Who’s Really Coming to Your Website: Two Useful Tips for Your Configuration
Standard Configuration is Not Enough
To many of us Google Analytics (GA) is plenty capable of handling our web analytics needs. GA is quite robust ‘out-of-the-box’ and one of its most valuable attributes is customization. We can customize GA to our specific business needs no matter the website type. Ecommerce, lead generation, content etc – it’s all possible and for most of us GA is free.
Additionally, Google Analytics is easy to navigate. The interface is organized and intuitive. The charts and tables are fully interactive which makes for easy data digestion and analysis. We can see what marketing channels funnel users to our site. We can see what device they used, what part of the country or world they inhabit, on what pages they spent the most time and so on.
From an audience research perspective, we know, in general, who is coming to our website: location, device, age, gender, and even purchase affinity (inferred from search data). All of this information is incredibly useful and actionable to a degree. But, do we REALLY know who’s on our website? Do we know their attitudes and preferences? Do we fully understand the need itself and the facets therein?
Perhaps we can infer some of these answers from additional engagement (i.e. page stats) and conversion reports in GA. However, we won’t derive the full answer using this data alone. To get the complete customer story, we should augment our existing web analytics configuration with the goal of getting more data about our users (without being creepy of course).
Before we jump into what we can do, let me first back up and explore ‘why’ we may want to know MORE about our user base, particularly regarding what’s possible in GA. Assuming we’ve configured GA, via Google Tag Manager, to track essential user activities, we should have enough incoming data to act on, right? Well yes, you do. But you don’t want to settle for the global minimum. We want to shoot for the global maximum.
We want MORE audience insights because they improve website effectiveness when applied. Users find value on our website regardless of their stage in the decision journey. They visit, engage, and convert in an efficient manner and hardly get stuck in any one area. To create this feng shui experience, so to speak, we need to have a comprehensive understanding of our users so that we can craft targeted messaging and create content that resonates with our audience.
We can also stay ahead of any key shifts in user preferences and attitudes that may impact our business, and make modifications where and when needed. Not to mention, more audience data, combined with testing, helps us to optimize the visual aspect of the site including images, colors, information structure, and branding/logos. Audience insights helps us to not feel around in the dark so much. The lights are on, to some degree, facilitating strategy that is more direct, intentional, and efficient.
So, let’s ask these questions: Are users engaging with our website as expected? Are they progressing through our site as planned? Are they converting at the rate we need? If we answer “no” or “not really” to any of these questions, we should aim for deeper audience insights.
Two ways in which we can achieve deeper insights about our online audience: (1) Quantcast Measure, (2) Facebook Ads and Audience Insights.
If we are using Google Analytics, I recommend installing the Quantcast Measure tag via Google Tag Manager. First things first, we need to sign-up for a free account. Quantcast will send us an email request to verify. The email will take us to a landing page where we input our website’s url and retrieve the tracking code snippet we are to place on each page. Luckily for us we won’t need to copy-and-paste this snippet. As part of the Google Tag Manager install, we simply:
- Go to Google Tag Manager account
- Under the ‘container’ tab, create a new tag
- Within tag type, scroll down to Quantcast Measure and select
- Go to your Quantcast Measure account and copy our unique ID( called P-code)
- Go back to the new tag and paste the P-code into the first field
- Next, trigger on all pages (or use select relevant pages)
- Save and publish the tag.
That’s it. After a couple of days, we should begin to see the Quantcast Measure dashboard populate with data. Log in and we’ll see audience insights placed into interactive charts organized by category. For example, Quantcast Measure provides details on key demographics (e.g. gender, age, and race), occupation, media interests (i.e. magazines and television), political affiliation. shopping behavior, and other categories. We should take time to explore our audience data and overlay it with GA data. The insights we garner from these details will help us to design better messaging and experience for our audience.
Our second option for gaining better insight into our web audience is Facebook, specifically Facebook Audience Insights. Now, with this option we’ll need a small budget to execute Facebook ads to ensure we generate enough traffic (if you don’t already have) to obtain demographic data. The main idea is to broadcast our value proposition to an audience we believe encompasses our target audience; in effect, a broad audience. We link the ad back to our website with the goal that members of our target audience click the ad and visit our website. Like Quantcast Measure, we first need to setup a Facebook Business account. You can learn more about how to this here. We can then generate a Facebook pixel that you can install on our website to track conversions and user activity originating with a click on a Facebook ad (including remarketing ads). Also like Quantcast Measure, we can implement this code snippet via Google Tag Manager.
- Go to Google Tag Manager account
- Under the ‘container’ tab, create a new tag
- Click tag configuration and under choose a tag select ‘Custom HTML’
- Copy and paste your Facebook pixel (code snippet) and trigger on all pages
Once the pixel has been installed, we should go to our Facebook Ads account and create an audience (that you will later reference in Facebook Audience Insights).
- Go to our Facebook Business account
- Click ‘Audiences’ under the ‘Assets’ column (also find within the Assets Library)
- Click ‘Create Audience’ and ‘Custom Audience’
- Facebook will prompt us on ‘how we want to create our audience’
- Select the ‘Website traffic’ option
- From the dropdown, select ‘All website visitors’ and change 30 days to 180 days (the maximum number of days )
- Name our audience and click the create audience button
Once we have traffic, albeit a good amount of traffic, we can use Facebook Audience Insights to see the geographic and psychographic details of people visiting our website. We simply go to ‘Audience Insights’ and under ‘Custom Audience’ select the audience we created. Voila, we should the breakdown of male/females, household stats, location, relationship status, and education level among other attributes.
As I mentioned, Facebook requires a relatively large sample size to return audience data. Thus, we must turn out attention from pixels and dashboards to traffic acquisition. Within Facebook, we can create ads, static and video, to showcase our value proposition to a prospective audience. I will not go into how to create an effective Facebook ad. A quick Google search will take us to a host of articles, guides, and videos put together by experts. That said, I’ll put to pen a few words about how we should approach this exercise.
As we will read in countless articles and guides on the subject, the more targeted our approach, the better (assuming you know your audience). If we are a bit unsure, it’s ok to be a bit broader. But we have to be smart. For example, if we are running a local real estate brokerage in New Jersey, it doesn’t make sense for us to expand our Facebook targeting to California (assuming no big migration trend). In the same vein, our ads should not be shown to people below the age of 20 as they are likely not in the market to buy a home. Also, to save money you want to setup you ads on a cost per click basis. Impressions don’t guarantee a click so don’t waste your time. In addition to Facebook ads, consider other ways to generate traffic. Continue to growth hack, implement SEO, and optimize landing pages to maximize traffic (and conversions).
In this post, I’ve explained two ways we can optimize our web analytics configuration to obtain more details about our visitors. The goal is to learn as much we can about our users/customers so that we can provide a superb experience across marketing touchpoints.