How To Use Google Analytics Personas To Build A Perfect Audience

An article containing Google Analytics in the title looks intimidating, I know. One that boldly states Google Analytics personas looks even scarier. But bear with me for a second here. What if I told you that you could use data you already have about your website visitors to create your customer avatars?

In the next 2,000 words (or so), I’m going to show you how Google Analytics can help identify your ideal customers and build your perfect audience.

How to Use Google Analytics Personas
Google Analytics: Audience Overview

First, we’ll have a look at what customer avatars are and why they are so important for any business niche strategy, then we’ll focus on what information you’d need to have to start building yours. Finally, we’ll show you how to find this information in your Google Analytics account and create the perfect Google Analytics personas.

What is a Buyer Persona & Why You Must Have It

As a marketer, you know all too well how important it is to build personas. You can call them customer avatars or buyer personas (and we will, in this article) but it won’t change what they are. They are fictional representations of our ideal customers and their main purpose is to segment your audience into buckets.

Having them handy will help to inform of how to direct your marketing initiatives. And when I say all, I mean – literally – all of them. Selling a product does not only involves what you are offering but also – and perhaps, more importantly – who you are offering it to.

Most marketing focuses on the product itself, its features and benefits. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll need that along the way. But what is essential when you get started to build your brand story is to understand who your ideal customers are and make them the center of all your communication efforts.

Making your customer the hero of your brand story has many benefits, including the fact that when you’re writing it, you will be telling their story. It will stop being just a description of something you are selling but it will resonate with them and ellicit an emotional connection. When the connection is made, action will follow.

You Need Avatars, Like, Right Now

Marketing is all about communication, right? Every piece of content that will come from your brand will be impacted by your knowledge of your audience. Not convinced yet? Here is a list of the essential assets you’re going to write to market your product and – guess what? – all of that will change according to the audience who will receive it.

  • Blog posts, videos and podcasts. When choosing the topics of your blog posts, videos, and podcasts, you’re looking for something that can interest, excite and engage your audience. If your content doesn’t resonate, chances are your potential customers will move over.
  • Social Media. Content is out there, on the internet. That’s not enough, sadly. You need to find your audience and that involves finding out which channel they are mainly on. But also when and how frequently you should post on social to engage with them.
  • Advertising. It’s not only about targeting, I know. But once you’ve identified the channels your potential customers hang out, targeting them will let you find them and, in the long run, avoid you wasting money with paid traffic.
  • Lead Magnets. Yay! Your potential customer is excited about your product or services. Now they get to your landing page and are ready to take the next step and leave you their contacts… but only if it’s relevant to them!
  • Email marketing segmentation. Although you cannot foresee which campaigns will get you the most opens and clicks, you can certainly identify which segments of your audience are likely to be more responsive to a specific email campaign depending on their needs.
  • Your (next) product. When you are aware of the needs your product is able to solve, you can go further the line and tackle these needs more in-depth. You’ll be able to direct your product development into solving real pain points and get even more of your ideal customers to convert.
  • Any content you write. Which one? You name it! Is it an email or the text in your product description page? In all cases, you’re aiming at solving a need, knowing your potential customers will help you here.

New Product, New Avatar

Each time you have a new product, you absolutely need to create a new avatar. That is because, ultimately, if you want to sell your product, you need to reach the right person with the right message. And that’s what having a detailed view of your ideal customers’ needs, pain points and what they are trying to accomplish means.

It may be universally acknowledged that the same product can be marketed to different segments because it can answer different needs. However, you’ll need to identify those needs and address them differently depending on your marketing segments. And that’s where customer avatars come into play.

So here you are, with your shiny new product. What kind of information do you need to start marketing it to the right people in the right way?

What Information You Need to Build Your Buyer Personas

Tons of digital ink have been used so far to detail which information you need when you build your buyer personas. Ultimately, you are best equipped to decide what is relevant for your business and niche – but in this section, we’ll see a number of suggestions on what to include when building your avatars.

