Diving Deep with Google’s “User Explorer” Report

  • Diving deep

Diving Deep with Google’s “User Explorer” Report

Ever wondered how many sessions a user has before and/or after they complete a goal? Applying a user segment (and using the User Explorer report) can help shine some light into your life.

We frequently get questions about our blog posts. In Advanced Segments: Should I filter by Sessions or Users?, Alex asked:

“…how many sessions prior to complete the goal are made and how many after?…”

Since it’s difficult to answer this question as a comment, I’m responding in this blog post, using traffic from Google’s Online Merchandise Store’s Google Analytics Demo Account.  > Read more about the GA Demo Account

If you get access to the GA demo account and set your date range to August 4-10 2017, you’ll be able to follow along on your own screen.

Let’s focus on users who have made a purchase. You should have a “system” Make a Purchase user segment already present that you can apply. Just to make it crystal clear for you, I created a separate segment “Made a Purchase (Users)” by selecting all users who have at least one transaction*.

User Segment

To look at all users who made a purchase, apply this segment to the standard User Explorer report.

  • This report allows you to see each individual user’s behavior, as opposed to an aggregate.
  • It displays the users by their Client Id (which is the Google Analytics cookie ID assigned by Google to track each user’s experience).

User Explorer - Arrow
> Click here to enlarge photo

For the purposes of this post, I chose the eighth user.
Click on the ID, which is 1802924605.1520119693.

On the next screen (below), you will see all the 6 visits by this user to the Google Merchandise online store between August 4 and 10, 2017.

User Explorer Report - 6 sessions

This user had a total of six sessions (as shown in the screen shot above).  Let’s take a look at each session.  The numbered (n) correspond to the red labelled sessions in the image above.

At 8:28 AM, they added three items to their cart, completed two events, visited three pages and then left after a flurry of activity over 15 seconds.

If you click on the arrow just to the left of the time stamp, you can see each tracked interaction of their visit.  Here’s visit 1 in expanded format.

User Explorer - highlighting first session

Returning at 8:54 AM, they added two items to their cart, completed one event, visited six pages and then left.

Returning at 9:03 AM, they then added three items to their cart and eventually made a purchase of $119.

This user later returned back at 11:59 AM, looked at three pages and did not complete any goals or events.

They returned the next day at 6:02 AM, viewed two pages, and then ended their session, again, not completing any goals or events.

Their final session during this period shows that they visited the Google Merchandise Store at 12:55 PM, viewed three pages and then ended their visit without completing any goals or events.

If you were to expand the date range earlier than August 4 and later than August 10, you might see more sessions.

In summary, by using a user based segment in conjunction with the User Explorer report, you will be able to view a user’s entire journey, before and after their goal completion, for a selected date range.

Hope this helps, Alex.  Please let us know!


* If you used a “Make a Purchase” sessions segment instead of a user segment, the User Explorer Report will show you all users who have made a purchase during this period but the “sessions” shown in the User Explorer report will only be those where a purchase was made, not all the sessions by that user.  The number of sessions by a user will be lower if a session segment is applied rather than a user segment.  Create both types of segments and give this a try.

By |2018-07-25T10:27:49-04:00August 11th, 2017|2 Comments


  1. Alex 2018-01-11 at 07:35 - Reply


    Sorry for not having answered your blog post before. This is great stuff, really appreciated! One only question, I can’t check these users individually, I need to be able to look at a greater user base in order to have statistically significant data.

    Is there a way to obtain this in the standard Google Analytics?

    Thanks and best regards, Alex

    • Marc Soares 2018-01-15 at 17:11 - Reply

      Hi Alex,

      It is difficult to analyze multi-session paths with the standard GA reports, other than the Multi-Channel Funnel reports. The User Explorer is the only report that easily lets you look at user behaviour in a multi-session path.

      Using segments, you can filter for a sequence of interactions, but there isn’t a way to force those interactions to occur in subsequent (or previous) sessions.

      I think the type of analysis you’re looking for would require exporting and working with the data outside of GA, for example using R or BigQuery.


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