Legacy.com humanises data analytics with Obituary Audience Guide

By Kim Evenson

Legacy.com

Evanston, Illinois, United States

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Understanding your online visitors is more important than ever, regardless your industry. Whether you’re the leading online memorials company (like Legacy.com) or a media outlet balancing print and digital (like the 1,500-plus newspapers whose obituaries we host), gaining information about your users can help you make your Web site easier to navigate and more compelling.

Even if you’re able to identify different types of users on your Web site, it can be hard to imagine them as real people. Who are they? What do they care about? Without a “human” understanding, it’s hard to transform statistics and analytics into deeper engagement and a better user experience.

To understand better the real people who visit our network, Legacy conducted a study over a six-month period. We analysed data gleaned from Google Analytics, Quantcast, Comscore, and ACXIOM, gaining a fuller and more holistic knowledge of our 37 million monthly users and helping us tailor our Web site to better meet their better.

 

This image of “Kat” represents one of several personas Legacy.com created to develop faces and feelings that reflect their audience data analytics. “Kat" is between 18-31 years old and is a "natural helper and go-to-gal." If she learned of a death, she'd be eager to support the family. She's a digital native, so she puts those skills to work in the task.
This image of “Kat” represents one of several personas Legacy.com created to develop faces and feelings that reflect their audience data analytics. “Kat" is between 18-31 years old and is a "natural helper and go-to-gal." If she learned of a death, she'd be eager to support the family. She's a digital native, so she puts those skills to work in the task.

We also knew these valuable insights would help our 1,500-plus partner newspapers. So we took the data and developed 10 distinct user personas that we presented in an appealing, easy-to-digest printed booklet.

With our Obituary Audience Guide, we introduced our partners to the faces, names, and personalities of the 37 million people who read obituaries on our network of sites each month. The information enabled them to optimise their own sites, and it deepened the level of trust they put in our company.

“Charles,” also known as “The Wilson,” is well-informed on everything from sports to news to deaths. He browses obits daily and reaches out when he finds someone he knows.
“Charles,” also known as “The Wilson,” is well-informed on everything from sports to news to deaths. He browses obits daily and reaches out when he finds someone he knows.

Traditional analytics can be helpful, but they can also be flat. Numbers may tell a bit about “who,” “what,” and “how many,” but they don’t always reveal the “why” or “what if.”

By integrating analytics with imagery and ethnographic information, we were able to present site users in a human way, giving news media partners a fuller understanding of the people behind the numbers.

“Tina” is a mom between 40-45 years old. When an old friend died suddenly, she sought out the online obituary and donated in his honor. She also resumed running to keep herself healthy.
“Tina” is a mom between 40-45 years old. When an old friend died suddenly, she sought out the online obituary and donated in his honor. She also resumed running to keep herself healthy.

With stories that accompany the details like gender, education level, income bracket, favourite Web sites, and family life, the Obituary Audience Guide gave a face to millions of users.

In addition to the guide, we created a unique audience report for each newspaper, including information on how the newspaper’s online audience aligned with or differed from the Legacy.com network audience as a whole.

Independent and Web-savvy "Cynthia" is between 50-53 years old and manages a urology office with many older patients. If they miss an appointment, she checks the online obits, just in case.
Independent and Web-savvy "Cynthia" is between 50-53 years old and manages a urology office with many older patients. If they miss an appointment, she checks the online obits, just in case.

The response from our partners was overwhelmingly positive. One major partner said, “This is great information! We have more young users on our obituary site than anyone thought. I’m going to share this with our advertising department because we may be able to attract new advertisers with this report.” 

“John” is a Vietnam vet who uses obituary email alerts to keep tabs on his military unit, and he browses his local newspaper's obits for veterans. He volunteers for military funeral honors detail.
“John” is a Vietnam vet who uses obituary email alerts to keep tabs on his military unit, and he browses his local newspaper's obits for veterans. He volunteers for military funeral honors detail.

Others referenced the demographic breakdowns we highlighted (e.g., veterans make up 10% of site traffic; more than 60% of obit readers were women).

Our Obituary Audience Guide has helped reinforce our standing as the category leader, strengthening relationships with our partners by building trust and laying a strong foundation for audience growth and development.

About Kim Evenson