There are times when you’ll want to a specific group of visitors to your site and track or monitor their behavior. Here’s how you do it.
What is a cohort?
By definition, a cohort is a group of people banded together or treated as a group. In cohort analysis, a cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic over a certain period of time.
For example, you could track the income of all of the students who graduated from a specific high school in 1988. This group of students would be a cohort.
In web analytics, a cohort would be a group of people who first came to your site on a specific day, from a specific source. For example, all visitors who came to your site on September 1, 2014 from a specific email campaign.
Why you want to track a cohort
Generally, you want to track cohorts so you can check their behavior over time. How many visits does someone from an email campaign make before they purchase? How long does a new member remain a subscriber before canceling? How long before that canceled member comes back and subscribes again?
These are just a few examples of why you would want to track a cohort. I’m guessing however, that if you’ve found this article, you know what a cohort is and why you want to track it. You just need to know how to set up tracking in Google Analytics.
Let’s get to it.
How to create a cohort in Google Analytics
Log in to your Google Analytics account and click on Reporting. Towards the top, you should see the “All Sessions” segment and to the right of that, you should see “+ Add Segment”. It looks like this.
Click on “+ Add Segment”.
Next, click on the red button that says “+ NEW SEGMENT”.
At this point, you will see several options. First make sure you give your segment a name in the “Segment Name” field. You won’t be able to save your new segment until you do.
If you’re tracking visitors by their first session date, click on “Date of First Session” and enter your date range. You can preview or test your new segment before you save it to make sure it will show the data you’re interested in.
Perhaps you want to further refine your segment and not just look at visitors who came from a specific date range. This would be helpful if your site gets traffic from multiple sources on a regular basis.
To do this, click on “Traffic Sources” and then enter the values that you want to use to refine your segment.
Finally, click Save (it’s that blue button).
To apply this segment to virtually any view in Google Analytics, click on the light grey “+ Add Segment” button and select your segment. After Google Analytics pulls the data, your charts and data tables will now refresh with this segment allowing you to do your cohort analysis.
If you have another way or any other suggestions for tracking cohorts in Google Analytics, please share them in the comments below.