When working with SiteCatalyst clients, I often see them ask questions related to how often a particular Success Event takes place at least once during a visit. Examples of this might include the following questions:
In what percent of visits do visitors add an item to the shopping cart?
How often to visitors who add items to the cart reach checkout?
What percent of visits do visitors conduct an onsite search?
At first glance, these seem like easy questions to answer, but I see clients making mistakes with these questions. For example, let’s say that you want to answer the first question above and see the percent of all visits that add items to the shopping cart. Most clients would approach this question by creating a calculated metric that divides Cart Additions (scAdd) by Visits. While this seems logical, it will not give you the correct answer, since visitors can add multiple items to the shopping cart within the visit. If Visitor X adds three items to the cart in the visit, the formula in our calculated metric would be:
The issue is that since most people look at this metric for all visits, the individual Cart Addition numbers are obfuscated and you are often seeing an inflated percentage for Cart Add/Visit %. In fact, the same issue applies to all of the questions listed above. If you are looking to compare Cart Additions to Checkouts, multiple Cart Additions or Checkouts taking place in a visit could inflate your ratio.
So how would you resolve this issue? There are several ways in SiteCatalyst to accurately report on the preceding questions so I will share the various methods at your disposal.
Using De-Duped Success Metrics
The easiest way to resolve the preceding dilemma is to set an additional “de-duped” version of metrics that you want to see in calculated metrics like the ones above. Personally, I wish Adobe provided an easy way in SiteCatalyst to see a de-duped version of every Success Event, but that is not currently available. Therefore, you will have to create a second Success Event for those metrics that you want to use in these types of Calculated Metrics. Keep in mind that you are limited to around one hundred Success Events so you won’t want to do this for all of your Success Events, so use your best judgment.
In this case, let’s assume that you are interested in seeing an accurate percent of visits in which a Cart Addition took place. To do this, every time you set the normal Cart Addition Success Event (scAdd), you should set a second, custom Success Event and call it something like “Cart Adds (De-Duped).” For this second Success Event, you will want to apply Success Event serialization to prevent the event from being counted more than once in a visit. I would recommend using “Once per Visit” serialization since it requires less tagging and can be enabled by ClientCare. By setting this new Success Event, you will have a count of how often visitors add items to the cart, but it will only be counted once, regardless of how many times the visitor adds items to the shopping cart within the visit. When this is complete, you can create a calculated metric that divides this “Cart Adds (De-Duped)” metric by the Visits metric to see an accurate ratio for visits in which at least one Cart Addition took place:
To see the impact of this, let’s imagine that you had five website visitors that performed the following actions:
In this scenario, if we used a calculated metric that used Cart Additions and Visits, our ratio would be 120% for these five visitors. Obviously, this isn’t representative of what really happened. However, if we use our new “Cart Additions De-Duped” Success Event, we will only count one Cart Addition per Visit and see the following data:
Doing this provides a more accurate representation that 60% of visits contained at least one Cart Addition. And since you now have a Calculated Metric that is trustworthy, you can see the answer to this question trended over time using a report like the one shown here:
This Calculated Metric can be easily added to a SiteCatalyst Dashboard and can be used like any other Calculated Metric.
Note: Some companies implement the Carts (scOpen) Success Event at the first shopping cart addition and de-dup it using “Once per Visit” serialization. This is a similar approach, so if you are doing this, you can use the Carts Success Event divided by Visits to see the same cart rate.
As you can see, the addition of one more Success Event allows us to greatly improve our reporting for cases in which you want to see if something happened at least once in a website visit. If you look at the other questions posed above, you will see that the same concept can be applied. For example, if you want to see an accurate ratio of times that visitors do at least one Cart Addition and one Checkout, you might create a “De-Duplicated” version of Cart Additions and Checkouts and use those versions in your Calculated Metric.
Keep in mind that these new “De-Duplicated” metrics will not be accurate when used in Conversion Variable reports (i.e. Products Report, eVars, etc…) since they will only be counted the first time the Success Event takes place. This means that if a visitor adds three products to the shopping cart, only the first product will be associated with a value in the conversion variable (i.e. Product XYZ). These new “De-duplicated” metrics should only be used in global website calculated metrics and the normal metrics (i.e. Cart Additions) should be used in detailed Conversion Variable reports.
