Over 29 million website owners use Google Analytics to understand how people come to their websites, how content performs and how to get more conversions. Google Analytics is clearly, the dominant analytics tool used by web marketers. The main purpose of such analytics tools is to help understand digital users and their interactions better.
Identifying buyers/prospects and associated personas is vital for improving marketing strategy. Given that Google Analytics provides detailed reports based on behavior data collected from users, insights from these reports can be used to create buyer personas.
Buyer personas are created usually using user surveys and interviews. Such qualitative methods can be expensive, time-absorbing and cover only a small section of the entire base of buyers. Using reports from Google Analytics to create personas, complementing qualitative methods, enables incorporation of buyer insights from data at scale. In an era of fast changing consumer behavior, it also allows for frequent updates that keep personas relevant. Further, they may help uncover customer groups or niches that you were previously not aware of.
This guide will show you two best ways to use your Google Analytics data to create buyer personas.
Here are some of the key reports in Google Analytics that empower you to understand your users better and help in creating personas.
Google Analytics also offers custom reports (Customization > Custom Report > New Custom Report), attribution reports and seamless integration with other Google tools.
With all these features available for free to website owners, it is no wonder that Google Analytics remains an imperative tool for businesses and their digital sales and marketing strategies.
Though the concept of personas was introduced by Alan Cooper approximately four decades ago, they continue to remain active in the conversations of marketing and digital teams today.
What are buyer personas? Why do they still matter? And, how can they help with your business growth?
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your customer based on various factors. They include inputs from customer demographics, behavior, needs, motivations, goals, data from competitors, etc.
Creating buyer personas, as targeted as possible, will help you create actionable content, develop products, understand buyers’ obstacles, eliminate communications gaps, and strategize to optimize your revenue. Detailed personas will also provide guidance on the platforms to be active on to reach your buyers.
The steps involved in creating buyer personas include:
After creating buyer personas, you must build strategies to advance your marketing, sales, and product using the information available on the persona. Determine the communication gaps, and create increased awareness of your product by inspiring the customers.
In this section, we highlight the reports in Google Analytics that are useful for creating buyer personas.
But first, here is one thing to keep in mind for all reports. You must make sure to select a long enough date period. A period of twelve months is recommended to generate personas that are more robust and have lesser seasonal biases. The date period can be set using the date range selector, located at the top right of each report.
For creating buyer personas, it is best to start with reports under the Audience tab. Screenshots shown below for illustrative purposes are from the Master View of Google Analytics demo account (Google Merchandise Store).
Optionally, you can add segments (+ Add Segment) such as Bounced, Converters, Made a purchase, etc. to understand variations in age-gender demographics across segments.
Please keep in mind that age-group and gender are relevant only when creating personas for B2C (business-to-consumer) businesses, and not for B2B (business-to-business) buyer personas.
From the information gathered so far for this example, the best-performing buyer persona can be assumed to be a 25-34 year old male.
(Alternately, you can drilldown from the Demographics > Age report, as shown in step 2 above, and click on the top performing age 25-34 in the Age report and use the next level report that combines Age + Gender information to validate the hypothesis.)
The Other Category report (Gender + Age + Interests) shows the specific interests of this target group. As can be seen, this group is technology-savvy, loves mobile gadgets and consumes videos and celebrity/sports news online.
Click on the “Other” dropdown next to “Primary Dimension” to view two other types of interests - Affinity Category and In-Market Segments.
Affinity Category report provides information on the lifestyle interests of this group of users at a more abstract/generic level than Other Category report.
In-Market Segment report lists their current purchase interests for product and services.
The Language report provides insights into language preferences based in the settings of the users’ browsers and are listed as per their ISO codes.
The Location report allows you to view the hierarchy of countries your users are from and the associated metrics.
When you click on a specific country (United States being the top country in this example), it shows you the top regions/provinces/states of that country where the users are from.
By changing the Primary Dimension of this report from Region to City, you can also see the top cities that the users are from. Use this information (New York City in this case) to define where the persona is based.
The Technology and the Mobile reports help you identify the devices that you should use to optimize your website.
