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The Benefits of Tracking People with Analytics

Tools like Google Analytics are great, but they have one major weakness.

You get only aggregate data.

The Limits of Aggregate Data

Averages, totals – these methods of measuring are known as aggregate. They provide an overall picture of how an area of a business or a product is performing. It’s frequently used in the web analytics field.

Aggregate data has its usefulness. Page views, bounce rate, time on page, and referral data are generally best displayed in aggregate form. But what if you actually want to dig deeply into the data to uncover insights that can improve your business? It’s difficult to do this when you have only aggregate data.

Build a Better Business by Understanding People

Kissmetrics is a people-based analytics platform. With Kissmetrics, every interaction on your website gets tied back to a person. Once you get your hands on this data, your mind will run wild with all the opportunities you’ll have to uncover useful insights.

What if you want to view the “power users” of your app? These users can give you great insights about your product and which features they use the most. Ultimately, they can help you build a better product. With aggregate data, you would never know who these people are. With Kissmetrics, you know exactly who to contact to get the feedback you need to improve your product.

What if you want to track the metric login retention and reach out to your least engaged and most engaged users? Aggregate data is useful for getting a “bird’s eye view”; but in order to improve this metric, you’ll need to talk to the people who log in. With Kissmetrics, you can do just that. Simply set up a cohort report for login retention and track the frequency with which people log in. Find the users you would like to talk to by selecting a group.

KISSmetrics Cohort Report

This is a small screenshot of the Kissmetrics cohort report. We see that if we click on one of the boxes, we have the option to view each person who falls into a certain cell (we like to call them buckets, as in “buckets” of people). For instance, we could track login retention over time with the cohort report. After we set up all our data, we would be able to view each person who logged in during a specified time period.

Using Individual Data to Understand What’s Driving Your Aggregate Data

It makes sense to focus your data analysis around people, because after all, it’s people who impact your business. Kissmetrics is a people-tracking web analytics tool. You won’t be getting unique sessions or visitors. Use Google Analytics for that data.

To understand what’s driving your aggregate data, you need to dig deeper and get your hands a little dirty. Looking at daily active users and monthly active users is great in aggregate; but to understand what’s driving those numbers, you need to look at individual data. What’s causing one person to use your service daily while another uses it less often?

Let’s take the engagement metric login retention, for example. It’s a good engagement metric that is normally viewed in aggregate, but should be analyzed in cohorts. The reason is aggregate data won’t show you important trending changes over time. Here’s how that cohort report would look in Kissmetrics:

kissmetrics login retention cohort

This report tells us the people who signed in during a specified week and then signed in again after a specified time period. For instance, we see that during the week of February 1, 56.5% of the people who logged in that week logged in again within a week. And .3% of the people who logged in during the week of February 1 logged in again 8 weeks later. If we click on this box, we see that we can view those people who logged in 8 weeks later:

kissmetrics view people cohort

If we click on “View the 8 people,” we’ll get a list of those users who logged in:

kissmetrics cohort people search

For the week we viewed, they didn’t appear to be our most engaged users. We also can click on each user to learn more about them and how often they use our product.

The advantages of getting this much detail with people-based analytics is that we can email the people for feedback or test a hypothesis based on their behavior. If we were just looking at aggregate data, we wouldn’t be able to draw any intelligent conclusions or have a good reason to test a hypothesis about our product.

With Kissmetrics, all your data is tied to people. It’s one of the key qualities that separates it from Google Analytics. And when you understand individual people, you’ll understand how to improve your business.

To get started using people data, login or sign up for a Kissmetrics account now.

  1. This is a really compelling case to use KISSmetrics over something like Google Analytics … but does it have functionality for non-membership sites so that those web owners can do the kind of deep analysis you show here?

  2. Steve Bonanno Aug 08, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Very goo article was a pleasure to read

  3. Akanksha Chauhan Aug 09, 2014 at 9:46 pm


    Very informative article. however doesnt this make more sense for websites where users need to sign in. Can we also do this kind of analytics from Social Networking websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter?

    • Akanksha, in that case you can do some manual tracking. I have done it in the past with the use of excel.

  4. Both yes and no. There are two big reasons to look at your websites analytics (I’m sure they’re are more bit right now the industry focuses more on 2). First, is to understand the overall health of your website. Aggregate data does this very well. The 2nd reason is a little more complex and a little more difficult. It’s to use analytics to improve the processes that your users have or go through on your website. The key to doing this effectively is in distinct, multiple level segmentation. This requires multiple properties that can be segmented at one period. That can’t be done through tracking users when they login alone.

  5. I am definitely intrigued. I need to see if this would work for some of my clients. I do wonder what the minimum visitor level is to make sense.

  6. Kissmetrics analytics is awesome. Just that its limited to some extent. I wanted to try it for my company website , but our website doesn’t tell any products or has any news letter . Its a static website which about our services and products. So the ” people ” metrics in Kissmetrics in not effective as it only tracks people who have signed up through their email address.
    So in that case I will have to go with Google Analytics.


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