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How to find sites that favor retention

I've already written on how to use Kissmetrics to find the backlinks that generate the listings. I wrote this article because we all know that backlinks are perfect for SEO, which is great for traffic, but what really matters is the quality of traffic that you get. So, this message explained how you can use a funnel report to see who came to your site and how many of them have signed up. We then segmented this traffic by the first link that sent them to our site.

This is a convenient and convenient way to use Kissmetrics to help provide information and potentially future campaigns.

But what about the stage after the first visit or registration? And retention? How do you find the sites that send you returning visitors?

The idea of ​​this post came from my own experience. I've been using DuckDuckGo (DDG) lately, and one day I just entered time just to see what would come back. I've seen that DDG uses a site called DarkSky, which I've never heard of, even though it has the # 1 paid weather app in the App Store.

I liked the layout of the site, it's ad-free content, and the forecasts were quite accurate. Now, I use it as my primary weather site.

So, I was wondering if I was working at DarkSky, how would I know where the people came from? And of all the traffic channels (direct, organic search, DDG, etc.) that send us traffic, how could I follow that to see which sources brought the highest retention? In this case, we refer to retention simply by returning to the site after their first visit.

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So here's how to find that using Kissmetrics.

The cohort report

Kissmetrics is full of reports that each serve a different purpose. Some can be used to analyze customer acquisition campaigns; others can be used for retention analysis. And some can be used for both.

The cohort report is mainly used to track retention (some even use it for conversion rates). It groups people according to similar attributes and tracks their behavior over time. In our case, we will group people who have visited our site, and we will group them according to the areas to which they were first referred.

The set up is quite easy. We will define our conditions for those who visited the site and visited the site . We will then segment by the first referent:

KM Referrer is simply the reference URL that has generated traffic to your site. If a user accesses your site through a Google search, the KM referrer is If they came from the welcome page of the Kissmetrics blog, the referent of KM would register as

It is also important to note that we track people from one week to the next. This means that every week is a "bucket". All visitors from Google in the last six months are placed in the bucket and followed each week. If they visit the second week after their first week, they will be placed in that bucket. If they do not come back in the third week, but they do it the fourth week, they will also appear in the bucket for the fourth week.

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Now that we have cleared everything up, run the report and retrieve our data:

The main thing to look for when viewing our Cohort Report is that the darker the shade of blue, the higher the retention.

So, it seems that Google's organic search sends us the most traffic.

However, we see our highest retention is the 52 people who come from For me, these data indicate that we should spend more time trying to press the cover. SEO is always great, and it has good retention, but nothing beats the traffic from

So, what does all this mean?

Traffic is the first step. The second step is retaining this traffic by bringing these people back. Find the percentage of new users coming back (using the cohort report), and see where you get above average retention (with significant traffic). It's where the Cohort report shines – showing you where you're underperforming and outperforming your core retention.


The traffic is great. Registrations are even better. But the most important part is to retain these new users. This is the only way to generate quality traffic and an audience.

So, how do you measure your progress in user retention?

It is here that cohort reports arrive. Specifically, the Kissmetrics cohort report (which was the example we used here). That's the flexibility of segmentation (you can group people by what you follow), with our tracking analysis of people means that you do not just get numbers, but also that you remember and where they come from.

This article really started answering a question: how could DarkSky (or any other site) know if the traffic that it receives from DuckDuckGo (or from another referent) is kept? And, perhaps at a higher level, how would they know if they are getting traffic from DuckDuckGo? I wrote this post to answer this question. To recap, in two steps:

  1. Run a cohort report, segmenting your group by its original provenance domain.
  2. View the number of people from this original referrer by displaying each bucket on the line in the report data.

A question? Let me know in the comments.

About the author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the blog manager for Kissmetrics.