Nov 14

Finding Total Number of Rows in Adobe Analytics

A colleague asked a question the other day: “is there an easy way to get to how many rows a particular report has in Adobe Analytics (SiteCatalyst?”

Why yes, if you are using the Adobe Ad Hoc (Discover) tool, it is quite easy.

Step 1:  Pull your report of interest

Step 2: Look at the top right of the table.

Step 3: Notice the nice little total rows number for you.

Relish in the fact that you did not have to do a DataWarehouse or ReportBuilder pull, and then add all of the rows.

Report Total Rows Adobe Analytics

Jan 13

Current Data Reports in Adobe SiteCatalyst

A new lesser-known feature in SiteCatalyst is called “Current Data”.
This allows users of SiteCatalyst version15 to see almost real-time data on traffic reports (props), and about a 20 min delay on conversion data (eVars).

For many companies that have been waiting to upgrade to SC15 until improvements in data processing were rolled out, that day has come.

Access is not available to everyone, you must be added to the Current Data User Group in the Admin.


Go forth and enjoy those Current (almost real-time) reports!

For more info see the Current Data Help article

Mar 12

SiteCatalyst Quick Tip: Advanced Search Quirks

I stumbled across a little trick recently that could save time and frustration for any analyst that is dealing with pipe ” | ” based Page Name delimiters.

This is completely made up data, but it will illustrate the issue and the workaround.

Let’s say your website hosts content on Utah Ski resorts. You’ve named your pages that are ski resort “guides” as “guide | [ski resort name]”.

Now, you are looking to make a clean report that shows how each of the ski resort guides are performing. Knowing that you can use the search box, you do a search for “guide” like this.

sitecatalyst search report

Unfortunately, as seen above, this search pulls in an unwanted line item. You are not interested in the photo guides for this report. You just want the resort guides.

What do you next?

If you are like me, you try typing in guide with a pipe. Unfortunately that doesn’t work, you still get the unwanted photo guide.

Next, you try going to the Advanced Search option forcing the string with quotes, like this.

No luck there either. When you run the report the search box oddly enough, changes to this:

And you still get your unwanted line item.

Finally, you try typing “guide |” directly into to the search bar, and BAM! You get what you were looking for.

Mar 12

Site Catalyst Quick Tip: Event Naming

I’ve been dormant on this blog for a while. Very simple post today to get things rolling.

In naming your events in Adobe SiteCatalyst, use category groupings to keep them organized.

SiteCatalyst Event Naming
The Metrics Selector in SiteCatalyst is automatically sorted alphabetically (and there is no way to change it). So, it behooves us to take advantage of this feature when creating our event names. For example for your registration events, you would want to name them as:

Registration: Start
Registration: Step2
Registration: Step3

Using this kind of scheme will save you time when you are looking to build a funnel or add these metrics to another Conversion Report.
If you do something like:

Start Registration
Enter Detail Info
Complete Registration

These events will be spread out in your Metrics selector, and you will have to scroll around to find them.

To edit your event names, go to Admin > Report Suites > Edit Settings > Conversion > Success Events.

SiteCatalyst Success Events Admin Menu

Apr 10

A Web Analytics Framework

I recently completed the Web Analytics Master Certification by Market Motive. Learned a ton with John Marshall (founder of Clicktracks) and Avinash as my instructors.

In order to showcase our learning, as a final project each student was required to develop two “web analytics reports” from scratch. The reports were to be created as if I was delivering them to a CEO or CMO on a monthly basis.  The reports were to include a “dashboard,” with KPIs, Segments, and what has changed from the previous month to the current month and of course, my recommendations for improvement.

(Scroll to the bottom of the post to see the Web Analytics Framework & Dashboard)

In the process of sorting out what was important to include in my reports, I thought back to the first module of our web analytics course, where we discussed the importance of “clearly defining your website’s objectives.”

We talked about how with any analytics tool there is a plethora of data to choose from, graphs and charts that can be created, but Avinash and Jon drilled into our heads that in order to be successful, you need to be very clear on those objectives before you even crack open your web analytics tool of choice.  Additionally, in one of Avinash’s posts, he talks about how important it is to define and focus on the “Critical Few” metrics that really drive your business.

