Powerful Data that Powers Content
Knowing your audience has always been the most important part of Marketing. Thankfully Google Analytics Demographics collects data that you can use in your content marketing strategy. In this post, we’ll provide an overview of how to speak to each demographic age range (generations), nuggets of info for your online marketing strategy, and how to tackle digging into your data.
Google Analytics Demographics has six age ranges. It’s important to note that Google’s age ranges don’t correspond specifically to generational groups. I found this to be very frustrating, as age doesn’t necessarily provide insight as to how a visitor might interact with your website and brand. Does a 25-year-old look at life differently than a 34-year old? Well… yes, as one is a Millennial and the other a Gen Xer.
So I did some research on demographic studies and mapped them out to Google’s data. The following is how I’ve corresponded the two pieces of data, highlighted useful nuggets and suggested takeaways.
1. 18-24 (Mostly Millennials)
These are children of boomer professionals who opted for parenthood later in life or for Gen Xers who started families early. 9/11 and strong parental involvement shape this group. This group tends to be civic-minded and ecologically aware. Millennials grew up with a “everybody wins” grading model. Many of their activities focus on digital communication (via Internet, smartphones, texting) and are moved into action with causes.
Marketing Takeaway: Integration of a mobile responsive website, social media messages and texting campaigns is a must for this group. Any online missteps will be treated harshly so be careful with the content you’re sharing online. But, if you give them a compelling social reason they can be your champion.
2. 25-34 (Millennials & Some Gen Xers)
This age group is a combo of older Millennials and younger Generation Xers. Gen X is often described as the latchkey generation, children who were born amid recessions and other challenges of Boomer parents. They are used to depending on themselves. In general, they distrust authority and don’t respond well to traditional or advertising that relies on hype. They do respond to good design and truthful copy.
Marketing Takeaway: This group is savvy on many levels. Authenticity counts. They technologically aware, but not necessarily addicted. While they’ll have and be able to use a smartphone they might not be on it 24/7.
3. 35-44 (Gen X)
Here’s an interesting twist of Gen Xers’ independence: 70% start their own business (according to an article published by the Houston Chronicle by Victoria Duff of Demand Media). This group has grown up and outgrown their “slacker” image and have become respectable members of the community. 25% of all adults are Gen X, the third largest generation (after Boomers and Millennials). According to an American Express Small Business forum, they have more spending power than any other generation (with 29% of estimated net worth dollars and 31% of total income dollars).
Marketing Takeaway: Authentic messages that honor independence and entrepreneurship. The idea of being self-made, or self-sufficient sells well to Gen X.
4. 45-54 (Gen X, Some Baby Boomers & Maybe Cuspers)
Many sources quote 1946-1964 as the official birth years for the Baby Boomer Generation. 78 million babies were born during this 18-year period. This is a huge span of time, so I suspect there many behavioral variations within this group. For example, many of those born in the 40s and 50s were teens or young adults during the civil rights movements and hippie era. The counter-culture evolved, became more mainstream and then Boomers became consumers, parents and leaders. Now they are starting to retire.
However, the youngest Boomers are shaped by different experiences and attitudes. Several years ago the term “Cuspers” were used to describe this group. Generation Jones (as in “Keeping Up With the Joneses”) is another term coined by author Jonathan Pontell to describe those born between 1954 and 1965. This group has political power and holds management positions. These are important to note, especially for B2B businesses who market to them.
Marketing Takeaway: This segment is a mixed bag. Dig more into your target group and plan accordingly as the 9 years from 45 to 54 can make quite a big difference in outlook.
5. 55-64 (All Post-War Baby Boomers)
Be aware of the Peter Pan complex — the never growing old phenomena. That’s why you see youthfulness played out in marketing messages. In this age range, many Baby Boomers are grandparents, empty nesters or have Boomerangs (children who moved out and then come back) as a result of recession, divorce, or other reasons. These Boomers are described as driven and discerning; they look at advertising only if it’s valuable to them.
Marketing Takeaway: Use imagery and value that resonates (not too young, not too old) as this generation is used to mass media attention and grew up in the advertising boom. They’re savvy, but perhaps not as trusting as younger generations in making online purchases.
Tom Brokaw summed up this segment beautifully in his book “The Greatest Generation.”
The WWII generation shares so many common values: duty, honor, country, personal responsibility…
Two world wars and The Great Depression shaped this group’s viewpoints. Freebies, senior discounts and other “deals” appeal to their value orientation. Businesses who target this group shouldn’t dismiss this group as technologically unsavvy. Many are savvy online shoppers and look for value.
Marketing Takeaway: Be mindful of special, practical, needs of this aging segment (e.g., easy-to-open packaging, special packs for smaller households, readable font sizes, etc.).
Use Google Analytics Demographics
Once you’re logged into Google Analytics, you’ll find Demographics under the Audience tab on the left. If you haven’t already enabled this feature, follow the instructions to turn on this function. If you can only see one or two generations on display, this may be because you’re not looking at enough data. So make sure to extend the date range long enough to get the full picture.
Overview, Age & Gender
Once you have Google Analytics demographics data available, you’ll find a gender and age information on your visitors. You can see which generational segments your site attracts as well as the ratio between male and female readers.
We suggest adding segments to Google Analytics so you can dig deeper into how each of these age segments behave on your site. I recommend looking at things like:
- Which is the largest age segment that visits your site?
- Do they return? If so, at what frequency?
- What content are they most interested in?
- How long to they hang out?
- What are the typical entry pages and exit pages?
As you can see, once you’ve set up Google Analytics demographic segments, there’s a wealth of information available. Beware that mining demographics data can be overwhelming. Our best advice is to have one or two questions in mind. Then set a timer so your afternoon doesn’t evaporate. Once you have the answers, ask “so what?” What are you going to do with that information? Finally, break it out into actionable chunks. Make the appropriate changes and then re-measure.
Did you know that Google Analytics demographics could be so powerful? What surprised you the most about the generational/age segments?