Trending Path Reports
While using Adobe Analytics, there will be times when you want to see how often visitors go from Page A to Page B to Page C, etc. This is easy to do with Adobe Analytics Pathing reports. You can use the “Next Page” or the “Next Page Flow” report to see this. But when you run these reports, you are seeing only a one-time snapshot of the paths. For example, if you are looking at the month of August, you will see how often visitors in that month went from Page A to Page B, but not see if that behavior is trending up or down over time. There will be situations when you want to see the trend data, but the normal pathing reports don’t show this unless you know how to find it. Therefore, in this post, I will demonstrate how you can tweak the pathing reports in Adobe Analytics to see pathing trends and provide a few examples.
Trending the Next Page Report
To demonstrate how you can trend the paths between two pages, let’s imagine that you want to see how often visitors navigate from your home page to your blog page. To do this, you would open the Next Page Path report and at the top right, select the start page, which in this case is the “home” page. Once you do that, you will see a report like this:
This report shows all of the times that visitors went from “home” to any other page. In this case, I am interested in those going directly to the “blog/” page, which looks to happen approximately 6% of the time. Next, you can click the “Trended” link near the top-left and view this report in the trended view. This is similar to other Adobe Analytics reports that you may have trended in the past. In this case, you will use the “Selected Items” area to manually select the “blog/” page as the one you want to see trended and when you are done, you would see a report that looks something like this:
In this report, you are seeing the weekly trend of paths from “home” to “blog/” and can save, bookmark or email this report or add it to a dashboard. If you want to see the trend by day or month, you can change the settings in the calendar or by changing the “View By” setting near the top-left. So with a few clicks, you can trend paths between two pages. This is a feature that has always been in the product, but I am amazed how few people know that it is there.
But Wait…There’s More!
In addition to seeing trends of page paths, there is more you can do with this concept. As I have preached for years, Pathing in Adobe Analytics is one of the most under-utilized features. There are many times where you would like to see the sequence of events including KPI Pathing, Product Cart Addition Pathing, Page Type Pathing, etc. For all of these items, you can also see pathing trends as shown above.
For example, let’s say that you have a blog and want to see how often visitors view two posts in succession. In my case, I have a popular blog post on Merchandising and another more advanced follow-up post on the topic. If I pass the title of my blog posts to an sProp with Pathing enabled, I can choose the first Merchandising post and then see how often the next post viewed is the advanced follow-up post. To do this, I open the Next Page path report for the “Blog Post Title” sProp, choose the first post (Merchandising as shown below) and then view the subsequent posts.
Next, I switch to the trended view of the report and use the report settings to isolate the follow-up post as shown here:
Now I can see the trend between these two posts over time and see how they are doing. In this case, I don’t see a lot of follow-up blog post views. This is probably due to the fact that the follow-up post was created after the first one and there is no link tying the two together. I can then add a link to the bottom of the first post advertising the follow-up post (which I am going to do right now in fact!) and then watch the trend line to see if that results in an increase.
Using Sequential Segmentation
There is an alternative method of seeing the trends between two pages and it involves the use of the sequential segmentation feature. For those, not familiar with sequential segmentation, you can check out this video by my partner (even though it uses Discover, the concept is the same), but it is essentially segmenting on the order in which data is collected or events are set.
Let’s look at an example that shows how this is both similar and different from what we covered above. Let’s start by using the Next Page Path report like we did above to see a week trend of paths from the “home” page to the “blog/” page:
Now, let’s create a sequential segment that isolates visits in which visitors saw the “home” page and then saw the “blog/” page. This is done by adding the Page dimension to a Visit container twice, defining each one with the appropriate page name and using the “Then” operator between them as shown here:
Once you have this segment defined, you can apply it to the Visits report and you should see similar trend data as we saw above. For example, if we look at the same week, here is the trend:
However, as you may have noticed, the data is slightly different (31 vs. 38). This is due to a technical “gotcha” that you need to take into account when using sequential segmentation. The segment above includes all visits where people viewed the “home” page and eventually saw the “blog/” page. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they went directly from the “home” page to the “blog/” page like they did using the Next Page Path trend report. If you want to make sure that it was a direct path you have to define the “Then” operator further by constraining it to “within 1 Page View” as shown here:
Once this more detailed segment is applied, the trend of Visits should be the same (or very close) to what was shown in the Next Page Path trend report as shown here:
There are times when you may want to do more advanced analysis that goes beyond the Next Page Path trend report, so knowing how to see pathing trends both ways is advantageous.
So there you have it. A few ways to see trends of paths for you to add to your Adobe Analytics arsenal. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them as a comment here.