Top 10 Web Analytics Segmentation Tips

scientific-market-segmentationWith so much raw data at our fingertips, many web analysts look to social media, analytics experts and peer discussion to determine what data can be compiled into meaningful information.

Mastery of the art and science of web analytics doesn’t rely on inventing a “god metric” or replicating a fancy dashboard. Insights are derived from understanding how to segment your website visitors to tell a story and drive business value.

Here are top 10 segmentation tips that can transform your data into information.

1. Filter First, Group Second, Then Segment

Web analytics data is vast and overwhelming, but it’s also prone to insightful error. Since JavaScript is executed client-side, there isn’t much we can do to fix erroneous values aside from filtering it out. In addition, go beyond the “top 10” and “top 50” lists that don’t change much over time by grouping data before applying segments.

2. Determine Visitor Type Segments

This includes new visitors, prospects, customers, affiliates, and employees. Different visitor types will behave differently on websites. Customers will behave very differently from new prospects, and employees may skew conversion rates much higher than they actually are.

3. Segment by Traffic Source Type

This includes paid versus organic search, earned social media versus owned social media, internal and external display advertising, and affiliates. Many web analytics solutions will provide a basic breakdown of traffic source reports, but going beyond the three basic types can be difficult without additional tagging.

Some key segments to consider with additional tagging includes earned social media (traffic sources you earn based on people sharing your content) versus owned social media (traffic sources you own such as a YouTube channel or Facebook page); paid versus organic search; and organic referring domains (link building) versus internal referring domains (other websites within your organization).

4. Scrutinize ‘Direct’ Traffic by Using Query String Parameters

Direct traffic gets a lot of unwarranted credit as a result of poor tagging. Ensure different sources of traffic including email, social media, redirects and mobile traffic drivers such as QR codes are adequately tagged using query string parameters so that better segmentation of direct traffic is possible.

5. Categorize Content by Intention

This includes research, purchase, renew, transact, or recommend. Content is often written with distinct personas in mind, so leverage that same content targeting nomenclature for your web analytics reports. Over time, you will be able to optimize user experience to funnel visitors through a logical sales process starting from research, to purchase, to transaction and/or renewal, to (hopefully) recommendations.

6. Segment by Product Type Engagement Using a Meaningful Taxonomy

In much the same way you would segment content by intention, implement tagging that recognizes product placement on pages for added reporting flexibility.

7. Integrate Data Sources Across Platforms

Web analytics data that is behavioral in nature should rarely be substituted for transactional data. Integrate data sources to understand the difference between analytics and book of record (accounting) information. Draw conclusions based on proxy, but don’t equate the two.

8. Get Closer to the Customer

There is a lot of jargon and scientific nomenclature in web analytics reporting that isn’t obvious to business stakeholders. Get closer to the customer by implementing non-personally identifiable customer “keys” that can help turn “unique visitors” into “customers”.

9. Set Targets With Reasoning for Each & Test Your Predictions

A good web analyst will be able to predict trends over time based on hypotheses derived from data and even market trends. A great web analyst will log these “guesstimates” with reasoning for each in order to make analysis that much easier come month, quarter, and year-end.

10. Align Segments & Metrics With Business Drivers

Is your business focused on aggressive acquisition for key products? Start segmenting your data to include key findings surrounding that focus.

Do the recipients of your reports continually ask to delve deeper into customer behavior instead? Shine a spotlight on customer segments over new visitors and prospects.

Aligning with the business equates to careful attention to detail and making your audience appreciative of analysis and open to change.


Although few of us can claim mastery of all of these tips, understanding how each contributes to the art and science of insightful web analytics is a first step in driving significant business value.

Have any segmentation tips you care to share? Comment below!

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