Google Analytics (GA) has always been a great tool when it comes to understanding and optimizing online behavior. But with the addition of Demographics and Interests information as a first class citizen in the tool it brought a new level of insights into it.
This feature consists of a series of reports where we can see behavior information relating to visitor age, gender and interests; but even more importantly, this data can also be used to segment standard reports and create remarketing lists. [Please note that this feature is still not available to all users.]
Below I will discuss how to enable the reports, use the new dimensions to understand customer behavior, and optimize your website experience based on it. In the last section I will also go over some technicalities on how the data is collected and its accuracy.
In order to get the demographics and interest data into your GA account you will need to perform the following steps:
- Enable Demographics reports in the reporting interface: go to "Audience" > "Demographics Overview" and you will find an "enable" button in there.
- Enable Demographics and Interest Reports in the Admin interface: click on Admin (top-right orange navigation), then on "Property Settings", then on the checkbox below the Demographics and Interest section
Please note that if you use Google Tag Manager, you should select "Add Display Advertiser Support" in your Google Analytics tag template; and if you are using a 3rd party tag management tool Google Analytics might not be able to validate your code, but you should be able to skip validation and the reports will work.
Once you perform the steps above it might still take a few days until you can see data populating your reports.
In the image above we see one of the standard demographics reports: Age. There are 4 standard reports included in this new capability: Age, Gender, Affinity and Other Categories. As with most reports, you can choose which metrics group you want to use for your analysis (Site Usage, Goal Set 1, Goal Set 2... Ecommerce), which visualization you want to use in the tables (pies, bars, comparison, and pivot) and pick additional secondary dimensions. Here is a quick summary of each report:
Just looking at the reports above will be mind blowing, believe me. Suddenly you will be able to learn so much about who visits your site and how they behave in there... just wait till you start doing analyses! Below is a quick analysis I recommend as a first taster, look how we can instantly learn which age groups are terribly failing! In fact, we can learn which age groups we are terribly failing to persuade!
Here is how you reach this report:
In a few words, all our analyses (both using the standard reports above and the advanced techniques below) will try to uncover the two most important segments in our website: high revenue but low visits (high potential to bring more valuable visitors) and low revenue but high visits (high potential to allocate budget away from them).
Once you get used to the standard reports and overcome the initial euphoria of getting to know your customers so much better, you should roll up your sleeves and start analyzing.
The first step will undoubtedly be to create one (or several!) Segments. While the standard reports allow you to understand how different ages (or gender, affinity...) are performing, using a Segment will enable you to merge this data with other interesting dimensions such as campaigns, country or content.
To start, create a segment by clicking on the down arrow in any report. This arrow is shown just below the title of reports (see orange arrow below). Once you click on the arrow, click on "+ Create New Segment" and you will see the following screen.
You will be able to create segments using the demographic information we saw above. It is important to perform a few analyses as the one showed in the screenshot above (comparison chart), it will provide a good guidance on which segments to build. Here are some segment ideas for you to try:
Since the data mentioned above is also available on Google Analytics' remarketing feature, you will be able to use the insights discovered above when creating your lists.
So, for example, if you discover that the Music Lovers category for ages 25-34 is underperforming significantly, you could create a remarketing list for those people; using this list you can create a campaign to reach out to them in other websites in the Google Distributed Network with a special "Musical" offer. Here is a guide to create Remarketing lists.
One of the most actionable features in Google Analytics is Content Experiments, as it enables marketers to actually experiment with their websites to create better experiences. And one of its strengths over other tools is that it allows us to use data already collected by Google Analytics to analyze website testing results; this is done using the segmentation tool mentioned above.
Let's imagine a simple example. You are A/B Testing a page to see which creative works better: a family image, a couple image or a baby image. The overall test result shows you that the couple image would increase overall conversion rates by 30%. However, using the Age segment described above, you might see that the results vary significantly among different age groups. And you might find out that the best creative for 18-24 is couples, 25-34 is babies and 35-44 is families. Wow!
When someone visits a website that has partnered with the Google Display Network, Google stores a number in their browsers (using a "cookie") to remember their visits. This number uniquely identifies a web browser on a specific computer, not a specific person. Browsers may be associated with a demographic category, such as gender or age range, based on the sites that were visited.
In addition, some sites might provide us with demographic information that people share on certain websites, such as social networking sites. We may also use demographics derived from Google profiles.
It is extremely important to know that this data is not available for every single user, so usually the reports will be based in a subset of users. In addition, some data in the reports may be removed when thresholds are applied to prevent inferring the identity of an individual user.You can learn more on how data is subject to thresholds on the reports.
Most marketers have been in the dark when it comes to understanding their website visitors demographics. Up till now the options were extremely limited when it comes to merging online behavior with demographics for a specific website.
With Google Analytics Demographics & Interests reports we can now optimize website experiences based on our visitors in a much deeper way. How will you use it? Please let us know in the comments!