Practical Ecommerce

Google Analytics: Using Demographics, Interests for More Revenue

Among the most important decisions a niche ecommerce company should make is to establish a value proposition, the key reason why someone should buy the company’s products and services. Without a clear value proposition, which can change over time, the company will likely fail. We addressed the topic a few months ago, at “Value Propositions Increase Interest and Sales.”

After a niche ecommerce company creates and publicizes a value proposition, the company should measure the impact, to make sure it aligns with its target audience. Google Analytics can help with this in “Demographics” and “Interests” reporting, which appears in the “Audience” menu on the left.

"Demographics" and "Interests" reporting appears in the “Audience" menu.

“Demographics” and “Interests” appears in the “Audience” menu.

If these items do not appear in your company’s Google Analytics account, you may have to update your tracking code to Universal Analytics or enable them in your Admin settings.

Update your Admin settings in Google Analytics to enable Demographics and Interests reporting.

Update your Admin settings in Google Analytics to enable Demographics and Interests reporting. Click image to enlarge.

‘Demographics’ Reports

Once enabled, go to the “Overview” report under Demographics. You should see a report similar to the one below.

A sample "Overview" report in Demographics reporting.

A sample “Overview” report in Demographics reporting. Click image to enlarge.

The bar graph at left shows the age of visitors: most are older than 35. The pie chart on the right shows gender: 59.2 percent of visitors are female, 40.8 percent are male. The top-right of each graph shows the percent of sessions that were used to measure these demographics: 64.67 percent of sessions reported age and 66.94 percent reported gender. The data comes from people that stay logged into their Google accounts when shopping online.

If the value proposition for the reporting website, above, focused mostly on younger males, it should change its target audience. But first, it should look more closely at how well the existing visitors — mostly older and mostly female — are converting.

View this data by clicking on the “Age” and “Gender” reports from the Demographics Overview page (shown above). The Age report, below, is for the same ecommerce company. I sorted in descending order by “Ecommerce Conversion Rate” to identify the age range with the highest conversion rate.

Sorting the Age report by “Ecommerce Conversion Rate” (far right column) identifies visitors age 65 and older as those that convert the highest, at 2.07 percent.

Sorting the Age report by “Ecommerce Conversion Rate” (far right column) identifies visitors age 65 and older as those that convert the highest, at 2.07 percent. Click image to enlarge.

This website does, in fact, target an older demographic. It appears to be working, as the site attracts older visitors (older than age 35) that convert better than younger ones (age 35 and younger).

Next, the Gender report shows more female sessions. But it also shows the conversion rate for females is lower. That should be addressed, as this website includes females in its target audience.

The Gender report shows more female sessions (43,445) than male (29,986). But it also shows a lower conversion rate for females (1.38 percent) than males (1.67 percent).

The Gender report shows more female sessions (43,445) than male (29,986). But it also shows a lower conversion rate for females (1.38 percent) than males (1.67 percent). Click image to enlarge.

The website owner should try A/B testing to make the site more attractive to females. Here are some ideas.

  • Offer promotions that emphasize a bargain.
  • Provide plenty of details in product descriptions and other content.
  • Add images of women using the website’s products.

‘Interests’ Reports

The Interests reports in Google Analytics provide insight into visitors’ preferences, tastes, habits, hobbies, and more. The Overview report, shown below, is helpful.

Interests reports, such as this Overview page, provide insight into visitors' preferences, tastes, habits, hobbies, and more.

Interests reports, such as this Overview page, provide insight into visitors’ preferences, tastes, habits, hobbies, and more. Click image to enlarge.

I prefer to go beyond the Overview and dive into the detailed reports. The “Affinity Category” report, for example, identifies the hobbies and activities of visitors. The report also lists ecommerce data: transactions, revenue, and conversion rates.

I typically sort this report by “Ecommerce Conversion Rate” (far right column) in descending order, but also add a filter to remove low session counts. The report below is for 73,042 sessions. I have filtered it so that each affinity category shown has at least 500 sessions.

This "Affinity Category" report is sorted by “Ecommerce Conversion Rate” (far right column) in descending order, filtering categories with fewer than 500 sessions.

This “Affinity Category” report is sorted by “Ecommerce Conversion Rate” (far right column) in descending order, filtering categories with fewer than 500 sessions. Click image to enlarge.

In the Affinity Category report above, “News Junkies/World News Junkies” have the highest conversion rate, followed by “Sports Fans/Winter Sports Enthusiasts” and “Music Lovers/Country Music Fans.” The second and third categories have roughly the same conversion rate (1.84 percent and 1.75 percent, respectively) as the overall site average (1.48 percent).

I will focus on the top category, “World News Junkies,”  and its 2.74 percent conversion rate. There are a couple of opportunities for this merchant.

  • Highlight world news events related to the business. This could include a news feed focused on the product or service offered. Or the merchants could include related world news in its blog or social media posts.
  • Target world news sites with display advertising — awareness and remarketing ads.

Another detailed report in the “Interests” section is “In-Market Segment.” This report shows the products and services that visitors are looking to purchase. I do not typically find this data helpful. It usually shows (a) products and services that the merchant offers, confirming that visitors are looking to purchase those products, or (b) seemingly random products and services that do not align with the merchant.

I’ve sorted the sample “In-Market Segment” report below by Ecommerce Conversion Rate (far right) and filtered it so that only categories with at least 200 sessions appear. The highest conversion rates are reported for travelers going to specific cities (i.e., Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Tampa Bay), buyers of winter sporting goods, and some other random categories. I do not see much opportunity here besides, perhaps, targeting travel websites with display advertising.

This "In-Market Segment" report is sorted by Ecommerce Conversion Rate (far right) and filtered it so that at least 200 sessions appear. The highest conversion rates are reported for travelers going to specific cities (i.e., Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Tampa Bay), buyers of winter sporting goods, and other random categories.

This “In-Market Segment” report is sorted by Ecommerce Conversion Rate (far right) and filtered it so that at least 200 sessions appear. Click image to enlarge.

The final report in the “Interests” section is “Other Category.” It shows, mainly, buying preferences of visitors. When sorting by “Ecommerce Conversion Rate” and filtering so that each category shows at least 200 sessions, I see a mixture of auto lovers (Jeep, Toyota), apparel shoppers, and other consumer categories.

The “Other Category” report shows mainly buying preferences of visitors, such as auto lovers (Jeep, Toyota), apparel shoppers, and other consumer categories.

The “Other Category” report shows, mainly, buying preferences of visitors, such as auto lovers (Jeep, Toyota), apparel shoppers, and other consumer categories. Click image to enlarge.

For me, the Age and Gender reports in the Demographics section and the Affinity Category report in the Interests section are the most helpful. Only occasionally do I look at the In-Market Segment and Other Category reports.

Niche ecommerce merchants need a well-crafted value proposition for a specific target market. Use Google Analytics Demographics and Interests reporting to validate your assumptions and retool, if necessary, to drive incremental revenue and move your business in the right direction.

Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Lise October 30, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for this informative article, Morgan. I wonder, would you not include language specific data as well, as part of your demographics analysis? Don’t you think Chinese, Spanish or Hindi speakers might be more influenced by information in their own language?

    • Morgan Jones November 1, 2016 Reply

      Great suggestion Lise! I would recommend looking at browser language to see if your target audience is using a browser language that differs from the language of your website. This would help justify if you need to create the website in more than one language.