If you are averse to using more Success Events to answer the questions above, it is possible to answer them using Segmentation. I think this method is more cumbersome, but will describe how to do it for educational purposes.
To use Segmentation to answer any “how often did X happen in a visit” question, you will have to create a Visit-based segment that isolates visits in which the Success Event in question took place. Using the preceding example, if you wanted to see how often visits contained a Cart Addition, you would create a Visit segment and add the Cart Addition Success Event to the segment as shown here:
Once you have this segment, you can open the Visits report and see how many Visits took place in the desired timeframe. For this example, let’s use the data for the five visitors we described above. In this case, three of the five visits would qualify to be included in the segment so our Visits report would show a total of three. Now you can write that number down and then remove the segment (go back to “All Visits”) and look at the same Visits report for the entire population. In this case, you would see a total of five visits, so you can divide the three Cart Addition visits by the total visits to get the same 60% we saw above. If this is something you will be doing on a recurring basis, you can automate this process using Adobe ReportBuilder. To do this, you would create two different data blocks in Excel – one for all Visits and one for Visits with the above segment applied. Then you can create a formula that divides the totals of these two data blocks and trend it over time using a custom graph.
As I mentioned previously, I think this approach is more time consuming, but it does save Success Events if that is a concern.
Page Name Approach
In theory, there is another way to answer these types of questions, though I don’t recommend it. This approach involves using Page Names. To do this, you can use Adobe ReportBuilder to isolate the specific page on which a Success Event takes place (i.e. Cart Addition page) and look at that pages’ Visit count and divide it by total Visits. However, since page names can be unreliable and it still requires work in Adobe ReportBuilder, I don’t recommend this approach.
If you ever have questions in which people ask you how often something took place at least once in a website visit, I hope that you will think about these concepts and make sure that you are accurately answering them for your organization. While some of these concepts are a bit complex, they can save you the embarrassment of reporting inflated conversion metrics to your organization.
One of the parts of Adobe SiteCatalyst implementations that is often overlooked is the actual naming of SiteCatalyst variables in the Administration Console. In this post, I’d like to share some tips that have helped me over the years in hopes that it will make your lives easier. If you are an administrator you can use these tips directly in the Administration Console. If you are an end-user, you can suggest these to your local SiteCatalyst administrator.
Use ALL CAPS For Impending Variables
There are often cases in which you will define SiteCatalyst variables with a name, but not yet have data contained within them. This may be due to an impending code release or you may have data being passed to the new variable, but it hasn’t yet been fully QA’d to the point that you are willing to let people use the data. Of course, you always have the option to use the menu customization tool to hide new variable reports until they are ready, but sometimes it is fun to let your users know what types of data are planned and coming soon. Anther reason to enter names into variable slots ahead of time is to make sure that your co-workers don’t re-use a specific variable slot for a different piece of data, which can mess up your multi-suite tagging architecture.
So now, let’s get to the first tip. If you have cases in which you have variables that are coming soon, I use the Administration Console to name these variables in ALL CAPS. This is an easy way to communicate to your users that these variables are coming soon, but not ready to be used. All you have to do is explain to your SiteCatalyst users what the ALL CAPS naming convention means. Below is an example of what this might look like in real life:
I have found that this simple trick can prevent many implementation issues. For example, I have seen many cases where SiteCatalyst clients open a variable report and either see no data or faulty data. This diminishes the credibility of your web analytics program and over time can turn people off with respect to using SiteCatalyst. By making sure that reports that are not in ALL CAPS (proper case) are dependable, you can build trust with your users. When you are sure that one of your new variables is ready for prime time, simply go to the Administration Console and rename the variable to remove the ALL CAPS and you will have let your end-users know that you have a new variable/report that they can dig into.
