Advanced Comparison Reports
Date-Based Pathing Comparisons
For many of the analyses I perform, I like to see how website visitors are navigating my site via Pathing reports. However, these reports are usually static – for a specified time period. Therefore, what I like to do is to view a few of the standard SiteCatalyst Pathing reports in a way that I can see how Pathing is changing day to day, week to week or month to month. While SiteCatalyst doesn’t let you use comparison reports in all Pathing reports, there are a few key ones that do allow you to compare date ranges – Next/Previous Page Report and Full Paths Report. The following are some examples of how you can take advantage of this.
Next/Previous Page Report
Let’s say that you have a key page like your home page and you want to see what pages visitors are going to from it in March vs. February. To do this, simply open the Next Page report (under Pathing) and select the Home Page as the page of focus. Once there, you can use the calendar as shown in my last post to select two different time periods (February & March in this case) and see the report:
When looking at this type of report, I tend to change the graph so I am looking at percentages instead of the raw numbers since that is what I care about the most. Also, you can apply Normalization to this report by selecting it in the report settings (to learn about Normalization see my previous post). Finally, the same principles apply if you want to see the above report as a Previous Page report to see how people are getting to a specific page differently between two different time periods.
Full Paths Report
In this next example, let’s say that we don’t have a specific page in mind, but rather, want to see how all of our paths are changing between two different time periods. To do this, you can use the Full Paths report (found under Pathing). This report shows all of your paths and can be quite massive, but I tend to use it to see just my top few site paths. Using the date comparison feature, you can see how the paths of the same site differ between two distinct time periods. To do this, simply open the Full Paths report and use the calendar tool to select your two date ranges and you will see a report that looks like this:
As you can see, this report allows you to look at your top paths and see if there are any significant changes you should know about. This is handy if you have a special promotion on a page and want to see how it is changing your Pathing behavior. Finally, there are some cool advanced things you can do in the Full Paths report like limiting paths to a specific number of pages and specifying an entry page, but you can explore that as needed.
Site-Based Pathing Comparisons [If you don’t have multiple report suites or ASI slots you can skip this section!]
As I mentioned in my previous post, the other type of comparison report you can create is one based upon report suites/ASI slots. These comparisons allow you to see how one data set is doing compared to another. A perfect example of this is if you are part of a multinational and have basically the same website for different geographies. Other examples might be a company that has multiple divisions/products that are similar enough that they use the same type of website template. In both of these cases, you have the same page names, just different locales or products and might want to see how one is doing vs. another. In this example, we will assume that a website is basically the same except for the site geography and that we want to see how people are navigating from the home page of two different geographies. If you are clever, you will quickly realize that this might be problematic since each website might have different page names including the site locale. This why in my Page Naming Best Practices post I recommended that you set a custom sProp without the site locale (and have Pathing enabled). Here is a quick excerpt from that post:
One wrinkle that can emerge are cases where you have multiple geographic websites. For many companies, this results in a similar version of the website, but translated into different languages. If you have this situation, I recommend tweaking the above page names to include a site locale indicator. For example, each page in the UK site should have “uk:” in the page name and so on. When this is done, your page names might look like this:
[Advanced User Alert – If you have multiple site locales, I also recommend passing the page name without the site locale to a different sProp (with Pathing enabled) so you can see how a page does across all site locales (i.e. Participation). I also like to pass the site locale by itself to a separate sProp so in a global report suite I can create correlations between sProps and other variables (i.e. Internal Search Terms).]
If you have done this, then you can simply open the next page report for this custom sProp (that has no site locale) and choose the “Compare to Site” option and select the sites that you want to compare. In this example, I am looking to see what visitors from Spain and Italy do when they are on the home page. In this case, I am normalizing the data so I can get a better view of the next page differences between the two sites even if they have different amounts of traffic. As mentioned previously, you can do the same thing for Previous Page and Full Path reports…
Using Comparisons With Other Custom sProps
Lastly, if you have Pathing enabled for other custom sProps, you can take advantage of this functionality there as well. Let’s say you have Pathing enabled on what internal search terms people look for on your website. You can compare this between websites or for two different time periods. Below is an example of looking at the same internal search terms for two different time periods.
These two posts should cover pretty much all you need to know about SiteCatalyst comparison reports. If you are using them in any other creative ways, please leave a comment here. Thanks!