating site is called a “referrer”). Referral traffic can be a strong indicator of which 3rd-party websites are most valuable in helping your business achieve its goals. Use the data to create audience segments based on referral source.

What to check?

How much traffic does the website receive from referrals? Are there some “top referrers” generating the majority of referral traffic? Do you collaborate with affiliates and/or influencers, how much traffic are they generating? How much referral traffic can be traced back to your social media activities?

Personalization ideas based on Referrer

  • Piggyback on your referrers' image: Do you collaborate with brands, affiliates, or influencers who link to your website? Piggyback on the trust they have built with their followers by mirroring their tone-of-voice and repeating their endorsement. Personalize both, landing pages and follow up pages to reassure visitors about the trust the affiliate puts into your business.

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  • Dynamic social proof: If you collaborate with many, small partners (also known as micro-influencers), creating affiliate-specific website variations would be too much work. For this use case, add a dynamic message or quote. More.

social media personalized add on

  • Encourage social share: Did you know that visitors who were referred by a social media platform are far more likely to share your content than the ones who arrived organically? Social share buttons are a great way to capitalize on that and personalizing the share options can further encourage visitors. For example, people who discovered your article through Twitter are more likely to reshare it on Twitter. Personalizing your share options can work wonders, especially in B2C and Publishing. You could, for example, show a personalized overlay with the message "Share this article on {{social referrer}}".

Bonus: Content Marketing Personalization

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How to find this report?

Behavior → Site Content → Content Drilldown and Behavior → Site Content → All Pages

Google's Site Content reporting sections provide a few different content-focused views showing how visitors interact with your site content. If you maintain a blog you can use the Content Drilldown report and if your content is scattered across different sub-directories, stick with the All Pages view. Generally, anyone who has a strong content marketing focus can benefit from creating a "content readers" audience around it.

What to check?

How many visitors enter your website through the blog? How many visitors navigate from your blog to your sales pages and how? How do content readers convert in comparison to other groups?

Personalization idea for Content Marketers

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  • Personalized recommendations: It can be difficult to navigate visitors from your blog to your sales pages. With a recommendation box, you can make next-step suggestions and better steer visitors towards desired actions. Through personalization, you can recommend sales pages and phrase your CTA in a way that fits the context of the article the visitor is reading.


Before setting up your future personalizations, it's best to take a look at the past. By studying your Analytics data you can gather a better understanding of the composition of your website traffic and translate this into audience segments that work for your business and your goals.

Remember, just like A/B testing, personalization is all about learning – a continual cycle of experimentation and refinement – and that takes time. Like a fine wine, personalizations are best left to mature, so don't draw conclusions prematurely and don't get discouraged by failures. To close with a metaphor, it takes time to find gold and all we can give you is a treasure map that will send you on the right path.

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