Some of my customers ask me why I wouldn’t simply use the user security feature of SiteCatalyst to only let administrators and testers see these soon to be deployed variables. That is a good question. It is possible to hand-pick which variables each SiteCatalyst user has access to using the Administration area. Unfortunately, you can only limit access to Success Events and Traffic Variables (sProps). For reasons unbeknownst to me, you cannot limit access to Conversion Variables (eVars), which are often the most important variables (I have requested the ability to limi access to eVars in the Idea Exchange if you want to vote for it!). But you can certainly use this approach to limit access to two out of the three variable types if desired. Another approach I have seen used is to to move all of these impending ALL CAPS variables to an “Admin” folder using the menu customizer.
Add Variable Identifiers to Variable Names
As you learn more about SiteCatalyst, you will eventually learn the differences between the different variable types (Success Events, eVars and sProps). I have even seen that some power users end up learning the numbers of the specific variables they use for a specific analysis, such as eVar10 or sProp12. While normally, only administrators and developers care about which specific variable numbers are used for each data element, I have found that there are benefits to sharing this information with end-users in a non-obtrusive manner.
For example, let’s say that you want to capture which onsite (internal) search terms are used by website visitors. You would want to capture that in a Conversion Variable (eVar) to see KPI success taking place after that search term is used, but you also might want to capture the phrases in a Traffic Variable (sProp) so you can enable Pathing and see the order in which terms are used. In this case, if you create an eVar and an sProp for “Internal Search Terms” and label them as such, it can be difficult for your SiteCatalyst users to distinguish between the eVar version of the variable and the sProp version of the variable (which is even more difficult if you customize your menus).
Obviously, you can choose any identifier that you’d like, but these have worked for me since they are short and make sense to those who have used SiteCatalyst for a while. Another side benefit of this approach is that if you ever need to find a report in a hurry and you know its variable number, you can simply enter this identifier in the report search box to access the report without having to figure out where it has been placed in the menu structure. Here is an example of this:
Front-Load Success Event Names
When you are naming SiteCatalyst variables, you should do your best to be as succinct as possible as having long variable names can have adverse effects on your menus and report column headings. However, there is one issue related to variable naming that is unique to Success Events I wanted to highlight. Let’s imagine that you have a multi-step credit card application process and you want to track a few of the steps in different Success Events. In this case, you might use the Administration Console and set-up variables as shown here:
In this case, the variable name is a bit lenghty, but more importantly, the key differentiator of the variable name occurs at the end of the name. So why does this matter? Well let’s take a look at how these Success Event names will look when we go to add them to a report in SiteCatalyst:
Uh, oh! Since the key aspects of these variable names are at the end, they are not visible when it comes to adding metrics to reports. This makes it difficult to know which Success Event is for step1, 2, 3, etc… You can hover over the variable name to see its full description, but this is much more time consuming. I have asked Adobe repeatedly to make the “Add Metrics” dialog box horizontal instead of vertical but have not had any success with this (you can vote for this!). In this case, I would suggest you change the names of these Success Events to something like this:
Which would then look like this when selecting metrics:
Keep in mind that there is no correlation between the length of the variable definition box in the Admin Console and when the Success Event name will get cut-off in the Add Metrics dialog box so don’t get tricked into believing that if it fits in the box you will be ok!
These are just a few variable naming tips that I would suggest you consider to make your life a bit easier. If you have other suggestions or ideas, please leave them here as comments so others can benefit from them. Thanks!
Since this is a bit “last minute” I need your help to spread the word and get folks registered for the class. If you know anyone in Europe that is interested in learning how SiteCatalyst works behind the scenes and how to do some advanced implementation techniques, please have them sign-up on the London eMetrics website. Did I mention that all attendees get a copy of my Adobe SiteCatalyst Handbook?
I have received many questions about the date it is available and formats. The book is available in both hardcopy and digitally from the Pearson publishing site using the preceding link. The book is also available on Amazon.com and in the iTunes Bookstore. You can check out the table of contents on the Pearson site as well as on these other sites.
To hear more about the making of the book, you can listen to Rudi and I discuss it on this podcast. If you have any questions, please leave them here as a comment. Thanks and enjoy the book!
It has been a few months since I have been able to blog (or podcast) and I have started received some e-mails from readers asking where I have been! I apologize for the hiatus, but have been busy during this time. In this quick post, I wanted to update you on why I have been gone and hopefully you will forgive me once I explain.
