Customer personas are a critical tool for any marketer. By understanding the needs, wants, and motivations of your target customers, you can create marketing campaigns that speak directly to them, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
We can apply the same concept to Google Analytics (GA) and website data. Drilling down into specific segments of your website traffic can give you deep insights into the behavior of different types of visitors, and help you make informed decisions about your digital marketing strategy.
This process is called segmentation in Google Analytics. Read on for a full breakdown of what it is, how to use segmentation to your advantage, and some tips for getting started.
A segment is a subset of your website traffic that you can isolate and analyze separately from the rest. Segments are based on common characteristics that visitors share, such as location, device, behavior, or conversion goal.
Imagine your data as an inverted funnel. At the top of the funnel, you have all website visitors. As you move down the funnel, fewer visitors remain in each segment, aka the criteria that you define.
For example, you could segment your traffic by:
So why should you bother segmenting your traffic at all? Because it tells you things that you can’t learn from looking at your data as a whole.
Specifically, GA segments offer the following benefits:
You can see how different channels (such as paid search, organic search, social media, email marketing, etc.) are performing with respect to specific segments of your website traffic.
Not every marketing channel will be a good fit for your business. For instance, GA segmentation data may reveal that paid search is driving a lot of traffic but very few conversions. On the flip side, organic search may be driving fewer visitors, but a higher percentage of them are converting into leads or customers.
This type of analysis can help you make informed decisions about where to allocate your marketing budget and which channels are worth investing more time and resources into.
Knowing how to “read” GA segments unlocks a wealth of information about your target audience. For example, let’s say you want to segment your traffic by location.
If you see that a high percentage of your visitors are from the United States, you can infer that your products or services are likely to be a good fit for the US market.
On the other hand, if you see that you have very little traffic from the US, it may be worth re-evaluating your marketing strategy in that country. Perhaps you’re not using the right keywords, or your website isn’t optimized for US users.
Different segments of your website traffic will have different needs and expectations.
For example, first-time visitors may need more guidance to navigate your website, while returning visitors may be ready to buy. Segmenting your traffic can help you deliver a more customized and relevant experience to each type of visitor, which can lead to higher conversion rates.
No website is perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. However, segmenting your traffic can help you identify areas of your website that may be causing friction for certain groups of visitors.
For example, if you segment your traffic by device type and see that mobile visitors have a high bounce rate, it’s an indication that your website isn’t optimized for mobile users.
Or, if you segment your traffic by referral site and see that visitors from Facebook have a low average time on site, it could be a sign that your Facebook ads are sending people to the wrong page on your website. From there, you can decide whether or not it’s worth investing time and resources into fixing the issue.
If you’re seeing a drop in traffic from a particular channel or referral site, segmentation can help you figure out why.
It could be a technical issue, such as an error in your Google Analytics tracking code, or it could be something more strategic, like a change in the algorithm that’s affecting your organic traffic. In any case, segmentation can help you zero in on the problem so you can take steps to fix it.
Once you’ve segmented your traffic and analyzed the results, you’ll have a wealth of data that can be used to inform your future marketing efforts.
For example, let’s say you initially wanted to target 30-40-year-olds with your marketing, but after analyzing your segmentation data, you see that most of your conversions are coming from people aged 50+.
This is critical for site reporting: it means you’re looking at the wrong customers, and now you can pivot your marketing strategy to focus on the right one.
On top of that, the advantages of GA segmentation depend on the kind of industry you’re in.
For Ecommerce businesses, for example, understanding which segments of visitors are most likely to add items to their cart and complete a purchase can be invaluable.
And for SaaS companies, being able to track which segments of users are signing up for free trials or upgrading to paid plans can be the difference between success and failure.
No matter what industry you’re in, though, segmenting and deriving insights from your Google Analytics data is a powerful way to improve your marketing efforts and grow your or your clients’ business.
Segments are a basic feature of Google Analytics, and you’ll find that there are already many segments available to you by default.
You can access these segments by going to the “All Segments” drop-down menu in any report.
The following is a list of all the default segments that are available in Google Analytics:
Default segments are useful because they’re based on common web analytics use cases. They also prevent you from creating duplicate segments that already exist.
GA segments are connected to another GA feature: filters.
