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This is a new metric that Google Analytics snuck into the Audience Overview report last year…
If Brand Awareness is one of your online aims, New Users is a great metric to highlight in your reports, as it is a useful signifier of the amount of new people you are reaching, however (as with all of these numbers!) it pays to understand how this figure is calculated.
New Users are the number of users who visited the website for the first time during whatever the selected time period is (or have reset their client ID).
The first time a device (computer, tablet, smartphone) or a browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer) loads a page from your website, Google Analytics creates a random, unique ID called the Client ID.
Each time a new ID is detected, Google Analytics counts a New User.
When Google Analytics detects an existing client ID in a new session, it counts as a Returning User.
If the user deletes their browser cookies (e.g. by clearing their cache), the ID gets reset, and the next time they visit the website (or visit it from a new browser or device) a new ID is created and they are then counted as a New User again.
It gets a bit confusing, but the total number of Users does not equal the sum of New and Returning Users, as Google Analytics will count New Users as Returning Users as well, if they return to the website during the defined reporting period. Still following?
If you are monitoring New Users in your reports, it’s always good to look at how engaged they are with your site as well. There are some techniques that can be used to get people to your site, but actually getting them to stick around and do what you want them to do can be a different story! So alongside measuring the number of New Users, keep an eye on things like their Pages / Session, Avg. Session Duration, and whether they are triggering any of your Events or Goals.