Cohort Analysis (Beta) – Another new Google Analytics report!

Written by Michael Wilson

Michael is the Digital Analytics Director at GlowMetrics, implementing complex tracking for our largest clients via Google Tag Manager while leading our wider analytics work across Google Analytics, Data Studio and Optimize.
March 13, 2015

Following on from the Active Users (Beta) Report we discovered recently, we’ve noticed another new addition in Google Analytics, the Cohort Analysis (Beta) Report.  If you don’t have access to it yet, you probably will soon.  Here’s a little bit more information about what it actually does.



What are cohorts?
Cohorts are a way of grouping users together, based on a particular date, and an action they all took on that date.

For now, the only selectable cohort within the Google Analytics interface is ‘acquisition date’ – this means we can look at the group of users whose first session was all on the same date, and see how they interact with our website.

At present, there are no other options available to be selected but once the report comes out of beta, we’d be surprised if there aren’t a few other cohort options to choose from (e.g. users who made a purchase on a particular date).

What does the new report tell us?
The new Cohort Analysis report looks at these groups of people, over time, and helps us understand how their behaviour differs.

We can look at the data using a number of configurable options:

– cohort size (daily/weekly/monthly)
-metrics (e.g. pageviews, user retention, goal completions)
– date range (last 7/14/21/30 days)

What analysis can we do?
Maybe you’re generally seeing an increase in overall users/transactions, but with this report you can see that you’re losing more users in the 4th week after their initial visit. This can help you better plan your marketing tactics to try and reactive those users with email campaigns or via remarketing.

This report might also help you better understand the overall user cycle. If you’re a content-led website, you’ll be able to see how long users typically stick with you. Knowing this will then help you understand how often you need to generate new content and attract new visitors to your site.

If you carry out a one-day marketing campaign (for example, a time-sensitive money off code via Facebook), you can look at that cohort and see how those people operate differently to regular users. Maybe you generated a spike in short-term traffic but the users are less likely to be retained beyond the initial visit.  You’ll also be able to look at the Revenue Per User and Transactions Per User to see if the campaign was worthwhile.

These are just a few suggestions as to how to use this new report.  Can you see it in your Google Analytics account yet? If so, let us know how you’re using it in the comments below!


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