(Estimated Time to Read this Post = 2.5 Minutes)
From time to time, I hear people talking about Data Extracts in SiteCatalyst (especially on Twitter). In this post, I thought I’d review them in case you are unsure of what they are and how they are used.
What Are Data Extracts?
The good news is that if you know how to use the SiteCatalyst ExcelClient then you are essentially an expert in Data Extracts, you just may not know it! Behind the scenes, Data Extracts are really just a different way to access the engine that powers the ExcelClient data blocks with which you are already familiar. The main difference between the ExcelClient and Data Extracts is that Extracts are normally used to have a report e-mailed on a regular basis without having to go into Excel (especially good for Mac users!). Any report for which you can create a data block in the ExcelClient can also be accessed using the Data Extract icon in the SiteCatalyst toolbar:
If you cannot see the icon shown above in a SiteCatalyst report that means you cannot create a Data Extract for that report. Once you click the icon, you will see a new screen that looks like this:
If you have used the ExcelClient, this should look familiar and you use this screen to choose how much data and what metrics you’d like to see. Whatever settings you choose on this screen are what you will be stuck with (except for date which I believe is floating). Finally, in the example below, notice that Data Extracts (and the ExcelClient for that matter!) have access to the same Classifications, Correlations and Subrelations that are available when using the normal SiteCatalyst user interface (click the green magnifying glass icon). In this example, I am showing a correlation between Day of Week and Hour of Day:
Once you have configured your Data Extract, the last screen will ask you if you want to have it send via e-mail, added as a bookmark or both. In a minute I will share with you why it is advantageous to store Data Extracts as bookmarks, but I recommend keeping any Data Extracts you create in an “Extracts” folder in case you ever need them again.
That’s it. You’re done. If you have e-mailed yourself the report, it will arrive shortly thereafter. However, I have to explain something that often perplexes folks. If you chose to add a bookmark, inevitably at some point you will open that bookmark using your bookmark toolbar and be facing a screen that looks like this:
If you are like me the first time I saw this, you might be a bit confused. I expected to see the actual report, but that will never happen. This screen is only to be used to modify your Data Extract and to open it so you can re-send it to yourself or others. At first, I decided that this devalued my decision to store my Data Extract as a bookmark, but don’t despair because SiteCatalyst makes up for this by allowing you do something really cool with bookmarked Data Extracts. If you open the ExcelClient and choose to insert a new Data Block, you can create a new one or you can choose from any Data Extracts you have created (or shared ones) as shown here:
Notice that the new Data Extract we just created appears here. All we have to do is to click the “Insert” link and it will add the data block to our Excel spreadsheet and run the query:
This saves you having to re-create it in the ExcelClient and you can still edit it to suit your needs after it has been inserted. The only bummer is that you cannot tie the Data Extract data block to cells in Excel so if you are ever looking for dynamic data blocks, start them in Excel, not as Data Extracts.
So that is pretty much all you need to know about Data Extracts. One final note – it is my understanding that Data Extracts do not work with the new Omniture ReportBuilder, but perhaps something similar will be rolled out in the future.