Segmenting your data is key to business growth


Segmentation is where the money is at!

This is a very bold statement, but it’s the truth. When you really start using your website data to make decisions, where you’re going to find the gold is from segmentation.

Segmentation is really quite simple, this is when you take the aggregate data that you are collecting and you start applying filters to it. A simple example is to look at your New vs Returning traffic or to only look at your Social traffic and see how they behave.

In this post, I’ll be walking you through:

  1. The foundation work you need to do before you start segmenting your data

  2. The 3 categories to think about when creating segments to get the most insight

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No matter what analytics tool you use to track your website activity, the way of thinking about what segments will give you the valuable information for your business is the same.

Let’s start!

The Foundation Work to Segmenting your Data

It all starts with your Measurement Plan or any document that clearly defines your business objectives, your goals and targets. These are the necessary building blocks to help you really understand what the data is telling you and more importantly, it will help you focus and prioritize what to look at and then work on.

With the information above in hand, you can then start thinking about what ways you would like your data segmented and also, what metrics you will be looking at for each segment to get at the information you need to make decisions.

I highly recommend that you don’t skip the step of identifying your business objectives, goals and targets in an effort to just get at the data. Having this in place will be the key to being efficient and effective at getting at the valuable information. Not being clear on the above, can lead to going down data rabbit holes and no insights gained.

Breakdown Segments into Three Categories

To give you some guidance in the types of segments you should be considering when looking at your data, I recommend that you keep the following three categories in mind:

  1. Acquisition

  2. Behaviour

  3. Outcomes

I’ll walk you through some examples of the types of segments that would go in each one to give you ideas and inspiration of what you can look at.

The examples I give can be a starting point for you, but it will be important that you look into additional or modified segments that are unique to your business.

1 - Acquisition

Acquisition refers to the activities you undertake to attract people to your site. Activities such as your email campaign, social media, paid advertising, SEO, etc.

Here you want to ask yourself the following question:

“Where am I spending the most time and money to acquire traffic to my site?”

The answer to this question is where you will start. If for example, you are spending significant money on Paid Search and Facebook Ads, then you will want to understand how traffic from these two sources are performing.

Once you identify the traffic sources you need to evaluate, it’s important to pick the right metrics to evaluate them against.

There are some standard metrics you can look at, but depending on your goals and business objectives you will also want to include metrics that are relevant to you.

The standard metrics to pair with traffic source segments are:

  1. Visits or Users, you can also look at both. The one you choose is totally up to you.

  2. New Visitors

  3. Bounce Rate

  4. Cost per Visit or Cost per User

The additional metrics to look at to get a full picture are:

  1. Conversion Rate

  2. Goal Completion Rate

  3. Revenue

These are the metrics that will be specific to your business. You will need to define, what your conversions and goals are for this segment.

Additionally, it’s important to look at your numbers either trended over time or to compare them with a previous time period. Just looking at a snapshot of time will not give you the insights you need to optimize your campaigns.

2 - Behaviour

Behaviour refers to the activities that people perform when they visit your site. Such as those that view a certain number of pages, spend a certain amount of time on your site or perform a high valued activity on your site.

Some ideas of Behavioural segments are:

  • Understand the difference between those that enter through the Homepage vs all other pages

  • Understand more about those that return to the site 5x more than those that don’t

  • Look at what makes those that spend more than 10 seconds on your site different

  • Look at those that take 3 days to purchase vs those that only take 1 day? Is there something unique about them?

Behavioural segments are what will give you the information to bridge the gap between what you want to have happen and what your customers are looking for.

Here is where you can really play around and start thinking of different things that you would like to understand about your visitors. To make things more manageable, only look at 2-3 segments at a time, this way you’ll find it easier to derive insights from your data.

When it comes to what metrics to use for your Behaviour segments, this, in all honesty, will depend on what you are looking at.

What you need to always keep in mind is that you want to understand where these people are coming from (traffic source), the size of the traffic and are they bringing value to your business (i.e. purchasing, sending a lead)

3 - Outcomes

Outcomes are the activities that add value to your business. Two examples are sales or leads.

You can easily create a segment that looks at those who visited and made a purchase or submitted a lead vs those that didn’t.

But you should really not stop there. Here you have the opportunity to also look at the micro conversions (or preliminary activities) your users perform before they purchased or submitted a lead.

Why is this important?

Because we know that very few people who visit a site for the first time will convert. This is why understanding what the other actions users undertook before they gave you their money or their email address is so valuable.

Some micro conversions you may want to look at are:

1- viewed a product video

2- added items to the wishlist

3- read product reviews

4- applied for a trial offer

5- read 5+ blogs posts

The micro conversions that you look at will be unique to your business, the list above is meant to give you inspiration of the things you could look at.

At the end of the day, you want to identify segments that will give you information that you can use to increase value to your business as defined by you.

Once you know what those micro activities are that result in users making a purchase or sending a lead, you will have a road-map you can use to lead your visitors towards the outcomes that bring you value and grow your business.

There you have it, the three categories you need to think about when creating segments for your business. You can start with about six segments (2 for each of the categories) and then as you get more an more comfortable with them, I can guarantee that you’ll be inspired and will think of many many more.

Remember to always think about how the information you get will answer your business questions and add value.

To recap…

To truly get the most insight from your data, you can’t stop at looking at aggregate numbers, even if they are trended, you will need to segment your data.

First, you must start by defining your business objectives, goals and targets. Ensuring you are tracking things correctly and then formulating a plan outlining what you want to look at.

My recommendation is to create segments for the following three categories:

  1. Acquisition

  2. Behaviour

  3. Outcomes

For each, you will want to understand who these visitors are and are they bringing value to your business.

Have fun playing around with your data. Don’t feel that you have to get things right from the beginning, take action and start with easy ones, such as the Acquisition segments.

If you have any additional questions about segmentation and/or would like help on determining how to go about it, you can sign up for a FREE 30-minute discovery call with me and we can chat about it.

Also, leave a comment below if you have used segments in your business and if so, what have you looked at.

As always, happy analyzing!


Hi, I’m Karla

I’m here to help small business understand and use their website data to take the guess work out of growing their business.

I’ll love to help you start using your valuable website data to help you grow your business, book a FREE 30 minute discovery call with me and let’s get started.