How To Build Better User Personas with Google Analytics Psychographics

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What is psychographics?

“the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.”

Psychographics is the study of an audience’s interests, activities and opinions. It provides an understanding of the kind of person who is interested in your services/product/website. It’s also a really cool word to use if you want to sound like a brain scientist.

Why do I need it?

When combined with demographics data, such as age and location, psychographics allows us to build incredibly detailed user personas which we can use to communicate more effectively with our target audience.

You can spend a long time building and refining user personas. The more time you spend on it, the more effective your content is likely to be. Here’s an excellent Neil Patel guide to building a comprehensive user (or ‘customer’) persona. But even a quick sketch of your customer, based on the data you have, will provide you with useful actionable information.

Using Google Analytics to get psychographic data

As a source of psychographic data, GA has advantages and disadvantages when compared to other sources. To create the fullest data set possible for your user persona you should be combining the data with information from other sources, like customer surveys or feedback forms.

Advantages of GA for psychographics

  • Based on actual users of your website
  • Data can be easily segmented to create multiple user personas
  • Gives a good idea of what your audience dislike, so you can remove turn-offs from your content.

Disadvantages of GA for psychographics

  • This data is only available if your website is getting a decent amount of traffic. If you have less than 1,000 users a month, GA may fail to give you any demographics data at all. This is why a diverse approach to data collection for psychographics is always recommended! It may be worth researching for psychographics data from your social media platforms instead, using either their built-in analytics tools, or a third party tool such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
  • GA (or any analytics tool) doesn’t collate offline data, which limits its use for creating a full, detailed user persona. If most of your business activity takes place online, then offline data is going to be harder to gather, and you’ll be more reliant on the information you can gather using GA and other digital tools. If you’ve got a physical place of business, or you get lots of face-to-face time with your audience, then you should look for ways to collect and organise the information available in these physical interactions, too.
  • You can’t collect demographics and psychographics data within a view that tracks User ID data. User ID tracking allows you to track the same user across multiple devices, and gives a much more detailed picture of how different device types access your site, as well as a lot more detailed insight into individual users.

For the majority of websites, this isn’t an issue – User ID is only available if your website requires users to log in to an account. And it’s possible to set up two different views, one for demo/psychographic data, and another for User ID tracking.

How to create a GA Custom Report for psychographics

We’re going to create a Custom Report for your psychographics data. This report will have two tabs, or kinds of information available – ‘Affinity Categories’, which tells us what other kinds of websites our audience frequents, and ‘In-Market Segments’, which tells us what kind of websites our audience use to make purchases.

To demonstrate this process, I’ve used the Google Merchandise demo account. It’s a great GA training resource, and is fully accessible to anyone with an Analytics account who’s completed the free ‘Google Analytics for Beginners’ training course on Google’s Analytics Academy.

1.    Enable Remarketing and Advertising Features

You have to opt-in to collect this data. It’s a very simple process, here’s how you do it.

2.    Click on ‘Customisation’ and select ‘Custom Reports’

3. Click on ‘+ New Custom Report’ to create a new report.

4.    Create a Report Tab for Affinity Categories. Under Metric Groups, click on Add Metric. Type ‘Users’ into the search bar, then select Users in the search results. Under Dimension Drilldowns, click on Add Dimension, and type ‘Affinity Category (Reach)’ into the search bar, then select Affinity Category (Reach) in the search results. Lastly, rename the Report Tab as ‘Affinity Categories’.

5.    Create a Report Tab for In-Market Segment. Click on +add report tab, then repeat Step 4, making sure to select In-Market Segment as your dimension, Users as your metric, and renaming the Report Tab as In-Market Segment.

6.    Name the report and hit Save.

How to use your Google Analytics Psychographics Report

 Firstly, we’re going to choose the Comparison table display setting. It’s just over here on the right, at the top of the table;

This gives us an easy visual indication of the likes and dislikes of the website users. Let’s look at the table. We’re currently on the ‘Affinity Categories’ tab.

If we take a look at the first three categories, we can learn a lot about our audience. The most popular category – the thing our audience spend the most time investigating on the internet – is something called ‘Shoppers/Value Shoppers’. Eh? What’s that?

In Googlese, this is telling us the primary purpose of websites within this affinity category – shopping – along with a description of the kind of shopper our audience could be described as. A value shopper (the other categories are ‘bargain hunter’, ‘luxury’, and ‘shopaholic’). Marketers amongst you are already reviewing this information and choosing an appropriate sales strategy to appeal to a customer who sits between ‘bargain hunter’ and ‘luxury/shopaholic’ in terms of what might persuade them to make a purchase.

Category two tells us that our audience are technophiles – not a huge revelation, considering we’re on the Google merchandise page.

Category three is Media and Entertainment/Movie Lovers. This is important information for our user persona – we now know our audience love movies! If you were developing content for this audience, references to popular films would probably go over well. Or perhaps content that drew upon popular films as a starting point to explore something else.

Let’s take a look at the ‘In-Market Segment’ tab. What do our website users spend their money on?

The answer – software! Not a huge surprise, from an audience so enamoured of Google they’d consider buying a t-shirt.

But there’s more to be had, here. They’re buying business and productivity software. Which tells us that a significant proportion of our audience are working as freelancers at least some of the time. This career fluidity is reinforced by the third largest in-market segment too, ‘Employment/Career Consulting Services’.

Anyone who’s worked as a freelancer knows how difficult it can be. The relentless self-promotion, the economic insecurity of the feast-to-famine, the loneliness of being both your own boss and employee. Our user persona just became a lot more detailed, as we found out what sort of things our user worries about, and how they view the world of work. Whole swathes of marketing strategy just became either irrelevant, or much more useful.

While we’re at it, let’s find out what we don’t need. At the bottom of the report, in the ‘Go to’ box, enter a page number for a set of rows way down the rankings. I’ve chosen 100 here (no need to go to the very last page, it’s full of things that no-one would ever want, like Nazi memorabilia or Carling brewery tours).

Here we can see some of our user persona’s big turn offs. Kids, family life, and domesticity (Child Car Seats/Toddler Meals/Lawn Mowers), fancy expensive cars (Porsche/Jeep/Subaru), and making a fuss (Gifts and Occasions/Photo & Video Services)

Like anything with Google Analytics, the data isn’t the point. What matters is how you interpret that data. The conclusions you draw and the actions you take. We’ve just created a fairly vivid picture of a self-employed technophile movie lover, uninterested in cars, family life and sentimentality, and it took us about five minutes. We could split this picture into a series of different pictures if we wanted, by adding segments. This would allow us to target our content and resources more specifically – chunky Google knitwear for boomers, Google tents for campers, etc.

I really hope this has been of use to you. It’s worth bearing in mind that Google Analytics data is rarely 100% accurate – and if your account is incorrectly set up the data will be even less useful, and you run the risk of strategies based on wildly inaccurate or irrelevant information. If you think your Google Analytics setup needs a tweak, please get in touch with me at Magnify Copy and I’ll run a full audit.

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