I am very excited about this project, but it has been way more work than I anticipated. While my hundreds of blog posts have provided lots of good starting material, I decided to re-write everything from the ground up to present the most relevant and up-to-date product information. I even got my friend Kevin Willeitner to help me write a bonus chapter on Adobe ReportBuilder!
The book will focus on three main areas:
Understanding how SiteCatalyst works and all of the features you need to understand to take full advantage of the product.
An overview of how to use the SiteCatalyst interface so you can help your end-users understand what they can do once they get access to the tool.
Example applications of the product features including some best practices and tips and tricks for solving business questions with SiteCatalyst.
While the book won’t cover the implementation (tagging) side of the product, it should have a little something for everyone who uses SiteCatalyst. This book, on top of my regular consulting projects has kept me very busy! My hope is to get back to more regular blogging once the book is released. I apologize for the silence, but I think having the book out there will ultimately prove to be more valuable than a few months of extra blog posts. The book is due out around October 25th and is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.
Top Gun Training Class
In addition to clients and a book, I was asked by the great folks at eMetrics to conduct a one-day advanced SiteCatalyst class in conjunction with the Boston eMetrics conference. As a consultant, I frequently conduct what I call “Top Gun” SiteCatalyst training classes for my clients. In this class, I explain all aspects of the SiteCatalyst product and explain how each works behind the scenes. I have found that many clients have only a basic understanding of SiteCatalyst and never get to the advanced features that are so powerful. Providing these private training sessions has been fun for me and very educational for my clients. Now, as part of eMetrics, I will be doing an abbreviated one-day version of this class. This class is open to anyone who wants to learn more about SiteCatalyst, though it is offered at a discount if you are attending the eMetrics conference as well. If it goes well, my hope is to conduct a similar class in San Francisco at the eMetrics conference in April 2013 (also, it gets cold here in Chicago in November so if anyone reading this lives in London and wants this class for London eMetrics, please let me know!). Over the last few months I have been working on this training class and I think it will help attendees think about new ways they can use SiteCatalyst at their organization. If you are interested in attending, you can learn more by clicking here.
Lastly, all of us Demystifiers have been gearing up for our next ACCELERATE conference taking place in Boston this October. These events have been a blast and this one is at a super-cool venue. If you are on the east coast, come join us for this event (it is free!). You can learn more and register by clicking here.
As you can see, even though I have been in a bit of a cocoon, I have been busy and hope that the things I have been working on will pay off for all of you in the near future. I hope to get back to my regular blog posts in the fall (or sooner if I can) so stay tuned!
I was recently working with a client who had some interesting questions. In general, he wanted to see different derivations of how long products had been in the shopping cart prior to being purchased. Some of his detailed questions included:
Of all visitors hitting my website today, how many already have items in their Shopping Cart (which is persistent on this website)?
For those visiting the site today, for how long have they had items in their Shopping Cart? (i.e. 1 Day, 10 Days, etc…)?
At the time visitors purchase items, for how many days had they had items in the Shopping Cart?
Is it possible to see cart duration by product?
While it is easy to see why this might be interesting to know, after some reflection, it turned out to not be a very straight-forward thing to understand/report upon using Adobe SiteCatalyst. I wrestled with a few different ways to answer these questions, but ran into a few roadblocks. In the end (and after bouncing some ideas off some friends), I settled on an approach that seemed to work (by no means the only one), so thought I would share it in case it is helpful to others out there with the same questions. If you have the Adobe Insight product, solving this question is much easier, but this post will deal with answering it for those of us who only have SiteCatalyst.
