The purpose of your content is not to feed the content beast or the empty space in your website, but to reach, connect and convert your target audiences to your business.

As content marketing and intent-driven micro-moments evolve, defining your organization’s Buyer Personas and then strategically creating content that is aligned with one or more of those Personas provides a way towards the most effective content.

The main reasons for this strategy are that

  • you can create content that is written for specific audiences, tailored for them and their situation
  • highly tailored content will perform much stronger with the target audience than generic content as you speak their language to their needs
  • you can evaluate how you are connecting, satisfying, and converting individual personas, and compare them to other personas or the site average

Once you’re using Personas for your content creation, the next step is seeing how the Personas perform and gaining actionable intelligence from those metrics. To see how your Buyer Personas are performing in Google Analytics we’re going to use a little-discussed featured called Content Groupings to get us there.

Create your Buyer Personas, then look at Google Analytics

Something that we often see in regards to Google Analytics and Buyer Personas is the idea of using Analytics as a way of formulating your Personas. This strategy uses data, most commonly found in the Demographics reports of Analytics, as a way of learning about their audiences.

In our opinion this is often a backwards aproach. Demographics make awful Buyer Personas. They’re good at expanding your knowledge of a persona, but are a poor way of defining your personas.

“Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.”

“As you can see here, this has nothing to do with profiling. And, it has everything to do with buying behavior.”

Tony Zambito

More than anyone else, the business should know who their Personas are. Not in a “define by demographic” aspect, but in a more specific character groupings aspect.

For example, the website of a pilates studio might have the following personas:

  • A person seeking physical rehabilitation
  • A person seeking a “beach body”
  • A triathlete working on keeping flexible
  • A high school athlete
  • A senior citizen trying to keep injury free

In this example the Personas would be virtually indistinguishable or overlapping through Google Analytics’ demographic data, but these definitions provides the most value to the business. Each Persona needs to have content and messaging attuned to their individual needs and desires in order to be effective. How the business frames/targets a blog post on using pilates to recover from an accident will differ significantly from a blog post on getting fit using pilates, and the content loses efficacy when written generically.

We encourage our clients to go through the exercise of visualizing the different types of people that might be coming to the website, the situation they’re in, what they’d be looking for or to do, and build out these personas to the best of their ability. They can be refined over time, filled out using demographic data or trends, but the individual personas are created by the organization’s marketing team (not the data).

Content Groupings in Google Analytics

When using Google Analytics, most of the reporting that we’re seeing is metrics in aggregate, or by individual URLs. We can plot rows, enabling us to see up to 6 line entries at a time, but what if we want to see how a group of content is performing, either against the rest of the site or against other groups?

Enter Content Groupings.

Content Grouping lets you group content into a logical structure that reflects how you think about your site or app, and then view and compare aggregated metrics by group name in addition to being able to drill down to the individual URL, page title, or screen name.”

Based on your type of website, there are lots of different ways that you may want to set up these groupings, each relating back to how your organization wants to be able to segment the content.

For example,

  • a jewelry e-commerce site might want to separate by types of jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, rings, broaches, etc. or another grouping by stone or material.
  • a blog might want to separate by top-level topics food, travel, events, etc.
  • a news site might want to separate by desk such as international, national, politics, sports, etc.

With these groupings established, we can start asking questions such as:

  • is one grouping driving more traffic than others, or is one under-performing in traffic origination?
  • which groups have the highest conversion rate or revenue per user?
  • are some performing better originating from search or social, mobile or desktop?

You can even drill down into a grouping to discover how individual URLs within that grouping are performing against each other, limited only to that set, as well as applying Segments to the grouping. You might even notice how well this functionality works for evaluating Content Silos within your website.

How to set up Content Groupings

There are three ways to create content groups within the Content Grouping, namely

  • tracking codes pushed to Google Analytics (good for custom CMS integrations)
  • using regular expressions (regex) to pattern match against your urls, titles, or screen names (sites with variables in the URL structure)
  • or rules to include pages by url, title, or screen name using and/or statements and various matching (contains, does not contain, is one of, etc.)

The method you choose all depends on your site setup, amount of content that you’re grouping, and how you’re planning on grouping it. For example, your url structure might be easy to group as it has a structure such as /necklace/product_id vs /ring/product_id whereby you can easily regex “/necklace/” vs “/ring/”. Or you might have to use individual URLs as a long list as there aren’t any URL or title commonalities that you can use to create your groupings.

In the image below we’ve created three content groupings of blog articles (Blogger, Analytics, RFP) and created rules to specific URLs in each of those three groups.

Just like your Buyer Personas, it’s important to map out your content groupings and sub-groups before undertaking this work in Analytics (see disclaimers at the end of this post). For information-driven sites, such as sites with blog posts, research reports, etc., one easy method is to create a series of spreadsheets/worksheets for each Persona comprised of a list of URLs that you align with that Persona.

The Value in aligning Content Groupings with your Personas

Once we’ve used the above methods to create content groupings of the content aligned to your different personas, there are many insights that can be gained by looking at your content through these Personas. Using these personas we’ll be able to see your content in a way that’s not total aggregate, and not just individual URLs.

Evaluated as groups, based on your established Buyer Personas, we can begin to learn more about each group’s marketing performance as well as content effectiveness.

Comparing the performance of different persona/grouping

Side by side comparisons of personas can enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of your different content groupings, seeing the traffic, conversion rates, and other useful metrics. Is one persona driving an outsized percentage of your traffic or conversions? Is one persona bouncing at a significantly higher rate? Are different personas leaning towards different goals, perhaps one more likely to subscribe to an email list, and one more likely to purchase immediately?

Comparing the value of different persona/grouping

Along similar lines as the performance above, sometimes the value of a persona group might be significantly different, or different over time. One persona group might visit the site more frequently and make purchases, while another less frequently but larger purchases, or the purchase cycle might vary where one persona needs to visit the site multiple times before making a purchase.

Without these groupings this viewpoint wouldn’t be visible within your normal Analytics setup.

Evaluating content performance within a persona/grouping

Within a persona grouping of content, are certain pieces of content performing at a higher or lower rate than the group average? Are there outliers from which additional strategic insight can be gained, such as specific topics, keywords, phrases, or user interface variations that are setting them apart?

While you can see the groupings themselves to compare, you can also dig into just one grouping, seeing only the content that is within that group isolated from all else, and compare each URL against the group.

Gathering additional information about each persona

Different persona groupings might not just be interested in different content, but might be finding and using the site in completely different ways. One group might be finding the site through social media or have a higher usage from mobile phones, whereas another might be exclusively desktop and organic search.

Understanding the nuances of each buyer persona (audience) and how they’re finding and using your website will enable you to optimize your content marketing efforts as well as website user experience.

More about Content Grouping

Before you jump in and create Content Groupings, a few quick notes:

Content Grouping data does not back-date (not retroactive), so if you make any changes, they only change moving forward from the time the edit was created. You won’t be able to see backdated content grouping information as the labels are attached at processing.

Content Grouping data is also not computed in real-time, only in the main analytics which has a time delay.

You are limited to a total of five (5) content groupings, but within each of those groupings, there is no limit to the number of sub-groups that can you can create.

Gaining Actionable Intelligence

Content groupings coupled with Buyer Personas, custom Dashboards, and Goal Conversion tracking will provide any organization with immediate actionable intelligence regarding their content marketing efforts. Being able to clearly define which audiences are responding to which content, yielding how much value and how many conversions, and how they’re arriving at the site… it can all help you create a much more strategic web presence and content strategy that reaches, connects and converts.

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