Before/After Sequence Segmentation
One of the more difficult types of analyses to conduct in the digital world is an analysis that looks at what visitors did before or after actions on a website or within an app. For example, it’s easy to see what pages visitors view in the same visit that they added a product to the cart, but seeing what pages they viewed before or after they added something to the cart is more difficult. Since Adobe Analytics introduced Sequential Segmentation, it has been slightly easier, but being precise about before or after events or page sequences can still be tricky. Fortunately, Adobe Analytics recently released a product update that will make this much easier and in this post, I’ll explain how it works and provide some examples of how this new functionality can be used.
Why Should You Care?
So why should you care about seeing what visitors did before or after a sequence of events? Website visits and mobile app sessions can be sporadic or chaotic. If you try to follow every page path that visitors undertake, you can get lost in the details. For this reason, fallout reports have always been popular. With a fallout report, you can reduce the noise and view cases in which visitors viewed Page A, then eventually Page B and then eventually Page C. In this case, you don’t necessarily care if they went directly from Page A to Page B and Page C, but rather, that they performed that sequence. This concept of fallout was greatly expanded when Adobe Analytics began allowing you to add Success Events, eVars and segments to fallout reports as I described in this post.
But even with all of these improvements, there will still be times when you want to see what happened before a fallout sequence or after the sequence. For example, you may want to see:
- What did website visitors do after they viewed a series of videos on your website?
- What search phrases were used before they add items to the shopping cart?
- What products are purchased after visitors come from an e-mail campaign and then a social media campaign?
- What pages do people view before they complete all steps of a credit card application?
This is especially true when you take into account that the sequence can span multiple visits by using a Visitor container instead of a visit container. For example, a bank may want to see how often visitors use calculators in any visit prior to applying for a loan. And once you have the ability to segment analytics data based upon before and after sequences, you can then apply those new segments to all Adobe Analytics reports and increase your analytics opportunities.
To illustrate this functionality, let’s look at an example. Let’s say that on the Demystified website, I want to see what pages visitors view before they view our main services page and then our Adobe Analytics services pages (in either the same visit or subsequent visit). The goal of this would be to see which pages are the most important for us in getting new business leads.
To start, I would create a simple fall-out report that defines the sequence I am interested in. In this case, the sequence is viewing our main services page and then viewing one of our two Adobe Analytics services (can be one or the other or both):
Once I have this fall-out report, I can right-click on the last portion of it and choose the “create segment from touchpoint” option as shown here:
This will open the segment builder and allow me to build the corresponding segment. If I want to limit my segment to people who did both actions in the same visit, I would select “Visit,” but in this case I want the sequence to include multi-session activity, so I have selected the “Visitor” option:
However, the segment above includes all cases in which visitors viewed the services page and then one of the Adobe Analytics services. This means that they could have viewed these pages before or after the sequence that I care about. While that is interesting, in this case, my objective is to only view data that occurred before they completed this sequence. This is where the new Adobe Analytics functionality I described earlier comes into play. While editing the above segment, you can now see a new option that says “Include Everyone” to the left of the gear icon (see above). Clicking on this item, brings up a new menu option shown below that lets you narrow the scope of your segment to behavior that occurred before or after the sequence. In the screenshot below, I am selecting the “before” option, since my goal is to see what visitors did before this fall-out sequence transpired:
Once I select this, I can save my segment as shown here:
Now I have a segment that can be applied to any Adobe Analytics report which limits data to only those cases that took place before visitors viewed the main services page and then viewed one of our Adobe Analytics services pages. This segment can be applied to any report in either the traditional Reports & Analytics interface or Analysis Workspace. If I want to see what pages visitors view before my sequence, I can add the segment to the Pages report in a freeform table as shown here:
In this report, I am comparing overall page views to pages with page views to pages taking place before my fall-out sequence. This shows me which pages on our website visitors are viewing prior to viewing the Adobe Analytics services, so I may want to make sure those pages look good!
If I wanted to take this concept further, I could also view which of my blog posts visitors viewed prior to the fall-out sequence (checking out our services and then our Adobe services). To do this, I can add a new Blog Post Views metric to the freeform table and then use another segment to limit this to “Adam Greco” blog posts like this:
Notice that I have applied the “Before Services & Adobe Services” segment to both Page Views and Blog Post Views, but only the “Adam Blog Posts” segment to the Blog Post Views metric. Lastly, I can sort by the Blog Post Views column to see the top “Adam Blog Posts” viewed before the sequence to see which ones may be helping me get new clients!
Hopefully you can see that there are many different use cases for this new functionality. I would recommend that you consider using this new feature anytime you get asked a question about what happens before or after a sequence of events on your website (or mobile app). Keep in mind that you can make your fall-out sequences as granular as you want by adding segments to any node of the fall-out report. This should provide ample flexibility when it comes to reporting what is happening before or after activity on your website.
To learn more about using this feature, check out this short video by Ben Gaines on the Adobe Analytics YouTube channel. There is also some additional documentation you can read about this functionality here.