With that in mind I set out to create a structure for my reports would give a quick holistic view of our top level business objectives, what activities we are doing to meet those objectives, and how well we are doing against them.  The underlying idea is that any before I pull any data from my analytics tool,  I should understand/define how it aligns with the top level objectives of my website.  I bounced around several ideas late one night with Avinash via email about Objectives, Goals, KPIs and Targets, and what resulted was the creation of a model I called a “Bike Company X Web Analytics Framework”  for my report.  The Framework captured these top level goals for the site and tied them into specific KPIs and threshold levels for the KPIs – with the idea that a HiPPO (as Avinash likes to call Sr. Mgmt) would be able to quickly understand exactly what data I’m pulling from my analytics tool and why  ( b/c they are tied to top level objectives).

I was surprised (in a positive way) last Sunday night when Avinash emailed me and asked if he could post a screen shot of the framework in his upcoming blog post as a best practice example of  how to approach web analytics by putting a structure around one’s work. It was a definite honor to get a “mention” from Avinash on his blog.  Very exciting.

So for example for the bike parts company I did one of my projects on,  I started the report like this:

First Things First

The purpose of this report is to provide actionable insights for the “Bike Company X”  e-commerce website each month.   We utilize the following framework to understand our objectives and measure against those objectives:

  1. Business Objectives: the foundation of our process is to define the overarching purpose for our website.   ( sell lots of motorcycle parts,  be better at marketing, build goodwill )
  2. Goals: with these objectives in mind, we can define some high level goals to help identify the specific activities we should spend our valuable time on.  (more sales, build a customer database for marketing, serve as a resource to the riding community).
  3. KPIs: our Key Performance Indicators are the metrics attached to our goals: (Monthly Revenue, # of new registrations per month, # of visits to our resource pages).
  4. KPI Target: our threshold for measuring success.  Did we meet or miss our target?
  5. Segments: we then drill down into the various visitor types to better understand what groups of visitors are responsible for helping us meet (or not meet) our targets.

Below is the Web Analytics Framework Screenshot (example from the bike parts website).

The Web Analytics Framework

Web Analytics Framework

For the same company, I also created a dashboard that pulled in most of the KPIs from the above framework.  I found that once I had the framework developed, it was fairly easy to decide what to include in my dashboard.  (this dashboard was inspired by a web analytics dashboard designed by Stratigent and available on the CD that comes with Avinash’s book Web Analytics 2.0)

web analytics dashboard with KPIs and Targets

What are your thoughts?  I’m firm believer in continuous improvement.  Would love to hear any ideas or suggestions to make this better.

Mar 10

Visits, Visitors & Conversion Rate

How to Measure Conversion Rate

I was reading Avinash’s Web Analytics 2.0 last night (again!) and like any good book, you often see things that you didn’t catch the first time around.

One bit that jumped out at me this time around was talking about how to best measure conversion rates.  One way that many tools do it by default is to measure “purchases” – divided by – “visits”.    (conversion rate = purchases/visits)   Avinash talks about how this may be OK for a site where typical customer behavior is to come once and convert, but for that the majority of websites, it is not really the best way to measure.

A Better Way

The case for most sites is that you visit to do some initial research with no intention of buying anything right then. You are just checking things out.   You look around, then maybe pop over to another site (competitor’s?), then maybe come back later that day, or tomorrow, or on Saturday, etc.  You talk to a friend, a co-worker, your spouse – each time bouncing back to the site to find the answer to another question.   The point is, depending on what the product/service is, we may have 5-20+ touch points with the website before we decide to click “buy now”.   Since this is the case, measuring conversion by “visits” will skew your data.  Measuring conversion by looking at “purchase – divided by – “visitor” ( conversion rate = purchase/visitor) will give you a much clearer view of your true conversion rate.

Conversion Rate Formulas



This measure may skew your data, especially in the case where a visitor comes to your site multiple times before making a purchase.



Using visitors as your denominator can be a much cleaner way to measure conversion rate, since it removes the number of visits, and focuses on the individual visitor.

Courting Behavior

That is not to say we should disregard the number of visits it takes for a visitor to close the deal.  That would border on heresy.   We are simply talking about an optimal way to measure conversion rate.

To truly get “insight” it is critical to look at the behavior of visitors on the path to purchase.  That is like the rainbow pointing to the pot of gold.    We absolutely want to know what our visitors do, and don’t do before clicking that buy button.

