Your best users: Where they are and how to find them
How much do you really understand about your users? Columnist Jeremy Smith explains how to drill down into the analytics and data you need to learn more about your best customers.
How well do you think you know the users who come to your website?
Can you tell me about your best customer’s buying habits? Or maybe how long your average customer goes between purchases? Or which customer channel converts more than any other channel?
Most marketers will unwaveringly claim to know a wealth of information about their customers.
However, when I start peeling the onion layers and asking some tough questions, I find I have tapped into some different emotions (like frustration from realizing that they can’t answer my questions).
Can you quantitatively tell me your website’s customer profile is based on your RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) analysis?
If not, let me help you.
I’m a conversion optimizer and am fanatical about web analytics and data. It’s what I am. It’s what I do. In my world, everything starts and ends with analytics and conversions. By now, you have probably said to yourself, “Why do I care about this?”
Here is why. It bugs me to no end when someone says they “think” they know who is converting on their website. You shouldn’t “think.” You should know based on data mining and research you have performed.
Google Analytics will tell you the age, gender, location, device and a number of other attributes for each person who visits your website. You can break it down even further and get specific demographic information about people who convert.
After you’re done reading this post, you will be able to easily derive the RFM analysis that quantitatively tells you the buying habits of your best customers.
What is RFM analysis?
RFM analysis is defined as a marketing technique used to determine quantitatively which customers are the best ones by examining how recently a customer has purchased (recency), how often they purchase (frequency), and how much the customer spends (monetary).
After mining your user demographics data, you will have a better understanding of what drives your users to take action online. You should be able to turn that information into action that increases conversions and revenue, which is every digital marketer’s goal.
The beginning question is:
Who are your top converting users?
The main question then becomes:
How many visits to your website does it take before those top-converting users buy something for the first or second time and become long-term customers?
If you want to learn more about your customers, and you should, there are specific Google Analytics reports you need to look at, and I’ll explain below how to get to them. But first, let’s make sure you are set up do this right.
What you need
You have the power to find out exactly who is converting on your website. However, I have to warn you that you’re going to need three things before you can start drilling down into reports about your users.
- Google Analytics. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account already set up, then this blog post isn’t going to do you any good — yet. I don’t want to tell anyone to stop reading, but if you don’t have GA, then bookmark this page right now, go sign up and set up your account, and then come back to me. If you need help setting up your GA account, here is a template and checklist you can download for free.
- As important as GA is, we can’t always fully trust whatever numbers it happens to give you. All analytics users must use filters to make sure they have complete and accurate data populating their reports. Without the proper filters in place, you could quite possibly be making decisions based on inaccurate data points, which ultimately can lead to misrepresenting revenue in your final reports.
- Goals. To track conversions on your website, you’re going to have to set up “goals” in Google Analytics. Goals are actions that you want site users to perform, like buying a product or signing up for an email newsletter. To ensure data integrity, make sure the Google Analytics goals you set up are recording proper conversions.
Once these three things are in place, you’ll be able to start looking at your audience demographics and be more secure knowing that you’re working with the right data sets.
The Google Analytics Audience tab
Once you’re ready to rock and roll, stroll on over and log in to your Google Analytics platform. When you pick the report you want to look at, you’ll be presented with eight options. If you want to learn about your audience, go ahead and start to explore the “Audience” tab.
When looking at these reports, you’re going to want to focus on conversion statistics. These will be on the far right. It’s always worth remembering that your goal is to get insights so that you can boost the number of conversions on your website.
Go to Audience > Demographics > Age.
This will take you to the Age report, where you’ll be able to see how people from different age ranges are engaging with your website.
As we can see in this report, this business tends to skew younger. The most frequent visitors are from the age ranges 18–24 and 25–34. However, people aged 18–24 have just the fourth-highest conversion rate. Considering how frequently we can get these users to visit, a boost in the conversion rate could mean massive increases in revenue.
Now that we know we want to boost conversions from our younger users, we can start trying to figure out how to do that.
Generally speaking, people aged 18–24 are going to be less financially stable. This might be the reason they aren’t converting at the rate of their older counterparts.
As a way to test this user segment hypothesis, we could try to reduce the price point for the 18–24 age range, with a “student discount,” maybe, to see whether there is any impact on revenue during the test period.
Go to Audience > Demographics > Gender.
In this report, we’re going to get a breakdown of what the differences are (besides basic anatomy) in our male and female users.
Skewing in one direction or another is not necessarily a bad thing. Some companies are designed to attract male customers more than female customers, or vice versa. Even if you are one of these businesses, you can still gain valuable insights from the gender report.
Let’s say you run a women’s clothing store. You’re going to have a small contingent of men purchasing, even if your clothes are designed for women.
One assumption you may have is that these are husbands shopping for their spouses. Once you find what products they’re buying, you can build seasonal ad campaigns aimed at helping men find the perfect gift for their significant others.
In this example report, we see one glaring conversion issue. Men make up the vast majority of the users on the site, but women convert at a rate of nearly half a percent better. If this company’s main persona is indeed women ages X–Y, then this company’s No. 1 goal should be to attract more women to their site.
