Fine Tune Your Buyer Personas Using Google Analytics Custom Dimensions

By Kari Rippetoe | Jul 31, 2014
More Articles by Kari

Turn Up to 11We’ve been hearing it hundreds of times over as marketers: in order to be successful with your marketing, you need to know who you’re selling to – those elusive buyer personas. Your personas define not only who is buying your products, but also the what, when, why, and how of your marketing strategy. They provide you with the most valuable of insights so you can provide the right message to the right person at the right time.

You may have gone through this process and created extensive, detailed personas with everything from why they buy to what they do in their spare time. But did you know that you can fine tune them even further, adding more valuable information that will:

  • Allow you to see how they’re navigating your website?
  • Give you useful insights into which personas prefer which pieces of content?
  • Help you refine your lead nurturing campaigns?

It’s true – and it can all be done using Google Analytics!

Turn Your Personas Up to 11 with Custom Dimensions

Google Analytics has a nifty feature called Custom Definitions (aka Custom Variables), which allow you to capture custom dimensions and metrics about your site’s visitors in Google Analytics.
For example, let’s say you’re running a LinkedIn Advertising campaign to people who have the job title IT Director. If you have a custom dimension created in Google Analytics for Job Title, you can include a query string parameter in your campaign landing page URL for title=IT_Director. Then, you can track how IT directors navigate your website going forward through Google Analytics!

Gathering Information from Your Campaigns

As I mentioned before in my example, you can capture custom dimensions by including query string parameters in the landing page URLs for your paid media campaigns, specifically (and most effectively) through social media advertising. Because of the targeting options that are available through social media advertising platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Twitter, you can set up your custom dimensions in Google Analytics based on your specific campaign targets. Some examples of information you can easily track from your social media advertising campaigns include job title, skills, interests, gender, age, or even relationship status. What you’ll be able to capture depends on the specific advertising platform you’re using, but this gives you an idea of how much information you can get just from your campaigns.

Nurturing Your Existing Database

You can also gather additional information about your existing database of leads and/or customers using custom dimensions, and form retargeting lists that can be used to nurture them online. Let’s say you have a list of customer email addresses for your pet supply website, broken down by information they’ve provided about what kind of pets they have. You can run social media campaigns on Facebook targeted to each segment of your list (like dogs, cats, fish, birds, etc.) using Facebook’s Custom Audiences (which allow you to upload and advertise to your own email lists). Then, you can set up custom dimensions for each segment to track the behavior of those segments on your website. Lastly, you can set up retargeting lists through Facebook, Twitter, and AdWords for each of those segments, and retarget each one with pet-specific display ads.

Note that depending on how you want to track your visitors’ behavior, your custom dimensions will need to be set up accordingly. For instance, if you want to track the behavior of certain customers or prospects every time they come back to your site, then the scope of custom dimension will need to be set at the User level. If you only want to track by single visit sessions, then it will need to be set at the Session level. You can read more information about  the different scopes here.

There’s so much that custom dimensions will allow you to do, you might become absolutely giddy with marketing geekiness (I know I do)! If you haven’t set them up yet, here are instructions from Google. Note, though, that you must have Universal Analytics to utilize this feature. Here’s a quick guide to help your tracking to Universal Analytics. You can also only track up to 10 custom definitions only – so plan them wisely.

What’s the most creative way you’ve used custom dimensions to enhance your personas and marketing strategy? Let’s talk in the comments below or on Twitter!

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