Establishing Cart Addition Date
The first challenge is to identify the date on which each visitor added items to the Shopping Cart. This is similar to an earlier post I had about Date Stamping, but with a twist. In the Date Stamping post, we just set the current date of each visit, but in this case, we want to set the date that a Product was added to the Shopping Cart (I suggest you use an eVar with original value, expiring at the Purchase event). Once you have done this and have data processing for a while, you can open the new Persistent Cart Date eVar report and add the Visits metric and see a report like this (in this example using the current date of 3/3/12):
Here we can see that we have answered our first question. By looking at the “None” row, we can see that approximately 92% of the time, Visits are from people that have not previously added items to their Shopping Cart (does not include those pesky cookie deleters!). If you broke this report down by the Products variable, you would be able to see the actual products that were associated with each date:
Identifying Duration in Cart
Our next challenge is to determine exactly how many days products have been in the shopping cart. As mentioned above, there are actually two flavors of this question. The first is to see how long ago products were added to the shopping cart at the time the current visit takes place, and the other is to see how long ago products were added to the shopping cart at the time a purchase takes place. We’ll start with the former.
With the preceding report and its breakdown by the Products variable, we have all of the key elements needed to figure out how long items have been in the shopping cart. However, to calculate this, it’s easier to use Microsoft Excel so I suggest you move the data to a spreadsheet using ReportBuilder or Data Extracts and then adding some formulas to break out the data as shown here (I have replaced the None row with the value “NO CART” in Excel):
Once this is done, you can create a pivot table to group like items together and build a report like this (for illustrative purposes, I only created a few rows but in reality there would be many more rows of dates in this report):
In this pivot table, we can still see our same 8% of Visits with no items in the shopping cart, but now we can see that our largest percentage is tied to cases where visits had items in the cart for 6 days. If you had more data, the next logical step would be to group the number of days into meaningful buckets using SAINT Classifications or directly in Excel. Also, note that instead of moving data to Excel, another way to create a report like the one shown here would be to create a SAINT Classification file that maps the current date to the number of days in the past (i.e. 3/2/12 = 1 Day), but we’d have to update the SAINT file each time to adjust for the current date which would be a pain!
Next, since we have the report data by product ID, we can also break down the above pivot table by product to see which products are associated with each # of Days in the cart:
Conversely, if your organization is more product-focused, you can flip the pivot table and look at Product ID’s by days in shopping cart like this (which will have more values per product ID when the data is real!):
You will note that these reports help us answer the first cart duration question which is how long products were in the shopping cart at the time a Visit took place, but the same process can be used to answer the second question which is how long products have been in the shopping cart at the time of purchase. To do this, all we need to do is modify our original SiteCatalyst report to show Orders instead of Visits like this:
Note that in this case, we should no longer see a “None” row since to complete an Order, something must have been added to the shopping cart prior to purchase. It’s likely that you will also see that the majority of the rows are for the current date (which in this case is 3/3/2012). Once you create this report, you export it to Excel and create the table and pivot table in the same manner described above. This might result in a report that looks something like this:
Product-Specific Cart Duration
The last question to be answered is related to the duration in cart of each product. In the examples above, we have set a date when products were added to cart, but this date was a general one or the date that the first product was added to the shopping cart. There will be cases when you want to get more granular and know the date for each product since visitors can add a product to the cart on 2/28/12 and then add different products to the cart on 3/1/12. If you desire this level of detail, in addition to setting the Persistent Cart eVar described above, you can set an additional Merchandising eVar (with “Original Value” allocation and expire at the “Purchase” event). This will “bind” the date to the specific product that is being added to the shopping cart. Since this is more complex, I won’t go into all of the intricacies here, but if you have questions, feel free to contact me.
As you can see, this is a somewhat complex solution, but should get you the answers you need. There may be other ways to answer these questions, so if you have tackled this, feel free to leave a comment here. Thanks!
Every once in a while, especially when I am working with large clients, I ask them a simple question that befuddles them. The question I ask is this:
“Do you know much money you are spending each month on paid advertising that is being used by your own internal employees?”
After they pause for a moment, and realize that they don’t in fact know the answer to this, I sometimes see a spark of panic in their eyes. If I could read their minds it might go something tike this:
“Why is he asking this? Should I know that? I’m sure our employees are smart enough to not use paid advertising like paid Google keywords or display ads to get to our own website right? I hope so… But what if 10% of our ad spend is on lazy employees coming to our website through paid search? Urghhh!!!”
