What is a Cohort?
“It's the age old question, isn't it? How much do we really want to know about our
As Bree from Desperate Housewives aptly points out, to the naked eye, her nice suburban lane looks all sweet and happy families, but hiding behind the curtains is something else. This is just like when we don’t segment our users, the story the data tells us could be dramatically different when viewed holistically from when we delve a little deeper.
A cohort consists of a group of users with a shared commonality (characteristic or behaviour) that is present over a certain period of time. When using cohorts in a piece of analysis, this commonality can be almost anything as long it is measurable and appropriately tracked in time for our analysis.
When starting a piece of analysis, we are immediately exposed to vast amounts of data and infinite things we can do with it. We can look at all our users holistically and draw insights from their behaviour, or we can break these users down into relevant groups to observe different trends and gain a greater understanding of their specific behaviours.
Why are Cohorts Useful?
Put simply, we need to understand how our different users are actually behaving on a site in order to best appeal to them and build a brand connection with them. We can now start to attribute onsite behaviours to specific groups of people using cohorts.
Cohorts can be defined differently depending on the context of your analysis and your business question. We can use cohort analysis to potentially validate any existing assumptions we have about the behaviour/characteristics of a group of users. On the other hand, cohorts can be defined in order to uncover things we do not yet know about our users. We can also evaluate the performance of a specific digital property in relation to a user-type and use these insights to inform key decisions.
Cohorts are not always needed for every piece of analysis, but when they are used they can add extra insight and angle the analysis in a different way.
Still Not Convinced?
Not every piece of analysis needs to segment users into cohorts. Some analysis, especially site performance reviews do not require a detailed view of your users. However, if you want to understand how different types of users are behaving onsite, then look no further. Customise your segment(s), uncover behavioural patterns that you never knew were there and use this knowledge to further optimise site content and user experience.