How to Use Google Analytics Audience Data to Improve Your Marketing

social media how toDo you need to learn more about the Audience reports in Google Analytics?

Do you want to know more about your website visitors?

Understanding the demographics, behaviors and interests of your website visitors improves your online marketing.

In this article I’ll share what data is found in the Google Analytics’ Audience section and how it can apply to your online marketing strategy.

google analytics audience

Take a deeper look into your audience data on Google Analytics.

Note: One way to get the most out of any Google Analytics data is to set up conversion goals. If you haven’t done this already, set up the easiest goal type by reviewing the first point under the Google Analytics Admin header in this Google Analytics Basics post.

google analytics left side menu

Google Analytics left sidebar menu with Audience section.

The Audience Reports

There are nine separate reporting sections under Audience in your website’s Google Analytics profile.

With the exception of Overview and Users Flow, each section includes an easy-to-read sessions graph and table chart showing the acquisition, behavior and conversions data for each group.

google analytics data age details

Google Analytics acquisition and behavior data broken down by age group.

Below is a brief description of what data you’ll find in each reporting section, based on the reporting period you define in the date range drop-down menu.

Overview—A top-level view of user metrics

Demographics—The age and gender makeup of your website audience

Interests—User behaviors segmented by affinity and marketing categories

Geo—The languages and locations of your website audience

Behavior—Comparisons of new and returning visitors, how often return visits occur and how long visitors spend on your site

Technology—The browsers, operating systems and networks of your website visitors

Mobile—A breakdown of devices used to access your website

Custom—Reports you define

Users Flow—A visualization of how users move through your website

Now, let’s dive into the Audience report sections of Google Analytics. You can access it using the menu in the left sidebar of your Google Analytics dashboard.

#1: Overview

The Audience Overview is generally what you see when you first log into your website’s Google Analytics. At the top of the Overview tab is a graph of the number of sessions performed by website users.

google analytics audience overview sessions

Number of sessions in the Audience Overview.

Beneath the graph are top-level session details showing you the number of users who have performed sessions on your website, pageviews, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate and the percentage of new sessions.

google analytics audience overview session detail

Session details in the Audience Overview.

At the bottom of the Audience Overview are quick links to top demographic, system and mobile data, along with a chart showing the number of sessions on your website from visitors speaking a particular language.

google analytics audience overview demographics summary

A quick view of the first ten rows of data from detailed Audience reports.

You can click on each of the links to see the first ten rows of data from each of the referenced reports, or you can access the full reports from the corresponding section on left sidebar menu under Audience.

#2: Demographics

The Demographics Overview breaks down your visitors by age and gender.

google analytics data demographics

Google Analytics traffic breakdown by age and gender.

You can access the full Age and Gender category reports by clicking the link in each chart or from the left sidebar menu.

If you’re tracking goals in Google Analytics, look at the data next to your conversion rates in these reports to find out which age groups and gender are mostly likely to convert.

google analytics audience conversions by age

Conversion data for visitors by age group using the Goal Set 1 explorer view.

For example, if you’re targeting an audience for social media advertising, especially on networks like Facebook, the table above shows that people in the 18–24 and 55–64 age groups are your highest converting website visitors.

Creating ads that are specific to these age groups will increase the likelihood of making a conversion.

#3: Interests

Curious what your website visitors are interested in? The Interests Overview will show you just that.

google analytics interests overview

Google Analytics shares the interests of your website visitors.

There are three reporting categories under the Interests section.

  • Affinity Category—Affinity categories are used to reach potential customers to make them aware of your brand or product. These are users higher in the purchase funnel, near the beginning of the process.
  • In-Market Segment—Users in these segments are more likely to be ready to purchase products or services in the specified category. These are users lower in the purchase funnel, near the end of the process.
  • Other Category—These are more granular categories than Affinity or In-market, and let you identify users who are not in those other categories.

If you’re an advertiser, the data in these reports can help you effectively target ads based on specific interests, especially if you use goals to know which interest group is mostly likely to convert.

Publishers can use this data to target their content toward the main interests of audiences that already come to their website.

#4: Geo

The Geo section covers the language and location of your website visitors.

google analytics audience conversions by language

Conversion data for visitors by language using the Goal Set 1 explorer view.

While the Language and Location categories both include the standard charts showing the acquisition, behavior and conversions data, the Location portion also has a map that visually displays your visitors’ locations.

google analytics map overlay

Google Analytics map overlay for location.

The map is extremely useful for targeting social and search ads—especially if you know the locations and languages of visitors most likely to convert using your Google Analytics goals.

It can also come in handy for local businesses that want to know if their marketing efforts are driving traffic from the right regions, and for publishers who want to create content that is locally focused.

#5: Behavior

The Behavior section includes detailed category reports New vs. Returning Visitors, Frequency & Recency and Engagement. These reports tell you more about how often a visitor comes to your website, how many days on average it is between sessions for repeat visitors, how long visitors stay on your website and how many pages they visit while they’re there.

google analytics audience behavior

The Frequency & Recency distribution report in Google Analytics.

By using goals in Google Analytics, you can track the behavioral patterns of visitors who are most likely to convert. For example, you’ll know if you’re most likely to get the most conversions on a visitor’s first visit or returning visits.

google analytics audience conversions by new returning

Conversion data for new and returning visitors using the Goal Set 1 explorer view.

If you notice returning visitors are more likely to convert, do everything in your power to get first-time visitors back onto your website by having them subscribe to your blog or email list.

