Google Analytics for Cool Cats & Their Humans
Part 1: Audience Personas
Hey, psssst. You over there. I’m sitting on some hot data, freshly aggregated and bursting with the potential for robust interpretation. All of this top-secret information is in this manila envelope underneath me on this chair. (Side note: Do you like how I coordinated the envelope with my ginger fur? Cats naturally have style.) Where did I get all this information about the users on your website? From your website’s Google Analytics (GA). You should really spend more time in there.
You’re in marketing and communications at your college, you say? Even more reason to better understand GA so you can develop content tailored for your website visitor’s needs.
Some people call it stalking your prey, but why don’t we call it developing audience personas based off demographic data.
Detect & Categorize: Mice
Action: Must hunt down
Detect & Categorize: Chicken cat treat
Action: Must eat now
Detect & Categorize: Human’s tuna sandwich
Action: Will knock on floor and lick, rendering inedible to human
Developing audience personas is akin to that inedible tuna sandwich but more useful, at least, if you are a human in charge of developing a messaging strategy or a content strategy for your higher ed website. Let’s take a peek behind the lattice fence of a website and see what we can infer from the data collected in GA.
So many tasty mice, I mean, tabs to explore on the left-hand side of your website’s GA menu (as seen here).
Select a date range or compare date ranges to get a sense for how much of your traffic is comprised of new visitors and returning visitors. In the overview section, you can quickly view these:
- Pages per session
- Average session duration
- Bounce rate
- How deep into your website visitors are delving before they leave
- How long they are sticking around to read or scan for content. A low bounce rate is a good indicator visitors who find their way into your website are not immediately ducking back out but, in fact, are either scanning headlines looking for what is of interest to them, clicking deeper into the website hunting for their information, or performing some other event, which can also be tracked in GA.
- How does helps your marketing and communications team develop their audience personas
Let’s dig deeper and look at the demographics tab.
Let’s imagine you are a graduate program marketing to adult students. If you saw the demographics shown here, you’re going to like the confirmation that the majority of your users are 25–34 and proportionately balanced between males and females. After your team high-fives each other, you might ask, how does this help us develop our personas?
Let’s look at the interests tab, which provides us with three tables.
After looking over the interest categories we might develop three roughly sketched-out audience personas—these personas will be developed with more detail later in our audience-persona process. For now, our creative team decides on these three:
Stacy is ambitious. She refused to take a job in college unless it would help bolster her resume. She’s always had a plan for her life and, despite a few setbacks, has managed to keep ticking items off her to-do list towards her ultimate career goal: managing a nonprofit that she builds from the ground up. To get there, she knows grad school is her next card to be played. The questions she has—which degree will give me both the experience and the credentials to take on a high-level position within a nonprofit immediately after graduation and which school?
Rory is laidback. In fact, sometimes, she’s too cool and collected. She doesn’t rush to school in the morning and doesn’t worry about being late to class. Rory is on her phone more than most. She’s not on Instagram or sending funny snaps to her roommate. She’s scrolling for trending articles on her Facebook newsfeed and reading the ones of most interest to her. When she’s home, she’s on her laptop reading the news headlines on NPR or listening to her favorite podcast, RadioLab. When she stops in at her parents’ house, just across town, she flips the TV to MSNBC. Rory doesn’t realize it yet, but when she graduates with her BA in English, she’d love to get a master’s in journalism.
Devon replies to celebrities on Twitter. He loves watching Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and is obsessed with reality television and the hottest movies. Devon was all work when he was getting his business degree as an undergrad. He’s been out of college for a year and working full time for a local e-commerce company for the past six months. His parents have encouraged him to consider getting his MBA. He’s not sure the MBA is the right choice for him because of the cost. He questions if the time spent towards it will pay off in the end. He’s open to other graduate business degrees if he can see the pay-out when he’s done. What he really wants is to travel on the kind of vacation that his favorite celebrities take. He won’t be doing that on his current salary. Turks and Caicos will have to wait.
Are you ready to give audience personas a try?
Next up in the Google Analytics for Cool Cats and Their Humans series, we’ll talk about setting up goals and monitoring for conversions.
Find out how your school’s Google Analytics account performs based on our free tool, the GA scorecard for student recruitment.