This week’s #MetricsMonday focuses on the importance of setting up Google Analytics dashboards, not just for overall website KPIs, but for demographics and interest tracking based on your visitors.
Google’s demographics and interest tracking is often underused compared to other data within Analytics. The goal of this post is to help you better understand your visitors in just a few clicks.
Why should I care about Google Analtics’ Demographics and Interest Data?
Google Analytics is both a ubiquitous and powerful tool. Over 27 million sites use it, including 67.5 percent of the Quantcast Top 10K. Based on its widespread usage, demographics and interest data provides a wealth of information related to your visitors. Understanding and ciphering this data will allow you to create a website and corresponding digital content targeted toward your key demographics.
Google’s demographics and interest data includes:
- Age: Data on six age categories (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+).
- Gender: Data on male and female.
- Affinity Categories: General lifestyle categories such as Sports Fans or Technophiles.
- In-Market Segments: More specific product purchase interests than affinity categories.
- Other Categories: Specific categories for users.
Why should I create a dashboard?
Dashboards are key to digesting Google Analytics data on an ongoing basis. By setting up dashboards for all major reporting areas, you’ll be able to keep a pulse on your website’s performance.
In particular, a demographics and interest analytics dashboard allows you to pull information on how your site is performing, not just with any visitors, but those who match specific criteria related to your key demographics or buyer personas.
How do I create a dashboard?
While dashboards are relatively simple to set up, the difficulty lies with selecting the most important widgets and avoiding dashboard clutter. You can create dashboards by manually adding widgets or importing a pre-created template.
Let’s first outline the steps toward creating your own custom template:
1. From your Google Analytics Home screen, select the Reporting tab in the upper portion.
2. On the Reporting tab, select Dashboards in the left column.
3. Select New Dashboard.
4. For a custom dashboard, select Blank Canvas and name your dashboard.
5. Now that you’ve created your blank dashboard, you’ll need to add widgets.
Which widgets should I include on my dashboard?
Google Analytics has a number of widget options and types to choose from. Choose the right widget type to properly display your data.
The example below shows how to set up a Pageviews dashboard using Standard widgets.
- Metric: Displays a single metric
- Timeline: Shows selected metric over time
Example: Pageviews over past month
- Geomap: Plots metric on a map
Example: Pageviews by location
- Table: Displays two metrics in a table
Example: Pageviews by age group
- Pie: Shows metric as part of a whole
Example: Percent of pageviews by age group
- Bar: A bar chart of one metric, with up to two dimensions
Example: Pageviews by Age and Gender
When selecting your widgets and designing your dashboard, add the widgets that make the most sense in order to visualize your data. Repeat until you have enough widgets that tell the whole story, but not too many.
For advanced monitoring, you can also select real-time widgets when you need to track certain time-sensitive initiatives, such as a recent blog post, large announcement, or piece of key content.
How should I lay out my Google Analytics dashboard?
Dashboards are both easy to set up and lay out. Simply arrange the widgets in a way that’s most logical for you to display your data and KPIs.
In the example above, this Pageviews dashboard is organized into three areas:
- Left column: Displays the key metrics, starting with pageviews and total pageviews by age and gender.
- Center column: Displays widgets that might need a little more space, such as the table and geomap. These are larger than the left and right columns, allowing the viewer to better consume the information.
- Right column: Displays the pie charts related to age and gender.
By quickly scanning left to right, you can understand the displayed data in a sensible way. The simplest data is located in the top left with the more complex data widgets in the bottom right.
Should I create my own dashboard or use a template?
Creating your own custom template is beneficial as it allows you total control over what you need to see and report on. However, it can be both daunting and time-consuming, depending on your Google Analytics knowledge.
With dashboards offering almost unlimited customized options, many free templates are available for you to use. Below are some recommended dashboards, both for general use and for demographic specifics:
- Gender Insights Dashboard: Perfect template if you’re looking to find out the gender split on your top content, traffic sources, and other important metrics.
- Audience Demographics: Easy-to-digest dashboard offering demographic data related to both visitors and site content.
- Occam’s Razor Awesomeness: The gold standard of all Google Analytics’ dashboards and also the most popular one.
- Content Analysis: Dashboard that offers insight into your site’s content performance and overall efficiency.
Keep in mind that starting with a template will still allow you to adjust the widgets to fit your exact needs.
How do I share my Google Analytics Dashboard?
Now that you’ve created your demographics dashboard, how are you going to share it?
Email and Export
- Click export to download your dashboard as a PDF.
- Select the share link to provide collaborators a chance to see your dashboard. This is useful if they’re creating the dashboard with you or want to see real-time metrics.
- If you think your dashboard is an A+, you can also share it in the Solutions Gallery for others to use in the future.
- Select “Email” at the top of your dashboard screen.
- Choose the recipients.
- Choose the frequency and day of the week.
- Advanced: Choose the duration of this email in case you only want to send emails for a specific time frame.
- Customize your message.
Share with us in the comments below your insights on Google Analytics dashboards, or suggest a template.
- Google Solutions Gallery: If you’re looking for additional dashboards as well as other Google resources, this is a great place to start.
- Dashboard Junkie: Third-party site featuring dashboards not just for demographics and interests, but any metrics you’re looking to include.
- More Google Analytics: Tracking form submissions with Tag Manager and blocking referral spam.