The modern age has given us the beautiful gift of data. This constant flow of meaningful information helps small business owners and marketers make informed decisions that determine strategy and growth. Digital marketing, specifically, results in multiple fountains of information that—when properly set up—provide live results of social media, paid ads, and SEO efforts.
Business owners start with a visionary future planned for their business. Without this clear direction and sparkling inspiration, where’s the purpose and drive to establish a company? The hope that an idea is unique and disruptive enough to succeed long-term pushes people to invest in the dream to see it through. A part of that dream is an idea of who your customers will be.
Why you need to trust more than just your gut
Let’s say Sunshine Cedarwood dreams of selling “one time use”, biodegradable yoga mats to use in the forest. In her well-thought-out business plan, the target demographic is people like her: a nature and yoga loving Millennial with disposable income and awareness for environmental sustainability. Sunshine Cedarwood herself is strongly motivated by her personal desire to use the product, and her friends and family agree that they would too. She launches her product online, only targeting others just like her.
While her marketing campaigns are successful over time, Sunshine is missing a very important piece of the puzzle: data. Had she set up an analytical tracking tool, she could see that a good portion of her website traffic and sales are coming from diverse audiences. In reality, hikers also find the mat useful to rest on during a long trek, parents let their children play on them in parks to avoid a messy wash, and a large portion of visitors from Germany have become interested, but shipping options are limited.
Our entrepreneur is missing several segments in her marketing efforts that a bit of data could reveal.
Google Analytics is a free and insightful platform that (when set up correctly) can give you a peek into who’s visiting your site, what they’re doing there, and how they found it in the first place. If your small business site has a decent amount of traffic, all that collected data will serve you well in determining your brand’s audience.
Admittedly, Google Analytics does have its flaws. Improperly placed page tags, visitors not tracked with cookies, or eCommerce checkouts that lead shoppers to a 3rd party platform can all lead to inaccuracies in the numbers you see. However, for the data that is tracked, it’s a clearer view of what’s going on from the user’s side, rather than not having any numbers to work with at all.
Once you have your Analytics all squared away and properly set up, you’re ready to let the data roll in. Let the geeking begin!
Where to find insights into your audience
Who: Age, Interests, and Gender. To activate the Demographics and Interests sections under Audience, you’ll have to meet a few requirements. If you’re able to check off all the boxes to collect this information, then your brand audience will start to materialize.
However, you can also get similar insights into age, interests, and gender with less restrictions by using your company’s social media insights on Facebook or Instagram instead.
Where: Location and Language. Peek under Language and Location in the Geo tab to reveal where your site visitors are coming from and what language they speak. Bonus: This is also a good place to monitor for any suspicious looking traffic spikes from certain countries where your company doesn’t sell. This could hint at malicious activity or an unintentional avenue that’s leading visitors to mistakenly click.
How: Device, Source/Medium, and Landing Page. So how are visitors reaching your site? Are they primarily using mobile devices? If so, you’ll want to make sure that your website is optimized so that every page loads correctly, no matter if someone is using desktop, tablet, or mobile.
You can also monitor the percentage of users reaching your website from either search engines, paid ads, social media, email campaigns, and so on. If one source is notably successful, like social, you’ll know to devote even more TLC, because it’s working!
Likewise, keeping an eye on what pages users are starting out their website journey on will help create a better user experience to link up and navigate users to a sales page. If blog content is what’s primarily driving your traffic organically and leading to sales, mimic that successful content.
What: Behavior Flow, Popular Pages, and Site Search. What is your brand audience interested in seeing? Sections in the Behavior part of Analytics explore how people interact with your pages, what content they go to, and how engaging those pages are (time on page).
Do you wish you could read your site visitors’ minds to know exactly what they want to see? Cue, Site Search. When set up, Site Search reveals what visitors are searching in your site’s search bar. You can use this as sneaky feedback to see what products, content, or questions people are searching that they don’t contact you to ask directly.
When: Times Online. This one is more helpful if you’re running paid ads and want to set up a schedule to advertise to those who are more likely to visit your online shop. Perhaps your audience is primarily stay-at-home parents who do their shopping during the work day. Alternatively, they may be night owl college students most active online at 2am.
Why: Putting it all together. Why are these people doing what they’re doing?! It’s difficult from numbers alone to know exactly what your brand audience’s occupations and demographics are. Yet, rounding up the above pool of data can help you start to piece together a clearer image of who’s doing the shopping, as well as who’s visiting but not purchasing.
What to do with all that data?
Finding your tribe helps you cut through all the marketing noise to directly target those who are more likely to care about what awesome things you’re doing. Leverage the available data and mastermind a killer marketing strategy that personalizes your message.
Tweak your images, timing, captions, and content to draw in similar people to those who are already interested. Social media, paid ads, email, SEO blog content, and the service or product that you’re offering can all benefit from a purposeful direction.
Once you know your brand’s audience, all you have to do is find the way to reach them.