Cohort Analysis


What is cohort analysis? How to do cohort analysis?

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Team Storyly
May 22, 2023
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What is Cohort Analysis?

Cohort analysis is a technique used in analytics and data-driven decision-making that allows businesses, researchers, or other organizations to gain insights into the behavior, performance, or other attributes of a specific group of people or entities over time. 

A cohort is a group of users, customers, or subjects who share a common characteristic, such as their joining date, acquisition channel, or demographic profile.

Cohort analysis involves tracking and comparing the behavior or performance of different cohorts over time, which can help identify patterns, trends, and changes in behavior. This information can then be used to make informed decisions about product improvements, marketing strategies, customer retention, and other aspects of a business or organization.

Cohort vs. Segment

Cohort and segment are terms used in analytics and marketing, and they refer to different ways of grouping users or customers based on specific characteristics. While both terms involve dividing a larger population into smaller groups, they serve different purposes and focus on different aspects of user behavior or attributes.


  1. Cohorts are groups of users or customers who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined time frame. For example, a cohort could be users who joined a platform in the same month or customers who made their first purchase during a specific week.
  2. Cohort analysis is mainly focused on tracking and comparing the behavior or performance of different cohorts over time. This allows businesses or organizations to identify patterns, trends, and changes in behavior, which can be used to inform decisions about product development, marketing, and customer retention.
  3. Cohorts typically emphasize the time-based aspect of user behavior, such as the progression of users through a product lifecycle, churn rates, or the impact of changes to a product or service on user engagement.


  1. Segments are groups of users or customers who share specific attributes or characteristics, often based on demographic, behavioral, or psychographic factors. Examples of segments include age groups, income levels, geographic locations, or users who have completed a specific action (e.g., making a purchase or subscribing to a newsletter).
  2. Segment analysis aims to understand the preferences, needs, and behaviors of different user segments to tailor marketing messages, product offerings, and user experiences to meet their specific needs.
  3. Segments generally focus on user characteristics or attributes, rather than the time-based aspect of user behavior. The goal is to understand the differences between groups of users and to better cater to their specific needs and preferences.

Why Is Cohort Analysis Important?

Cohort analysis is important because it helps identify patterns, trends, and changes in user behavior over time. This information enables businesses to make informed decisions about product improvements, marketing strategies, and customer retention, leading to better overall performance and growth.

The majority of companies uses cohort analysis for the following reasons, which makes cohort analysis so important:

1. Understanding the importance of user behavior analysis

Cohort analysis allows you to see how actions taken or not taken by members of a cohort affect business metrics like acquisition and retention.

2. Recognizing the causes of customer churn

You can use your data to test your hypotheses about whether one customer action or attribute causes another, such as whether sign-ups for specific promotions lead to higher churn.

3. Improving the efficiency of your conversion funnel

You can examine how user experience throughout the digital marketing funnel correlates to value in your customers by comparing consumers who engaged in various ways at different points with your sales process.

4. Calculating the lifetime value of a customer

Over time, you may assess how valuable users are to the firm by analyzing cohorts based on acquisition periods, such as grouping customers by the month they joined up. You may then divide these cohorts into time, segment, and size groups to see which acquisition methods result in the highest customer lifetime value (CLV).

5. Improving the effectiveness of customer engagement

You may encourage all customers to do specific actions more efficiently when you notice trends in how different cohorts interact with your organization and product.

Categories of Cohort Analysis

There are several categories of cohort analysis, based on the characteristics used to define the cohorts. Some common categories include:

  • Time-based cohorts
  • Behavior-based cohorts
  • Demographic-based cohorts
  • Acquisition-based cohorts
  • Product or service-based cohorts

Time-based cohorts

These cohorts are formed based on a specific time period, such as users who joined a platform or made a purchase within a particular month, quarter, or year. Time-based cohort analysis helps understand how user behavior evolves over time and assess the impact of changes in products, marketing campaigns, or other factors.

Behavior-based cohorts

These cohorts consist of users who have exhibited a particular behavior or completed a specific action, such as subscribing to a newsletter, reaching a milestone in a product, or making a repeat purchase. Behavior-based cohort analysis helps identify patterns and trends related to user engagement, retention, and loyalty.

Demographic-based cohorts

Users in these cohorts share similar demographic characteristics such as age, gender, location, or income level. Analyzing demographic-based cohorts allows businesses to tailor their marketing messages, product features, and user experiences to better cater to different audience segments.

Acquisition-based cohorts

These cohorts group users based on their acquisition source or channel, such as organic search, social media, or paid advertising. Acquisition-based cohort analysis can help businesses understand the performance and effectiveness of various marketing channels and inform optimization efforts.

