When marketers are developing personalized marketing campaigns, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

Say they encounter some disruptive behavior among a few individuals online: How do they decide whether this behavior is circumstantial or an early signal of a new customer segment? Is it an anomaly or the dawn of a new normal?

The challenge they face is to not disrupt the budding behavior or, worst yet, introduce content that seems intrusive and creepy rather than helpful and beneficial.

Google introduced a tool that can balance those concerns.

In March, Google Analytics added a new beta feature called User Explorer, a report designed to help marketers recognize emerging new segmentation trends from online behavior among individuals.

The Dividing Line of Customer Behavior

Understanding individual behavior has a different strategic value for marketing compared to the aggregate behavior that appears in a standard analytics report.  

Aggregate behavior highlights the opportunities that connote a large-scale trend, such as examining response attributed to geographic areas.

Individual behavior, on the other hand, reflects a drilldown to personalize the user experience or to examine a specific user experience that highlights potential ideas or bottlenecks to the experience. An example is analyzing the purchase behavior of a user that ran into trouble with placing an order online.

Reviewing online behavior of an individual requires preventative steps for being invasive to the customer.  To maintain personal privacy of individuals who arrive on a tagged site or app, the User Explorer report associates its metrics to either a client ID or user ID.

The IDs differ by the source of the data generate. A client ID represents a device or access by browser, while a user ID represents a signed in user with an account. 

User IDs must be activated in Google Analytics, while the client ID is randomly activated.

Either IDs are meant to avoid using personal identifiable information in the reporting or within an overall analytic stack that includes Google Analytics data.

Where to Begin Exploring

The User Explorer report is accessed in the Audience segment of the reports.

A table of client or user ID appears, with columns for performance (sessions, average session duration, bounce rate) and economic influence (revenue, transactions, and goal conversation rate). The column of IDs can be sorted by any of the aforementioned columns.

user explorer

Analysts can click on each ID to view a User Report. The User Report displays a series of actions that were undertaken by the ID user, sparking new ideas in using other analytics reports. 

For an example, I am showing an image reflecting a user activity of my company’s blog (with client ID blocked in the upper left). In it, the user viewed a number of post, generated page views. But in the fourth and seventh sessions, the user also clicked on video links in the blog content.   

user report

This is useful information if I am interested in seeing if some posts are drawing enough interest to create activity.

A Source of New Ideas

Combining a few reviews like this with a review of navigational behavior in the behavioral flow report could yield new ideas as to what content should be created to increase engagement. 

That information is useful for publishers who are increasing their ad reviewing or deciding which content to associate with online purchases.

The User Report display acquisition channel, the date they were “acquired” and the device on which the acquisition occurred. 

This can be an influence on planning a cross device strategy if, for example, user patterns for those acquired on one device differs from that on another device. It can also be an indicator if a certain day and time triggered activity among users.

The report findings can suggest new report filters or new goals settings to serve emerging trends, or even ideas on how to approach other reports in Google Analytics.

This ultimately leads to more personalized attention for users through the content and ideas generated for the newfound segment.

For example, marketers can create a segment based on a combination of user actions.

They can then apply the segment to the entire report to analyze the collective behavior of users who took the same actions on a tagged site.

With either client or user ID, analysts should be able to better imagine how users interact, and then brainstorm ideas for what activities could be better complemented by device.

According to Google, data for the User Explorer report is only available starting March 9, so applying historical context to data is really limited at this writing. 

With just a few months of data to evaluate, analysts could not look at data from the last Christmas holiday and brainstorm on what to do in the holiday season ahead, for instance.

But the opportunity to refine campaigns has always been a forward-looking affair, and reports like User Explorer can help marketers learn what real efforts for enhancing customer experience with current media can be made better.