Karen Hopper: Maximizing Google Analytics Segments for Audience Insights

Have you been victimized by Google Analytics in the past? In this interview, we talk to Karen Hopper about Google Analytics, segments, audience insights, and her INBOUND 2020 session built to help you analyze and report better.

Maximizing Google Analytics Segments for Audience Insights

The Google Analytics segmentation feature can be a treasure trove of information about users of certain characteristics, but it can also lead you astray: it can be a time consuming black hole, or worse, lead you to discount entire portions of your audience because they're seemingly 'not qualified' - or they don’t match your “customer personas.”

This session will focus on how to evaluate user behavior - rather than user characteristics - that can illuminate behavior patterns across demographics and income levels, and how you can design and personalize experiments based on findings to grow your business with new audiences.


About the Expert

Karen Hopper

As a data nerd with deep hands-on digital marketing experience, Karen is the Senior Data Strategist at M+R. As her title would suggest, she brings a data-driven perspective to everything she does, from testing to creative, email to social media, advertising to websites to text messages. A Jill of all Trades, she spends her days helping nonprofits raise more money by testing user journeys and giving clients confidence in measuring their success. When she's not at work, she's singing with a large symphonic chorus in Washington, DC, truly making the most of her degree in political science and music.


Full Transcript

George Thomas 0:00
All right, inbound attendees, it's your boy George B. Thomas. And we're back with another episode of inbound speaks where we speak to inbound speakers who speak at inbound. Anyway, I did it, I made it through it that time, even though that is super meta. Today, I'm super excited because we're talking to Karen, what are we talking about? to Karen about? Well, you're gonna have to stick around through this bumper, and get into the good stuff to really understand. So let's go ahead and dive in. All right, Karen, you are here with the inbound attendees, at least digitally, which is the whole thing this year, which is, you know, something we could talk about, but that's not why we're here. Let's go ahead and start from the very beginning. You know, as a cloudy day, No, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. Let's let the inbound attendees know a little bit about you and what makes you tick.

Karen Hopper 0:48
Yeah. So Hi, I'm Karen. I work with nonprofit which is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because I get to do also Great work with organizations that are making a difference in the world. But it's also a little bit challenging because they get in their own way a lot of times, so I've had to navigate my way around all sorts of weird bureaucracy and other sorts of, you know, red tape type of things. So that's really where I'm coming from. Otherwise, welcome to my living room. I'm sure you're also somewhere in your living room or somewhere socially distance from everyone that you have been spending time with. But I love

George Thomas 1:35
it. I love it. Yeah, everybody has their own little workstation. Now their workplace that is different. It's funny, because all of the interviews we've talked about kind of some different changes, pivoting, all sorts of things. And it's funny you were you were referencing nonprofit and I'm like, oh, man, I think nonprofit met b2b because they, they have some of the same issues sometimes, but I want to talk about you Your session that you're doing at inbound, Karen and it is maximizing Google Analytics, or Google Analytics segments, I should say for Audience Insights. Now, while I'm going to ask you to unpack that, for those of us who are not nerds in the room, which by the way, I am one of the nerds, but I'll get there first, what I really want to do is kind of give a baseline of with a title like that, who should be in the room? And why should they be in the room for your inbound 2020 session?

Karen Hopper 2:30
First of all, anyone who has ever felt personally victimized by Google Analytics should come to this session. Google Analytics is the beast of a platform that doesn't make it intuitive for anyone. I was basically just a regular consultant, marketing consultant trying to navigate my way through this and how to teach myself everything and I do not wish that upon anyone else. If not fun, make sure that you have pen And paper ready? Because we're just going to go through exactly how to find what you need out of Google Analytics and how to make that system work for you. Because it really isn't that scary. So if you're responsible for doing marketing, if you're responsible for anything on a website, if you've ever logged into Google Analytics and have been confused by what you see, this is a session for you.

George Thomas 3:21
I love that if you've ever been victimized by Google Analytics, like it's funny, because I can remember back to like, the first days of opening it up and figuring out how to get logged in and then just sitting there like, what, what the heck, like what Yeah, I don't even know the word even. Yeah, it's like What the What so. So it's funny that that's kind of who should be in the room if you're in that place. Now, let's kind of back up a couple of steps or go a little deeper, whatever term you want to use here. Because this isn't like general Google Analytics in your title. It's literally Google Analytics segments. So and Audience Insights By the way, so maybe just unpack like, and again, let's not give away the whole form here. But unpack like, why should people be paying attention to audience? Audience Insights? And why does segmentation inside of your analytics even that, like, kind of sow the seed together, if you will, of why? Or what? Or, I guess, simplify the complex?

