Essential Guide to Google Analytics User Explorer

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Have you always wanted to know exactly what your users are doing on your site or app?

There is no need to invest in Kissmetrics anymore because in May of 2016, Google announced its new user-centric feature – the Google Analytics User Explorer.

In any business especially for ecommerce, connecting site analytics data with marketing campaigns data are essential in understanding the customer journey as a whole.

With Google Analytics User Explorer, businesses can have a deeper understanding of their most important customers even anonymous individuals interacting with their website or mobile application.

By using insights drawn from User Explorer and the other existing user-centric capabilities of Google Analytics, you can identify your user’s specific actions on your website or app and use these to significantly improve their experience. It definitely helps bring your user tracking capabilities up a notch.

In this article, we will discuss how to open User Explorer reports on your Google Analytics account and how to create segments.

We will also show how these reports look like and when and how to use insights from your User Explorer data in growing your online presence and business.

A quick recap of the Google Analytics User ID

Before we discuss how to open the User Explorer report on your Google Analytics account, let us first have a quick recap of the User ID.

What is the User ID and what is its purpose?

The Google Analytics User ID is a unique combination of alphanumeric characters assigned to each of your website or app users. In this manner, Google Analytics can identify your users across different devices and browsers and track their activities and behaviors.

Unlike Client IDs that are randomly assigned by Google to each of your users, you have to generate unique IDs to your new and returning users. This can be done systematically through a user authentication system or a login feature on your website.

Google Analytics User ID

How are User IDs connected with User Explorer?

Once you have implemented User ID tracking on your Google Analytics account, the User Explorer report in your User ID view will include your unique User IDs instead of the randomly assigned Client IDs.

Does that mean Client IDs are not as helpful?

Not necessarily, but here’s the thing.

If user tracking is based on Client IDs, every time a user changes their device or browser when interacting with your app or website, the behaviors and activities that will transpire will not be reported in your User Explorer report.

This renders the customer journey incomplete. And if you run multi-channel marketing campaigns and receive significant traffic and conversions, your report won’t give you the entire picture.

You can check out this tutorial to know how you can set up User ID tracking on Google Analytics and how to create a User ID reporting view.

How to View the Google Analytics User Explorer report

Once you have successfully implemented User ID tracking on your account, you can now view your Google Analytics User Explorer report in your User ID view.

How do you get started?

First, log in to your Google Analytics account. Go to Reporting and under the Audience menu, click on User Explorer.

how to view Google Analytics User Explorer report

By pulling up the User Explorer report, you can already see different initial data to study your users with.

These data are sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, revenue, transactions and goal conversion rate as boxed in the illustration below.

Google Analytics User Explorer Report data

If you want to know more about your individual users, you can click on any unique User ID.

Once you click on a User ID, you can see the acquisition date, the acquisition channel (e.g. organic search or PPC), the device category (e.g. desktop or mobile) and the summary of activities for that user as boxed in the illustration below.

Individual User Explorer Reports

Daily historical accounts of your user’s behaviors and activities can be collapsed and expanded depending on what you want to analyze in greater detail.

Google Analytics User ID reports

And by default, individual User ID reports also reveal data for Pageviews, Goals, Ecommerce and Events.

You can make use of the filtering options to refine the report and remove data types you don’t need at the moment. These can also be sorted based on time with ascending showing the earliest actions first and descending showing the recent ones.

User Explorer report for mobile

Don’t forget that there is also a User Explorer report in mobile app views. The only difference with the User Explorer report for website is it shows data from the Client ID dimension.

Nevertheless, the User Explorer report in mobile app views shows mobile app usage data including sessions, average session duration, bounce rate and revenue.

Pull up this report if you want to analyze your users behavior on your mobile app next.

How to create segments on User Explorer

Your users engage with your website and mobile app for different reasons. If you want to create a grouping or a segment of those kinds of engagements, you can do so on the User Explorer report view.

Once you have created a segment, you can apply this to your entire report so you can also analyze other users who are engaged with you for the same reasons.

So, how easy is it to create a segment?

The first step is to identify the different engagements or actions you want to define your segment.

Examples of these engagements or actions are viewing your new products, clicking on your promotional ad, signing up on your lead generation landing page or checking out your ecommerce store.

Similar to the illustration below, select the engagements that interest you like ‘Event Promotion Click on Enhanced Ecommerce’ and ‘Viewed Google Online Store’. Place the appropriate check marks on the corresponding radio boxes.

