A pound sign has distinct meaning in the context of social media. It's a hashtag, right? But would you confuse it for a musical sharp? Maybe, depending on the context.

For marketers, knowing the difference matters. And the difference may depend on whether a campaign was planned for social media enthusiasts or songwriters.

Learning ideas, behaviors and activities associated with people is becoming easier.

The early days of analytics have relied on surface metrics — such as the number of site visits. But customer experience and better analytic tools are giving rise to deeper insights, ones that connect people to reported metrics.

Thus better identification of online personas is essential to marketing plans.

Knowing the Customer

Personas are meant for businesses to imagine their intended customers, guiding media and technical focus towards online marketing media that matches the interests of the imagined customer.

This means any marketing plan has uniformity — the messages in ads and social media posts will speak consistently to the audience, who should respond to offers or pay attention to awareness messages.

That consistency implies that customer personas define the words used in a call to action.

If an intended audience persona uses certain phrases, like "car" over “automobile," for example, then the content should reflect phrases that naturally attract that persona. The phrase should be applied accordingly in video ads, social media posts or alongside images.

2 Step Process

So where does a business start?

The first step is describing customers by geography and age. Google Analytics provides this data, as do most analytic tools. The reports estimate the demographic and age range that the visits represented.

Next, turn to data from the Affinity and In-Market reports. The reports look similar but serve different purposes.

The Affinity reports displays topics for customers at the start of a sales funnel — those who are investigating a product or service. The In-market is meant for visitors who were likely to purchase.

The categories in the reports are Google defaults and run a gamut of interests, mainly media oriented. Examples include TV Lovers, Music Lovers, News Junkies and Shutterbugs.

google analytics affinity reports

Capitalizing on Insights

Insight from these reports can enhance decisions from the demographics by suggesting topics that support reach and attract ready-to-purchase customers. These topics can then be used for establishing various customer experience strategies.

Here are a few of them:

  • Deciding what feature or service benefit of a video ad to emphasize visitors who are “technophiles” or “news junkies".
  • Create content for sites that carry the top topics identified in the reports.
  • Create videos that incorporate the topics.

Another Dimension

Examining the reports is a similar exercise as reviewing other result reports in Google Analytics. Dimensions can be compared by acquisition, behavior and conversion metrics.

Affinity reports offer an opportunity to leverage a second dimension. The second dimension menu provides an additional condition for describing the affinity topics. For example, age can be selected as a second dimension to see if the site or app is attracting the intended age group.

Another second dimension idea is device. Using device as a second dimension can augment ideas for tailoring content to devices that visitors will likely access.

This can be combined with the customer journey tool, filling another piece of the multichannel puzzle.

Yet another second dimension idea is time — which can give ideas on when content should be planned by day or by hour, for example. So ads that are meant to attract social media enthusiasts may be better planned for Monday and Tuesday mornings, while ads with a tone appropriate for news junkies would prefer an evening appearance later in the week.

There are plenty of second source selections. Users will find the choices familiar, since many are from metrics reported in other Google Analytics reports.

Overall, each can inspire ideas as to how to refine topics that attract visitors consistently.

Understanding customer personas is one way to get past vanity metrics and into more advanced analytics.

Through persona analysis, managers will learn how to adjust customer experience strategies that strikes the right note to those personas online.

Title image by Roberto Tumini