Google Analytics Active Users Report Explained

This article will help you to understand the Google Analytics Active Users report.

Google Analytics uses a metric called active users which refers to real-time users when used in the context of real-time reportswhereas the Active Users report basically helps us understand the users who are active over a period of time.

The Active Users report in Google Analytics gives us a clear picture of the retention rate of our website. It helps us analyze how often the users are coming back to our website over a certain time period.

Real-time users are the people who are on your website right now:

active users report real time users

When to use real-time reports and when to use the Active User report?

Basically, real-time reports should be used when you want to know how many users are currently on the website. By that I mean, who is currently accessing your website from different locations

This report can also be used to validate your tracking. Say for example you have implemented event tracking on your website and would like to check if it is working fine, then navigate to real-time reports and under the events section check if the particular event is being tracked.

The Active Users report should be used when you have recently published a campaign and would like to understand the performance of the campaign. How users are engaging with your content and how often they are coming back to your website.

When the active users metric is used in the context of the Active Users report in Google Analytics, it refers to the number of users who visited your website within the last 1 to 30 days in the selected time period.

The Active Users report can be found under the ‘Audience’ menu:

active users report active users 2
active users report Active users report
active users report Active users report comparision

From the report above you can tell below information:

  • People who visited your site over a course of a day – 1788
  • People who visited your site over a course of 7 days – 12,512
  • People who visited your site over a course of 14 days – 26,227
  • People who visited your site over a course of 28 days – 50,517

If your one-day active user count and the 28-day user count is the same then it means that users are actually engaging with your content and returning to your website. But if the 28-day count is less than the one-day active users content then it means your content is not that engaging.  You need to work on giving users a reason to come back to your website.

Through the Active Users report, you can determine the number of users who visited your website in the last 1, 7, 14 or 30 days in the selected time period.

  • Users who visited your website in the last 1 day, in the selected time period are known as 1-day active users.
  • Users who visited your website in the last 7 days, in the selected time period are known as 7-day active users.
  • Users who visited your website in the last 14 days, in the selected time period are known as 14-day active users.
  • Similarly, Users who visited your website in the last 30 days, in the selected time period are known as 30-day active users.

Note(1): The name active users is a bit misleading in the context of the Active Users report, as here active users do not mean real-time users.

Note(2): Both users and active users are the same things in the context of the Active Users report.

You can also apply an advanced segment to this report:

active users report Active user segment comparision

How to use the Google Analytics Active Users report

The Active Users report is useful in understanding the performance of a promotional campaign while it is still running. To use this report, compare 1-day active users with 7, 14 or 30 days active users:

active users report Active users report

Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Plot 7, 14 or 30 days active users on the Active Users report. To plot a metric, simply select it.

Note: The 1-day active users metric is plotted by default.

Step 2: Compare the 1-day active user trend with 7, 14 or 30 days active users trend. If you see that 7, 14 or 30 days users are a lot less than 1-day active users then that means either:

  1. You are not getting qualified traffic on the website, or
  2. Your website, mobile app, or other offering is not doing a good job of engaging the qualified traffic. So the traffic is not sticking around.

This is the kind of insight you can get from the Active Users report.

One last thing to consider when using the Active Users report, the numbers listed in the graph always refers to the last day of your date range. However, the values in the graph still show the active users for each day in your date range.

For example, if in your Active Users report you have selected the date range as Jan 1st to Jan 31st and you have selected 1-day active users in the report, then Google Analytics will provide you with the active users for Jan 30th.

Now you have used active users for 7 days, it will count backwards from Jan 30th (Jan 24th – Jan 30th) and include the last 7 days of active users.

Other articles you will find useful:

Guide to Cross-device tracking with User Id in Google Analytics

Using Enhanced E-Commerce segments for Remarketing in Google Analytics

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