Google Analytics Tip – Using Demographics and Interests Data to Develop Personas

Marketers use email and website personalization to deliver a hyper-relevant online experience to every customer, but succeeding with online personalization isn’t easy.

According to Evergage, 88% of marketers say their customers expect a personalized experience, while 55% admit the marketing industry isn’t personalizing to those standards.  What’s more, 46% of marketers would give their own company’s personalization efforts a “C” grade, or less.

Developing user personas is key to executing a successful personalization strategy. Personas, fictional representations of key audience segments, help marketers understand the needs and interests of their audience segments, so they can make their customer journey more personal and relevant.

To get started, we collect and analyze available data (both qualitative and quantitative) to understand what makes different audience segments tick, so we can group them within logical and actionable personas. Today, we’ll walk through how to use Google Analytics Demographics and Interests data (a free tool) to capture additional quantitative data to develop detailed personas.

(Already have your data? Get detailed steps on creating user personas and our handy persona worksheet here.)

Quick Recap: Developing Personas

Whether you’re a large brand or a small team, the best way to enhance your customers’ online experience is through persona-based personalization.

By thinking through and creating realistic user personas, you can target marketing messaging, products, offers, and imagery to your audience segments true needs and interests. Ultimately, you can  show the right content to the right person at the right time to grab their interest, ease their concerns, and guide their next action.

We recommend businesses generally create three to five different personas, representing 80% of their customer base.  These personas are created using data collected through research with real leads and customers.

Types of Data: Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Both qualitative and quantitative data are used to create personas.

Qualitative data is what you think you know.  It is largely hypotheticals about your audience, based on your experiences and interactions, like their interests or concerns. You brainstorm qualitative data by collecting your own assumptions and meeting with cross-functional teams across your organization to get their views.

We then layer in quantitative data to see whether or not the concrete data backs up our assumptions, thus eliminating hypotheticals.  Quantitative data is captured through surveys, behavioral data (how they interact on your website or with your emails), internal data, analytics, or published studies.  With quantitative data, you get metric-driven insights into your audience.

Using Google Analytics to Get Quantitative Data

Google Analytics tracks activity on your website: like pages visited, how long browsers stay on a page, bounce rates, and many other insights.

A useful Google Analytics feature for persona development is Demographics and Interests, which tracks visitors’ age, gender, interests, and more.  (We walk through steps to enable this feature below.)

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite insights:

1.  Demographics Overview: The distribution of Sessions (or other key metrics) on your website by age group and gender. Sessions is the default key metric. You can also use % New SessionsAvg. Session DurationBounce Rate, or Pages per Session, or add additional segments.

2. Age: Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions metrics are broken down by age group. Click on an age group to drill down and  see the breakdown by gender. Click on a gender to drill down into interests. Ages below 18 are not included in the data.







3.  Gender: metrics are broken down by gender. Similar to age, click on a gender category to see the breakdown by age group, then by interest.

4. Interests Overview: The distribution of Sessions (or other key metrics) on your website by the top-10 interests in Affinity CategoriesIn-Market Segments, and Other Categories.

Affinity Categories are based on the interests and lifestyles of visitors to your site.  They show the beginning stages of visitor activity, and are very generic.  Affinity Categories let you gauge the interests of potential customers.

In-Market Segments are less broad than Affinity Categories, and focus on short term interests.  It shows what people are actively searching for or are in the market for.  People can switch from searching for one thing to another, so it is important to remember that In-Market Segments will constantly change based on peoples’ temporary interests.

Other Categories collect data on people’s most specific views and activities.  It is less general than Affinity Categories, and shows exactly what people are viewing on your website, and how often they are visiting those specific parts of your site.

Dive deeper into Affinity, In-Market, and Other Categories to view acquisition, behavior, and conversion metrics for each.









Where does this data come from?

Demographic and Interest data is collected from third-party DoubleClick cookie, Android Advertising ID, and iOS identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) sources.







How do I enable Demographics and Interests tracking?

  1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account
  2. Click Admin

            3. In the Property column, click Property Settings.

4. Scroll down to Enable Demographics and Interests Reports, and turn it ON.

               5. Click Save

Applying Google Analytics Demographics and Interests Data to Your Personas

Google Analytics Demographics and Interests data tells you types of people engaging with different products or services on your website.

Layer this data into your collection of quantitative data for a more detailed view of your audience, so you develop actionable user personas and personalize their online experience. (Get our persona worksheet here to get started).