Setting Up Audience Dimensions in Google Analytics

Not all visitors of a website are the same, but many brands treat them that way (to their own detriment of course).

Fortunately, it is possible to get a better understanding of the performance of specific audience types or groups when custom audience dimensions are taken advantage of and applied to the data available.
If you're redesigning a website, deciding on which type of content will have the greatest impact, or even creating advertisements, for example, setting up and analyzing custom audience dimensions can provide a great deal of information that can be used to take enterprises a long way toward achieving their goals. 

Many websites may already have a well-defined set of target audiences or even a detailed list of some well-researched user personas - wouldn't it be great to be able to look at the available GA data and see which users belong in each of these defined groups and what actions they are taking? Believe it or not, it is really easy to set a custom dimension and to get it ready for review within Google Analytics in the future. Let's jump right in!

+ Custom dimension are created in the Google Analytics (GA) interface. Just visit the Admin area and visit the appropriate property (not the view), select "Custom Definitions" and then Custom Dimensions". 

+ From there, select "New Custom Dimension" and provide the dimension a name and select the scope of the dimension (the scope defines which data the dimension will be applied to - e.g., at the hit-level, user-level, session-level or product-level). 

Once the custom dimension is setup with GA, it is necessary to force GA to populate the dimension with actual values. This can get a little tricky but is done through JavaScript on individual pages (say for example a form) or via Google Tag Manager (GTM). If you're using GTM, for example, it will be necessary to either define the dimension entirely in a particular tag or utilize a dataLayer to set the dimension value programmatically. 

Let's say for example that you have a GTM tag that tracks form submissions as a GA event and you would like to define users who submit the given form as belonging to the custom dimension of "Prospects," you would simply need to add a custom dimension to the form event tag in GTM. Pretty simple really; but imagine the insights you'll be able to gather. 

With custom dimensions in place, there are truly an endless number of ways that analysts can review their data to help make improvements. While it is certainly no panacea to data overload, it can provide a very clear picture of a particular audience type's needs, wants and demands.