I love to ski. From my very first expe­ri­ence with the sport, I was hooked on the speed, adren­a­line, and excit­ing ways to get down the moun­tain. As I gained expe­ri­ence and grew older, I found more and more oppor­tu­ni­ties to leave the trail, get off the beaten path, and start going through the back­coun­try. Ski­ing through fresh, untouched pow­der where few have ever gone before exhil­a­rates me to a whole new level, but I also need to plan my path with greater care.

When you are work­ing with ana­lyt­ics, one of the most inter­est­ing per­spec­tives of this data is sur­faced via pathing. Most Web ana­lysts think of fol­low­ing user paths from page to page, but this same con­cept applies to dif­fer­ent granularities—such as site sec­tions. Fur­ther­more, con­cep­tual pathing on cus­tom vari­ables applies this tech­nol­ogy to chang­ing user states, track­ing mul­ti­vari­ate test expo­sures, and many other use cases. Just as I enjoy ski­ing on groomed trails as well as mak­ing my own paths, I am pleased to announce you can now cap­ture pathing insights any way you like with the power of report builder.

What Types of Pathing Infor­ma­tion Can I Get in Report Builder?

With this lat­est release, there are two com­po­nents of pathing func­tion­al­ity that are exposed in report builder: Fall­out report­ing and Pathfinder analy­sis. With these two fea­tures alone, the client appli­ca­tions team can offer vir­tu­ally every path report cur­rently avail­able on the Web today (the only excep­tion being the Full Paths report).

Fall­out Reports

Report builder Fall­out reports sur­faces the visit attri­tion and con­ver­sion rates between each check­point you define. Steps are arranged top to bot­tom with raw visit instances returned in the result. Unlike the Web-based Fall­out report, report builder does not auto­mat­i­cally cal­cu­late the fall­out per­cent­ages between each step or pro­vide any sort of visu­al­iza­tion out of the box because these fea­tures are bet­ter pro­vided by the Excel envi­ron­ment. To access this report, drill down the Paths report folder (in Step 1 of the Request Wiz­ard) to the traf­fic vari­able you wish to ana­lyze, select the Fall­out report option, and finally define between three and eight checkpoints.

Fallout Path Interface

 

Under­stand­ing the fall­out per­cent­ages between crit­i­cal steps in your Web or app expe­ri­ence can pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant direc­tion in where you should focus your expe­ri­ence opti­miza­tion resources and efforts. This sim­ple report can ensure your orga­ni­za­tion is pro­vid­ing the high­est work-to-value ratio possible.

Pathfinder Tool

By dis­sect­ing the full paths through your site or app, this report reveals valu­able nav­i­ga­tional pat­terns. Using the Pathfinder, you can ana­lyze path frag­ments, includ­ing paths that begin with a cer­tain page, end with a cer­tain page, con­tain a cer­tain page, or even ones that begin with one page and end with another. This is use­ful in exam­in­ing pat­terns of behav­ior as it relates to cam­paign con­ver­sions, bounces, or check­out processes. The first step in obtain­ing this valu­able infor­ma­tion is select­ing a type of pat­tern you wish to apply. After select­ing the “Paths” report option in Step 1 of the Wiz­ard, click­ing into the Fil­ter option in Step 2 reveals a drop­down menu with all of the Pathfinder pat­terns found in the Web ver­sion of the report, along with a few addi­tional pat­terns not pro­vided online. Using the can­vas in this same win­dow, you can also cus­tomize the pat­tern fil­ter for very spe­cific items and anchor points. By default and in most Adobe Ana­lyt­ics imple­men­ta­tions, your pat­tern can con­tain up to three elements.

Pathfinder Filter

Other Pathing Options

What about Next Page Flow, Sin­gle Page Vis­its, or any of the other pop­u­lar path reports you are used to work­ing with? Never fear. These are all still acces­si­ble from the Pat­tern selec­tor in the Paths report, as well as from the right-click con­text menu from any sup­ported traf­fic data block. For exam­ple, start­ing from a stan­dard top pages report, you can select one or more pages, right-click and add a path depen­dent request such as Next Page. This mas­sively flex­i­ble func­tion­al­ity allows you to recre­ate and cus­tomize the Next Page Flow report (and most other stan­dard path reports) to a greater extent than what is pos­si­ble on the Web today.

Example Next Page Flow in Report Builder

Caveats

Now, because report builder focuses on the core data and leaves the visu­al­iza­tion work to Excel, there are some impor­tant dis­tinc­tions to under­stand with gen­er­at­ing pathing reports. As I implied pre­vi­ously, not all the menu path options you find in Reports & Ana­lyt­ics on the Web will be shown in report builder, but every type or path report can be recre­ated with the excep­tion of Full Paths for the time being. It is also impor­tant to under­stand that any visu­al­iza­tion re-creation would be left up to the Excel graph­i­cal libraries as opposed to any­thing the tool would pro­vide. This addi­tional flex­i­bil­ity can actu­ally be a great boon to your report­ing needs, allow­ing you to cus­tom tai­lor your reports for your spe­cific busi­ness needs.

As with ski­ing, when you apply these new report options to dif­fer­ent data types and use cases, you may notice users tak­ing unex­pected paths from the expected course. Try to embrace the dynamic nature of the Web as you con­sider all the dif­fer­ent approaches your users take with your site or app. Book­marks, tabs, and browser plug-ins can manip­u­late path data in unex­pected ways, so keep an open mind and open expec­ta­tions when you ana­lyze user behav­ior in this manner.

Final Thoughts

With the increased flex­i­bil­ity in pulling data that report builder offers and with a lit­tle effort, you can now cre­ate path reports that go wider and deeper than any­thing you could achieve in the Web. Go check out this lat­est ver­sion of the tool, and keep on the look­out for even more changes to your ana­lyt­ics expe­ri­ence in Excel this year!