At this point, I assure them that they are probably not wasting a huge amount of their marketing budget on their own employees, but the reason I ask is that it is very easy to know and make sure that you don’t have an issue. Therefore, in this post, I thought I’d show you a simple way to quantify this.
Excluding Employee Traffic
The first step in seeing how much you are spending in advertising on your own employees is to isolate your own internal employee traffic. The good news is that this is something you should already be doing today. If you aren’t, you should start doing this right away. The easiest way to exclude employee traffic is to identify the corporate IP address ranges that your company uses. While this is not perfect, it should be close enough. Even if you have remote employees, hopefully they are using a secure VPN which will route their traffic through your corporate IP ranges (one hint for Adobe SiteCatalyst customers is that if you have IP ranges that change frequently I would suggest implementing a DB VISTA rule that has all of your IP address ranges since that will allow you to add/remove them as needed). Once you know these IP ranges, you can either move that traffic to a different data set (i.e. report suite for Adobe SiteCatalyst customers) or tag them as “employees” in a web analytics variable and build a segment to isolate this traffic. Regardless of how you do this, the ultimate goal is to have a data set or segment that you are pretty sure represents your employees.
External Campaign Reports
Once you have your employee traffic, the next step is to look at your campaigns report for this employee segment. If you are doing a good job with your external campaign reporting, you should have a way to see how many visits you are getting from each paid advertising element or from each marketing channel as a whole. For example, here is a sample SiteCatalyst report showing how many Paid Search (SEM) Visits took place as seen in a report suite that contains only employee traffic:
As we can see here, we’re getting a few hundred visits each week. Next we can compute an average cost for Paid Search advertising and get a rough estimate of how much money we are spending on employees for Paid Search. In this example, for the week of September 25th, we had 372 visits from Paid Search and if our average cost per ad was $3.50, our estimated cost would be $1,302 which annualized would be around $65,000. Depending upon the size of your advertising budgets, that could be good or bad. But let’s say that you work for American Express and have over 60,000 employees. It could be the case that you have 20,000 paid search visits from employees in a given month. If the average cost of paid search keywords were $.50, you could be spending $120,000 of your marketing budget on employees! That could get you a few extra web analysts on your team!
Also keep in mind that the same principle applies to display advertising and other marketing channels that cost you money. Finally, if you need to isolate the specific advertisements that are being used, you can do this by looking at the detailed tracking codes in your campaigns report. I have found that it is normally the branded advertisements that are the top culprits.
Hopefully, after doing this quick analysis, you’ll find out that you don’t have any major issues. But if you do find that your employees are being a bit lazy and eating up large portions of your marketing dollars, there are some simple ways to rectify this. I have found that at large companies, most of the time, employees aren’t aware that they are actually costing their employer money. While people like us live and breathe online marketing, your employees may have no concept of how online advertising works. By using the data you create in your analysis, you can spread the word through company newsletters or intranets and educate the company no how much money is being wasted and ask employees to use free tools like SEO links if they need to get to the website.
Besides saving your company a little bit (or a lot!) of money, this is a fun way to show executives at your company the power of web analytics. If the amount of money you save by doing this analysis is significant, feel free to use the data to get you some additional headcount or tools that you have been longing for!
As always, the Adobe (Omniture) Summit is a hectic, whirlwind affair! Each year, I look forward to it and then it seems to come and go so quickly. This year was no exception and the event was bigger than ever. While many of us “old-timers” miss the days of the event being in Park City or at the Grand America hotel, it looks like those days are over since the event is getting bigger and bigger every year. I thought I’d share some of my impressions of the event related to the web analytics portion of the conference and I also have a related question for you at the end of this post.
Web Analytics Announcements
I think the biggest difference in this year’s Summit was the focus on the suite of Adobe products. To say that web analytics was downplayed this year is an understatement. During the opening session, it was clear that diversification was the theme and only a few announcements related to web analytics were made (i.e. Discover 3). It was clear that this was no longer an Omniture Summit, but rather a venue to show all attendees the breadth of the full Adobe Digital Marketing Suite including CQ, Efficient Frontier and others. While I understand the rationale here, part of me was sad to see an event so heavily focused on web analytics in the past morph into a new type of Summit, but that’s what happens as a result of acquisitions (for me it was kind of like when you see an actor who you loved in leading roles relegated to a supporting role later in their career!). But I do think that the integration of analytics into the other Adobe products is exciting and the wave of the future.