Probably the best way to look at that is by segmenting your visitors.  What is the behavior of visitors that come from each of the following sources:

–          Paid Search (PPC

–          Organic

–          Banner Ads

–          Email campaigns

–          Affiliates

–          Returning Visitors

–          Visitors from Brazil, UK, Singapore, Germany

–          Etc.

Maybe some of them add things to their cart and make a purchase much quicker than others.  Maybe they like to be “courted” in different ways.  Maybe visitors from Brazil and the UK are focused primarily on price and free shipping.  Visitors from Singapore may be more focused on the branding and status ascribed to them by your product.

If you are showing an ad for “free shipping for first time visitors” on your site for everyone that is not helping me if I’m a returning visitor.  Yet many websites do this – someone with marketing comes up with a great idea, but they forget that visitors are from a variety of segments and often require different approaches to be successful.

Knowing your “true” conversion rate, and “personalizing” the way your site displays and courts your individual segments is critical for taking your web strategy to the next level.

Mar 10

Excel Data Bars for Quick Visualization and Analysis

One of the really great features in Excel 2007 is “Data Bars”.

Data bars allow you to quickly visualize and analyze your Excel table without creating a graph.   The bars make it easy to see distinguish higher vs. lower numbers in the table without resorting to using a combination of colors to clutter up your table.   Data bars are very clean and easy on the eyes.  If used properly, you can often use a data bar in lieu of a chart.

Here is an example looking at Bounce Rate by Country.    I used red in this case to help indicate that the longer the bar, the worse the Bounce Rate.

Excel Data Bars Bounce Rate example

I sorted it by Visits, so that I can focus on those countries which are bringing me the most traffic.  Just scanning the chart, I can quickly see which countries tend to look at more than one page, vs. those that look at my landing page and leave.

A couple of addtional trends that quickly emerge amongst the top ten countries (by visitor):

1. Non English speaking countries have a higher bounce rate overall

2. Overseas English speaking countries (except India) tend to have a lower bounce rate than my home country (USA).

Now, I can take this info and think about actions to take — for example, offer Portuguese and  Spanish language versions of my site (since they are the highest number of visitors after English speakers), and consider Greece, Italian, and maybe Turkish.

In summary, I find Excel Data Bars very useful for quick actionable insight and analysis.

Feb 10

Tracking bit.ly with Google Analytics

I came across a very cool tool that the folks at bit.ly set up to help with track and organize your bit.ly campaigns.

Bit.ly is a popular link shortening service that allows you to reduce the size of long URLs for posting into Twitter, Facebook and other social media.  The great thing is the bit.ly has built in some fantastic basic metrics so you can see how many people clicked on your link, how many reposted it somewhere, and even segment what country your clicks are coming from.

The good folks at bit.ly took it a step further by setting up a nifty tool that integrates your bit.ly campaigns into Google Analytics by helping you tag them by GA parameters such as utm_source, utm_medium, utm_content and more.

The bit.ly GA tool is basically a spreadsheet that creates a long “manually tagged”  URL, that pulls in your bit.ly API to automatically generate a bit.ly link for you.

You open the tool (in google docs), enter your campaign info such as:

  • Source (referrer: twitter, facebook, email, etc)
  • Medium (banner, cpc, email, etc.)
  • Content (description)
  • Campaign (spring09, etc.)

And boom!  You have an automatically generated bit.ly URL that you can use.

Yes, you could do the same thing without bit.ly (just manually tag your URLs), but in the fast moving world of social media, bit.ly makes it possible to see your metrics in real time.  Then, with a properly tagged link you set up with the bit.ly GA tool, you can dive deeper in Google Analytics later.  For most people Google Analytics does not let you see real-time data. Bit.ly makes it possible.

To set up your own Google Analytics Optimized Bit.ly. Campaign check out the tool at http://bit.ly/ga-campaign-tool.  Simply change the username and API to your own bit.ly user and API and you are good to go.

Feb 10

Google Analytics Qualified

Just a short post to say I just took and passed the Google Analytics qualification exam. Feels good add it to my quiver, but of course it is just the beginning.   I also continue to take the Web Analytics Master Certification course with Avinash and John Marshall over at Market Motive.

