While Alerts are not overly com­pli­cated, I am amazed how many cus­tomers I meet who are not using them. After all, once you set a large num­ber of met­rics by which to eval­u­ate your online busi­ness, who wants to spend all day check­ing to see if they go up or down when you can have Site­Cat­a­lyst auto­mat­i­cally inform you of unusual activity?  In this post I will cover the basics of Alerts in hopes that those who are not tak­ing advan­tage of them will begin to do so.

What Are Alerts?
Site­Cat­a­lyst Alerts are a mech­a­nism for you or your busi­ness users to be alerted when some­thing pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive hap­pens related to Site­Cat­a­lyst met­rics you care about.  Alerts can be set in many dif­fer­ent types of Site­Cat­a­lyst reports using an icon in the tool­bar as high­lighted below:

Unfor­tu­nately, Alerts can get a bit com­pli­cated because their func­tion­al­ity is dif­fer­ent depend­ing upon the type of report you are look­ing at when you click the above icon.  The fol­low­ing will explain what you can do with Alerts in the var­i­ous report types:

Site Met­rics Reports
Alerts for the Site Met­ric Reports are the eas­i­est to under­stand since they involve raw num­bers only.  As a refresher, the Site Met­ric reports include Page Views, Vis­its, Unique Vis­i­tors, Pur­chase, Orders and all of your Cus­tom Suc­cess Events.  When you choose to set an alert on these reports you will see a sub-screen like this:

In this screen, your only options are to choose a time frame (Hour, Day, Week, Month) and whether you want to be alerted if a value is Above, Below or Changed by a spec­i­fied per­cent.  As is the case with all Alerts, you can also spec­ify if you want to be alerted via e-mail or mobile device and can assign a name to the Alert.  Video, Mobile and GeoSeg­men­ta­tion Reports are the same as Met­ric Reports when it comes to Alerts.

Non-Site Met­rics Reports
Alerts for the other reports in Site­Cat­a­lyst are a bit more tricky since, in gen­eral, non-site met­ric reports allow you to choose which met­rics you want and dis­play many dif­fer­ent val­ues asso­ci­ated with those met­rics.  For exam­ple, any Con­ver­sion Vari­able (eVar) report allows you to add almost any met­ric to it and then dis­plays the var­i­ous eVar val­ues asso­ci­ated for those met­rics.  In the case of a blog site with an “Author” eVar report, adding the “Blog Post Views” metric will dis­play a list of Authors that had Blog Post Views and the num­ber of Blog Post Views for each Author in the met­ric col­umn.  Hence, it would make sense that when attempt­ing to set an Alert for an eVar report, you would need to spec­ify the met­ric and the eVar value to which you want the Alert to be tied.  There­fore, when click­ing the Alert icon in such a report, you will see a slightly dif­fer­ent screen that looks like this:

In this sit­u­a­tion, you will notice that there are two addi­tional items to select for the Alert.  The first is the Met­ric and the sec­ond is the Value.  Both can be set by using the drop-down boxes.  In the Met­ric drop-down box you select the met­ric for which Site­Cat­a­lyst will check to see if val­ues rise or fall.  This met­ric list is the same as the list of met­rics that you can add to the cur­rent report using the Add Met­rics link.  The Value drop-down box allows you to spec­ify for which Val­ues the cho­sen met­ric will be eval­u­ated.  The default is “All Items” which is the equiv­a­lent t the total at the bot­tom of the eVar report and will alert you if this total rises or falls above or below your cri­te­ria.  The next option in the Value box is “Top 1000″ but I can’t recall a time when I have ever used this.  The last item in the list is “Spe­cific Item” and this is extremely use­ful.  This option allows you to choose spe­cific eVar val­ues for which the selected met­ric will be eval­u­ated.  In the exam­ple above, we could select “Adam Greco” as the Author and Blog Post Views as the Met­ric and spec­ify that we want to be alerted any­time the daily Blog Post Views change by more than 25%.  How­ever, in real­ity, I tend to set Alerts on a weekly basis since choos­ing Daily will often end up send­ing you e-mails every Sat­ur­day and Sunday!

Impor­tant Things To Know About Alerts
The fol­low­ing are some impor­tant things to know about Alerts:

  1. It is not pos­si­ble to set Alerts on Pathing reports and some Vis­i­tor Reten­tion reports
  2. You can send an alert to mul­ti­ple peo­ple by adding e-mail addresses sep­a­rated by a comma
  3. You can view all of your Alerts and make changes to them in the “Alerts” area found under the My Account drop-down at the top-right of the Omni­ture Suite tool­bar.  In this area you can also enable or dis­able the Alert as you wish if you only want to use the Alert sporadically
  4. When you receive an Alert e-mail, there is always a link at the bot­tom that allows you to dis­able the Alert so those you send Alerts to will not be “spammed” for­ever by you includ­ing them on an Alert
  5. You can set Alerts on Cal­cu­lated Met­rics by click­ing on the Alert icon from within the spe­cific Cal­cu­lated Met­ric report about which you want to be alerted

 

Have a ques­tion about any­thing related to Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Is there some­thing on your web­site that you would like to report on, but don’t know how?  Do you have any tips or best prac­tices you want to share?  If so, please leave a com­ment here or send me an e-mail at insidesitecatalyst@​omniture.​com and I will do my best to answer it right here on the blog so every­one can learn! (Don’t worry — I won’t use your name or com­pany name!).  If you are on Twit­ter, you can fol­low me at http://​twit​ter​.com/​O​m​n​i​_​man.

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9 comments
julia
julia

Would it work if I set up the alert as "% changes by" a negative number?

Ben Gaines
Ben Gaines

LJ: Great question. The alert comparison is made against the previous period; for daily alerts, the comparison is against the previous day. (For monthly alerts, against the previous month, etc.) The ability to choose the comparison timeframe isn't currently available, but it's a great idea, and I'll be happy to share it with our Product Management team.

LJ
LJ

Question about alerts- for the value change, what does it compare to? For example if I set a visit alert to notify me when daily visits change by 10%, against what is it being compared to? 10% change over previous day or 10% change over daily average of last 30 days? And is is possible to choose what you want to compare it to?

Ted McDonald
Ted McDonald

The hourly alerts are very useful for site monitoring. Lows may indicate a technical problem and highs can indicate a spike that should be looked into. It looks though like hourly alerts can only be used for the pageviews report for an entire report suite. It would be very helpful if hourly alerts could also be used for sprops like site sections and specific pages.

Mike
Mike

i am trying to set an alert for page not found, if there is a spike in page not found, send an alert to people. Is this possible? I only see the % of change option, is that what should I use?

Adam Greco
Adam Greco

Tim - I will forward your feedback to Product Management...Thanks!

Tim
Tim

Also consider the example where you want to alert on multiple values say in-site search terms. What you get back is an e-mail with text content in no particular order. Not even listed by percentage change or alphabetically. Its not very useful. Would be good to have the data attached in a csv file as an option for this type of use.

Adam Greco
Adam Greco

Pere - Great idea...I will pass that on...

pere rovira
pere rovira

in my opinion, the problem with alerts is that you might end up receiving lots of emails. it would be cool if all alerts could be grouped together in a single, daily mail. cheers pere