If you notice new visitors are more likely to convert, aim for conversion optimization strategies that grab people on their first visit, such as exit intent pop-ups (like the ones that ask for your email or offer you a discount code as you’re leaving a site).

#6: Technology

If you want to learn more about the browsers, operating systems and Internet service providers your visitors use when visiting your website, look through the Technology reports.

There are two category reports in this section: Browser & OS and Network.

google analytics technology

Technology reporting that shows you browsers, operating systems and additional visitor details.

If your business creates online tools or software, you can use this to gauge whether you should be creating Chrome extensions or Mac-based desktop applications. You can also use this to make sure your website is working well in the top three browsers your visitors use.

#7: Mobile

Not sure if you should optimize for mobile? This is the area you need to visit. The Mobile Overview shows you the number of desktop, mobile and tablet users who visit your site.

The Mobile Devices category report shows you exactly what devices those visitors use.

google analytics mobile

Mobile device breakdown in Google Analytics reports.

If you’re interested in creating an app for your business, now you’ll know if your visitors are more likely to use it on an Apple, Android or Windows device.

#8: Custom

This custom audience report goes beyond the standard reports. This is a more advanced report.

The other reports here are simple to access. You simply click on the link to get information.

With this custom report you have to define your own variables, metrics and dimensions to create a report. This is too advanced for this article. We’ll cover this later when writing about custom reporting options.

#9: Users Flow

If you’re curious about the path your visitors take through your website, you can find it in the Users Flow.

Using the drop-down menu at the top left, you can see the flow of users based on language, location, browser, mobile device and similar dimensions of data.

google analytics audience user flow

Users Flow view in the Audience section.

Follow users from the starting page where they enter through as many interactions as they make or pages they view on your site.

It’s an interesting way to see which pages on your website lead visitors to view even more pages.

Wrapping Up

I hope this has given you a good feel for what you can learn from your Audience reports and how you can apply it to other areas of your online marketing. In my next posts, I’ll continue to dive deeper into Google Analytics acquisition, behavior and conversions data to show you how to analyze and use the data to improve your blog or business!

What do you think? Will you take a deeper look into your audience data? How do you think audience data can inform your marketing? Share your comments and questions below!

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About the Author, Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer and author of Kikolani, which covers content, search, and social media marketing. Sign up for her free training, 8 Days to Promotable Content. You can also follow her on Twitter @kikolani. Other posts by »




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  • matt ceniceros

    What’s your take on the demographics piece to this? Should you notify your website’s users of this tracking activity? Is it a little creepy? Had this same conversation with clients yesterday.

  • Pel Abbott

    Great article Kristi – thank you!

  • Betsey

    I was thinking along the same lines, Matt–I guess I was under the impression that you’d be flagged by Google if you didn’t include proper notification language on your website about how you’re tracking user activity.

  • Jonathan Mast

    Thank you great timing. But which report gives you the most accurate numbers Audience overview or Behavior overview? My numbers for our blog are quite a bit different with the Behavior overview showing quite a bit more time spent reading a page and unique visitors.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Thanks Pel! :)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    There are privacy policy generators out there that can help you create something that lets visitors know you are using Google Analytics and what it can track. Overall though, you can’t use Google Analytics to figure out who has been on your website specifically, unless you happen to know only one person who might visit your website from a particular location.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    The All Pages report under Behavior is likely more useful. You can see that your top pages get a lot longer time spent on page, but if you expand the report to show up to 5,000 results, you’ll likely find that there are a lot of random pages that get fast-exiting traffic that accounts to the lower averages you see in the Audience Overview.

    I have 252 pages out of 625 that register with an average time spent on page of 0 seconds. But my top 27 pages (based on average time spent on page) are above 10 minutes.

  • Jonathan Mast

    Thank you that is the answer I was looking for. I am happy that I will be amending my reports to reflect a higher number than lower.

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  • Denis Smith

    Thank you for the detailed info. As Internet marketers, we should focus on Google because the money is with them and I am a witness to that.

  • http://www.hbosouthasia.com/ Maria Witwiky

    Great post. Its really beneficial for me as if I am still learning google analtyics. Thanks.

  • http://www.arttechint.com/ Suraj Rai

    Hi Kristi, I am glad you pointed this out useful topic. You shared great information about Google analytics audience data that is amazing post to all Internet marketers.

  • http://WOoArts.com/ Kal Elsehsah

    It is really good article. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Thanks Kal! :)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Thanks Suraj! :)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Thanks Maria! :)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    You’re welcome Denis! :)

  • http://www.myaspergers.net/ steveborgman

    Here’s my dilemma. Long ago, before starting my platform, I signed up Google analytics with one Google account id, and for Google adsense with a different Google account id. As a result, I can’t meaningfully analyze my Google adsense together with Google analytics.

    I am thinking of trying to open a new Google adsense account (same account as my Analytics account), and then putting that google adsense code on my blog.

    BUT, I don’t want to be penalized.

    Can anyone help me with this? (There’s no Google help desk, right?)

  • ChristineDMcKinnis

    Start working at>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP

  • Domenick D

    You can get analytics help (option 2) when calling the Adwords support line at 1-866-246-6453.

  • http://www.myaspergers.net/ steveborgman

    Thanks so much, Domenick!!

  • LoisRMiller

    Start working at home with>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP

  • http://littlegreenwheelbarrow.com Lil Green Barrow

    I saw the Affinity category on my Google Analytics report today and wondered how it’s used — so first place I went was Social Media Examiner to see what you’d written about it! Thanks for the insights.







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