In order to analyze traffic to your website you need to segment it. A lot of times, possibilities for segmentation will depend on the analytics system you use and the data you track. In this article, I will outline how you can create segments using the data commonly provided by analytics software. I will also evaluate, to what extent you can make use of the created segments.
First group of segments: user-based
Geo and tech characteristics of users belong to this group. If you have a way to find out the gender or the age of your users (registration, dialog windows), you can segment visitors even more granularly.
Geo-segmentation includes segmenting by cities, regions, countries as well as browser languages.
Geo-data is usually collected based on user IP. Although this information seems to be interesting (often presented in form of maps), it is only relevant if you offer a location-based product/service (e.g. only available in a few cities) or if your website is localized for several countries and you want to make sure that international users are routed to the correct country site.
Second group of segments: content-based
As can be guessed from the name, such segments relate to the content of the site. In other words, by applying this segmentation, you can see what happens on certain parts of your website or on groups of pages. If set correctly, this gives a structured and precise insight into the website performance.
Some ways to apply this segmentation are:
- By product (if you have a few products, e.g. 1-5)
- By brand or by product type (if your website showcases a lot of products)
- By department/division (if this is how your site is organized)
- By content for different customer groups (gender, age, type of customer: business or private…)
- By site component (forms, product description, FAQ…)
- By country site (if the data is not split in the database)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. By looking at your site, you may come up with a more suitable (for you) way to segment content. Then you can use the grouping, for instance, to compare how different products perform or to create a product ranking by popularity/engagement.
Third group of segments: traffic-based
This type of segments will contain general break-up of traffic, without precise description of particular users. The most common segments will include: by traffic source, by referring domain, by time of visit (day of the week, hour).
New vs repeat/returning visitors segment is based on the cookie set on a visitor’s device (however, as a growing number of visitors do not accept cookies or delete them regularly, the data from this segmentation should be treated as an approximation).
Such segments are extremely useful in order to analyze how the performance changes depending on the type traffic flowing to the site. What is more, traffic type will most probably have a larger impact on performance rather than user-based characteristics,
Fourth group of segments: interaction based
This is a large group of segment that describes how visitors interact with the site.
You can create segments by number of page views per visit (page depth), by bounce rate, by time on site, etc. For the majority of these parameters, you will need to come up data ranges, e.g. number of page views per visit may be split into the following segments: 1 view, 2-3 views, 4-6 views, 7 or more views. Besides, you can include events – such as forms submission,
This type of segmentation will enable you to start the analysis “from the other end”, e.g. what are the traffic sources or pages in best performing segments.
As you can see, applying correct segmentation to site traffic will provide you not only with more data but also with more insights into what influences the amount of traffic and its performance over time. But what if you feel that besides segmenting you need to group and generalize traffic somehow? This would be a clear case for cohort analysis, which I may talk about in one of the next posts.