Values – First/Last/Exit
One of the concepts in Adobe Analytics that confuses my customers is the notion that each sProp has a normal value, an entry value, and an exit value. When using Analysis Workspace, you might see something like this in the left navigation when filtering:
As you can imagine, this could freak out novice users. More often than not, when I ask users “What do the Entry and Exit version of sProp X represent,” I hear this:
“The Entry version of the sProp is only counted when the sProp is sent a value on the first page of the visit and the Exit version is only counted when the sProp is set on the last page of the visit…”
That seems logical, but unfortunately, it is wrong! In reality, the Entry version of the sProp simply stores the first value that is passed to the sProp in a visit and the Exit version stores the last value that is passed to the sProp in a visit. Instead of Entry and Exit, Adobe should really call these First and Last values of the sProp (but that is probably not high on their list!). If a visit contains only one value, then that value would be the same in the Entry version, the normal version and the Exit version of the sProp. But if the sProp contains several values in the visit, one will be designated as the first (entry) and one will be the last (exit). Here is Adobe’s explanation in the documentation:
However, the larger question is why the heck does Adobe even store all of these extra values? How can you use them? These Entry and Exit values are typically used in pathing-related reports, but in this post, I will share some other ways to take advantage of the confusion that these extra sProp values create.
Example: Internal Search Keyword Analysis
Let’s imagine that you have a site that has a lot of internal searches and keyword activity. You are trying to determine which keywords are doing well and which are not. While you may already be tracking the internal search click-through rates, internal search placement and average internal search position clicked, in this scenario, you want to see how often each internal search keyword used was both the first one searched and the last one searched and what the exit rate was for each keyword. This can all be done using the aforementioned derivatives of the internal search keyword sProp.
To start, let’s create a table that captures the top five internal search keywords (FYI: for an sProp, Occurrences is the same as an Internal Searches success event):
Next, let’s breakdown the top keyword by the Entry version of the sProp to see how often the most popular keyword was also the entry keyword:
Here we can see that 68.5% of the time, the top keyword searched was also the entry (first) keyword. Next, we’d like to isolate the 68.5 % and use it as a metric, so I created a new calculated metric that pulls it into its own column. This is done by dividing Occurrences by the column total using a calculated metric function:
When saved and added to the table, it looks like this:
Next, I am going to create a summary number based upon the cell that contains the 68.5%:
Then I am going to repeat all of these steps for the Exit Search term so I have an additional table that looks like this:
In this case, our most popular internal search keyword was also the last keyword used 87% of the time so I will add that as another summary number (I collapsed the first table so you could see it more easily):
Next, I want to see how often the keyword is used and then visitors exit the site on the search results page (similar to what I described in this old post). I do this by creating a new calculated metric that quantifies how often the search results page is the exit page:
Then I can add this to my table and create another calculated metric to divide Occurrences by Search Page Exits:
Here I can see that the top search keyword is an exit 34.6% of the time. Again, I create a summary number so I have all three at the top of my Workspace project:
Build For Scale
So all of that was pretty cool! In one row, I can see the keyword’s first use, last use, and exit %. However, there is one problem. All of this is hard-coded to my top internal search keyword. That is not very scalable. What if I want to see the same numbers for any internal search keyword?
To make this a bit better, the next step is to pick a bunch of internal search keywords and drag them to the segment area, using the shift key to make them a picklist:
Once you do this, you can pick one of your keywords and all of the tables will focus on that keyword like this:
Even better, now that we are narrowing down to just one keyword, we can lock in the Exit Keyword % Summary Number since it will always be the top-right cell:
Now, we can simply change the drop-down value and all of our numbers should re-adjust as shown here:
This works by default because many times the chosen keyword will also be the first and last keyword, so the highlighting of the top-right % in each table works and updates the summary numbers. However, that will not always be the case. Sometimes, the most popular first/last keyword will not be the same as the chosen keyword itself (Note: You can vote for my idea to make cells references to other cells in Analysis Workspace like you can in Excel!). In that case, you may have to manually select the First and Last keyword to see the correct summary numbers as shown here:
Therefore, I have finished this dashboard by putting a text box explaining this potential warning and need for adjustment:
As stated at the beginning of this post, understanding the “Entry” and “Exit” versions of sProps can be a bit confusing. But once you understand the concept, you can identify ways to leverage them to do additional analysis. In this post, I covered a way to utilize the First and Last sProp values to quantify the percent of the time the same internal search keyword was used first and last. This concept can be applied to any sProp, not just internal search keywords. Anytime you want to compare values stored in sProps with the first and last entries received, you can try this out.