Page Type Pathing
When using Omniture SiteCatalyst, Pathing analysis is one of the truly unique things that is not easily replicated by other analysis tools. While your company can find a way to track how often each of your key Success Events are taking place, you would be hard-pressed to get data warehouse tools to duplicate the Pathing analysis available in SiteCatalyst. However, too many Omniture clients are limited in their thinking when it comes to Pathing, relegating it to Pages or Site Sections. In past blog posts I have covered a few unconventional ways to use Pathing (i.e. Success Event Pathing), but there are many more ways to leverage Pathing. In this post, I will show you one of my favorite uses of Pathing – Page Type Pathing.
What is Page Type Pathing?
So what is Page Type Pathing? To fully understand it, I need to put it into context. Imagine you are a web analyst at a company and your boss comes to you and asks “What is the fallout of visitors starting from the Home Page and then navigating to Product Pages, then Product Sign-up Forms and finally the Product Form Thank You Page?” Well that sounds easy enough, but is it? You can create fallout reports from each product, but what if you have hundreds of products? You can look at Site Sections, but you may have many of those as well. After a while, you may resign yourself to creating a massive dashboard with fallout reports for each product. Just then, your boss reiterates that what she wanted was a fallout of all of the steps for all of the products in one overall fall-out report (and she wants it every week from now on!). Besides learning the valuable lesson that you should always ask more questions before doing analysis, you are bummed because you don’t know how to do this other than manually add together all of these individual fall-out reports.
What your boss is asking for is what I call Page Type Pathing. This is the ability to deconstruct your website so that you group all of your pages (or at least your key ones) into buckets that represent page types. I think of it in the same way that species are grouped into classes like mammals or amphibians. Many executives don’t have time or care about page or section-level Pathing since it contains too much “noise” (and they have limited attention spans!). By lumping pages into a small number of meaningful page types, you can take a step back and see a 50,000 foot view of where people are going on your website. Sometimes, page-level Pathing can make it hard to see that 30% of your visitors go from the Home Page to Product Pages since all you can see is individual page paths to product #1 or product #2. By implementing Page Type Pathing you can end up with a new pathing report that looks like this:
Plus, since having Pathing enabled allows you to see all Pathing reports, you can create high-level Fallout reports using the same Page Type Traffic Variable (shown here in Discover):
Implementing Page Type Pathing
So how do you do this? There are actually a few different ways to do this so how you implement it will depend upon which Omniture products you have and your ability to get tagging done at your organization. I will outline the ways I recommend doing it, but there may be other ways.
The Old Fashioned Way
The most straightforward way to implement this is to create a new Traffic Variable (sProp) on every page and pass in the value that you have chosen as the Page Type for that page. Obviously, you need to identify what you think your Page Types are ahead of time. The values I recommend as Page Type Values are: Home Page, Product Page, Registration Page, Search Results Page, Checkout Page, Thank You Page, Content Page, etc… However, setting a new sProp on every page can be a tagging nightmare as many of you can attest to if you have worked with IT to clean up your Page Names. If you have a good Content Management System (CMS), you can add Page Type as a required meta-data field (be sure to make it a picklist!) for website pages and have your content owners enter it for each page. But if getting tagging done is too difficult or you have too many pages to make the CMS approach feasible, go on to the other options…
If your company is lucky enough to have Omniture Discover, it is your lucky day! Implementing Page Type Pathing in Discover can be done in less than 24 hours if you know what you are doing (or reading this blog!). One of the benefits of Omniture Discover is that you get Pathing on SAINT Classifications which is not possible in SiteCatalyst. Therefore, if you create a “Page Type” Classification of the Page Name sProp, you can simply use Microsoft Excel to fill in a Page Type value for each page on your site and upload it using SAINT. The next day, after Discover processes its data, it will pick up that new Classification and presto, you have Page Type Pathing in Discover! Just be sure to thank the person at your organization who got you Discover or maybe you can use this as a reason to get it!
If tagging or CMS aren’t options and you don’t have Discover, what then? Don’t despair, I won’t leave you in a lurch. You can use Omniture’s DB Vista tool to get Page Type Pathing working. Simply create a spreadsheet like described in the Discover approach above, but when you are done, tell your Omniture Account Manager that you would like to purchase a DB Vista Rule in which you upload a table of Page Type values for your Pages and have the DB Vista rule do a lookup on this table and pass the Page Type value to a Page Type sProp on every page. As you add new pages to your site, you simply upload new rows to the DB Vista table. There is a nominal charge for DB Vista rules, but it is worth it.
So there you have it, Page Type Pathing in a nutshell. Once you have this functionality working you will be amazed by what you can learn about how people are navigating your site and I have seen it used by companies to drastically simplify their website with great results. Finally, don’t forget to combine this functionality with segments using Advanced Segment Insight (ASI) or Discover so you can see the same cool Page Type Pathing reports for 1st time visitors, people from Google, etc…