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4.2 Segmentation categories

What are the segmentation options in Google Analytics?


Breaking down your audience by gender and age range is still a good place to start. From the Google Analytics Demographics report you should be able to see what age group is most frequently visiting your site, and also – importantly – its conversion rates. Create a segment for this age group and look at the content report: what pages are they viewing? What sources are they coming from? And what landing pages are these sources taking them to?

How closely do your demographic conversion numbers match your target customer profile? Are your pages and imagery appealing to the ideal customer? Could you adjust them to appeal more to your target customer or to the users who currently bring in the most revenue, or is there an opportunity to appeal more to your poorly performing segments? Is there enough revenue opportunity to make the necessary changes to your site, or invest in targeted email marketing, paid search or remarketing?

Be warned, though, that some of the demographic details you get could be largely guesswork. Google uses a variety of methods to ascertain the age of visitors, ranging from simply grabbing the age from the user’s Google or social media profile, to extrapolating an age based on the websites that the user frequently visits, specific URLs they visit (such as: For instance, if you visit a lot of female shopping sites, are often active on social media and commonly read fashion blogs, then Google might assume you’re a female in your late teens to mid-20s.


The next step beyond demographic audience data is psychographic, which looks not just at who your audience are, but at what they believe in and what motivates them. While demographics give you the “who,” psychographics give you the “why.” If you’re selling outdoor equipment, for example, it’s not enough to know that a potential customer is a woman in her 30s: you need to know about her lifestyle and interests – someone whose only interest is cooking will be far less likely to purchase than someone who goes jogging or runs marathons.

You might need to draw data from all kinds of sources to build up a rounded picture: survey your customers, and look at their social media profiles to find out what makes them tick. Meet them where they are – if you’re concentrating on marketing on Facebook, but your customers spend more time on Pinterest, then you need to think about changing your game plan. You should even look at what kind of ad gets more click-through: if it’s emotionally-driven rather than factual, then you have a clue to what appeals to your users. You need to appeal to both their needs and their desires, and offer irresistible deals. By understanding your users’ personality drivers and the motivations behind their purchases, you can make sure you’re using the right channels and the right messages for the right audience.

This should extend to stepping back from your marketing and advertising materials and seeing them through your audience’s eyes. Understand your prospects’ “perception filters”: each word and image you put on your website is colored in their minds by their own unique psychographics, demographics, location, cultural biases, and experiences with your brand and with other brands. Does the photo of a smiling person on your home page convey warmth and sincerity, or does it look artificial, like a stock photo? If you want to attract customers from China, say, have you got an appropriate ethnic mix of photos on the site? Don’t get caught up in endless second-guessing, but be aware that different people can interpret the same images and words in different ways. The key is to have a clear picture of how you can expect things to be perceived by your critical psychographic segments.


Google Analytics gives you a very direct way to build up a picture of your users’ interests. As they visit sites that are part of the Google partner network, Google associates visitors with certain category groups based on the type of sites they frequently visit. Analytics’ Affinity Categories report tells you about these on the broad level (“Travel Bug”, say), and the Other Categories report on a more specific level. Bear in mind that this data is not available for every single user, so the reports are based on a percentage of your visitors.


Take a look at visitors coming to your site, specifically in the light of their specific interests as revealed in Other Categories, and look at how well or how poorly they’re converting. Where are they coming to your site from? Are they using a specific source or medium to access the site? If your key visitors are coming from Twitter, for example, then it could make sense to become more active on Twitter. If they’re frequently being referred from the same site, could you be targeting your display advertising (or content) at that site or similar sites?

Another great use of this data is for remarketing, because it enables you to target specific groups of users that you know either convert well or are typically interested in your content. If, for instance, you find that new visitors aged 25-34 in the “Travel Bug” category don’t go on to buy, could you target this group with a unique discount to encourage them to return to the site and go on to convert? It’s remarkably straightforward to do this: simply create a new remarketing list in your Property settings and click “Create my own remarketing type using Visitor Segments”.


With the variety of platforms available today, it’s essential to know how many of your customers are using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. How many of these are converting? If tablet users convert far more than smartphone users, why might this be? Under Audience > Mobile > Overview, Analytics can show you the share of traffic between different device types, and the contribution of each to the total revenue generated. You can see how the mobile platforms compare with others (but make sure you pick a metric that gives you fair grounds for comparison, such as the e-commerce conversion rate or the average visit duration). Under Audience > Mobile > Devices you can break down the reports into individual devices, brands or even different screen resolutions.

This level of detail can provide very useful clues to how to improve your site’s performance. For example, if conversions are poor on smaller-screen devices, look at your site design. Is a key page element “below the fold” on smaller screens? If this specific element is vital to the success of the page, are there cues to help ensure that users find it? Remember that mobile devices are used upright as often as sideways, so look at what happens to your page if a device is held in portrait rather than landscape orientation: does something important, such as an action button, fall too far down the page for users to bother scrolling down to?

Also consider the advertising on your pages. Experience shows that a single persistent advert across the top of the web page that remains permanently in view will perform well on a smartphone. On a tablet, skyscraper and banner adverts might work more effectively because a persistent ad is considered annoying. Use your Analytics information to assess how different ads perform based on the layout and screen size.

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