Tracking First-Time Users

This article describes how you can do first time analysis in Mixpanel, to study user behavior before, during, and after a user's first time performing key events in your product. This core feature supports a variety of use-cases including:

  • Engagement: How many users sign up or perform another key event for the first time each week?
  • Attribution: Which referrers do most first time users come from?
  • Conversion: How quickly do users make a purchase after their first time engaging with the app?
  • Retention: How well do users retain after performing a key event for the first time?
  • Flows: What events do users perform before and after doing their first purchase?

Mixpanel offers the capability to scope down all our analysis reports down to first time users, which helps understand how well users activate in your product.

 

1st Time Filters

Simply add a 1st time filter to any event in any of our core reports to filter down the event to only the ones performed by a given user for the first time ever. Watch the video below for an in-depth walkthrough of this feature!

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How is the filter applied?

1st time filters filter down an event to the first time it was performed for a given user. It does so by:

  • Computing the earliest timestamp T the user performed the selected event
  • Filtering events for that user down to only that first one (where timestamp = T)

The power of this feature is that it doesn't just apply for simple events, it also considers filters on that event. This way, you can study very granular new user behaviors by applying arbitrary filters on your events before applying the 1st time filter. Let's review a few examples:

1st time with no filters: This returns the number of 1st time purchases.mceclip1.png

 

1st time + inline filter: This returns the number of 1st time purchases of type subscription, since the inline filter get evaluated before the 1st time check is done.mceclip0.png

1st time + inline filter + global filter: This answers: "How many 1st time subscription purchases happened in the US?" 1st time factors in the inline filter (subscription) but does not factor in the global filter (US).
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Eg: If Alice did their 1st ever subscription purchase in United States and Bob did their 1st ever subscription purchase in Canada, but their 2nd purchase in United States, this query will include Alice but not Bob, because Bob's 1st ever subscription purchase was made in Canada. Dashboard filters are also considered global filters.

Example 4: "1st time" + global breakdown

This answers: "Of 1st time subscription purchases, how many were of each category?" Global breakdowns work exactly like global filters in that they apply after the 1st time calculation.

 

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1st Time Filters FAQ

Which reports support 1st time filters?

Insights, Funnels, Flows, Retention.


Does 1st time work with groups?

Yes. If you use 1st time filters while analyzing uniques by a group (say, Accounts), we will filter down events to the first time they were performed by that group. This is useful for cases like first-time account retention.


How does Mixpanel determine whether an event was done for the 1st time by a user?

We look back over the entire project history to determine if this event was the 1st one of its type performed by each user. This aims to be true first time, with the follow exceptions for compliance reasons:

  • If user history is requested to be deleted for GDPR/CCPA compliance reasons.
  • If events are older than our standard data retention policy of 5 years.

What if a user does 2 first time events on the same second?

We use timestamp to disambiguate whether an event is the first or not for a given user. For example, Purchase for the 1st time ever will match the Purchase event with the earliest timestamp for every user.

When there is a tie in the timestamps of the first event (eg: the user does multiple first time Purchases in the same second), all of those events will be considered the "first time" and will match the filter.

We expect this to be extremely rare. If/when it does happen, the impact will be that we will count multiple 1st time events for a user. In this case, if you break down by user ID, you will see that the user did multiple first events within the same second.

Will 1st time update when events are deleted (GDPR), hidden (data views) or users are merged (ID management)?

Yes, it will respect GDPR, data views, Lexicon, ID management. If events are deleted or merged for a user, we will recompute based on that information.

The only exception is when "All Events for the 1st time ever" is used, we will still include Lexicon hidden events.

Can I use 1st time filter when defining a custom event?

While you cannot include a 1st time filter inside a custom event, you can always apply the 1st time filter to a custom event when using it in a query. Eg if you have a custom event "Purchase in the US", you can apply a 1st time filter to that event in Insights to see the # of first time Purchases in the US.

Can I calculate Nth time instead of 1st time?

Yes, you can define a funnel like this to get the "2nd ever" watch video for a user. Simply add more steps to get 3rd, 4th, 5th... events performed in a user's history.

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First Seen

Mixpanel automatically exposes a a user profile property called "First Seen", which is the timestamp of the very first event performed by a given user.

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Use-cases

  • Calculate total purchases done by users that first showed up on our platform in the past week
  • Breakdown total video watches by the "month" of the users' join date, to see the contribution of different new user cohorts to current engagement.
  • Calculate conversion from search -> download for users that joined this month


First Seen FAQ

Does this apply for users without a profile? What about for a user that has not done any events?

First Seen will be defined for any user that has done at least one event.

If a user has a profile, but no events, First Seen will not be defined for that user.

Will this work on Groups (eg. First Seen on a Billing Account)?

Yes, it will be the timestamp of the first event done by that Billing Account.

How is First Seen calculated?

First Seen is calculated based on the user's event history. This means that if events are deleted, either via GDPR or automatically via our data retention policy (by default: after 5 years of it being tracked), First Seen will update itself to the new earliest event timestamp for that user.

How does "First Seen" get calculated with Identity Merge?

First Seen will be the timestamp for the first event across the two identities.

If I define a cohort of "new users", where First Seen was in the last 7 days, can I visualize the "new users cohort" trend over time in Insights?

Unfortunately, because "First Seen" is a profile property, building a cohort of users where "First Seen" is in the last 7 days" and visualizing the trend over time in Insights won't give you dynamic cohorts over time; it will show a flat line, which represents the number of users that were "new" in the last 7 days from present date.

We recommend using 1st time filters in Insights to view new users over time.

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