Adventures in Machine Learning

Maximizing Business Performance with Cohort Analysis using Python

Cohort Analysis: Understanding Behavioral Patterns

As businesses continue to grow and expand their online presence, the importance of understanding customer behavior becomes ever more crucial. Companies require insights into the buying and selling patterns of their customers.

In response to this need, businesses have turned to cohort analysis. Cohort analysis is a powerful tool used to understand and analyze data related to a group or cohort of individuals.

Definition and Purpose

Cohort analysis is the process of grouping customers by common characteristics and then analyzing their behavior over time. The aim is to determine whether these customers share similar behaviors, such as buying activity or responses to marketing campaigns.

By grouping customers, companies can then track their behavior over time to determine whether their activity changes. This type of analysis is commonly used for e-commerce and online businesses as purchasing habits and online activity can provide valuable insights into marketing strategies.

Importance of Cohort Analysis

There are many benefits to using cohort analysis. One of the primary ones is that it allows companies to identify patterns in buying and selling activity.

By clustering customers based on shared characteristics, businesses can track their behavior and determine whether certain promotions or marketing campaigns are successful. This can help to improve business decisions, as companies can optimize their strategies according to the behavior of specific cohorts.

Cohort analysis is particularly important for businesses that operate within e-commerce or online spaces. This is because digital platforms generate vast amounts of data, which can be overwhelming.

Cohort analysis provides structure to this data by grouping it based on shared characteristics. In turn, this helps businesses to identify trends, patterns, and make better-informed decisions.

Clustering and

Cohort Identification

Cohort identification involves grouping subsets of customers based on shared characteristics. Time series data is used to identify the different cohorts based on a defining characteristic, such as the month of their first purchase, or the year they first signed up for a product or service.

Other defining characteristics might include demographic data such as age, gender, or education level. Once the cohorts are established, businesses can track their behavior over time.

By identifying similarities in behavior, businesses can pinpoint areas for improvement or optimization. This is often useful for marketing campaigns and for creating personalized customer experiences.

Examples of Cohort Analysis


Cohort analysis is particularly useful for e-commerce. Here, businesses often have to navigate through large quantities of customer data and identify trends.

One use case is when tracking the behavior of new users versus old users. By grouping these users in different cohorts, businesses can determine whether retention rates are improving over time and make optimizations accordingly.

Similarly, cohort analysis allows businesses to determine which marketing campaigns are having the desired effect by segmenting users according to the campaigns they have been exposed to. Personalization is another area where cohort analysis can be used within e-commerce.

By grouping customers based on their behavior, businesses can create more personalized experiences online. This can help to improve retention rates, as customers are more likely to return to websites that offer a tailored experience.


Cohort analysis isn’t limited to e-commerce, though. It is also useful in the world of video platforms and online content producers.

One key example is


YouTube uses cohort analysis to track viewer retention rates.

This allows them to determine whether new or old users have a greater likelihood of returning to the platform.

YouTube also uses cohort analysis to personalize its home feed.

By grouping users based on their viewing activity,

YouTube can provide suggestions for new content based on the behavioral trends of each cohort.


Cohort analysis is a valuable tool for businesses operating in online spaces. Through grouping customers based on shared characteristics, businesses can track changes in buying and selling activity over time.

This can be used to improve marketing strategies, create personalized customer experiences, and optimize business performance. Cohort analysis is particularly useful for e-commerce, where navigating through large quantities of customer data can be challenging.

Similarly, video platforms like

YouTube use cohort analysis to track viewer retention rates and personalize home feeds. Ultimately, cohort analysis provides businesses with a better understanding of customer behavior, enabling them to make more informed decisions about how to serve and grow their customer base.

Cohort Analysis: Steps and Components

Cohort analysis can provide valuable insights to help businesses understand customers’ behavior patterns over time. The process can help businesses identify trends, respond to marketing tactics, and optimize business practices.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at the various steps necessary to perform effective cohort analysis and the importance of understanding the key components.

Objective Determination

One of the first steps in performing a cohort analysis is defining the objective or the purpose of the analysis. It is essential to identify the practical issues that need to be resolved and find the root cause behind them.

Defining the purpose is crucial as it guides the analysis throughout the process.

Metric Definition

It is essential to define the metrics that will be analyzed during the process. These metrics should be relevant and accurately reflect the problem that is being defined.

For instance, when dealing with a video platform, the metrics could be viewer retention rates, watch time, or click-through rates. It is crucial to keep the metric as simple and clearly defined as possible.

Cohort Identification

The next crucial step is cohort identification. This involves grouping or segmenting users according to specific criteria.

