Engage | How to use the new User Explorer in Google Analytics
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How to use the new User Explorer in Google Analytics

How to use the new User Explorer in Google Analytics

User Explorer – General description

The new User Explorer feature was announces available in GA since March 9, 2016. First it was accessible to random chosen users or very active users, till now it should be available to any user.

The User Explorer is accessible by navigating to Audience menu > User Explorer in your GA view.

User Explorer interface

The User Explorer reports website usage data (sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, revenue etc) for each user via the Client ID dimension, which for the moment is available only for the user explorer report and not the custom report yet.

You also need to be aware that if the user changes his device/browser while interacting with your website, then that user activity won’t be reported in the ‘User explorer’ report of a non-user ID view.

This means that you may not always get the complete picture of a user’s journey on your website through this tool.

Consequently, if you do multichannel marketing and/or get considerable amount of traffic and conversions from different devices, then this report may provide incorrect data.


Users Privacy

Also be aware that the User Explorer keeps the privacy of your website visitors and it cannot replace other types of analytical software, which monitor the activities of you registered users, where you can assign to the User IDs their user names or real names.

The User Explorer interface looks like this:

User Explorer main interface

The most efficient way to use it is either:

1) to sort users based on their revenue, number of transactions, goal conversion rate or any other dimension which is meaningful to you and your business or

2) to apply a segment view to the report.

In the User Explorer you may have data about thousands of users and browsing the details of random visitors on your website will not bring you any added value.

Let’s look in details through options 1 and 2.

1) Sort users based on their website usage. Let’s assume you are operating an e-commerce website and you have information about your visitors’ transactions and revenue. By sorting in descending order the visitors’ revenue you can start looking in details the visitors with the biggest total revenue. You can do this by clicking on each individual Client ID. This will open a detailed view about this particular client behavior on the website.

User Explorer choose activity interface


There is abundance of information in this view:

  • Acquisition date – when this user was first acquired
  • From where was the user acquired – social media, organic search, direct traffic, etc. and through what device type
  • Total number of sessions generated by user
  • Total session duration
  • Total revenue
  • Detailed view by dates: hour of visit, duration, device, source, number of sessions, which pages were viewed, triggered events if any, e-commerce related information – product views, additions to cart, checkouts, payments, etc.

For more structured view you can filter by 4 types of records – pageview, goal, ecommerce or event. It is also recommended to sort by in ascending and not the default ascending view, offered by Google Analytics. In this way you will be able to view the user activities in a chronological order and not in reversed.

Why is such information useful? For example you can research the behavior of your most loyal clients who spend most in your e-commerce store. You can get answers to the following questions:

  • How often they visit the store?
  • How many visits they make before making a purchase?
  • What is their journey through the website before making a purchase?
  • At what time of the day/ day of the week they usually make their purchases?
  • Which devices they use and from which source they enter your website?
  • Which products they have abandoned in their carts?

Since you have details about the transaction ID you can also check whether your customers use different profiles to shop from the same Client ID (several clients using the same device and IP or one and the same person using several different accounts whatever the reason for this).

Another efficient way of using User Explorer is to first create a segment and then to apply it to the User Explorer. For example if you have observed that a certain age group is performing very low on conversion compared to other age groups, you can create a segment for this age group, apply it to the User Explorer and check in details case by case what could be the reason for the low performance. It could be that the user journey for some reason is not working that well for this age group and you need to adjust it.

This approach is also very useful in case you use User personas on your website. You can create a segment for each user persona and research in details the behavior of every person that fits this persona on the website.

There is also the reverse approach – based on the data from your User explorer you can create segment which you can use later. In order to create a segment you need to choose at least one action of a user, for example the click on a live chat interface, which you have in your website


User Explorer create segment

By clicking on the “Create segment” button you will activate the interface for segment creation.

user explorer create segment fields


You need to give it a name, to specify the Event category and Event action, in which View to be shown and apply also to the User Explorer Report (if you want to of course). Afterwards this segment is applied to all your reports in Google Analytics for different dimension so you can measure its effect on the performance of your website.

The so created segments can afterwards be exported as lists of IDs, which can further be used for very targeted remarketing through Google Adwords for specific behavior, which you have identified through the User Explorer such as abandoned products in the cart, visits of specific sections of your website, etc.

Being quite new in the toolset of Google Analytics possibly User Explorer will be developed further and will turn Google Analytics into serious player among the conversion optimization tools.


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