Visitor Retention in Adobe Analytics Workspace
I recently had a client of mine ask me how they could report new and retained visitors for their website. In this particular case, the site had an expectation that the same visitors would return regularly since it is a subscription site. At first, my instinct was to use the Cohort Analysis report in Adobe Analytics Workspace, but that only shows which visitors who came to the site came back, not which visitors are truly new over an extended period of time. In addition, it is not possible to add Unique Visitors to a cohort table, so that rules this option out. What my client really wanted to see is which visitors who came this month, had not been to the site in the past (or at least past 24 Months) and differentiate those visitors from those who had been to the site in the past 24 months. While I explained the inherent limitation of knowing if visitors were truly new due to potential cookie deletion, they said that they still wanted to see this analysis assuming that cookie deletion is a common issue across the board.
While at first, this problem seemed pretty easy, it turned out to be much more complex that I had first thought it would be. The following will show how I approached this in Adobe Analytics Workspace.
Starting With Segments
To take on this challenge, I started by building two basic segments. The first segment I wanted was a count of brand new Visitors to the website in the current month. To do this, I needed to create a segment that had visitors who has been to the site in the current month, but not in the 24 Months prior to the current month. I did this by using the new rolling date feature in Adobe Analytics to include the current month and to exclude the previous 24 months like this:
If you have not yet used the rolling date feature, here is what the Last 24 Months Date Range looked like using the rolling date builder:
As you can see, this date range includes the 24 months preceding the current month (April 2017 in this case), so when this date range is added to the preceding segment, we should only get visitors from the current month who have not been to the site in the preceding 24 months. Next, you can apply this segment to the Unique Visitors metric in Analysis Workspace:
As you can see, this only shows the count of Visitors for the current month and it excludes those who had been to the site in the preceding 24 months. In this case, it looks like we had 1,786 new Visitors this month. We can verify this by creating a new calculated metric that subtracts the “new” Visitors from all Visitors:
When you add this to the Analysis Workspace table, it looks like this:
Next, we can create a retention rate % by creating another calculated metric that divides our retained Visitors by the total Unique Visitors:
This allows us to see the following in the Analysis Workspace table:
[One note about Analysis Workspace. Since our segment spans 25 months, the freeform table will often revert back to the oldest month, so you may have to re-sort in descending order by month when you make changes to the table.]
The Bad News
So far, things look like they are going ok. A bit of work to create date ranges, segments and calculated metrics, but we can see our current month new and retained Visitors. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse from here. Since date ranges are tied to the current day/month, I could not find a way to truly roll the data for 24 months (I am hoping there is someone smarter than me out there who can do this in Adobe!). Therefore, to see the same data for Last Month, I had to create two more date ranges and segments called “Last Month Visitors” & “Last Month, But Not 24 Months Prior Visitors” and then apply these to create new calculated metrics. Here are the two new segments I created for Last Month::
When these are applied to the Analysis Workspace table, we see this:
To save space, I have omitted the raw count of Retained Visitors and am just showing the retention rate, which for last month was 7.42% vs. 10.82% for the current month.
Unfortunately, this means that if you want to go back 24 months, you will have to create 24 date ranges, 24 segments and 24 calculated metrics. While this is not ideal, the good news is that once you create them, they will always work for the last rolling 24 months, so it is a one-time task and if you only care about the last 12 months, your work is cut in half. However, a word of caution when you are building the prior 24-month date ranges, you have to really keep track of what is 2 months ago and 3 months ago. To keep it straight, I created the following cheat sheet in Excel and you can see the formula I used at the top:
Here is what the table might look like after doing this for three months:
And if you have learned how to highlight cells and graph them in Analysis Workspace, you can select only the retention rate percentages and create a graph that looks like this:
Other Cool Applications
While this all may seem like a pain, once you are done, there are some really cool things you can do with it. One of those things is to break these retention rates down by other segments. For example, below, I have added three segments as a breakdown to April 2017. These segments look for specific visits that contain blog posts by author. Once this breakdown is active, it is possible to see the new, retained and retention rate by month and blog author:
Alternatively, if your business was geographically-based, you could look at the data by US State by simply dragging over the State dimension container:
Or, you could see which campaign types have better or worse retention rates:
To summarize, the new features Adobe has added to Analysis Workspace, including Rolling Dates, open up more opportunities for analysis. To view rolling visitor retention, you may need to create a series of distinct segments/metrics, but in the end, you can find the data you are looking for. If you have any ideas or suggestions on different/easier ways to perform this type of analysis in Adobe Analytics, please leave a comment here.