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  • Accessing Returning User Metrics in GA4 with Looker Studio

    Posted by Lucy on 30 May 2022 at 11:52 pm

    Hey there, I need a bit of help here. I’ve been scratching my head trying to sort out a Looker Studio Report for my site’s Google Analytics 4 implementation. I’m aiming to create a pie chart showing new users versus those who’ve been around the block a few times. I know that GA4 puts all this retention info on their plate, but I’m having real trouble taking a slice of it in Looker Studio. Is the Returning Users metric a thing in GA4 or should I be taking a different angle?

    I’ve managed to throw together a rough and ready table to get a handle on returning users, just taking the total visitors and cutting out the newcomers. Easy peasy, but it’s bugging me there’s not a more specific Returning Users metric I can get hold of. I know it’s an option to display a pie chart for different event types, and just weeding out everything but those popping in for a first look and your regular page views. It’s a start, but I’m after something a bit slicker, visually speaking.

    So what gives? Am I missing a trick, or does GA4 just not bother with this Returning Users metric?

    Henry replied 11 months, 1 week ago 3 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • Avery

    28 August 2022 at 2:11 pm

    Sure, I get what you’re saying. Although GA4 doesn’t have a specific dimension for this pie chart in Looker Studio, you can still achieve it by blending data.

    In this blend, one part will contain only new users, and the other will have only returning users, which you can get by subtracting new users from the total user count. For the two parts to connect, you’d be setting up a calculated field—just assign ‘new’ for the part with new users, and ‘returning’ for the other part.

    By running a ‘full outer join’, you’ll end up with a dataset that includes both new and returning users.

    When creating the pie chart, you’ll need to pick your blended data as the source. But instead of relying on a given dimension, you’ll use a calculated one, combining ‘User type’ fields from both parts of your blended data using the COALESCE function: COALESCE(User type (Table 1),User type (Table 2)).

    The same goes for your metric which also uses COALESCE to join both the new and returning user metrics: COALESCE(New users,Returning users).

    And voila! You have your pie chart. A video demonstrating this process can be found here: [https://youtu.be/iaC3fAFtvPg](https://youtu.be/iaC3fAFtvPg).

  • Henry

    28 January 2023 at 7:13 pm

    There is indeed a ‘Returning Users’ metric in Google Analytics, but it is not straightforward in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) as it was in the previous version. As you’ve already found, one method is to calculate it manually by subtracting new users from the total users. But, GA4 is more event-based and allows you to get more detailed information about your users. One recommended way is to take into account different events or interactions that users have with the website. You might also need to tweak your current set-up, metrics or dimensions to better track your ‘returning users’ or use the user engagement report in GA4. But unfortunately, at the moment, the simple ‘Returning Users’ metric is not part of Google Analytics 4 out of the box offering.

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