Using all this information thus obtained from various Google Analytics reports as listed above about your best performing group (age group, gender, their interests, location, and technology preferences), you can put together your first persona (primary persona).
You can then repeat these steps with different criteria of metrics, such as high bounce rates for your less interested audience, to create additional personas. With 3-5 personas in place, you will also likely be able to identify differences between them. Use these personas to refine your marketing strategies and sell/serve your customers better.
Step 1: Know key elements and data sources
Make an outline of the key elements needed to define buyer personas. Find below an initial list of such features, along with the Google Analytics reports that provide the relevant information.
Step 2: Enable Demographics and Interests reports in Google Analytics
Given that Demographics and Interests reports provide key insights that help create more accurate buyer personas, you should enable Demographics and Interest reports in Google Analytics, if not already done so.
Follow the steps below to enable Demographics and Interests reports.
Step 3: Get analytics data
Now that you have identified the information that you need to create customer personas and how to get them using data reports from Google Analytics, it’s time to pull the raw data. Use a time period of six months to a year. The larger the data that you have, the better.
As businesses usually form more than one buyer persona, generate reports based on multiple metrics/segment criteria to enable you to create several personas under distinct customer types.
Export the reports, and save them, grouped by customer types. Look for patterns and filter out the best performing user categories. Write them down in a separate document.
Step 4: Draft buyer personas
With the information that you have obtained, you can map them out as personas. Write the information like narrating a character. Here are some details to keep in mind when drafting the personas.
Name – A buyer persona is a fictional representation. Give it a name that is very generic for virtual identification. Each of your customer types must have a unique name which will make teams across your organization identify them easily.
Photo - This is essential for the persona’s identity. You can use an actual picture of people available for reuse or create an illustration or a vector image of the character. Make identity as realistic as possible. Consider age, professional factors, and geographical factors while doing so.
Description - Description is a space where you describe the persona’s characteristics. Write them in sentences to make it a narration or use bullets. Mention the persona’s age, gender, profession, interests, hobbies, social lifestyle, and needs. Include any information that you think applies to your industry or market under it.
Buying triggers and process - Buying triggers include the kinds of advertising or situations that the buyers consider while making purchase decisions. Get this information via Google Analytics under Acquisition reports. We can view the buying process and channels involved under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels.
Challenges - Every customer has challenges and constraints. For each customer type, find what constraints are relevant to your users and list them down.
Step 5: Keep personas updated
Although the process of creating your initial set of buyer personas ends here, it is important to keep in mind that your users and their behaviors will keep evolving. As a result, you must update your personas every six months to two years or so, depending on your industry. Regularly updated personas will keep you informed on changing user behavior and trends in your industry’s ecosystem.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) buyers differ in their needs and behaviors. Our blog article on B2B buyer personas explains how B2B purchasing processes are more involved compared to B2C buying processes. It also summarizes the differences in characteristics between such processes, including navigation, time, people involvement, intent and purpose. These considerations must be kept in mind when developing buyer personas for B2C and B2B businesses.
The manual process of creating buyer personas using analytics data from sources such as Google Analytics, as described above, can be wearying and intimidating. We list below some of the key challenges with such manual methodologies.
An alternative to employing manual techniques to create buyer personas from Google Analytics is to use automated tools such as Live Persona by Delve AI. You no longer need to manually create mental models of digital users and buyers from dimensions and metrics and can get humanized views in terms of buyer personas automatically.
Using automated tools help eliminate errors and ensure robust personas. It creates personas based on business type (B2C/B2B) considerations and extracted industry specific insights. Further, segments and associated personas are automatically generated based on behavioral differences, thereby providing insights into variations across groups.
Live Persona by Delve AI is the world’s first software to generate personas automatically from web/mobile analytics data. It works on aggregated and anonymized analytics data from Google Analytics, adds industry specific insights, automatically segments users based on their behavior, and leverages advances in machine learning to abstract personas for each segment. No more time-consuming manual analysis! Personas are auto-generated and kept all up to date. Gain clarity on your best-performing segment, refine your customer experiences and get targeting ideas from your most valuable segment to grow your business. You can try it for free and results are usually available in minutes.
