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.
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.
Audiences → Geo → Location
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.