Just when I thought I was out, they pull me right back in…
If you remember (it’s totally cool if you don’t) I wrote a nifty post on Advanced Segmentation in Google Analytics and the many ways it can be used. One of those ways was to hack some custom variables together to do ad-hoc cohort analysis. Pretty ghetto stuff.
Well good news – last week Google rolled out some really cool features for Google Analytics which will make reporting on meaningful metrics for your marketing campaigns so much easier.
This one is great and I’ll explain why. One of the things a website with a purpose (i.e. sell product, register new users, convert leads, etc.) must know is how certain types of users behave, both over time and in comparison to other types of users.
By allowing segmentation at the user level, not just the visit level, we can drill down even further into the data to figure out if we’re actually moving the needle or twiddling our thumbs.
I’ve explained to you what cohort analysis means already. Now it comes standard in Google Analytics!
This is getting me all types of giddy I can’t control myself.
Here is the quote from the main Google Analytics blog explaining this feature and why it was added:
“Measuring users in cohorts provides benefits in the consistency of analysis, and is a technique well applied in the offline world. It helps analyze the long-term benefit of specific groups of customers (for example, customers who first visited within a specified timeframe.”
I think this is massively underselling how big this is.
Think about how the Lean Startup model plays out – it requires you to know your cohorts and measure them effectively. That’s the only way to accurately validate assumptions.
In other words, we decided to add features XYZ on Month 3 and visitors in Month 3 had a lifetime value (LTV) to us of 25% less than visitors from Month 1 before features XYZ were added. Therefore, those features were not to our benefit.
That type of assumption, validation, and iteration is impossible without cohort analysis. Sure you can fudge it and maybe not get called out on it. But you know it’s B.S.
Basically this feature is going to be killer when trying to figure out how different decision journeys your team designs actually play out in the real world. You specify a set of actions, or ‘sequences’ (get it?) that occur one after another and boom – you segment all visitors who followed that sequence.
OK this is getting a bit embarrassing now. Those crazy folks at Google went ahead and made your life even easier by making templates of popular advanced segments for you to choose from. I’d caution though that Google’s out of the box stuff tends to be a bit simplistic so if you want to really get specific, go custom.
Not everyone is seeing the new Segmentation features yet as Google is rolling it out slowly over the next couple of months. Based on what we’ve seen it looks to be worth the wait.
So what do you think? Is this the solution to our problems, or are we forever bound to hand over our money to Neil Patel or the guys at Mixpanel? Let me know your thoughts in the comments…