This week we’re talking about a particular exploration report within Google Analytics 4 - the User Explorer report.
This report is useful for drilling down information on visitors to your site, their individual user activity, as well as debugging. Keep reading!
What is the User Explorer report?
User Explorer lets you select specific groups of users, (such as users who are engaged with your property on both your app and website), in order to understand each individual user's activities.
When seeking to personalize the user experience, gain insight, or troubleshoot a specific user flow, understanding user behavior is important.
Where do I find User Explorer?
To find your User Explorer report, log into your Google Analytics account, and click on ‘Explore’, as shown in the image below:
This report lists the client IDs of users who have visited your website.
What is a client ID?
A client ID is a sequence of characters separated by one dot, as highlighted in the below screenshot:
In essence, the client ID represents a single device / browser that is used by a human to navigate your site. If the same user uses two different devices to browse, they will be represented by two separate client IDs.
The only time two separate IDs will not be created, is when another feature called the User ID is implemented in Google Analytics, which allows GA to attribute two different client IDs to the same user.
How do I know if my Google Analytics setup is working correctly?
To ensure your GA setup is functioning as expected, simulate a few different sessions to test the site, and then use the User Explorer report to see how GA recorded those sessions.
Take the following steps to do this type of testing:
- Clear site cookies. We encourage you to start fresh, so that GA4 does not have the history of previous sessions from your device / browser (client ID). Delete cookies for the domain you are debugging, and this will essentially delete your client ID, forcing GA to generate a new one for your next visit. Once cookies are cleared, close and reopen the browser window for added safety.
- Visit your test site, and record your client ID. In order to use the User Explorer report, visit your site again and write down the client ID that Google Analytics has generated for your device / browser combo.
- Find your client ID in the User Explorer. Once you’ve recorded your client ID from your site, find it in the User Explorer report. Client IDs appear under the heading ‘App-instance ID’ like in the image below:
While searching for your own ID, you may notice that the number of other client IDs in your report is large. And while locally, you might expect the Filter section of the report to have the App-instance ID as one of the dimensions to filter data on, that’s not the case. See below:
To remove extraneous client IDs and simplify the search for you own ID, right click on one of the existing client IDs and then click on ‘Include Only Selection’:
Doing so adds a filter that you can edit with your own test client ID. Update the field with your client ID and hit ‘Apply’:
This will update the ‘App-instance ID’ table to reflect only your client ID, allowing you to explore your test sessions and conversions.
The below image is an example of the summary of all user activity that took place from a given device / browser combo:
What can we learn from this information?
By exploring this example report of our own test activities on our site, we can see:
- Where the user with this client ID came from.
- The date of their first visit to the site.
- The number of sessions that they generated.
- The total amount of time they spent navigating the site.
- The number of conversions and other events that took place.
We recommend performing a couple of test sessions to your own site, and using a notebook to record your actions. Then use the User Explorer report to compare your actions to the Google Analytics 4 reporting on your interactions with the site, in order to measure how well your GA is performing!
Check back in weekly for more digital marketing tips!