Whether this is accomplished through new landing pages or more products geared toward women, the bottom line is that they have a population that converts that they’re not reaching as well as they should be.
Go to Audience > Geo > Location.
In the Geo report of the Audience tab, you’ll get to use an interactive map that shows you the country, region, city or metro area that your users are accessing your website from.
You’ll be able to look at the statistics in the Geo report to tell you where people are converting.
This map shows where the site’s users are coming from, but you can change the statistics the map shows to include conversions, revenue, transactions and other important numbers.
Underneath the map you’ll get the report that is shown in the overview section.
As we can see, the San Francisco area has the highest concentration of customers and the highest conversion rate. These users could be prime candidates for a geotargeted PPC campaign.
Go to Audience > Mobile > Overview.
It is important to note for all Google Analytics users that mobile devices in GA mean smartphones. Tablets are a separate category. The word “desktop” includes both desktop computers and laptops.
Now that we’ve gotten the definitions out of the way, we can start to look at data.
Mobile sites generally have fewer page views and conversions and shorter session durations because of the nature of mobile users. However, if you see a major dropoff, then you have an indication that your mobile site is not optimized.
In general, people use smartphones to research products before they buy, so it is to be expected that your mobile conversion rate will be lower. But if you think what you see is too low, then you should look at other reports and figure out how mobile users are interacting with your site.
If we look at this report, we see that mobile users are converting at a much lower rate than desktop and tablet users. As I said earlier, this may be expected, but this company should first test its site’s mobile-friendliness, then start testing ways to boost mobile conversions.
Knowing each of these metrics by themselves is important, but what if you want to know about more than one metric at a time?
You can assume that your older users are more likely to convert through a desktop, but with mobile becoming more available, that’s not a safe assumption. To know for sure what they’re doing, you’re going to want a breakdown of what devices users are converting on in certain age ranges.
You can find the answer to this question using the secondary dimension feature in Google Analytics.
The secondary dimension gives you another way to segment the data in each report. For this example, we get to see what age range each of the people using certain devices fall into.
If we look at this breakdown of device category and age for this website, we can see more mobile customers in the 18–24 and 25–34 age ranges, as we might have expected. However, the 35–44 and 45–54 age ranges have higher conversion rates than younger customers.
While we might have expected our millennial friends to be more likely to convert on mobile, this simply isn’t the case. We can now start looking into ways of attracting more middle-aged mobile users, and we can investigate what may be holding back younger users from converting in the first place.
What we’ve talked about earlier was useful, but for some people, it won’t be enough. You’re going to want to learn more about who your users are and how they’re interacting with your site.
Let’s say you’re running a PPC advertising campaign. What kinds of users are you attracting to your website with these ads? Are they different from users coming through organic or social traffic? Can you even answer these questions?
With the right Analytics setup, you can find the answers to each of these questions.
Remember when we talked about filters at the beginning of this article? Well, they do much more than just making sure you’re not counting spam or crawlers as part of your results. If you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you can use these filters to create reports for specific channels.
If you’re an overachiever, you can create a property for each channel you use, whether for email, social, organic, PPC or any other way you convince people to visit your website. This will give you data about users that come specifically from each of these channels.
In each of these properties, you should repeat the process discussed above, by visiting the Audience tab and going through each of the reports. This will give you a view of who is converting from each channel you use.
There may be demographic differences that could change the way you market to each channel. For example, you may find that your SEO gives you a strong local organic presence in a certain area. Instead of trying to use a landing page with more national appeal, you might tweak the copy to reach out specifically to that region.
With the right testing, you’ll be able to figure out what appeals to your users and have a new way to boost your conversions.
For those who want to get an even quicker look at some of these issues, Google Analytics allows you to create custom reports. These are reports that you create to compile the specific statistics you want to see.
To access your custom reports, visit the customization tab of your Google Analytics platform.
If you’re unsure what to add to a custom report to give you an idea of who is using your website, you can add this custom report I created to your account.
Anyone who wants to create it themselves or adjust some of the metrics can click “Create Custom Report” in the customization tab.
Here is how I created this report:
The report is broken down into three sections.
The Report Tab will show you demographic information about who is visiting your website and who is converting. The Geo-Location Converting Users tab will show what regions your users are converting from.
What I find most useful in this custom report is the ability to drill down and segment my users. I start by looking at new vs. returning visitors.
If you click on one of these two options, you will be taken to another report that shows you the device category used by your new or returning visitors.
In my best Billy Mays voice: But wait, there’s more!
I created this report to dig even deeper. If you click on one of the three device categories, you will be taken to another report that shows the age of users who visit your site from certain devices.
Finally, the last category I added is gender.
Segmentation is the key to finding information that you can turn into actionable data, and this report will let you see data about a number of specific segments of your users.
With so many options for Google Analytics reporting, you have no excuse for not understanding your user.
You won’t be able to learn everything. It might take more than just Google Analytics to discover why a person visits your website. However, you’ll be able to look at a few reports and learn who, what and where, and you’ll be able to answer in detail what your RMA analysis results look like.
Once you know the answer to these questions, you’ll be able to build content around your users’ needs. Learn about them and learn from them. By doing this, you’ll figure out how to become invaluable to them.