Understanding your audience is pivotal to any business. No matter what industry you’re in or what your approach is to marketing and advertising, understanding your audience better will allow you to improve your practices and increase your customer loyalty and retention.
Today, thanks to readily available technologies, it’s easier than ever to analyze your audience and get a better idea of who’s interacting with your brand and why. With the right insights, you can modify your approach, anticipate your customer needs, and create a superior user experience.
Google Analytics is one of the best tools you can use for this purpose. Once your script is installed, you’ll be able to measure a tremendous diversity of data on your web users, and using that data, you’ll be able to make meaningful change to your branding and marketing strategies.
The Acquisition area of Google Analytics is one of the most important, especially if you’re marketing to your audience online in different formats. The main purpose of the Acquisition section is to provide insight on how your users are finding your site. For example, in the Acquisition Overview, you’ll be able to see a chart of how many users found your site after typing your URL directly into their browser versus those that found it through an external link, social media, or search engine results.
This information is especially useful in determining which of your marketing strategies is the most effective, but it’s also useful for determining what types of people are visiting your site and why. For example, if you find that the majority of your users are finding your site through content you’ve syndicated on social media, you could double your content writing and syndication efforts to attract an even greater number of users.
The Behavior tab is all about how your users behave once they actually get to your site. Here, you’ll be able to find information such as the most popular pages of your website, each page’s bounce rate, and how long your users tend to stay on your site before leaving. With this information, you should be able to determine which pages of your site are the most valuable or popular to your visitors, and apply their common characteristics to your other pages. For example, if your most popular, least-bounced page is an in-depth write-up about early childhood psychology, consider other articles that supplement that topic, or even adding media such as images or video to the page to make it even more valuable.
The Behavior Flow subsection is a perfect tool to visualize the path of the average user on your site. In this chart, you can see where your users come into your site, where they go next, and when they drop off. If you notice the majority of your users dropping off after visiting a certain type of page, you’ll have to critically examine that page and either eliminate it or overhaul it.
General Audience Insights
Depending on your account, you may need to enable advertiser features in order to see this information. Otherwise, you’ll be able to find it under the “Audience” tab. This information shares general insights about the type of people who use your site, rather than how they use it or how they found it. It’s an invaluable tool for marketers, especially if you’re having trouble identifying your core demographics.
Age and Gender
The age and gender section is probably the most straightforward to use and interpret. Here, you’ll be able to see what percentage of your audience falls into certain demographic categories, and you can use this information to adjust your marketing strategies and make tweaks to your branding to better speak to your audience. For example, if you find that the majority of your users are young women, you can adjust your brand voice to better appeal to them.
Geographic indicators can also help you figure out information about your audience. Some businesses are surprised to find that they have an international user base, even though they’re currently only marketing to domestic customers. Others realize that they’re far more popular in certain states than in others, and make adjustments to their offerings accordingly.
There are a number of other areas under the Audience tab where you can learn more about how users are accessing your site. Here, you should be able to see what percentage of your users are using mobile devices versus desktop devices, and which browsers are most popular for viewing. You can use this information to tailor your strategy and cater to the largest portion of your audience. For example, if you find that the majority of your users are using Internet Explorer, you might want to consider optimizing your site for Bing as much as you do for Google.
Putting Insights to Good Use
It should go without saying, but simply knowing your audience isn’t enough; it’s actually only the first step. It’s what you do with that knowledge that really matters. Take a critical look at how your site is designed, how it’s written, and what features you currently offer your users. Are these all optimized for a speculated target audience, or for the audience who’s actually using your site? What areas of the site can you eliminate? What areas of the site can you improve? What can you add to make your users happier?
By answering these questions and putting a strategy in place to address them, you’ll better position your site for your current audience, and your conversion rates will improve as a result.
Written by Jayson DeMers for Forbes.com