Here are some of the key advantages that you get by choosing to use Live Persona by Delve AI for creating buyer personas from your Google Analytics data.
Automatic generation of buyer personas: With Live Persona by Delve AI, accurate segment-wise buyer personas are automatically generated in minutes from your Google Analytics data. You no longer need to spend hours on end struggling to figure and characterize your customer profiles.
Raw data from websites/ mobile applications is pulled from Google Analytics in anonymized and aggregated form by Delve AI platform and put through the steps of data enrichment/augmentation, learning based behavioral analysis, automatic segmentation and humanization to create deeply insightful buyer personas.
Enriched analytics: Data is augmented for deeper user context, with 20+ external/generated data sources/models. These added dimensions, not available natively in Google Analytics, are also used as inputs when creating personas and are available on Delve AI dashboard. They include:
Industry specific insights: By analyzing user behaviors (e.g. viewed pages and searches), key structured attributes that are specific to your industry/vertical, are also extracted. For example, in the apparel & fashion industry, keywords are grouped and presented in terms of relevant attributes such as size, gender, occasion, type, color, age-group, etc.
Delve AI’s analysis systems automatically extract industry specific insights for over 40+ major B2B/B2C industries. Industries supported include:
Behavioral analysis using machine learning: Figuring out buyer intent and their decision phases (with respect to purchase processes) are key elements that can add lot of value when creating buyer personas. Delve AI uses machine learning techniques to unearth these insights, including:
Automatic segmentation: Users are segmented automatically using behavioral factors such as:
Sizes of each segments are displayed in terms of the % of users of the entire audience. Personas are separately extracted for each segment.
Humanized representations: As personas require people based representations, Delve AI automatically decodes user behavior and transforms segment-wise data for human assimilation and follow-up. It does so by adding humanized details such as preferences, personal lifestyles, interactions, and sample journeys to create personas. By moving from data dimensions and metrics based representations, these personas bring empathy to your data driven marketing efforts and keep people at the centre of decisions and activities.
User distribution: While a persona representation provides useful insights via a single person representation, it is also useful to see the distribution of attribute values across users in a given segment. The age attribute, for example, is captured in a persona representation as a single age (e.g. 27 year old), while user distribution helps gain deeper understanding of the distribution of age group ranges across all users in a segment.
Sample user journeys: Delve AI also extracts and displays sample user journeys for each segment. As can be seen later in this article, personas when used in conjunction with journeys, can help identify and eliminate drop-offs/obstacles and hence deliver improved customer experiences.
Unlike B2C purchases, buying a B2B product/service typically involves multiple persons. Further, the usage of B2B offerings may span multiple functions and hence buying decisions involve several departments of the company.
Given these differences, B2B buyer personas and user journeys should ideally be at the organization level and not at the user level. Delve AI handles such B2B scenarios automatically and provides deep insights, that work well for account based marketing (ABM), into organizations, industries, company sizes, job functions and job experience levels of likely buyers in each segment.
Further, Delve AI automatically classifies visitors to B2B websites into one of the visitor groups as listed below, based on profile, intent and behavior, persona identification.
Insights from buyer personas can be used to form effective strategies to reach and best influence your target buyers across buying decision stages. The more detailed your buyer personas are, the more personal you can make your messaging and outreach.
When used along with customer journeys, buyer personas help:
Creating and using buyer personas are essential in today’s dynamic market environment. Businesses all over the world are vying for sustainability and growth. Hence, it is important to know your target buyers well and to stay alert to their evolving needs and priorities. With vast amounts of information now available about your buyers and their behaviors (including from sources such as Google Analytics), you can use the steps/methodologies listed in this article to create buyer personas on your own. You no longer have to rely on guesswork to understand your digital buyers.
Further, with tools like Live Persona by Delve AI, you can leverage advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning to generate accurate data-driven buyer personas and amazing customer insights with ease. You can try it for free and results are often available in minutes. Making use of these technologies and resources not only helps you save time and cost but also gives unique ideas to expand your business.