Using cumulative cohort reports to find groups of the best repeat buyers

A Repeat Customer Insights customers was asking about how the cumulative orders in the Cohorts Report work:

Why doesn’t the sum of month 1 to n on the cohort customers % match the nth month for the cumulative cohort %?

The percentages are based on how many unique customers have bought out of the whole cohort. It’s like a tallying system. They are great to see how active customers are after their first purchase.

An example can make it easier:

Cohort 2021-03 has Jim, Michael, and Pam who first purchased in that month (March 2021).

  • In April 2021, Jim and Michael bought again.
  • In May, Jim bought again.

Percentage-wise each month would look like this (non-cumulative):

  • April 66% of customers purchased (Jim and Michael)
  • May 33% (only Jim)

Cumulative it would be:

  • April 66% (so far Jim and Michael)
  • May 66% (still only Jim and Michael. Even though Jim has bought again)

Pam has never bought again so that cohort won’t reach 100% until she does. Once she does, it’ll be 100% for the rest of time.

Another way of reading the Cohort percentage data is: “what percentage of customers have reordered in this month?”

The cumulative would then be read as: “what percentage of customers have reordered at least once by this month?”

Strategy-wise, a cohort with a 66% ordering rate means you should copy whatever you did to attract those customers. Re-run those ads, send those emails again, etc, do whatever you did so that new and existing customers get similar messages.

Eric Davis

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