Obviously, the announcement of Discover 3 is exciting for us web analysts. This release has been a long time coming and provides some much needed cross-visit pathing and attribution improvements. While I had hoped these features would be part of SiteCatalyst, for now, I will gladly use Discover 3 to take analyses to the next level. Tim Lott and his team have done a complete overhaul of the product and the new “table builder” features look really cool (especially to those of us who love Excel Pivot Tables!).
I was encouraged by the announcement of the planned “virtual analyst” feature that was shown at the closing session. While this feature is really playing “catch-up” to Google Analytics (Intelligence), it’s great that SiteCatalyst will help web analysts identify some areas to investigate when doing web analysis. I find that many clients are not sure where to start and this feature will go a long way to nudging people in the right direction. I also liked the ability to see when web analytics data is exceeding standard data ranges. While it has been somewhat possible to do this using Alerts, I think the proposed visualizations will be much easier for people to use and understand.
Another cool item shown was the proposed geo-mapping feature that JD Nyland demonstrated. Now, instead of exporting SiteCatalyst data to a tool like Tableau, it will be possible to view web analytics data on a map and even build segments by dragging across states and cities. I think this would be very handy, especially for those who sell online and through brick and mortar stores.
Analytics Action Heroes Session
It was great to be able to present again this year at the conference. Once again, I joined Brent Dykes as part of a panel and this year we shared stories related to his new Web Analytics Action Heroes book. Our session was a fire hose of information and followed the progression of Brent’s book. I shared examples of how you can avoid spending too much time in “Setup Land” by monitoring your data quality through ReportBuilder (which Adobe announced is free for ten people at every customer now!), why I think knowing how to use SiteCatalyst is important and why segmentation is important to success. These are all topics I have discussed in past blog posts, but they appeared to be as relevant as sever as the audience seemed to resonate with the themes.
My Question For You…
One interesting thing did happen to me at this year’s Summit that hasn’t in the past. I had a number of people come up to me and discuss the fact that there wasn’t a lot of depth when it came to educational sessions related to SiteCatalyst. In year’s past, there have been many practical breakout sessions in which people like me, Adobe consultants and Adobe customers have demonstrated specific things they have done with SiteCatalyst such that you could go back to your office and implement new things to spurn new analyses. For one reason or another, outside of Kevin Willeitner’s “Shopalytics” session, many folks seemed to think the Summit was a bit light in this area. Perhaps it was due to the downplaying of web analytics I mentioned above, but, I for one, still think that there is a need for us web analytics folks to walk away from conferences like this with more actionable tips and tricks that can help us in our daily lives. Back when I worked at Omniture, I was fortunate to get an entire Summit session to myself and share tons of advanced SiteCatalyst tips and tricks and these sessions were always very well attended and highly rated. Unfortunately, it seems that each year the breakout sessions tend to get a bit more higher-level (or “sales pitchy” as some referred to it). I think Adobe might be missing a great opportunity here and that they may need some sort of “advanced” track for people who want to go deep into web analytics at the conference.
This leads to the question I have for you. If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you will know that it is normally a one-way street with me sharing tips and education and that I rarely ask for interaction or feedback. However, at the Summit, I had many folks come up to me and ask if I would consider doing a 1-2 day session like the ones I used to do at Summit in which I provide advanced product education and a bunch of tips and tricks related to SiteCatalyst I have performed over the years. I have considered doing this from time-to-time, but, being busy consulting clients, haven’t explored it in depth. Please consider the following:
Would you like to attend a 1-2 day class that teaches advanced SiteCatalyst features?
Would you like to see examples of SiteCatalyst tips and tricks to create new types of web analyses?
Would you like to explore topics I have blogged about in more detail and have the ability to ask questions?
Would you be willing to fly somewhere to do this and pay $$$ for this?