Google Analytics Qualification CertificateThe Google Analytics Individual Qualification is a proof of proficiency in Google Analytics that is available to any individual who has passed the Google Analytics IQ test.

The Google Analytics test was heavy on the tactical side, with lots of questions about specifics of setting up segments, goals, filters and profiles.  Other questions focused on cookies, regex, campaign tracking and Adwords integration.

The Market Motive Master Certification course on the other hand, is a balance of both the strategic and tactical. Avinash talks about the “10/90 rule”.  He says companies should spend 10% of their budget on a tool, and 90% on smart people to pull actionable insights from the tool.  Hence, we are spending a good balance of the time discussing  not so much of the “what” (clickstream data), but how to get to the “why” (understanding and inferring customer intent from the data so that we can drive action and site optimization).

Some of the topics so far:

  • Measuring outcomes — KPIs should focus on ROI  (if there is was just one topic – this would be it)
  • Segmentation — getting to actionable insight means slicing and dicing your customers to understand how each group thinks and behaves
  • Internal Search — adding another layer of your understanding by peeking into your customer’s mind by measuring what they search for on your site
  • Surveying — creating effective surveys that give insight to your customer wants and needs

More to come… this week we are diving into experimentation and testing:  A/B and multivariate…

Feb 10

Four practical applications from internal site search

Use the Voice of your Customer to optimize your site

Internal Search is as powerful as it is simple.  Nothing quite tells you visitor intent like the words they type in the search box on your website. This is pure “Voice of  the Customer” in action.

It is like having a special stethoscope to peek into their brain and see exactly what they are thinking and their intent…. and of course it presents to you the fantastic opportunity to apply insights from the internal search data to improve your site.  This is important because the citizens of the internet are becoming ever more accustomed to utilizing “search” to find what they are looking for, rather than using navigation. Especially in the case of complex websites, we get impatient and just type in what we are looking for.  (kind of like pressing 0 to talk to an operator instead of navigating through 8 layers of a customer service phone menu – we want it and we want it now!)   So, hopefully your internal search engine doesn’t stink (most do). Either way, there are a lot of juicy insights you can pull from your internal search reports and put into improving your site and your customer experience.

I’m going to cover 4 actions you can take to improve your site by analyzing your internal search results:

1. Navigation Improvements

Internal search results show you exactly what visitors are looking for, you may find that one (or more!) of your top keywords that shows up is one that you haven’t prioritized in terms of navigation.  Maybe the content related to that keyword is buried in a distant subpage that takes 6-8 clicks to get to.  If there is a critical mass of visitors looking for something that is difficult to find without using search, it would make sense to place the related content in a more prominent location.

2. Add Missing Content

You can add content to better meet visitor need and improve customer satisfaction. Perhaps 100s of visitors are searching for “configuration of PS23” and you don’t yet have a page or a support document for that, so they are searching and clicking and becoming frustrated. So then they call your 800 support # instead and spend 10 minutes chewing out your rep about how they spent an hour looking for help online.  You could develop that page/document with the ROI of saving on support costs and of course improving the customer experience.

3.  Improve Content / Optimize Internal Landing Pages

Since internal search gives us such great insight into visitor intent, we can look at what pages visitors landed on after a particular search and see if our internal search engine is giving them the best page for that particular search.  If not, then tweak it/ modify it / optimize it for your internal SE to make sure it shows up on top!

4.  Expand your product or service offerings

Suppose you the purpose of your site is to sell Print and Document Management Services to small and medium sized businesses in your local area.   Yet you find that there are many searches for Network Management services on your site.  This might be an additional niche to explore.  Or let’s say your website’s niche is “Pet Food” specifically.  You would expect to see some searches for “purina puppy chow” and the like, but perhaps you see an increase in searches for “organic puppy food” or “guten-free dog food.”  You might need to make a call to your distributor to see if they can supply you these products of new customer interest.


As with all things in web analytics, you can always get a much richer story by segmenting the data.  Search is no exception.  You may segment your internal search data by “direct”, “organic”, or “PPC” visitors.  You may segment by country, state, or new, returning, or previous purchase over X amount of $$$ — all with the purpose of finding insight that will allow you to improve the user experience and increase your conversions.   Successful web marketers know that the Voice of the Customer reigns supreme, and smart analysts bring VOC to life.

What are other ideas you have for improving your site and optimization by utilizing your internal site search results?