But first, spoiler! Very likely, you won’t have all the information you need in one go. Don’t worry – and don’t let it stop you. There are several ways of getting to know your customers, via interviews, surveys, and by analyzing data you already have (one way to do it is to create Google Analytics personas, we’ll get there). With time, you’ll learn more and more about your ideal customers using all the above methods.

But you have to start somewhere. And here it is.

  • Demographic information. Start with age, gender, and location but also try and include more detailed information such as their level of education, job description, income, whether or not they are married and/or with children.
  • Online presence. Identify in which channels your potential customers hang out – this is where you need to be too.
  • Beliefs, values, and interests. What are your ideal customers passionate about? What are their hobbies, and interests – both at work and in their free time?
  • Goals, challenges, and pain points. This is where it gets crucial. What are your prospective users trying to achieve and which are the pain points your product or service can help solve?
  • Decision making and objections. Are your ideal customers taking the purchase decision or do they need to convince somebody else? In both cases, which objections they (or their boss) would need to overcome?

How to Build Your Google Analytics Personas

So far, we have seen what buyer personas are, why you need them (now!) and what to include when creating them. Where to find this information, then? Below, we’ll see how to create Google Analytics personas and use the data you already have on Google Analytics. This will kick-start your research, allowing you to get familiar with the audience that is already visiting your website and compile your customer avatar sheet in no time at all.

A couple of thoughts before we get started.

In order to create your Google Analytics personas, you’ll need to have clean data. This means that you’d need to exclude some IP addresses (for example your own and your office’s) to be able to see only relevant data.

Depending on how much traffic you have on your website, you may need to have 6 up to 12 months’ worth of data. This will ensure you have enough time for your results to be relevant and have more confidence in the Google Analytics personas you are about to build.

Finally, this is where it gets a bit technical. Don’t fret, though. Google Analytics can be used to a certain degree even if you don’t have great confidence in data analysis. However, you can boost the quality of the information you are getting with Google Analytics if you learn the basics of how to use it.

Google Analytics Personas #1 – Demographic Information: Audience Report

The first step to creating your Google Analytics personas is starting with the Audience report. This is located under Audience > Overview. This report will only give you high-level data, so this is a good place to start but don’t stop here. At the Audience report level, you’ll be able to see an overview of users, sessions, demographics, languages, and devices.

To get more specific about age and gender, go under Audience > Demographics > Overview. This will give you more insights on which is the best performing age range and gender among your website visitors, but if you want to have in-depth data on those metrics and be able to combine them with other, you have the option to select Age or Gender in the sub-menu on the left-hand side of the page.

Google Analytics Personas - Demographics Overview
Google Analytics: Demographics Overview

Next is finding out where your website visitors are located. You’ll find this information under Audience > Geo > Location. You’ll be able to select the Map overlap or to use the explorer. If you use the second option, you’ll be able to combine location and other demographic information, such as age or gender. Under Geo, you’ll also find Language, this can be useful to you if you need to understand which markets to target.

Google Analytics Personas - Demographic Information: Location and Age
Google Analytics: Data by Country and Age

Google Analytics Personas #2 – Online Presence: Source/Medium & Devices

The second step into creating your Google Analytics personas is to find where your audience goes to get the information they need when they are online. A great place to find this information is to see where they land from when they get to your website pages.

The Source/Medium report can be used with many different goals in mind. Google defines Source as “the origin of your traffic, such as a search engine (for example, google) or a domain (example.com) while Medium as the general category of the source, for example, organic search (organic), cost-per-click paid search (cpc), web referral (referral).

In this case, we’ll use it to understand which source and medium get the most traffic in order to understand if you are on the right channels and if your social presence is giving you the expected results. Based on the results of this report, you can decide to focus on one or more specific channels.

