How to Run Cohort Analysis in Excel

Cohort analysis is a powerful analytical technique that allows you to track and analyze the behavior of specific groups of users over time. It provides insights into user retention, engagement, and patterns of behavior. While there are specialized tools for cohort analysis, you can also perform it in Excel, leveraging its features to gain actionable insights from your data.

What is Cohort Analysis?

Cohort analysis involves segmenting users into groups based on a common attribute or characteristic and then tracking their behavior over time. This helps identify trends, patterns, and changes in user engagement and retention. Cohort analysis is widely used in various fields, including business, marketing, and product development, to understand user behavior and make informed decisions.

Types of Cohort Analysis

There are several types of cohort analysis you can perform, including:

Type Description
Time-Based Cohorts Groups formed based on a specific time period, such as a month or a quarter.
Behavior-Based Cohorts Groups formed based on a specific action or behavior, such as signing up or making a purchase.
Attribute-Based Cohorts Groups formed based on shared characteristics, such as age, location, or subscription type.

Each type of cohort analysis provides different insights into user behavior and can help answer specific questions about your audience.

How to Build a Cohort Analysis in Excel in 5 Steps

Performing a cohort analysis in Excel involves a few key steps:

  1. Data Preparation: Organize your data with the necessary attributes and timestamps.
  2. Create Cohorts: Define your cohorts based on the criteria you’re analyzing.
  3. Calculate Metrics: Calculate relevant metrics for each cohort over time.
  4. Build a Cohort Table: Construct a table that displays the metrics for each cohort and time period.
  5. Visualize Results: Create charts and graphs to visualize the trends and patterns in your cohort data.
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Cohort Analysis in Excel

Performing cohort analysis in Excel is a versatile approach that allows you to uncover meaningful insights from your data. Here’s a more detailed look at how to conduct cohort analysis using Excel:

Data Preparation

Begin by gathering your data and ensuring it’s structured appropriately. Your dataset should include user attributes and timestamps for their interactions or activities. For example, if you’re analyzing user engagement with an online platform, your columns might include user IDs, signup dates, and usage frequency.

Create Cohorts

Identify the criteria you want to use for creating cohorts. These could be time-based, behavior-based, or attribute-based, as discussed earlier. Divide your data into these cohorts and assign each user to the appropriate group based on their attributes or actions.

Calculate Metrics

Determine the metrics you want to track within each cohort over time. Common metrics include retention rate, average revenue per user, conversion rates, and more. Use Excel’s built-in functions to calculate these metrics for each cohort during different time intervals.

Build a Cohort Table

Create a table in Excel where each row represents a cohort and each column represents a time period. Populate the table with the calculated metrics for each cohort and time interval. This tabular structure allows you to visualize trends and compare metrics across cohorts.

Visualize Results

Excel offers a range of charting and graphing options to visualize your cohort analysis results. Create line charts, bar graphs, or heatmaps to represent how metrics change over time within different cohorts. Visualizations make it easier to identify patterns and trends within your data.

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Excel’s Benefits for Cohort Analysis

Excel’s familiarity, flexibility, and calculation capabilities make it an accessible tool for cohort analysis. Its features allow you to perform cohort analysis without the need for advanced statistical software. However, it’s important to note that Excel might have limitations when dealing with large datasets and complex calculations.

Considerations and Limitations

While Excel is a valuable tool for cohort analysis, it might not be the ideal choice for large-scale, intricate analyses. As your data grows and analysis requirements become more complex, you might consider transitioning to specialized analytics platforms that offer scalability and advanced visualization options.

Key Takeaways

  • Cohort analysis helps track user behavior over time and provides insights into engagement and retention.
  • Excel can be used for cohort analysis by organizing data, calculating metrics, and visualizing results.
  • Consider specialized tools for more complex cohort analysis as your dataset grows.


Q: Can I perform cohort analysis with historical data?
Yes, you can perform cohort analysis with historical data to understand user behavior trends over previous periods.
Q: Are there Excel templates available for cohort analysis?
Yes, you can find various Excel templates that offer pre-built structures for cohort analysis.

Running cohort analysis in Excel is a valuable approach for gaining insights into user behavior and making data-driven decisions. By following the steps outlined and understanding its limitations, you can effectively analyze cohorts and uncover actionable insights.