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on Conversion Rate Optimization

How to Use Visitor Segmentation to Increase Online Conversions

Be it SEO or CRO, we all know how relevance works like a charm. The closer you can get to visitors’ expectations, the better. And this is exactly what segmentation allows you to do.

When you aggregate your site visitors, your optimization is still too general because you are optimizing for the lowest common denominator in a large cluster of people. Although many ignore the power of segmentation testing, experts swear by it as the fundamental principle for website optimization.

Segmenting traffic by your inbound marketing channels is will easily allow you to identify your weakest inbound channel in an instant. This will mean that you can either reduce or stop investing in that marketing channel, or better still, AB test it to improve its conversions.

This is what Avinash Kaushik has to say about segmentation:

The best ideas for taking action come from the process of segmentation. Put simply it is taking the entirety of the data on your website and breaking it down into meaningful chunks. Knowing your overall conversion rate is 2%, useless. Knowing the conversion rates of your main acquisition channels are: Paid Search: 9%, Direct: 6%, Affiliate: 0.58%, priceless.

7 Ways to Segment Visitors

Your site visitors are not robots who have same needs, perceptions or tastes. As a result, their expectations need to be treated differently. So it’s time that you give up the one-size-fits-all approach for your landing pages.

When setting up custom variables in Google Analytics, it can be hard to think about which segments to create. But to start with, you can set up any of these variables:

1. New Visitors v/s Repeat Visitors

You may show them different offers, like you can show the download option for the beginner’s guide to new visitors and show advanced guide download for repeat visitors.

Returning Visitor Segmentation

2. Traffic Sources (PPC campaigns, social networking sites, emails, organic search and others)

Manage visitors’ expectation according to their traffic sources. For example, if your PPC campaign mentioned the promo code: ZAPS25 for a 25% discount on signup, you may want to show them a separate landing page that details about all features that are available to those users only.

3. Geo Location

This is probably the most popular segmentation method used. It might not be too personalized, but when you are targeting customers from a particular country, or when the keyword by which the visitor reached your site is too broad, geographic proximity is an effective segmentation basis to fall back upon.

Thread Less segments their visitor base on the basis of their geographic location to show them customized message and confirm if they ship to their country on the homepage itself.

Thread Less

Or, maybe you have a local business website, like a site which books car cabs online. So you see that the conversion rate for your website is 2%. But if you segment the traffic for your state/city, you notice that you have a conversion rate of 12%, which is pretty good.

Had you not checked the segmented data for your area, you might have gone ahead and made the changes to your landing page, when the solution actually was bringing in more relevant, country or county specific traffic through SEO. There are a lot many costly mistakes like this that you can avoid by segmentation of data.

4. Behavioral Targeting

Now this is a unique segmentation set for each site. Like, an eCommerce site might track if any particular color searched through their product filter is getting higher sales for men this year? Are these sales from any particular country?

You can even track how many average revisits does it take for a particular visitor type before they convert. You may even create a segment for revisits on your site who abandoned the cart on their previous visit, and invite them to complete their order with a limited time discount.

You can also read one of our previous case studies that shows behavioral targeting in action on our website and how we increased visits to our careers page by 149% with a small chicklet. In fact, I joined Visual Website Optimizer as a result of this test when I spotted the “We’re Hiring in Delhi” chicklet on the homepage and excitedly applied for the position here.

5. Referral URL

Let’s say your product announced a new feature and your site got covered in Hacker News. Now the traffic you will be getting from this referral URL will most probably be tech enthusiasts who are curious to know more about the product. But their main intent is not to buy the product. And if you are running a test on your site, and you get 10k+ unique views per day from the URL, it will definitely dilute your test results.

Thus, segmentation will allow you to serve a different message to visitors from Hacker News for any test you are running

6. Track Conversions

Is average order value from Facebook traffic higher than those of your email marketing campaign? Do PPC campaigns get you higher leads or sales?

7. URL Parameters

You can create segments based on URL parameters as well.

a. Adwords: Thankfully, the transparency of Adwords makes it easy to check which keyword gets maximum conversions and which ones are just a liability to your campaign. Apart from segmenting on the basis of keywords, internal search also makes for an interesting segment as well.

So you can even track if any particular visitor segment use internal search more often, and if they convert better than your average visitors. You can then use the segmentation feature in VWO to differentiate message you want to convey for visitors who reached your site from a specific keyword that is converting well for you.

b. Email List: If you use Mail Chimp for your email marketing campaigns, you definitely know they take relevance seriously. If you send a newsletter that gets you 0.1% abuse complaints, it’s an important spam concern for them. Right segmentation of your email list will let you reduce opt-outs as well as increase clickthroughs and conversions from your email campaigns.

Here’s an interesting example. This is an email newsletter we sent to announce the cross-browser testing feature to our list. We segmented our audience type for inactive subscribers. To ensure message match, this is the landing page that was shown to them when they visited our website:

Cross Browser Testing Landing Page

This gave us a lot higher conversions than the average conversion rate of our email marketing campaigns.

c. Retargeted Visitors: These are the visitors who have shown some interest in your site before, but need that little push to get through the last barrier to be counted as the conversion for your site.

Creating a distinguished segment for this visitor type and offering them a promo code or any such offer can help them overcome that hesitation and finally take the action on your site.

You may even segment different retargeting ads for this visitor type on the basis of the section of your site that was visited by them or where they spent most time.

Targeting gives you high-value visitors. Engage and convert these key segments by providing them content that is most relevant to their needs. And you will be proud to boast about your higher conversion rate soon enough.

Image credit: SearchBrat.com

Comments (8)

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  1. Hey really nice article related to visitor segmentation.

    But Smriti I have one doubt related to behavioral targeting. I can give you one example you can let me know that I understand it in the correct manner or not. For example, I am purchasing a laptop from the Amazon site and when I am going in filter of that product to change the color of that laptop so we can also track that how many time I have used that particular filter to change that color of that product. I understand it like this is it correct? So, can you please share your knowledge regarding this.

  2. You are right! Using google analytics help us differentiate visitor. But knowing is not enough, we must do something to react them. I am using a visitor/ customer segmentation extension for this case

  3. Hi

    I have a specific problem , which I can’t seem to find a solution to.

    I would like to target a segment based on their past behavior (url path) of my site.

    Eg. A visitor visits mysite.com/productX/
    Next time this user visit, I would like to display a banner for productX on my front page?

    I have set up a personalization campaign, and tried to create a rule that comply this solution, but without success.

    Is there anyone out there who has had success with this? And how did you do it?

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