Google Analytics Key terms

What is Cohort Analysis in Google Analytics?

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Published on Jan 20, 2023 and edited on May 8, 2024 by Iron Brands

Cohort analysis is a feature in Google Analytics that allows you to group users based on shared characteristics and analyze their behavior over time. This method is particularly useful for understanding how different groups of users interact with your website or app.

What is a Cohort?

In the context of Google Analytics, a cohort is a group of users who share a common characteristic identified by a specific date. For example, users who visited your website for the first time within a given week constitute a cohort.

Here is all you need to know about cohort analysis... ..or you could just use Simple Analytics instead. Simple and privacy-friendly. No complexity. No cookies. Just the data you need in a simple dashboard.

Google Analytics vs Simple Analytics

Anyway, let's get back to Google Analytics.

How Cohort Analysis Works

Cohort analysis in Google Analytics operates by tracking the behavior of these cohorts over a period. This allows you to see patterns that might not be apparent when looking at your users as one homogeneous group. The analysis can answer questions like:

  • How do different user groups retain over time?
  • Do certain marketing campaigns lead to longer or more valuable customer relationships?
  • How does user behavior change after specific events or interventions?

Types of Cohorts in Google Analytics

Google Analytics primarily uses two types of cohorts:

  • Acquisition Cohorts: These are based on when users first visit your site or app. For example, all users who first visited in January form one acquisition cohort.

  • Behavioral Cohorts: These group users based on specific actions they have taken on your site, such as making a purchase or subscribing to a newsletter.

Analyzing Cohort Data

When analyzing cohort data, you'll typically look at metrics like retention, engagement, and revenue. For instance, you might examine how long users from a particular acquisition cohort continue to visit your site or how their spending patterns evolve over time.

Benefits of Cohort Analysis

Cohort analysis offers several advantages:

  • Targeted Insights: By breaking down your audience into smaller segments, you can gain more specific insights into how different groups behave.
  • Performance Tracking: It allows you to track the performance of marketing campaigns or changes to your site over time.
  • Retention Analysis: You can understand better how well you retain customers acquired through different channels or at different times.

Final Thoughts

In summary, cohort analysis in Google Analytics enables you to dissect your user base into more meaningful segments, offering a deeper analysis of your website's performance.

While Google Analytics is a robust tool for such analyses, not all organizations need them. In fact, GA is a complex tool to master and can be overkill for many organizations. Additionally, GA is a privacy-invasive tool and requires an annoying cookie banner.

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If this resonates with you, feel free to give Simple Analytics a spin (It's free). You just need to add the script and off you go. This takes about one minute.


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