New vs. Returning Visitors in Google Analytics

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New and returning visitors are important to keep track of because they offer different insights. In this blog, we will go over what each type of user is and why it's important to your business. Returning users typically outperform new users, so it's important to give them a reason to come back!

You can look up new versus returning users with a demo account in Google analytics, which you can get for free. All you have to do is Google, "Google Analytics demo account" to access a Google Analytics account to check different website statistics. You can also use your existing Google Analytics account, if you already have one.

Once you have linked your website, go to under Audience → Behavior, you will find New vs Returning. This Audience report can get you thinking about what different types of users come to your site. And the most basic one is New vs. Returning.

A new user is ideally a person who visits your site on a device whose cookies have not been identified. That's the simplest explanation. A returning user is someone who has visited your site before using the same device that they are presently using and so their cookies have been saved, which makes Google identify them as a returning user. It's as simple as that.

So the first time a user visits your site they are considered a new user and every visit after the first one they are considered a returning visitor. And because Google analytics is largely based on sessions, it's really simple to get that down.

From this report, you can look at different types of users and how they did, how they behave differently. Typically you may see a lot of new users, especially on a site that doesn't have a reason for users to come back every single day, like a SaaS model.

Or if you have a lot of returning customers and you're actually having a lead gen problem, this is likely reversed. Website visitors are returning to your site because they are logging in yet you are not receiving leads. So there are much less new users.

Another thing to note is the bounce rate, usually new users have a high bounce rate and a lower pages per session. Part of this is because, especially if it's an information site where you're getting a lot of traffic to your blog, people will ask a question, go to your blog, find the answer and then leave. That counts as a bounce.

That counts as one page per session. That counts as zero seconds average session duration. Unless you have created an event or a conversion has taken place.

You'll generally see better metrics on returning visitors. It depends on what kind of site and the quality of the site.

You will see that people first come to the site. This is the awareness phase, or TOFU (Tops Of the FUnnel). Then this becomes the consideration phase MOFU (Middle Of the FUnnel) and then finally all the way through the purchase phase or the decision making phase BOFU (Bottom Of the FUnnel). So that's why remarketing and marketing through multiple channels is key. It is important to get people to opt into your email list, sign up on social media, all of these things to hit them further and further down the decision cycle. And primarily give your users value.

If you can get these new visitors who convert at a really low rate, to sign up for email, and get on your social network and follow you on a couple of different platforms. Then show them retargeting ads to bring them back to your lead page or website, you will see a successful returning user conversion rate.

Now that you know the different user types and how to target them, you can work on bringing them down the funnel to get conversions. This report helps you understand the different types of users and their behavior. This in turn will help you craft marketing activities centered around different user personas and behavior.

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