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The Power of Segmentation in Web Analytics #MeasureFest

Anna Lewis

by Anna Lewis on 17th October 2013

Anna MeasureFestIt’s the first ever MeasureFest today and I’m delighted to be speaking about the use of segmentation in web analytics. I chose this talk as it is imperative that anyone looking at website data uses segmentation. The benefits are huge, the disadvantages of not using them are also huge.

Whether you get 100 visits a month or 100 visits per second, this talk and post are for you.



So What’s A Segment?

A segment, in web analytics terms is a chunk of your data as opposed to all of it in aggregate. Segments can be numbers, users or even target market. I’ll cover some examples of segments shortly.

Why Segment Data?

If you are analysing how people interact with your website content, do you think you should analyse every single user together? Regardless of where they’re located, what device they’re using, how many times they’ve been to the site before?

As I say in my slides:

Not all users are created equal…

You wouldn’t give each student in a high school class the average grade across the whole class would you? No, they all have their own grade because they all behave and perform differently. Just like users on your website. By grouping everything together and using averages across the board you will miss the details, the highs the lows, the niche markets and the problem areas.

The key to success is to identify high performing segments and tapping into them whilst also identifying low performers and improving or removing them.

Getting started with segments? Start here:

If you start by breaking the data down so that you analyse people on desktops separately to those on tablets and mobile phones you can start to understand where each group interacts well and where they might have problems. They’re all viewing a completely different looking site after all! Some of them can click and see lots at once, others are trying to press buttons smaller than their fingertips and scrolling and zooming to try and read the content. Reviewing the three segments separately also allows you to compare results between them to identify whether or not users on mobile devices can complete conversions or not.

Another great use of segmentation is personalisation. If you were to try and send the same email marketing message to new and loyal customers, do you think they would all take the action you want them to? Chances are you’ll have a low percentage fulfilling any calls to action in your email as it might not be right for them. If you break out new and loyal customers into different email lists you can then send them emails that suit their purpose. An email to new customers might contain more affirmations and explanations about the company and services. For loyal users you may wish to offer incentives for sharing your services with others or ask for their feedback.

Personalisation following segmentation has proven to be a very successful method to increase conversion rates.

An Econsultancy report found that:

52% of Digital Marketers agree that the ability to personalise web content is fundamental to their online strategy

I imagine the rest haven’t stumbled across the benefits of segmentation and personalisation yet!

Segment Ideas

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Demographics
  • Conversion data
  • Visiting patterns
  • Changing Activity
  • Abandonment
  • Traffic Source
  • User type / persona
  • Content Viewed
  • Interest Level
  • Platform / Device
  • Industry
  • Day and Time

As you can see there are many ways in which you can break down data in order to understand and improve on it. So here are a few things you can use the segments for, looking specifically at user segmentation:

  • Personalise email campaigns based on user type
  • Provide vouchers to user types who have low conversion rates
  • Personalise on-site content based on user activity
  • Identify customer profiles with a high lifetime value and target your marketing to a new audience who fit this profile
  • Identify and tap into trends

Although there are many more.

Using Google Analytics Advanced Segments

This area of Google Analytics recently underwent an overhaul and saw some fantastic improvements. If you’re just getting started with Advanced Segments in Google Analytics I recommend you try out some of the built-in segments to see the way that they work and can be used for analysis and comparisons. Then move on to creating your own custom segments that suit your business and website.

Through custom segments you can now use the following awesome functionality:

  • Choose between analysing data based on hits, session or user
  • Segment based on the date of the first visit (i.e. everyone who first visited in January)
  • Create filter patterns to segment visits or users who followed a certain set of steps
  • Import other people’s segments (and custom reports and dashboards) from the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery

Important note: by segmenting data in Google Analytics the data will often be sampled (particularly if you have a lot of data). This means Google speeds up the time it takes to generate the report by applying the segment to a portion (sample) of the data and estimating the full results for all the data based on this sample set.

Try to make sure that the segments you apply will answer business decisions and not just be another wasted KPI. Think about how you will use the data to make improvements to the website or your marketing. Are there any segments you can tap into? What don’t you know about your business that segments can help answer?

I hope this has inspired you to go and use segments more, if you have genius segment ideas you’d love to share, or any you’d like to get an opinion on, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

See you at the next MeasureFest!

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis

Our resident analytics specialist is Anna Lewis. Anna is unbelievably attuned to anything analytical and can fill you in on all the latest news, tips and advice to get ahead in this evolving market.

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