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://twitter.com/Omni_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