Karen Hopper 4:25
Yeah, I would say, most marketers have had to come up with a persona, who is the person that we're trying to talk to? Who is the person that we are writing our copy for trying to reach on the internet targeting our ads towards and really that persona ends up being some conglomeration of lots of different actual human people that are interacting with your website and interacting with your materials. And so by backing up and looking at audiences, my insights and doing some segmentation based on behavior, things that people are doing Interacting with ways that they're coming into the website. By doing that, we get a lot more information about what people are actually doing and what they actually are looking for. And so once you have that information and can kind of distill that away from all that other loud garbage that's in Google Analytics, trying to attract you with it's pretty charts, and it's beautiful numbers. Once you actually strip all of that away and actually look at the people that are doing the thing that you want them to do, and trying to figure out how you can get more of them to do that thing. That's when personas really thing. That's when you can develop your test ideas, and really start digging into Can I maximize conversions on this one page? Can I get more people like the people that are already doing the thing that I want to do and where do I find them? And that all starts with the data.

George Thomas 5:56
It all starts with the data people and by the way, it all starts with a person rewinding in that section and listening to what was just said, because there's a couple little nuggets in there that you should pick up. But speaking of that, Karen, what is and again, one tip, people, I know you're wanting all the tips right now, but you got to wait for Karen session, you got to attend this session. But Karen, what's one tip that you would give folks that they can start to use right now and between now and your session, and then learning everything else with their notepad and scratching, all the notes are going to scratch,

Karen Hopper 6:29
make sure you have Google Analytics installed in your website correctly. I know that's kind of a big broad tip that sounds a little bit scary. But really, it's so so important to make sure that the actual technology is there because without that there is nothing to build on. And that includes if you have an e commerce store to make sure that you have e commerce setup because without that, you won't be able to track all of those delightful purchases and follow those funnels back to the beginning. So Take a moment today to log into your Google Analytics, contact your web team or whoever manages that and make sure that everything is up to snuff. And then from there, we can actually start looking at the data,

George Thomas 7:12
solid advice, solid advice. It's you got to have that foundational framework in place, or else the rest of it's just like, could be a muddled mess. So is there. There's I know, I know, I shouldn't even start the question that way. I know, there's some people out that are like, Huh, now Google Analytics. Nope, nope, nope. Nope, not happening. I have a life. Right. What do you say? What what myth Do we need to debunk per se, about Google Analytics? So people will actually go, oh, okay, maybe maybe I should, maybe I should.

Karen Hopper 7:44
It is not just for the data analyst. Yes, my title has data in it, like, Whatever. I'm not really a data analyst. I'm a data strategist, which means that they trust me to take the data and then have strategy Based on that data, and so anyone doing marketing strategy needs to have that data behind them in order to win the fight. Because you should never bring an opinion to a data fight. And if you have the data available, it makes your life so much easier, because you can prove that the thing that you're doing is working. And that's invaluable.

George Thomas 8:23
Yeah, I just need a moment of silence people I'm gonna say like that. Like, there is so much good right there, especially if you're making decisions on a whim or because you like a certain thing, or you think or you assume that people are, if you can tie it back to data that is, yeah. Let's just get an amen to what Karen said right there for a quick second. So, Karen, you've given your session? Well, last year, I used to position it like this, right. So you given your session, and now all sudden the audience stands up and they give you a raving round of applause. And it's like this, you I'm like, Man, I wish inbound would have sent like an applause easy button or something like we would, we would have it. So when we're done, but let's just still say the point here that I'm wondering is the sessions done. People are applauding from their living rooms from wherever they are watching from. What's the one thing that you hope that they take away that they run with that they believe in

Karen Hopper 9:24
it, Google Analytics is not scary. I've probably said that three or four times. But it really isn't scary. Um, the best part about it is that you can't break it. Unless you're messing with the actual code on your website. You can't break the reporting dashboard, which means that you're free to go in there and experiment with report setting, you're free to experiment with segmentation, because there aren't limits on the number of views that you can create. So if something if you create something and ends up being that whatever you filter, it has zero people try Try again. If, of course, I'm a nerd, so I love just messing around with it. And of course, it's very easy to fall down the rabbit hole and just spend hours and hours and hours of time with it. Again, come to the session, we'll start figuring out how to not fall down that rabbit hole hole. It's this wonderful little gem of a system that you can mess around with. And hopefully you'll find the joy in Google Analytics and less of the fear,

George Thomas 10:25
less of the fear. Even if you've been victimized. rethink your position on Google Analytics, give it another shot. You can't break it. I love all of these things. While you're thinking about getting that notepad getting that pencil ready while you're using the one tip that Karen gave you guess what? We'll be here waiting for you. In the next episode.