How to identify geographic regions that could be a source of great customers for your website

Whether you have an ecommerce business, a SaaS product or are selling services, you’ll see that there are some geographic regions which are of more value to you.

Not all traffic is created equal

One thing that I’ve seen quite commonly is that traffic from the US tends to be more valuable than traffic from India. (Even though there’s a lot of traffic coming from India, many times it doesn’t convert as well to paying customers.) No surprise here, it makes sense, and obviously there are many exceptions, I’m just picking India as one example.

Hypothetical case study: SaaS product

Let’s say you’re running a SaaS app, an invoicing app for freelancers, and you want to look at cities in the US, and you find that you get a lot of traffic from Los Angeles and New York, and very little from Saint Louis.

Now so far that’s all good and not surprising. Both LA & NY have much bigger populations than Saint Louis.

But looking at the Audience Report in Google Analytics, you might find that visitors from Saint Louis are much more engaged with your website.

They spend more time on your site, view more pages, and most importantly: become sign up for your invoicing app more often (you can see this in the audience report when you set up goals).

So what the data now tells you is:

You get a lot of traffic form LA & NY, but the goal completion rate is pretty average.

You get very little traffic from Saint Louis, but the goal completion rate is exceptionally high.

Out of 100 visitors from LA, 2 sign up for your app.

Out of 100 visitors from NY, 3 sign up for your app.

Out of 100 visitors from Saint Louis, 7 sign up.

Now let’s say a signup is worth $100 to your business.

That would mean:

  • 100 visitors from LA = $200
  • 100 visitors from NY = $300
  • 100 visitors from Saint Louis = $700

Let’s say you have a $3000 advertising budget.

And let’s say you’re bidding on the keyword “simple online invoicing app”.

Based on this data, would you just run the ad for all of the US?

“Duh, of course not, Marketing Baby…” you say.

“I’d focus on the geographic regions from where traffic is worth the most.”

And I’d tell you: “Exactly! Use AdWords’ geotargeting features to spend more of your budget on Saint Louis, and less on LA & NY.”

And if you plan to launch an offline campaign, it could be well worth starting in Saint Louis as well, since here too your ROI would most likely be higher than for LA & NY.

How to find this data in Google Analytics

Now, if you want to see which visitors convert to paying customers or sign up for your trial, you need to set up Goals in Google Analytics first.

But let’s keep that for later, and for now simply focus on a simple metric that’s indicative of the value of traffic, and that’s easily available in Google Analytics no matter how you’ve set it up: average time on site.

  1. Log in to Google Analytics and view the appropriate property
  2. Click on Audience
  3. Click on Geo
  4. Click on Location
  5. Change the Primary Dimension to City
  6. Sort the table by “Avg. Sessio Duration”
  7. Create an advanced filter by selection “Sessions” and then “Greater than:” and choose a number that’s meaningful in the context of your business. E.g. greater than 400 (If you don’t do this, you’ll end up with a long list of cities that might have sent you 3 visitors, but one of these visitors stayed on your site for 2 hours… which isn’t exactly statistically significant).
  8. Click “Apply”
  9. Go through the list and note which cities are particularly engaged.

You could even use an advanced filter to look for better data by also filtering out all cities where the Pages / Session ratio is below 3 (or whatever number is relevant for your business), or add a number of additional criteria to find the right insights faster.

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