There are many ways to group users, including demographic data, geographic data, user behaviors, and any other similarities or differences. The process is crucial as it allows for easy comparison between different segments and provides insights into user behavior.

Performing Cohort Analysis

Performing cohort analysis involves visualizing user behavior data. This step often involves data visualization tools, such as Python or R programs that utilize libraries to display the data most effectively.

The resultant data visualization will offer insights that can be used to optimize business practices to reduce losses and optimize revenue.

Results Testing

Once the analysis is complete, it is crucial to test the results and ensure that the changes made optimize the business practices. This testing allows businesses to see if there were any significant changes and if the analysis was helpful in identifying any areas of concern.

Cohort Components

To perform a cohort analysis, it is crucial to understand the components that make up a cohort. Time is an essential component of the cohort, as it tracks user behavior over a specific duration.

Size is another important attribute as it determines the size of the cohort group. The behavior of the cohort is the third component, and it defines the observed customer behaviors over time.

The last component of a cohort is the user retention rate, which is the percentage of customers that remain after a certain period.

Cohort Indexing

The next step after identifying the cohort components is cohort indexing. This involves determining the cohort index, which is typically based on the month or first visit date of each user within the cohort.

For instance, a cohort of users who signed up for a service in January is indexed according to that month.

Cohort Table Creation

The last step of cohort analysis involves creating a pivot table that displays data on an individual product, service or platform. The pivot table technology is essential to quickly move and analyze data.

After creating the table, a heat map can then be used to visualize retention rates from each cohort visually. In conclusion, cohort analysis can offer valuable insights that can help businesses optimize their practices and boost revenue.

Understanding the steps required and the components of a cohort are crucial to performing accurate and successful analyses. By following these steps, businesses can track user behaviors over time and make informed decisions to optimize business performance.

Cohort Analysis using Python

Python is one of the most popular programming languages for data analysis and visualization. With its rich set of libraries and modules, Python makes it relatively easy to perform cohort analysis on a wide variety of data sets.

Here, we’ll walk through the steps needed to perform cohort analysis using Python with an online retail data set as an example.

Dataset Acquisition

Before starting, we need to acquire a dataset on which to perform cohort analysis. There are several sources from which a data set can be obtained, including the UCL Machine Learning API and Kaggle.

In this example, we will use the Online Retail data set, which can be downloaded from Kaggle.

Data Import

After downloading the data set, the next step is to import it into Python. To do this, we need to import the required modules, such as pandas, numpy, matplotlib, and seaborn.

Once the modules have been imported, the data must be displayed and cleaned to remove any anomalies or errors.

Cohort Creation

The cohort creation step is essential to generate cohorts that can be used for analysis. In the case of the Online Retail data set, the relevant data are grouped by invoice month to create a cohort month column.

The invoice month is then sorted in ascending order, and the cohort index is created. One easy way of creating a cohort index is to subtract each customer’s invoice month from the cohort month to determine the number of months since they became a customer.

Pivot Table Formation

After creating cohorts, the next task is to create a pivot table that groups the cohort data by sales period and cohort group. To accomplish this, we must group the data into cohorts and purchase patterns to create distinct customer segments.

We then create a pivot table that displays the retention rate of each cohort for a given sales period.

Heatmap Visualization

The last step of cohort analysis is to produce a heatmap that visually represents the data. The heatmap will indicate the percentage of customers in each cohort that remain active over time.

The heatmap can be used to visualize customer behavior and provide insights into retention rates and optimize usage. In conclusion, Python has become a go-to programming language for data analysis and visualization tasks, including cohort analysis.

By following these steps, it is possible to perform cohort analysis on a wide range of data sets, including the Online Retail data set. With its rich set of libraries and modules, Python streamlines the data analysis process and simplifies data visualization.

By leveraging Python’s tools and resources, businesses can gain valuable insights that can help with decision-making and optimize customer experiences. In conclusion, cohort analysis is a valuable tool for businesses looking to understand customer behavior and optimize business practices.

The process involves grouping customers based on characteristics and analyzing their behavior over time. Cohort analysis enables businesses to identify trends, respond to marketing tactics, and optimize customer experiences.

Steps include objective determination, metric definition, cohort identification, analysis, and result testing. Cohort components include time, size, behavior, and user retention.

Python is a popular programming language used to perform cohort analysis, with steps including data acquisition, importation, cohort creation, pivot table formation, and heatmap visualization. By employing cohort analysis and leveraging Python’s tools and resources, businesses can gain valuable insights that lead to more informed decision-making and greater profitability.

Popular Posts