According to Lisa Gevelber, VP of marketing at Google, advertisers who target their marketing efforts by demographics risk missing up to 70% of their potential shoppers. Instead, marketers should look at micro-moments and customer intent.
Ok, now I’ve got your attention, let’s step back a bit. What does intent mean and what does this all have to do with Google Analytics? And what the heck is a micro-moment?
Demographic Data And Google Analytics
Google, in their pursuit to know everything about you, collects demographic information like age and gender from a few sources and provides this data in aggregate to you and I via Google Analytics. If you’re interested, you can find it under the Audience bucket alongside other interesting segments like affinity and interests.
Here you’ll learn the approximate age of your visitors alongside useful metrics like conversion rate, % of new visitors etc. You’ll even learn about their interests and so-called affinities.
What are you going to do with this knowledge? Does this change the way you act? In a nutshell, so what?
My own demographic data shows that about 70% of my website audience are men. However, my website design has a far more feminine design aesthetic (the design team was both men and women). Should I re-brand? Or should I perhaps look beyond the superficial and strive to meet the needs of my customers?
Demographic Data Doesn’t Explain What and Why
Demographic data isn’t nearly as useful as expected when it comes to understanding why your audience visits your site. Here are some examples to demonstrate this point:
Between the ages of 18 to 29, more than double the number of men consider themselves to be “gamers” and yet in that same age group, women account for nearly 70% of all mobile searches for video games.
Another classic canard is that if you’d like to market baby products, your target audience are young mothers, aged 25 to 34. Well, about 40% of all baby product purchasers don’t even have kids. I (male, 36) purchased baby-centric goods three times this month; once for my nephew, again for a friend’s newborn and then for another friend’s impending baby.
If I had a website about gaming, should I write content for men or women? Neither. I should write content that serves the needs of my website visitors. Intent, when it comes to web analytics, is not about who the visitor is. It’s about what that visitor would like to accomplish and why they’re at my site.
Demographic data is passive.
Intent is the first step in a series of visitor actions!
What Motivates Our Website Visitors?
Demographic data has a role to play in product development, branding and communication. When it comes to understanding site visitors and their motivations, demographics fall short.
People come to your website to do, to buy, to learn, to engage. These are what Google calls micro-moments.
By considering the intent, that is to say, the micro-moment that drives someone online and ultimately to your website, you’ll be positioned to meet that intent and improve your visitor experience.
The Road To Finding Intent
There are four main types of intent and while Google considers these to be “micro-moments,” these are equally valid as indicators of intent.
Intent 1: I Want To Know
The visitor is looking learn and you’re the expert. While the visitor might not plan to purchase right now, you have a clear opportunity to build a relationship with them and be their purveyor of choice later. Are you being informative? Are you set up to capture an email address to send them more details?
Intent 2: I Want To Go
This is the “local” moment. These site visitors are looking to connect in-person and that means easily finding your address and directions is key. But there’s more! What are your hours of operation and your menu? Do you have a specific product in stock?
Intent 3: I Want To Do
Helping someone accomplish a challenging task crates a moment of delight. These site visitors need help and your clear, helpful advice is what gets them through. Whether it’s a recipe, or a how-to video, content that helps builds fans and followers.
Intent 4: I Want To Buy
When a site visitor is ready to buy, are you making it easy for them? Do you have all the product information handy? Is your site optimized for mobile purchasers? What objections could someone have to making that purchase right now and how can you anticipate that?
The Steps To Micro-moment Self-Assessment
Step 1: To find which micro-moments your customers are hoping you’ll fulfill, list the reasons someone might visit your site. Consider whether they’re finding you via search engines, are they looking to learn something new, are they looking to buy now or are they in the early stages of product research? Then group your visitors into the type of intent.
Step 2: Write down how you currently meet the need of that visitor. It’s important to critically explore how you’re matching the intent of your audience. You’re probably doing it really well for some needs and falling short elsewhere and that’s alright. Google Analytics will help you find opportunities to improve.
Step 3: Google Analytics provides a wealth of contextual signals to help you gauge your success. By thinking about the behavior that intent generates, and then segmenting your analytics accordingly, you’ll know how your site performs relative to visitor needs.
Step 4: Explore how you could do better. Find opportunities to improve in your analytics and then decide on a course of action (often it’s quite easy to act on intent).
Step 5: Measure the results. Measuring your results is how you keep score and know whether your decisions are the correct ones.
Uncovering Intent Success in Google Analytics
In Google Analytics, there are a number of ways to glean context and see if you’re winning these visitors over.
Review each micro-moment, one by one and think about which data can help you judge and measure success.
Take a look at your organic search traffic. What are the top queries? Do your landing pages meet the implied intent? Segment by device and discover whether mobile searchers have different needs. According to Google, only 9% of users will stay on a mobile site or app if it is difficult to find information or navigate easily.
Referral traffic has a wealth of information that demonstrates intent. By reviewing the content of the referring link, you’ll be able to understand the expectations of visitors. Again, by segmenting referral traffic by device, you’ll be able to understand what mobile searchers need from you.
Google Analytics’ location data can tell you if your local efforts are working while conversion rates, bounce rates and pageviews per session all indicate engagement with your actual content.
Looking at Behavior > Site Content > All Pages data as well as multi-channel attribution will likely be enlightening too!
Ask And Answer On Your Visitors’ Behalf
For every type of micro-moment or intent, there are data available in Google Analytics. The right dimensions and metrics, however, depend on the above steps to self-discovery and on you challenging your own assumptions.