Embedding SiteCatalyst Reports
One of the old adages in business is location, location, location. In this post, I will share a way that you can ease end-users into the data you want them to see by embedding key reports in to places they are already are frequenting.
Why Embed Reports?
In my experience, most users don’t log into tools (check the SiteCatalyst usage logs) and many ignore e-mailed reports. But if you can provide relevant information in a context that is meaningful to them, you have a better chance of adoption.
Another barrier to web analytics adoption is that SiteCatalyst reports don’t provide a lot of context. What I have longed for is a place where I could share more than a few sentences of information about the report an end-user is viewing. However, for all of its virtues, SiteCatalyst does not provide a lot of tools to provide context to reports. The ones I have seen are as follows:
- Adding a text reportlet to a SiteCatalyst Dashboard. This is ok, but it is hard to share a lot of information or graphics here.
- Adding notes to reports. Again, you are limited to basic HTML and it is difficult to replicate report notes to many report suites.
- There is no real way to associate notes to reports that are e-mailed out other than a short description.
- Adding notes to an Excel Dashboard. This is what I have used the most, but Excel Dashboards can be harder to share and have issues for Mac users.
In addition to the above limitations, as stated earlier, I like to get reports closer to my end-users. For these reasons, I choose to embed reports into Intranets and web pages. For example, recently, our development team launched a cool new sidebar helper tool on the website affectionately known as “Super-Sassy.” Instead of sending a report to my users telling them how the new tool has performed, why not show all recipients what the tool is with the associated data:
In the example above, I might show data related to our “Super-Sassy” tool along with explanations of all of the metrics on an Intranet page used by the people who designed and developed the tool. This provides context for people who would not normally be using web analytics data and (hopefully) gets them excited about learning how the tool they have developed is being used. I even included a button at the top that allows them to launch the full report in SiteCatalyst should they want to change the date range, country data set or dig into more detail. Finally, in the embedded SiteCatalyst report, I can pre-filter the data using a search and pre-select the appropriate report suite and date ranges, which all goes a long way to simplifying things for people who are not web analysts.
Which do you think will be used more, the above report or the same report buried in an eVar report somewhere within the SiteCatalyst interface?
How’d He Do That?
So how do I do this? Obviously embedding depends upon the environment you are trying to embed into so I will share the general principles and hoepfully you can apply them to your own envirnment.
One approach is to use SiteCatalyst Widgets. About a year ago I showed how to use SiteCatalyst Widgets to embed reports into tools like iGoogle so I recommend you check out that post to see if that will work in your environment.
For today’s example, I am going to show what I did above, which is embedding SiteCatalyst reports into Google Sites. If you are not familiar with Google Sites, it is a free template-based tool you can use to build team group pages, Intranets or any other site you’d like. I like to use secure Google Sites to build Web Analytics portals or embed reports in existing Google Sites being used by teams at my organization.
Let’s imagine that your social media team has a Google Site that they use to track information about the company’s social media program. This site has a page for the social media team, social media policies, articles related to social media, etc… Now let’s say that you have implemented some cool Omniture SiteCatalyst Twitter Integration which allows you to see how often your company’s branded keywords are mentioned on Twitter. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could embed the report showing Twitter mentions directly into the social media team’s existing Google Site? Here’s how to do it:
- Work with your social media team to add a page to their Google Site that describes the business question that your report aims to solve. In this case it might be something like “How often is Salesforce.com mentioned on Twitter?” On this page, you should provide some context, such as what keyword phrases you would characterize as a “Salesforce.com mention” so users know what makes up the metric.
- Next, in a new browser window/tab, create the SiteCatalyst report that you want to show your audience on the page. You do this as you would normally create a report, by selecting the variable (eVar, sProp or Success Event) and the desired date range.
- Next is the tricky part, in the Google Site menu, insert a Google iFrame Gadget as shown here:
- Once this gadget is embedded, click the Properties link which will show the window below. In your SiteCatalyst tab/window, use the new shortcut link feature (if you need a refresher on how to do this, see this post) to create a shortcut link to the report you created above. Enter this shortcut link in the “URL to content” box. Choose the sizing and border settings as you wish and when you are done, save the gadget. The only bummer in this technique is that Omniture only keeps these shortcut links for one year which means that you would have to repeat this step with a new link once per year (please join me in lobbying Omniture to make these links indefinite!)
- Finally, save the new Google Site Page and you are finished. You can go to the Google site and search on a phrase you included in your page (i.e. “Twitter”) and see the new page in the results list:
- When your users click on the page you created, they will see a page like the following:
Presto! You now have a SiteCatalyst report embedded into a Google Site already used by your stakeholder that provides useful information and as much free text/graphic context as you would like to add!
How Much of a Web Analytics Geek Are You?
So the above example is specific to Google Sites, but there are many ways to create iFrames of the shortcut links or the Widgets discussed earlier. However, if you do use Google Sites and are truly a Web Analytics geek, there is a checkbox in the Google Site setup that allows you to track how Google Site pages are used (using a tool that shall remain nameless here!). Said tool would allow you to see how often people are accessing your wonderful new page and might look something like this:
Since most of you out there are more technical than I am, I expect that you can apply these concepts in ways I never imagined to do amazing things. The goal of this post was simply to get you to “think outside of the box” and realize that there are many more ways to share your SiteCatalyst data other than e-mailed reports and SiteCatalyst Dashboards. Enjoy!