Product or service-based cohorts

Users in these cohorts have purchased or engaged with a specific product, service, or product category. Analyzing these cohorts can reveal preferences, usage patterns, and opportunities for upselling or cross-selling.

How to Use Cohort Analysis

Five steps need to be done to use Cohort Analysis, which are as follows:

1. Choosing the correct set of questions to ask

The analysis must have some structure to provide information that is important for enhancing the product or services offered by the company. To guarantee that, the appropriate collection of questions must be asked and assessed.

2. Defining metrics

Analysts must establish the metrics used to assess the data and identify any critical events that may occur and must be tracked.

3. Identifying the different cohorts

To discover the crucial differences between users, you need to analyze different user behaviors. These cohorts could be established using the indicators listed above. Also, you can implement a tier system to target these consumers better.

4. Conducting a cohort analysis

Finally, use data visualization to do a Cohort Analysis to find trends and patterns across multiple cohorts. This approach may target various sorts of clients and deliver an optimal experience based on their preferences.

5. Examining the test results

The outcomes of the tests are examined, and plans based on the information gained via this method are adopted. Since the cohort and demographics are dynamic and vary over time, you should assess the efficacy of such methods regularly. As a result, identifying more relevant indicators can aid in the development of better plans.

However, to use the information provided by a cohort analysis, you must know how to read cohort analysis. It is relatively simple and involves reading a cohort table one column or row at a time.

4 Elements You Need to Include

Furthermore, you should be aware of the elements which will prove helpful in cohort mobile app tracking. These consist of 4 factors which are as follow:

1. Type of Cohort
It involves the set of customers or data you’d want to examine. Google Analytics currently only has one cohort type: acquisition date, which is the first time a user interacts with your app.

2. Size of Cohort
The number of users in a defined cohort refers to cohort size. This value might change according to the time period that you want to focus on.

3. Metric
It is the metric against which your cohorts should be compared and assessed.

4. Time Period
While doing cohort analysis, you need to define specific time periods. It might be a single day, a week, or a month. This element becomes crucial especially for acquisition cohorts.

The cohort analysis report may be customized to include particular metrics for each user. User retention by cohort google analytics is the default measure used here.

Steps to Perform Cohort Analysis

Step 1: Define Objectives

Ask yourself what you want to learn from the cohort analysis. Are you looking to understand customer retention, churn, or maybe the average revenue per user?

Step 2: Data Collection

Gather data that includes customer IDs, order amounts, and time stamps of purchases.

Step 3: Data Segmentation

Segment the data into cohorts based on your objectives. For example, you can create monthly cohorts of new customers.

Step 4: Choose Metrics

Decide on the metrics you'll track. Common ones include retention rate, average order value, and churn rate.

Step 5: Data Analysis

Analyze the data to observe trends over time. You can use tools like Excel, Python, or specialized analytics software for this.

Step 6: Visualization

Visualizing the data can make it easier to interpret. Use line charts, heat maps, or other graphical representations to visualize the cohorts' performance over time.

Step 7: Draw Conclusions

After analyzing the data and trends, draw actionable conclusions. For instance, if you notice a high churn rate in the third month, consider strategies to improve retention.

Example: Analyzing Retention Rate

Let's say you have a dataset of customers who made purchases each month from January to December. You want to analyze the retention rate of the January cohort.

  1. Segment Data: Isolate customers who made their first purchase in January.
  2. Track Over Time: See how many of those January customers made another purchase in February, March, etc.
  3. Calculate Retention Rate: The number of customers who made a purchase in a later month divided by the initial number of customers in the cohort.

How to Build a Retention Strategy with Cohort Analytics

A continuous flow of new clients is essential for every organization. However, if you don’t have a good plan in place to keep those clients, you’re going to lose money. Following are some strategies to utilize cohort analysis for maximizing the retention rate:

  • You may look at the month of purchase, discounts, and promotions to see what promotes retention. To develop a marketing plan, you’ll need to know things like what keeps people involved over the Christmas season and how discount coupons operate.
  • User cohort analysis can create templates for future behavior; this can be set for a future date and time stamp. You can use cohort analysis to support campaigns or to investigate why they don’t exist.
  • Another benefit of cohort analysis reports is knowing when to send the following email to the consumer or encourage them to repurchase; this makes upselling and cross-selling much easier.
  • Make your products stand out. Cohorts allow you to control the factors that cause people to get addicted to a product. You can tell which segment of the audience enjoys the product and which does not.
  • You may also use cohort Google Analytics reports to see which initiatives are successful. You may then reuse them for new clients and save money on marketing.
  • · Finally, you can utilize story labels provided by Storyly. It means that you can display more relevant content in the form of app stories to your pre-defined user cohorts. This can help you maximize in-app purchases or increase user retention.


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