If the answer is “Yes” to these questions for enough of you out there, I might consider doing a 1-2 day class on the above topics. Therefore, I am asking you to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you would attend and pay for this (and feel free to pass this message around to generate interest!). If I get enough e-mails, I might give it a whirl (we like testing right?). Thanks!
Each year at the Adobe (Omniture) Marketing Summit, customers are given an opportunity to “vote” for new product features while Brett Error reviews them (and cracks a few jokes!). From the rumor mill, it sounds like Brett may no longer be around (??), but even if he isn’t, hopefully the session will live on. Each year around the time of Summit, I like to look back at the past year and think about what SiteCatalyst features are not available that would have helped me and my clients the most. The SiteCatalyst product team is always swamped with great ideas from the Idea Exchange and have been doing a great job of pounding them out. Therefore, this list is not meant to mean that my requests are more important than others they are working on, but rather just ones that I have personally experienced pain for not having (some of them were on my last year list as well which you can read here). All of these ideas are in the Idea Exchange, so if you have experienced similar cases where they would help you out, please vote for them there (shortcut links to items in the Idea Exchange are provided for each) and possibly in the Summit session should they arise…
The ability to compare segments in reports (http://bit.ly/yERLbr). As I mentioned in my previous post, it is easy to compare the same report for two report suites or ASI slots, but it is not yet possible to do the same for two (or more) segments without using Discover.
The ability to have security for segments so you can assign who can see data for a segment (http://bit.ly/yh0djM). As Ben Gaines astutely pointed out, many people use report suites for security reasons to determine who at an organization can see which data. It would be great if this could somehow be duplicated using segments. However, I think that this is not possible until my next feature request is addressed.
The ability to lock down eVars like you can Success Events and sProps (http://bit.ly/wSMLU3). For years, I have asked the SiteCatalyst team to provide the ability to add User/Group security to eVars. Currently, it is possible to prevent a user or group from seeing a specific sProp or Success Event, but for some strange reason, you cannot do this with eVars. Once you can lock down eVars and you can lock down segments, you can truly secure your data set and cease to rely on multi-suite tagging or additional company logins to enforce security.
One item that is unrelated to v15 segmentation and multi-suite tagging, but still related to segmentation, is the ability to segment on a path (http://bit.ly/xzkeTr). There are many cases in which you would want to isolate visitors or visits where visitors navigated in a certain way. Hence, it would be great if you could add a 3 or 4 step flow as a valid way to segment. Since Pathing is available on all sProps, my hope is that this functionality would work for any sProp that has Pathing enabled, not just Pages and Sections.
One of the limitations of SiteCatalyst is that there are many aspects that are only session based. In the future, I would like to see this restriction lifted. Here are a few examples of what I’d like to see:
Ability to see multi-session Paths (http://bit.ly/zimT2O) so you can see how visitors navigated the website across multiple sessions.
Ability to see multi-visit campaign code attribution (http://bit.ly/yzBTUE) in a way that is better than just first touch and last touch or the Cross Visit Participation plug-in. Even if the current option for “Linear” allocation worked cross-session, that would be a great step forward.
Report Sorting Enhancements
If you spend a lot of time in SiteCatalyst reports, you are familiar with the fact that you can only sort by metric columns. I would like to have the following sorting enhancements:
The ability to do a weighted sort so you can easily filter only the top X number of rows before sorting (http://bit.ly/zsJNps). I am sure the following scenario has happened to you at some point. You add a calculated metric like Bounce Rate to a report and then you choose to sort. You end up getting items with a 100% bounce rate, but when you dig deeper you see they have only a few values. What you really want is the ability to filter the report for only the top 50 values and then to apply a sort (like Google Analytics provides). Currently, this has to be done in Excel, but should be native to SiteCatalyst.
The ability to sort by the value column (http://bit.ly/ylULpS). There are some cases in which you would like to sort by the actual values passed into SiteCatalyst instead of by a metric column. Currently, you can work around this by using search filters, so this isn’t a super-high priority, but it would be nice to simply have the ability to sort by the value column for times it is advantageous.
Obviously, I could list many more, but the above list of items are the ones that I have run into the most. If you have others that you would like to see elevated in priority, feel free to list them here. Thanks!
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