Custom Segmentation: Cure for Analytics Constipation

Segmentation RX

Why is it that shortly after implementing web analytics, many companies suffer excessively from the law of diminishing returns? Seems like just months after countless meetings defining analytics needs, setting measurement goals, and performing exhaustive product research, companies become mired in a desolate analytics landscape dotted only with a few basic reports and cool looking dashboards.

Meanwhile, a vast amount of available actionable data never gets attention.

When companies can't or don't extract the more insightful deeper metrics within their analytics, they're suffering "Analytics Constipation". The underutilization of analytics is generally a fall-out from resource limitations, and the perceived complexity and difficulty of sophisticated analysis techniques. That perception limitation, though, is usually baseless.

Why Custom Segmentation

One of the most overlooked tools in analytics is custom segmentation. Custom segmentation is a great way to uncover actionable insights and increase the precision of your analytics by breaking your visit data into meaningful subsets. Analyzing visitor behavior by creating granular visitor segments allows you to do a better job of maximizing the potential of every visit. And even though it may sound like a herculean task, it is a very easy process to setup and measure in most analytics platforms including Google Analytics and Yahoo Web Analytics.

Why is segmenting traffic so important? Remember that visitors arrive at your site for varied purposes, from many sources and at different points along the purchase cycle. Studying data by segmenting will help identify both commonalities and trends in visit, exit and conversion behaviors that can lead you to creating better user experiences and encourage higher conversions for groups of your visitors. When aggregating data from all users, you ignore key components of visitor behavior of individual user groups.

Most of us already take advantage of basic segmentation perhaps without realizing. When looking at data from various traffic sources, you are analyzing segmented traffic.

As you begin to think more about custom segmentation, it's important to keep the following in mind when designing your segmentation plans:

  • Ensure you'll have a large enough sample size to draw meaningful conclusions;
  • Focus on actionable data ... will the segmented data pass the "So what" test? Based on the data collected, can you actually make changes in your tactics that will help support your online goals?
  • Be sure not to get cause and effect mixed up.

There are a multitude of factors you can segment your traffic on depending upon your business model. Here are some common segmentation criteria:

  • Demographics of your visitors (i.e., geographic)
  • Processes/paths/actions
  • Specific referring URL's or campaigns
  • New vs. repeat visitors

Segmenting within Segments

If your universe of data is large enough to support embedded segments, your business may warrant segmenting visitors by more than 1 factor, for example: New versus repeat customers from 1 specific referring site.

Here are 3 examples of how segmentation can help you better tailor the visit experience and improve conversion:

  • A marketer wants to determine if visitors to a landing page who click on a "Learn more" tab tend to convert at a higher rate. By segmenting the traffic, they'll be able to see if their theory is correct, and if so, try to persuade more visitors to view the contents of the "Learn More" tab by making it more prominent.
  • A marketer is interested in seeing if there are discernable trends in pages viewed of visitors who are unfamiliar with the company and its products. This information might allow them to better tailor the visit experience for these types of visitors. The marketer can segment traffic based on entry to site using branded keywords and 1st time visitors.
  • A marketer is tasked with reducing shopping cart abandonment. The current cart process differs for 1st time customers who must create an account, versus returning customers who may log in. The marketer knows that it needs to evaluate shopping cart abandonment for the 2 different segments of visitors.

These are only a few examples of how to dig deeper within your analytics to help get into the minds of your visitors. Following a steady diet of custom segmentation will uncover valuable data to help you move closer to meeting your online goals and put an end to any symptoms of Analytics Constipation you may be suffering.

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