How to create segments on User Explorer

After selecting, click on ‘Create Segment’ to open the segment builder.

Your segment builder will use the engagements you selected as the segment’s conditions. Below is a the view of the segment builder.

steps to create segments on User Explorer

Create a name for your segment, modify the engagements you selected and then choose the Google Analytics view.

You can select whether the segment can be available in any view or only in the current view. Don’t forget to check on the ‘Apply the segment to User Explorer Report after saving’ option.

Finally, click on Save.

Whenever your create segments in your User Explorer report, you automatically have the list of all User IDs associated with your created segment.

And once you are ready to export, use the Export menu where you can choose a format for your exported data.

When and how to use User Explorer data

Now that you’ve implemented your Google Analytics User ID, created a User ID reporting view, know how to view the User Explorer report and create segments, the next question is – how useful is User Explorer data to your business?

Allows you to get to know your users better. By creating segments in your User Explorer view, you can get to know your users better and respond to specific behaviors within particular segments.

For instance, if your report shows that a certain segment of your users are abandoning their shopping carts, you can study those users, have a good review of your current checkout process and get a detailed understanding of what’s going on.

Upon closer inspection of your checkout process, you might discover that there are indeed frictions that prevents your users from successfully checking out.

Similarly, if you notice that your segment of users in the 25-36 age group have high bounce rates on your website, then you might want to evaluate the images and copies you use and make them more engaging and interactive.

Aside from just exporting the User IDs for that segment and understanding user behaviors, you can use all those valuable data in personalizing the site experience for them. You can direct them to your content that you believe are relevant to their demographic and liking.

Sell more to your loyal customers. Wouldn’t it be nice to upsell to your satisfied and loyal customers?

Nurture your ongoing relationships with User Explorer data. Especially when it comes to ecommerce, it is always more expensive to attract new customers than simply taking care of their trust and loyalty.

With user tracking on User Explorer, you can develop different types of opportunities to move them to higher levels of conversion. For instance, you can target them with ads leading to your more high-end products.

Similarly, by knowing who and how your high-value customers behave, you can use your understanding of them as you lead your next tier of customers along the same path.

How can you do this?

Extract the Google Analytics User IDs of your middle-value customers and personalize their shopping experience on your site. Recommend them products that you know can entice them to add in their shopping carts. Target them with rich content on social media like Instagram ads and Facebook ads.

how to create Instagram and Facebook ads

Retarget your customers. With improved user tracking on User Explorer, you can examine individual session behaviors and see where your users are falling short in completing your conversion goals.

Retargeting is a powerful way to save people who got lost in your conversion funnel. With the help of Google Analytics User Explorer, you can create segments based on notable behaviors like abandoned shopping carts and incomplete checkout forms.

Use these behaviors to define your segment and also as a guide in bringing your lost customers back into the fold. You can show them the same products they abandoned or you can suggest some relevant upsells.

Similar to nurturing existing customer relationships, retargeting customers is cost-efficient and have bigger chances of converting than attracting new customers. Always remember this nugget of wisdom.

retargeting statistics

Make your customer service even more personalized. By understanding the different activities that take place in a user’s session, you can have a better understanding of the type of support your visitors or customers may need once they are on your website or app.

Each user has a detailed history of activities and you can utilize this in understanding the context in which they interact with you and where they encounter issues.

Use it as a basis in creating your target customer personas. Instead of just creating hypothetical customer profiles to base your marketing campaigns from, take advantage of user tracking data from User Explorer in creating actual customer personas to market to.

Investigate the behaviors of your different segments so your personas are based on how your users are actually engaging with your site.


With Google Analytics User Explorer, you can identify your users’ behaviors and understand the path they take towards your conversion goals. Use it to evaluate the complete customer journey and the sequence of actions that often take place within multiple visits.

With better user tracking, User Explorer reports can definitely help you improve your approach towards your conversions and ability to generate revenue. Instead of just relying on macro trends generated over time, you can have a close inspection of individual user experiences and know how all these can result into positive outcomes.

Are you using Google Analytics User Explorer in changing the way you understand and connect with your customers?

Tell us your experiences, issues you have encountered and the solutions that you have taken in the comments below!

About the Author

John Komarek is the founder of Pixelter. He helped over 63 e-commerce businesses boost their mobile sales by up to 183.5%. He uses advanced UX research, A/B testing, and AI-driven personalization to deliver the results. Learn more about how he can help you grow your sales.

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