New reports in Google Analytics: Cohort Analysis Reporting and Active Users

Here is a brief overview of two new reports in Google Analytics, Cohort Analysis and Active Users, that are currently being rolled out across Google Analytics accounts.

Cohort Analysis provides a way of spotting trends in the behaviour of recent new visitors over the days and weeks following their initial visit. Whilst the Active Users report, facilitates the identification of longer-term trends by making it easier to compare the behaviour of visitors from different sources and with different characteristics over different timescales.

Cohort Analysis Report

Cohort, refers to the way the report groups visitors according to when they first visited the website (acquisition date). It groups together all the visitors that first visited the website on a particular day, week or month and then tracks the number of returning visitors and their actions over the following days, weeks or months, depending on the parameters selected.

The report is always based on the current date, and you select to look back 30 days, 12 weeks or 3 months.

By applying segments to this report, you have a quick way of comparing how visitors from different traffic sources and marketing campaigns have been behaving.

For example the graph below shows average number of pageviews by visitor for organic, paid search and referral traffic over the past 14 days. Immediately you can see that paid traffic looks at more pages and is far more likely to revisit the site the next day whilst referral traffic is more likely to revisit about a week later.

Cohort Analysis Report


To use the report, first select the appropriate unit of time to group the visits by: day, week or month. Then select how far back you want to look: up to 30 days, 12 weeks or 3 months.

By default the report will show user retention (the percentage of visitors who returned) over the days, weeks or months following their first visit.

But you can select from a range of other metrics such as goals completed, sessions or pageviews and, if you have e-commerce installed, revenue or number of transactions.

If this report has been rolled out to your Google Analytics account, you will find this in the Audience section of the reports.

Active Users Report

This report also appears in the Audience section of Google Analytics. It has been slowly appearing in people’s analytics views since at least May last year.

The report makes it easy to see how many visitors there have been. The graph plots a moving total of visitors on a daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis for whatever time period you select.

But the real benefit comes when you apply segments to it. Any segments can be selected for comparison, helping you to identify short, medium and long-term trends in your data.

Below, the data has been segmented by traffic channel and you can clearly see that referral traffic consistently makes up the bulk of the traffic but is on the decline. You might also want to try splitting between different social media sources, or comparing mobile visitors to desktop and tablet devices.

Active User Report

Continuous Improvement

Google Analytics may be free software but that doesn’t seem to hold Google back when it comes to developing the system. New features regularly appear and tend to be slipped in quietly, beta version first, and rolled out steadily across its user base over several months.

If you have the above reports you will find them labelled Beta, if they are not currently showing, you can expect them to be appearing in your Google Analytics account very shortly.