They have a similar use case. Your friendly marketer will probably compare your new visitors against those who’ve been to the site before. I bet you she has targets that are linked to acquisition of new visitors or rather new customers.
Most implementations model this by using the getNewRepeat plugin, which returns “New” for new visitors, “Repeat” for all others.
That allows you to make reports like this one:
Which is probably exactly what your friendly marketer is looking for.
So why would I do it differently?
A new visitor is a pretty simple concept — they’re on the site for the first time. Fine. I can think of situations, though, where I would want to be more specific about the repeat users. Have they been around a couple of times? A lot? There’s a difference between a casual visitor and one who comes every day, isn’t there?
That’s why I prefer the getVisitNum plugin, which returns the visit number rather than just “New” and “Repeat”.
With the resulting “variable”, I can make a New/Repeat report using Classifications. Just classify “1” as “New” and all other values as “Repeat”.
I can also create a report that is more granular. At a newspaper in the UK, they classified “1” & “2” as “New Visitor”, “3” – “5” as “Returning Visitor” and “6” and bigger as “Regular Visitor”. Makes sense.
So what happened to “keep it simple”, then?
Ok ok. Good question.
I have two arguments in my defence.
The technical one: the implementation of the getVisitNum plugin is exactly as hard or easy as that of the getNewRepeat plugin. Both go into the
doPlugins section, both are fairly small, both use a single cookie.
You will need at least one classification if you use the getVisitNum plugin, for it is despicable to force your users to see numerical values in dimensions. But in this case, you can either classify once and then forget about it, or use the classification rule builder. The latter seems like overkill, but either way it is fire and forget.
The one for the user: I always say that too much information makes users shy away from Analytics. What we have here is two reports instead of a simple one, potentially indeed a bad thing.
You can, however, rearrange your menu so users see the classified report instead of the raw data.
Then why do it in the first place?
My guess is that your friendly marketer will at some point be really happy she can do segmentation on different types of repeat visitors, and for that alone it is worth it.
There are other things that she’ll really like to find out about, such as: analysis of visit number versus first purchase or even visit number versus purchase number for those regular shoppers. How about looking at visit number in conjunction with cohorts? Split that Christmas 2014 cohort by how often they came to the site?
Media sites: you might want to check visit number versus traffic source or marketing channel. Check whether you actually manage to get people to remember your brand or whether they keep coming via search. Check where they arrive — on articles? On your home page? Does it change when visit number goes up?
Forums or social sites: check how long before your users are producing content. Is it on first visit? Third? Tenth? Try whether you can nudge them when the time is just right.
I am sure that once your friendly marketer has started thinking about new visitors, repeat visitors and what those mean, she will be very happy you gave her more than she was asking for.