In Google Analytics, a filter is a setting that allows you to include or exclude data from your reports.
GA filters isolate a subset of your data, and then GA segments let you view that data in different ways. For instance, Google Analytics has the following filters:
Once you get the data from a certain filter, such as “Users,” you can then segment it using default segments in Google Analytics.
However, sticking to the default segments does have limitations. For one thing, you can’t edit these segments. You’re also limited to the dimensions and metrics that are already included in each segment.
If you want more control over your data, you’ll need to create custom segments. Custom segments let you include or exclude data based on your own criteria.
Custom segments allow you to create a drill-down segment like specifying ‘Women Aged 22-35 in Louisville’ and ‘First-time Users Aged 18-25 with at least one conversion.
To create a custom segment in Google Analytics, simply follow these steps below:
3. This will open the GA segment builder. You can view existing segments here.
4. Next, click on “New Segment” to create a new segment.
5. After that, give the segment a relevant name (e.g., “Retirees in Miami, Florida”).
6. Set the criteria for the segment using the GA segment builder. You can include or exclude data based on dimensions and metrics. Hover over the question marks for more information on each option.
7. Double-check the summary on the right-hand side to make sure the segment is set up correctly.
8. Finally, click “Save” to finalize and save your new custom segment.
9. Your new segment will now be applied to the report.
You can create as many custom segments as you want, and you can even use them in conjunction with other Google Analytics tools like goals and funnels.
Finally, importing pre-built segments allows you to take advantage of the work that other Google Analytics users have already done. Here are a few examples:
AdWords Performance Segment: Uploaded by Joberjero, this segment shows a snapshot of your website’s performance in terms of Google Adwords campaigns and the rate of conversion. This report can assist you in narrowing down your focus if you’re working with a large number of keywords on an Adwords account.
Time: Day and Hour Based Traffic Behavior Segment: Posted by Lenny Manor, this segment gives you a breakdown of segments of your website traffic. It can display a report broken down into two categories: converters and non converters. This pre-built segment also provides a guide to when you should schedule emails and other marketing strategies, so they are delivered during optimal times.
Engaged Traffic Segment: Made by Justin Cutroni, it shows engaged traffic. It displays parts of your web traffic that generates engagement in your site. It also shows the number of views on your page and the time users spent browsing.
You can find and import these pre-built segments and more from the GA Gallery. In addition, the GA Gallery is a repository of custom segments, dashboards, and other assets that you can use to get more out of Google Analytics.
To import pre-built segments from the GA Gallery, follow these steps below:
5. From here, you can explore segments by category, rating, and ranking.
6. Once you’ve found a segment that you want to use, click on it to view the details.
7. After that, click on “Import” to add the segment to your GA account.
8. On the following screen, you can confirm your options and click “Import.”
9. The segment will now be imported into your GA account.
10. To apply the segment to one of your own reports, click on “Add Segment” and select the newly imported segment.
Keep in mind that you can also create and publish your own custom segments in GA Gallery for other GA users to import.
Segments are just as valuable in GA4 as they are in UA.
You can add segments as comparisons in the reports section. Or alternatively, you can add a filter to standard reports, if you just want to create an ad hoc segment.
If you are looking to ensure you have a preset suite of segments, you can create these in audiences and then select these as a comparison.
Using segments in the ‘exploration’ section helps you to provide a deeper understanding of your audience and what is and isn’t working. You can use these segments against any number of dimensions and metrics.
You can set up 3 different types of segments:
You can also seek insights from suggested segments rather than creating custom segments. Currently these suggested segments are:
To sum up, if you’re using Google Analytics to gather and analyze data about your traffic sources to your website, you should also be using segments. Segments allow you to take a closer look at specific parts of your traffic and understand their behavior. There are three main ways to create segments: creating a custom segment, importing a pre-built segment, or using one of the GA built-in segments.
While GA segments are extremely useful, managing all of your segments can be a challenge, especially if you’re handling multiple sites and clients.
Reporting Ninja’s Google Analytics integration makes the whole process of customized data segmentation very simple. After connecting your GA account to Reporting Ninja, you can view all of your data in one place and create beautiful, intuitive reports with the click of a button – no more manual data entry!
Try it yourself when you sign up for a FREE 15-day trial of Reporting Ninja today!