Cohort Analysis: Beginners Guide to Improving Retention

July 6, 2018

Cohort analysis is the process of analyzing user behavioral data by segmenting them into specific groups. You use this tool to compare how different user groups behave over time in lifecycle stages such as onboarding, registration, purchasing, and uninstalling.

Cohort analysis allows companies to see patterns and general trends within each grouping, allowing them to adapt or pivot its services according to the needs of its users.

What is a Cohort?

The simplest explanation is: a cohort is a grouping of users who have a common attribute over a specific period of time.

For example, a cohort might be all users who downloaded your app between January and March of 2018. Or all users who signed up for a trial account in the last 3 days.

The point here is: instead of looking at thousands (or millions) of users as a single list of people, you break them up into easily identifiable cohorts in order to figure out how best to engage with each cohort.

Before Conducting Your Cohort Analysis

Even before you perform a cohort analysis, there are three questions you need to answer:

  • What problem do you want to solve with cohort analysis? If you intend to have actionable insights, you need to ask the right question. Just as in the scientific method, it all starts with determining what question you intend to answer or what problem you need to solve.
  • What are your metrics? You need to figure out which measurements will help you answer the question in Step 1.
  • Which cohorts are relevant? in order for the analysis to matter, you need to know which cohorts are relevant to the study. Additionally, you must know which user attributes or which behaviors need to be looked at.

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