Understanding your user behavior is a cornerstone of data analysis in Google Analytics. But, there are a lot of different terms to wrap your head around before you can drill into your data. One such term is “active users,” and that’s what we’ll focus on today.
So, what are active users in Google Analytics 4?
Active users are users who are engaged on your site over a certain time period. Google Analytics 4 automatically collects active user data for you, and you can access it in your engagement reports.
Today, we’re going to discuss active users in Google Analytics 4 and let you know where you can find your active user data and how to read it. So come with us to learn all about your users and how they engage with your site over time.
What Are Active Users?
Okay, so first, let’s talk a little more about active users, and then we’ll move on to discussing where they show up in your Google Analytics 4 reports.
The term “active users” can be a little misleading. A lot of times, people think an active user is the same thing as a real-time user—as in, a user who is on your site at this very moment.
But actually, your real-time users are separate from your active users. Active users are users who have engaged on your site over a certain time period. Google Analytics 4 looks at active users in terms of one day, seven days, and 30 days.
How is GA4 Different?
Active users take center stage in Google Analytics 4, and that’s one of the big changes from Universal Analytics. While UA focuses on total users in most reports, GA4 focuses on active users.
This change means your active user count is likely to be higher in GA4 than in Universal Analytics because active users are detected automatically. So, if you’re still using your Universal Analytics property along with your new GA4 one, keep this in mind.
Another difference is that Universal Analytics has an entire report just for active users (know as the “Active User” report, as you would expect). This is because Universal Analytics focuses on total users in other areas of reporting.
However, because Google Analytics 4 already focuses on active users, there’s no need for an entire report devoted only to that. But never fear! You can still get all your important active user data in GA4, and there are reports set up by default and waiting for you.
You’ll head over to your engagement section in GA4 to collect your active user data, and there are two important charts you’ll want to watch in particular—User Activity Over Time and User Stickiness. We’ll discuss both in the next section, so come with us to learn about active users in your engagement report.
Active Users in Your Engagement Report
Okay, so as we just mentioned, there is no active user report in GA4. Instead, you’ll go to your engagement report to see your active user data.
The reports in your engagement section let you look at audiences, events, monetization, and users. To get there, just sign in to your property and then click “Reports” > “Engagement.” You can then go to your engagement overview by clicking “Engagement” from the drop-down menu.
Once there, you’ll see several report snapshots. We’re going to focus on two that give you a significant look at active user behavior. First, let’s look at the chart on the top right—User Activity Over Time.
User Activity Over Time
When you look at this snapshot, you can see lots of important data related to user retention.
You’ll notice this chart is broken down into 1-day, 7-day, and 30-day active users. These metrics can be a bit confusing, so let’s talk about what they mean.
- 1-Day Active Users: Distinct users who visited your site over the past day, including the last day in the report range. This is synonymous with the term “Active users.”
- 7-Day Active Users: Distinct users who have visited your site over the past 7 days, including the last day in the report range.
- 30-Day Active Users: Distinct users who have visited your site over the past 30 days, including the last day in the report range.
Google breaks your active users into different time frames so you can easily see how many users visited your site in that period. There are tons of benefits to the active user metrics, and in particular, comparing active user counts over time helps you determine the retention rate of your site and mobile apps. You can see how frequently a user returns to your site with ease.
Let’s give you an example of how this active user snapshot can be so helpful. See, the great part about this graph is you can see active users over time. This allows you to examine user retention and look at how specific campaigns are trending.
If you hover over the graph, you can see the date you’ve selected, along with the 1-day, 7-day, and 30-day active user counts. So, the big benefit here is you can easily make comparisons.
For example, say you started a running new promotion a few weeks ago. You were hoping for new traffic but also brought in a lot of strong branding that you hope will retain them. This chart is a great place to go to get a quick look at how successful you’ve been.
If you hover over the chart, you can see the three different metrics. If your 7-day and 30-day active users have increased since the new campaign, then you know it’s had some impact. You can delve further into your reports to see how much, but this snapshot gives you a quick look at how well you’re retaining users and is definitely going to be one of your favorite reports.
Another great place to look for active users in your engagement report is a bit further down in your engagement overview. If you scroll and look to the right, you’ll see the “User Stickiness” snapshot, which we’ll discuss next.
This is a new dimension that GA4 released along with the new platform, and we’re big fans. User stickiness refers to users based on how frequently they access your site. In particular, this chart looks at how many users visit your site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This chart also provides you with ratios to make easy comparisons. These ratios include:
- Daily active users (DAU) / Monthly active users (MAU).
- Daily active users (DAU) / Weekly active users (WAU).
- Weekly active users (WAU) / Monthly active users (MAU).
Like the other snapshot, the key here is user retention. By familiarizing yourself with this chart, it can become a favorite place to check so you can quickly see how changes and new efforts are affecting your visitors and how loyal they are to your brand.
Again, if you hover over the chart, you’ll see data appear automatically based on the date. If you have a high percentage for the ratios mentioned above, it means users are happily engaging with your site and returning on a regular basis.
Active Users in Google Analytics 4
Active user metrics aren’t complex, but it’s important you understand they’re not the same thing as real-time users. You can use active user data to analyze user behavior over time and see how new efforts to increase user retention are paying off.
How are you enjoying the new user-stickiness snapshot and the way active users are tracked in Google Analytics 4? Let us know!