Google Analytics Personas - Source/Medium report
Google Analytics: Source/Medium Report

Another report that will help you create your Google Analytics personas is the Devices report. Here you’ll see which device your visitors are using to access your website. This report can be found under Audience > Mobile > Overview. Here you can combine the results of the device data with other demographics data – i.e. age – to find out additional information about who they access your website.

Google Analytics Personas - Devices Overview
Google Analytics: Devices Overview

Google Analytics Personas #3 – Beliefs, Values, and Interests: Interests report & Affinity

The next step to create your Google Analytics personas is to dive into your website visitors’ beliefs, values, and interests. All of this can be found in two different reports: the Interests report and the Affinity report. While these reports can be useful on their own, you’ll unleash their full potential if you combine them with other demographics: feel free to add a secondary dimension and combine them to find the information you are looking for.

In order to be able to see the Interests reports, you’ll first need to enable Advertising Reporting features for your Google Analytics account. This can be done in a few clicks on your Admin page. This will allow Analytics to collect additional information from the DoubleClick cookie (web activity) and from Device Advertising IDs (app activity).

Pro Tip: even if you don’t plan on running ads on Google just yet, make sure to have your ad account setup. Once you start, you’ll get additional information if you do.

Once you have enabled these features, navigate to Audience > Interests > Overview. This report will give you information about all your website visitors’ interests at a glance.

Google Analytics Personas - Interests overview
Google Analytics: Interests Overview

If you want your Google Analytics personas to be even more detailed, you can plunge into the specific reports on this section. First, there’s the Affinity (reach) report. This report will inform you of which other markets you can expand to which are similar to the ones of your website visitors. It can be found under Audience > Interests > Affinity.

Google Analytics Personas - Affinity report
Google Analytics: Affinity (Reach) Report

Google Analytics Personas #4 – Goals, Challenges, and Pain Points: Search Console Queries

Following in your Google Analytics persona creation is to define the goals, challenges and pain points of your website visitors. This can be found by investigating what they search before they land on your website. You’ll be able to do just that and identify which pages (aka content) and keywords (aka pain points) rank higher in searches.

In order to do that, you’ll first need to enable the Search console integration. The first time you access it, your page will likely look like that:

Google Analytics Personas - Enable Search Console integration
Google Analytics: Search Console Report

Just follow the procedure and you’ll be able to identify both keywords and pages that are getting the most CRT on your website.

Google Analytics Personas #5 – Decision Making And Objections: In-market & Other Categories Reports

The final step to create your Google Analytics personas is to define at which step of the purchase decision your visitors are and which objections you’d need to overcome to facilitate it. You’ll be able to find product-purchase interests in the In-market report and get even more specific using the Other categories report. You’ll find both reports under Audience > Interests > In-market segments and Other categories.

The In-market segment report will help you identify what your website visitors are looking for in terms of product and services. You can combine this information with other demographics categories so as to find out purchase intent based on age, gender or location.

Google Analytics: In-market Segment Report

The Other categories report, on the other hand, goes even more in-depth into analyzing which categories people visiting your website are interested in.

Google Analytics: Other Categories Report

Google Analytics Personas Bonus – Segmentation

All the reports described above will help you create your Google Analytics personas and fill in your buyer persona sheets so as to identify the key segments of your audience and market them in the right way.

Once you have identified them, you can use another feature of Google Analytics to go further in your data analysis. Segmentation will help you creating subgroups of your general audience with specific characteristics. The benefits of having multiple segments of your audience include analyzing if the marketing initiatives targeted at those specific segments are getting the results you were expecting and will allow you to adjust them in case they’re underperforming.

Another (big!) benefit of segmenting your audience is that you’ll be able to remarket that specific audience in Google Ads campaigns. This may not be an immediate need for you (yet) but once you get started with CPC campaigns, you’ll thank me.

In this article, we’ve covered the Google Analytics reports you can use to create Google Analytics personas and identify the customer avatars for your business. If this article helped you, feel free to share your buyer personas in the comments below!

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