A challenge for many businesses is attracting visitors to their websites and getting them to do what they want when they’re there, such as download a brochure, watch a video, or buy a product. While analyzing your visitor traffic is important, opportunities can get overlooked if you use the information to assume each visitor to your site arrives for the same reason. This is where segmentation of your traffic data can help.
Segmentation is what analytics is truly about: information that can help cut costs, shift marketing efforts, and provide the best ways to adjust your offering to your online customers.
Using a segmentation view of your website traffic in a Web analytics tool can allow you to quickly focus on which campaigns are working well and which may need adjustment. You can discover what content and offerings are preferable to your customers, allowing you to keep better inventory. And ultimately, segmentation can help you see if your online marketing strategy is working.
Segmentation is not captured as a singular metric but as a set of metrics for comparing one group of traffic against another. For example, you can compare average time on the site and page views per visit from referrals (links from other sites) with those from search. Segmentation can help you determine website improvements as well as see how customers get to your online products or services.
Most analytics packages such as Google Analytics and Omniture Site Catalyst offer a few simple methods of segmentation. These include the following:
- New vs. returning visitors: This is the most straightforward segment type to measure. New visitors may be important during a website launch, but return visitors become an indicator of how effective your site is.
- Referrals and direct visitors: Referrals come from sites that link to your site. Direct visitors are those that type in your URL or save your site in a bookmark.
- Keywords: Keywords reflect the search terms visitors use to arrive at your site. Knowing which search words yield more potential customers can be valuable when determining which keywords to use in Google AdWord campaigns and within your site content.
- Region: A map overlay can show where visitors are coming from. This can help you understand which geographical areas are gaining the most interest in your site.
- Combinations: An analytics package with an advanced segmentation wizard can allow you to segment in combinations. For example, you can set a segment of Twitter users (referral) from New England (map overlay) to determine what the level of interest is from that group.
Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and midsize businesses that rely on Web analytics data.