Examining User Demographics and Targeting Users

Before I go into the technology, I want to start with an allegory. Forgive me.

Have you heard of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King? He's a mythological figure in China, a being supposedly capable of great feats of strength and wielder of great power. He can use an incredibly heavy staff, leap great lengths, and transform himself. He is a legend.

While the myth has historic roots, it has endured throughout Chinese culture and has delighted people for generations. For Westerners like myself, it's hard to conjure a comparable figure who has as big an impact as the Monkey King.

So why do I bring him up? Well, various brands have long realised that a key to gaining traction within China is to use his image; three examples: Pepsi (soft drinks), Dragonball Z (anime), and Valve (computer games).

2016 is the year of the monkey in China and, with that, Pepsi launched a campaign in January this year promoting their product with a short film featuring an actor whose family has been portraying Sun Wukong for generations. Pepsi wanted more traction in the Chinese market, and so they used Sun Wukong.

Similarly, one of Dragon Ball Z's main characters is Goku and the inspiration for his character is Sun Wukong. While it's hard to say whether his character's basis is a source for its popularity, DBZ is/was immensely popular in China.

Finally: Valve. Valve produce a game called Dota 2 and have announced that they are introducing a new character to the game called, would you believe, Monkey King. They could have created a whole new, original character but instead opted for something based on Wukong. This is, undoubtedly, a canny move to appeal to their growing Chinese audience.

So why have I brought him up? The point is that in each of these examples, the brands knew their audience and how to appeal them. They likely did research and understood that he could be a source of appeal to their audience.

Understanding your audience, or, in the terms of online stores, your customers, is key to improving the effectiveness of your marketing messaging. Getting it right means you're selling the appropriate products to the appropriate people; it means encouraging people to buy things they actually want.

With that in mind, I want to talk about how you can take steps to understanding your customer base; how you can learn who is visiting your site and, hopefully, get some insight into what they want (and how you can market to them).

Google Analytics: Basic Demographics

Demographics relate to the makeup of a particular group of people. In the world of ecommerce, this means finding out details about your shoppers so that you can transform your understanding of them from an amorphous blob to groups of people, stratified by things like age, location, gender, shopping habits, etc.

The value in this is that once you understand the type of people who visit your site, you can think about how every part of your site relates to them, and if you could optimize or rework parts of it to better target them. To give a crude example, if you find that a surprisingly large group of visitors are young people, you may want to improve your social media marketing, to try and engage with them better.

A simple way to gather demographical information about your shoppers is to use Google Analytics. A GA integration comes standard in every SCA site, so you should have, hopefully, taken the time to set it up on your site.

While you can see basic data about your users by default, such as user location, you will need to enable advertising features to get indepth demographics. Note that this means collecting additional data about your customers and also sharing it within Google's ad network. Thus, you'll likely need to update your privacy policy.

If you enable it, you'll be treated to additional data in your Google Analytics account. You'll not only be able to track the ages, genders and interests of your visitors, but you'll also be able to analyse which segments, for example, convert most often or generate the most revenue.

Bronto: Demographics and Rule-Based Behavior

OK, so you're interested in demographics and want to take it to the next level — what do you do? Well, you can execute rule-based behavior based off it.

Let's say you're a clothing retailer, you have ranges for men, women, children and babies, and you want to push your baby clothes lines. Using your demographic data and a specialist tool, you could send a marketing message with a promotion code to, for example: women, aged 20-30, in California, who have previously bought from the baby category. That's very narrow, but you wouldn't, for example, want to risk alienting your older, male, childless customers with marketing messages about sleepsuits.

So how would you do this? Well, I recommend Bronto. Now: full disclosure, Bronto is a NetSuite company, so I am biased towards their software. However, I think that they really rather good at it, so hear me out.


Firstly, Bronto enables the concept of segments. Unlike in Google Analytics, which will let you segment users simply so that you can analyse and report of this group, Bronto lets you target them with a marketing message. So, using our earlier example, you can replicate this rule in Bronto:

You can then plug this into their messaging program to send an email to those users, sharing your fantastic range of baby clothes and maybe a promo code too.

Workflow Automation

Another concept I like is the automating messaging through workflows. You define your triggers, filters and actions that determine what to do with your contact data, and then what marketing messages to send.

The workflow can be as simple or complex as you wish. For example, what we could do is:

  1. Trigger — a user requests, via a webform on the site, that they receive the newsletter
  2. Filter — we check whether they're recorded as being female
    • Action — if they are, we sign them up for the women's newsletter
  3. Filter — we check whether they're recorded as being male
    • Action — if they are, we sign them up for the men's newsletter
    • Action — if not, we sign them up for a generic newsletter

If you're the visual type, you'll be glad as Bronto supports a drag-and-drop style, interactive editor for this sort of thing. Thus, the above workflow is represented by the following:

There's a whole host of triggers, filters and actions that you can apply in your workflow, and you can chain them together.

Dynamic Email Content

The final thing I like about Bronto is that you're able to configure your emails so that different people see different things.

As you develop your contacts, you can assign them to lists (that are static) or segments (which are rule-based) and then perform conditional statements based on individual users' membership. Not only does this mean that you don't have to generate loads of individual emails (if you don't want to) but it means that you can get extremely granular your groups.

For example, you may have a select group of individuals who are your tastemakers or VIPs. You have them on a list and want to give them some additional benefit, perhaps their own promo code, or access to a particular category of products. Rather than designing a separate newsletter for them, you can just add a dynamic content area to your newsletter, which only shows content to those people.


A key way to increased conversions and happy customers is to tailor your experience to them. In order to do that, you need to understand who's visiting your site. With demographics, you can discover key facts about them and then form segments based on this data. Segments are simply groups of people, joined together by a shared trait, such as age, gender, or a shopping habit.

You could just simply gather this data and use it as part of your overall brand strategy, or you can use a tool like Bronto to actually target specific groups of customers. As I said, Bronto is a NetSuite product, so I'm biased in its favour, but if you want to look at other products you can. As part of the SuiteApp program, we offer a number of marketing automation integrations, which you can find on our website. Take a look, and see if it's for you.

Do you examine the demographics of your site's visitors? What tools do you use?