Users vs Sessions: which is better for Google Analytics reporting?

If you're struggling between GA metric reporting between Users vs Sessions, then I've shared some pointers that will help you arrive at a decision quicker.

There are lots of myths around which metrics should be considered as primary KPI when reporting a website or online business performance. Some marketers prefer to use “Sessions” which others prefer Users metric, while few also take “Pageviews” to gauge their performance.

I personally feel we should consider only using the “Users” metric when we are reporting in terms of traffic driven on to the website. This will also help to understand the user interaction with the website like internal and external link clicks.

But why Users metric?

In Google Analytics, Users are primarily categorized into buckets – New User (Unique) and Returning User.

If I am a first-time visitor, I will be put into a “New User” bucket and entire navigation, actions, and events triggers will be associated with it. If I visit for the second time a week later, I will be categorized into “Returning User” and website usage will be associated with this visit. Again if I visited in the third week, it will be categorized as “Returning User” and website data is associated with it.

Now when I want to report the traffic for the month date range:

  • I will be reported as 3 times on considering “Sessions” KPI. But, I’m the same user visiting multiple time at different times
  • However, when considering the “Users” metric, I will be reporting once for the selected range as client ID assigned to me remain unique

Hence, for Audience reporting, it makes more sense to use Users metric vs. Sessions.

How to Switch to ‘Users’ metric from ‘Sessions’ reporting?

The process of switching to “Users” metric reporting is quite simple and seamless. All you need is to follow the below steps to make the changes effective immediately.

  1. Login to Google Analytics account
  2. Hit Gear icon to access the Admin section
  3. Select the correct property from the drop and hit on Property Settings
  4. Navigate to the bottom and lookup for “User Analysis” section
  5. Toggle the button to turn ON the Enable Users Metric in Reporting option
    Enable Users Metric in Reporting Google Analytics
  6. Hit on Save command
  7. That’s all!

You can now navigate back to the “Audience” reporting section to watch all the metrics to calculate and display the “Users” in reporting.

I’ve also recorded screen capture video while changing the settings in my Google Analytics account.

Switch between Google Analytics "Users" vs "Sessions"

What are your thoughts on ‘Users’ reporting?

What do you think about ‘Users’ reporting in Google Analytics from traditional ‘Sessions’ reporting? Will you consider switching the Users metric? Please drop your thoughts and ideas about using the user’s metrics. Happy to hear!

Also, do your website comply with Google Analytics Users and Data Retention settings which came in after GDPR?

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