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Sessions, Engaged Sessions and Users in Google Analytics 4

Sessions, Engaged Sessions and Users in Google Analytics 4

On July 01, 2023, Google will replace Google Universal Analytics (UA) with  Google Analytics 4 (GA4). The new GA4 has a different data and collection approach than UA. GA4 is event-driven, like Google Analytics for Firebase.

In the coming weeks, I will share some insights on the new elements of the new GA4 User Interface.

The concept of engaged sessions is a significant element in GA4. To discuss engaged sessions, we will first examine what a session is.

Sessions and Users

According to GA4 documentation, "a session initiates when a user either opens your app in the foreground or views a page or screen and no session is currently active (e.g. their previous session has timed out)."
A session times out after 30 minutes of inactivity.

To explain this, if a user lands on a page on your website, a session_start event is triggered. If the user closes the browser or app, the session is considered closed. If the same user revisits your website after closing the browser initially, GA4 sees this as the second session by the same user. Also, a session is closed after 30 minutes of inactivity. 
This means that one user can initiate multiple sessions. The ability of a single user to initiate multiple sessions leads to increased session counts compared to User count. 

Engaged Sessions

Engaged sessions enable you to understand how users engage on your website. According to Google Analytics, an engaged session is a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has at least two pageviews or screenviews. You configure a conversion event as a desired action users take. A conversion can be filling a form, watching a video or any action valuable to your business. Ensuring that you have engaged users above your industry standard is essential.

Engagement Rate

The engagement rate is the percentage ratio of engaged sessions to the total sessions. In contrast, bounce rate is the percentage ratio of non-engaged sessions to total sessions. The bounce rate in GA4 is measured differently from UA. 

Put mathematically,

Engagement Rate = (engaged sessions / total sessions ) * 100%

Bounce Rate = ((total sessions - engaged sessions) / total sessions ) * 100%

Bounce Rate = 100 - Engagement Rate%

You should target a lower bounce rate for your website or app.

Difference between User and Active User

At a basic level, a user is any unique device and browser combination visiting your website or app. An active user is a user that fulfils any of these conditions;

  • any user who has an engaged session.
  • any first time user (triggers first_visit event)
  • or scrolls up to 90% down the page (triggers the engagement_time_msec event)

If you need help with setting up GA4, contact us. Our experts are happy to help.