Tracking Users More Effectively in Google Analytics

On December 14, Google announced new features for better user-based reporting in Analytics. At the core of the rollout is the ability to include a column for total users in standard reports throughout the interface, where previously only sessions or, in some cases, new users were available. This update allows marketers to better view data on the level of individuals who may have returned to the site over multiple sessions, as opposed to purely session-based reporting.

Adding Users to Standard Reports

In order to begin seeing users in reports, you’ll need to turn on one simple setting. Navigate to Admin > Property Settings and toggle on “Enable Users in Reporting.” You can now immediately see user data in reports, including retroactive data.

For instance, below we’re viewing the Source/Medium report. You can now see a column for users, alongside the original new users and sessions columns.

Note that the total user count is higher than that of new users (since some of the individuals previously visited before the timeframe being viewed) but lower than that of sessions (since some users have come back over multiple sessions).

User Explorer Lifetime Metrics

The User Explorer report in Google Analytics (accessible under the Audience section) allows you to select individual users for a breakdown of sessions and actions taken on the site. For instance, you can see if the same user returned to the site Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and made purchases on Wednesday and Friday.

With the user tracking update, you can now view lifetime metrics for a user, including total sessions, time spent on site over the course of multiple sessions, total purchases, and lifetime value. While this data is anonymous, delving into the actions of individual users can provide a deeper look into the process of making a purchase decision. For instance, you can see if individuals who visit certain pages are more likely to convert when they come back on a second visit.

Integrating Custom Audiences with Reports

If you’ve used Google Analytics to create audiences for AdWords remarketing, you understand the breadth of options available to build audiences based on any imaginable metric or dimension. For instance, you may want to segment people who have logged into a software product, filled out a form, or spent a certain amount of time on the site. Now, Analytics lets you take audiences a step further by including them directly in reports.

You will need to manually choose the audiences you’d like to integrate with Analytics. Under Property Settings, navigate to Audience Definitions > Audiences. Now, you can either create a new audience or assign an existing one to Analytics. Once you’ve created or selected an audience, choose your Analytics property as the destination for the audience. You’ll now begin to see data for this group in the Audiences report, found under the Audience section of Analytics reports.

Start Analyzing Your Users!

We’re excited to see Google continue to roll out better ways to get more granular data about website users. See Google’s blog post announcement for other details and links to additional support pages.

Have you found any practical uses for these new features, or have you discovered any additional feature updates you’d like to talk about? Share in the comments below!

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