Untapped Google Analytics Data Treasures

By Heidi Smith | Nov 21, 2017
More Articles by Heidi

Most marketers know that you should have analytics set up on your website to collect data, run reports and generally have a better understanding of what users are doing on your site. However, I would argue that while we are great at doing top-level items like setting up goals, tracking visitors engagement and performing the aforementioned tasks, we may not all be as great at finding the gems of knowledge analytics provides and applying them in innovative ways to improve our business’ marketing efforts.

For the sake of this post I’m going to focus on Google Analytics, but hopefully whichever third party analytics platform you use offers similar data collection so you can apply these ideas accordingly. Ready to get started? Our adventure into the great unknown to find Google Analytics data treasures awaits!

national treasure nic cage

Photo courtesy of The Independent 

Website Demographics

One of my absolute favorite reports in Google Analytics is the Audience Demographics. Analytics offers both Age and Gender insights if you enable them in your account. With this report, get all the usual information you would see in Analytics such as number of sessions, bounce rate, pages per session, average session duration, and the crème de la crème of them all – goals and goal completion rates.

Use this report to learn about not only the ages and genders of people who visit your website, but how those statistics differ between sources and mediums, paid campaigns versus organic traffic, etc. To take it a step further, use these insights and apply them to your marketing efforts.

Real World Example

For one of our clients, you can see via the chart and graph below that 18-24 year old’s do not donate nearly as often as their older counterparts.

google analytics age demographics data table

age demographic pie chart

That tiny sliver? Your worst performing (and smallest) audience age segment.

All of the main advertising networks (AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest) let you target by age. Running a social media donation campaign? Nix the 18-24 year old’s based on what you learned from your Analytics age report, or bid down on them to optimize your campaign right off the bat. Stop wasting impressions and clicks on users who won’t complete the call-to-action you’re looking for.

Think about how else you could apply this report to other facets of your organization – content creation, social media promotion, email marketing? Don’t stop at just one; capitalize on the findings and use them to optimize and increase returns.

Site Search

Site search in Analytics can be a treasure trove of information, as setting up site search lets you see what people are searching for on your site once they arrive. Are they looking for features of a product, details on your degree program’s admission process, or statistics around your nonprofit’s cause? Site search will give you these exact queries and associated engagement data.

The site search metrics give you great data points on individual search terms, such as time spent on site after the search, average search depth (i.e. number of pages visited after the search) and percent of search exits (i.e. number of users who abandoned after submitting a search).google analytics data via site search report

Use the Search Terms report to see if there are certain queries submitted repeatedly. As you analyze, ask yourself:

  • Are the answers to frequently asked questions easy to find despite the searches being performed?
    • If not, consider updating a main page to include the content or update navigation to improve and simplify the user experience.
  • Are visitors searching on a topic that is related to your business but that you don’t have content on?
    • Create it! What a great way to answer the needs of your existing customers, while tapping into a previously unmet need of your target audience which can bring in new traffic and interest via a variety of online channels.
  • Is there any disconnect between what you offer and what users are searching?
    • Maybe your current messaging needs to be updated to be more transparent.

Affinity and In-Market Audience Data

interests categories menu in google analyticsAnother buried data treasure in Analytics is the Affinity Categories and In-Market Segments. On its own, these reports provide detailed information into website visitors. With a reverse engineering of sorts, you can push the data further by capitalizing on the insights and using it to improve campaigns. Analytics even mentions this tactic in its overview of analyzing demographics and interests data, but have you used this recommendation to your advantage?

Real World Example

An AdWords remarketing campaign typically only has your remarketing list as the targeting applied, so you are not necessarily privy to the other categories and segments the users in that list fall into. By using the Interests reports in Analytics, you can discover and even decide to exclude certain categories if the data story is strong enough to warrant it.

For one of our clients, a few Affinity Categories stick out as being low performing when users arrive to the site from a specific remarketing campaign:

google analytics affinity campaign report

Based on these findings and the fact that the Affinity categories in Analytics match those in AdWords, those affinity categories could be excluded from the campaign to stop wasting clicks on audiences that never convert, and redistribute impressions to those that are more likely to do so.

You could take this strategy and apply it to the opposite effect as well – have an in-market segment that performs really well? Target them with a separate campaign or bid up on the specific audience.


Now that our treasure hunting has concluded (for now), go use the Google Analytics data already at your disposal to wow your clients and colleagues by applying the findings in innovative ways that help optimize your marketing efforts and reach your goals more effectively. Learn from the available insights and recommend new campaign focuses, content creation and access untapped opportunities.

What other data treasures do you love in Analytics? Have any favorite under-utilized features? Shout out in the comments or find me on Twitter – I’d love to hear about them!

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