At the beginning of April, 2016 Google quietly rolled out a new feature inside Google Analytics (GA) that takes the first step in a direction they’ve resisted traveling but marketers and metrics pros have been screaming for: individual user tracking.
Here’s how Google describes the feature.
A new set of reports in Google Analytics lets you perform analysis of anonymized individual interactions with your websites and apps. User Explorer utilizes existing anonymous Google Analytics data to deliver incremental insights that marketers need to improve and optimize their sites and apps. The feature is now available in the Audience sections. Anonymous Client ID and User ID will be surfaced in this report as a part of the release.
The unsurprising caveat is the individual users are still completely anonymous but the new report provides a wealth of detailed visitor interactions which apply data going back as far as March, 2016.
Users are presented with unique client ID numbers and are tracked across multiple browsers and devices. To access the reports, navigate to Audience > User Explorer inside your Google Analytics Reporting dashboard.
Although Google will certainly be refining this new feature over time, that shouldn’t stop you from using this fantastic tool. Some worthwhile applications include helping you analyze drop-offs due to poor design or site bugs along with getting a better idea for how your frequent and one-shot site visitors interact with the site.
Google provided more examples via a GA blog post from 5/6/2016:
For example, you might want to understand how your top 10 customers interacted with your site or apps. With User Explorer you can get insights into visitors that spent the most with you over a given time frame and analyze each of their journeys on your site over that time period. This analysis surfaces individual interactions that can uncover new opportunities for optimizing their overall experience and path to conversion. In addition, User Explorer opens up new possibilities to help inform your marketing activities. For example, User Explorer can help you identify anonymous individual customers who have not converted recently and help them re-engage with your site using existing marketing channels.