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Segmentation: Separating Your Visitors’ Stats

Using Woopra - August 4th, 2009 by .

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The Woopra development team has been working hard on segmentation, the task of breaking down the data into different segments or sections to evaluate.

In web analytics, there are many different types of segments you can analyze on your site that will help you learn more about your visitors and how they use your site. As web analytics has evolved, there are now many specializing in some collective areas of segmentation analysis such as Audience Segmentation (analyzing your demographics), Behavioral Segmentation (the behavior of the visitor), Geographic Segmentation (geographic analysis), and Traffic or Referral Segmentation (where are they coming from and who is sending them).

Just as each site is unique, so are their needs. Not everyone needs to study or use all the different segments of data. But what data do you need?

Do you know what information you need to study in order to help you make decisions about your website?

While it is critical to know what your audience wants and needs, it’s important first to clearly establish your end goals. That will then point you towards the data you need to monitor.

For instance, if your site is new, much of your focus is on getting traffic in the door, so your goal is on providing content that attracts search engine traffic and encouraging others to link to your site, thus driving traffic your way. The stats of most interest are going to be traffic and referral information, closely followed by search terms and keywords. The search terms and keywords help you track what your audience is searching for, giving them what they want, and the traffic and referrals help you track who sent them.

This is just the surface of the information. Ask yourself the following:

  • Where is my audience really coming from?
  • What are they really looking for? Do you have it?
  • Are they coming mostly from Twitter, Facebook, search engines…?
  • What country are they coming from? Does their geographical location matter?
  • Which pages are getting the most attention? Do you have similar or related content? Are they finding it?
  • What’s the gateway page most people enter through on your site?
  • Where do they go from there?

If you can answer these and the answers match your goals, you are on the right track to narrowing down the segmentation most important to your needs and goals.

If your site’s goal is to sell product, then you have a different collection of questions to ask yourself to determine which segmentation information is important for you to track. Same if you want to just build a strong community or establish your reputation and find clients or a job. The clearer your purpose and intent, the more specific the data you choose to study.

Choosing Which Segments to Analyze

When web analytics was first coming into its own, Gary Angel wrote in “Visitor Segmentation’s Role in Web Analytics” about how hard it is to slide and dice up the various segments and how imposing them on others is so difficult:

It’s pretty much impossible to give a fair accounting of someone else’s methodology. You’re almost bound to simplify in the wrong places, give the wrong emphasis, miss the finer points.

…So why don’t I think this is a good technique? I do. What I don’t think, is that it’s a good general formal methodology.

Here’s why:

  • Visitor segmentation is completely unique to every site – the variables, the behavioral cues and the type of segmentation is non-standard and we have no good rules (other than practitioner instinct) that really guide the process.
  • Many sites don’t afford clear behavioral cues like this – so that the visitor segmentation is mainly concerned with the “Generic” usage variables. We have had very negative experiences trying to do analysis with usage segments.
  • The tools to do this type of analysis aren’t available in any of the standard enterprise packages so implementing projects of this sort is hard – often impossible.
  • This type of visitor analysis doesn’t necessarily facilitate integration with the process – and it does so only with additional “functional” insights. You still need to map what you expect the site to accomplish for any given type of visitor.
  • It’s critical, however, to know what your audience is doing on your site. The more you can collect collective information about who they are and how they use your site, the better you can serve them.

How do you separate your audience into the various segments you need to watch in order to make decisions and take action on your site?

What Segmentation Does Woopra Track?

Here are some simple segmentation examples to consider that Woopra tracks.

  1. First Time Visitors: The total number of visitors in the sidebar shows the live visitors, and below that are the Alltime Visits which tracks the “unique visitors” or first time visits to your site.
  2. Repeat Visitors: Tracking those who come back for more is important. On the Analytics > Visitors > Overview panel, Woopra reports on the date, time spent on page, new visitors, and total visits, giving you the daily rate average of unique versus repeat visitors.
  3. Registrations and Call to Actions: If you have specific pages for registering users, sign ups for email notifications, newsletters, or other registration efforts, or you are promoting a specific page, you can track the activity on those pages via the Analytics > Pages panel and through custom reports created from the Dashboard > My Pages panel. Right click on the page name and choose Analyze to create a custom report for that page.
  4. Referrers: Tracking where your visitors are coming from helps you to target those areas and learn a little more about your visitors. Woopra reports on search engine traffic and referrals, regular domains, email, feed readers, social bookmarks, social networks, media referrals (from Google Images, YouTube, etc.) and news media through the Analytics panel.
  5. Landing Pages: Which pages are the most common door to your site? These are the pages to keep active and updated, as well as use to promote other areas of your site or related content. The most popular pages are tracked on the Dashboard > My Pages, Live > Pages, and Analytics > Pages.
  6. Geographic Analysis: Some sites serve a very specific demographics, based upon language or location. You can track the various languages through the Analytics > System > Languages panel, and track the various countries through the Dashboard > Countries, Live L Countries, and Analytics > Visitors > Geo Overlay and Countries panels.
  7. Social Media Capital: In today’s online social world, tracking the impact on your site from your social activities, both online and off, is important, helping you understand what is working and not, as well as evaluating where to put your energies. Woopra tracks social media capital’s impact on your site in the Analytics > Referrers panel, tracking social bookmarks, social networks, and other social media tools.

There is a lot of data web analytics programs provide, trying to give you a “complete” overview of the activity on your site. Woopra is working hard to add even more to help you customize the data into what you really need. However, you don’t need all of it.

Decide what your goals are and then look at the data that gives you the information to determine whether or not you are meeting those goals. If you are spending a lot of time on Twitter and cultivating an audience there, and that audience isn’t visiting your blog from Twitter, then something needs to change. Either you need to change how you tweet, or they aren’t your audience and it’s time to put your energy elsewhere, if driving traffic to your blog is your goal.

What segmentations do you use to evaluate and study your site’s demographics and usages? What numbers mean the most to you? Why?

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