For most Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst cus­tomers, Pathing Analy­sis is some­thing with which they are pretty famil­iar.  After all, one of the pri­mary rea­sons to use a web ana­lyt­ics pack­age is to be able to see how site vis­i­tors are tra­vers­ing the pages of your site.  There­fore, in this post, I will cover the basics of Pathing Analy­sis, but then out­line some more advanced uses of pathing that you may not be famil­iar with.

What is Pathing?
Tra­di­tional Pathing Analy­sis con­sists of view­ing flow reports which show you how often site vis­i­tors go from Page A to Page B or Page C on your site.  By sim­ply hav­ing Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst code on your site pages, you will be able to see sev­eral dif­fer­ent pathing reports right out of the box.  Pathing is com­monly used to ana­lyze key web­site process flows in hopes of iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment.  For exam­ple, you may notice that an unusu­ally high num­ber of site vis­its show pathing exits after view­ing the “Shop­ping Cart” page.  After you have sev­eral months worth of data, you should be able to base­line your stan­dard pathing exit rates and then make changes to key pages and see if these changes have a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive effect.

There are eigh­teen pathing reports avail­able in Site­Cat­a­lyst, but there are a few that I tend to use the most:

Next Page Flow
This report allows you to see two lev­els of pathing from the selected page so you can visu­ally see where vis­i­tors are going from the selected page.  The thick­ness of the bars is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the percentages.

Fall­out Report
The fall­out report allows you to add sev­eral pages to a can­vas and see how often vis­i­tors view­ing the first page in the can­vas viewed the sec­ond page and how often those view­ing the sec­ond page viewed the third, etc…  It is impor­tant to under­stand that the vis­i­tors do not need to have viewed the pages in the exact order indi­cated on the can­vas, but rather, need to have viewed them in the spec­i­fied order to be included in the fall­out report.  While you can only add a finite num­ber of pages to a fall­out report in Site­Cat­a­lyst, you can add many more to the can­vas if you use Omni­ture Dis­cover.

Pathfinder Report
The pathfinder report allows you to add pages to a canvas, but also pro­vides the abil­ity to add wild cards and choose whether you would like to include entries and/or exits in your analy­sis.  This pathing tool is com­monly used for under­stand­ing all of the dif­fer­ent ways vis­i­tors can get from Page A to Page Z on your site.

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

  1. Pathing can be enabled on any Traf­fic Vari­able, not just Page Name.  The most com­mon uses of Pathing are Page Name and Site Sec­tions (s.channel), but there are many cre­ative uses for Pathing beyond this.  For exam­ple, if you want to have an easy way to see the order that site vis­i­tors view your prod­ucts, you can pass the prod­uct name or ID# to a Traf­fic Vari­able on each prod­uct page and then enable pathing to see which prod­ucts are viewed concurrently.
  2. Pathing reports only con­sider that a path has changed when a new value is passed to the Traf­fic Vari­able.  This is impor­tant, because, if you acci­den­tally use the same page name for two dif­fer­ent pages, you will not be able to see instances where vis­i­tors went from one page to the other.
  3. Pathing reports do not span mul­ti­ple visits.
  4. In Site­Cat­a­lyst, you can­not com­bine sev­eral pages into a bucket and view pathing to/from the bucket of pages, but you can do this in Omni­ture Dis­cover.
  5. Pathing reports are not avail­able in Omni­ture DataWare­house or the Excel­Client.  In future posts I will dis­cuss how you can use ASI (Advanced Seg­ment Insight) to see paths for a sub­set of your audience.
  6. You can­not view pathing on a Clas­si­fi­ca­tion of a Traf­fic Vari­able (sProp) in Site­Cat­a­lyst (though you can in Dis­cover).  There­fore, you should take this into account when deter­min­ing whether to cap­ture data val­ues directly into a vari­able or a Classification.
  7. Pathing reports can­not span across mul­ti­ple Site­Cat­a­lyst report suites so if you want to see pathing for dif­fer­ent sites, you need to have a com­mon tag on pages of both sites (known as multi-suite tagging).

Real-World Exam­ple
In this install­ment of our real-world exam­ple, let’s say that one of Greco Inc.‘s sub­sidiaries is a Finance related media site and its goal is to increase Page Views so it can increase paid adver­tis­ing rev­enue.  As part of its Site­Cat­a­lyst imple­men­ta­tion, Greco Inc. captures the ticker sym­bols vis­i­tors search upon in a Traf­fic Vari­able.  It turns out that peo­ple are will­ing to pay top dol­lar for Paid Dis­play Ads served up on the “Apple” ticker sym­bol (AAPL) results page.  Unfor­tu­nately, many of the other ticker sym­bol search results pages don’t com­mand such a pre­mium.  There­fore, Greco Inc. would like to find a way to iden­tify more “Apples” on its site so it can increase over­all adver­tis­ing rev­enues.  To do this, they decide to enable pathing on the Traf­fic Vari­able con­tain­ing the ticker sym­bols being searched upon.  This allows them to see which ticker sym­bols are being searched directly before and after (shown below) “AAPL.”

Armed with this infor­ma­tion, Greco Inc. can make a case to its clients that it can pro­vide an almost iden­ti­cal audi­ence as those search­ing for “Apple” at com­men­su­rate price.  From a usage stand­point, the best part is that the Ticker Sym­bol Traf­fic Vari­able does not con­tain all of the site pages, which makes it much eas­ier to fol­low and pro­vides only the data that is needed.

 

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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10 comments
accidentlawyers
accidentlawyers

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Online Business Listing
Online Business Listing

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Free Press Release Distribution
Free Press Release Distribution

Regardless of their purpose, the ultimate goal is the success of your website is for visitors to complete a series of predefined steps milestone (usually defined as successful events SiteCatalyst).

Sara
Sara

I'm trying to pull up information on Discover about previous subcategory flow, but when I pull up the report by going to Reports-> Paths-> Pages -> Subcategory -> Previous Subcategory flow it shows only two subcategories. When I try to search for other subcats I'm unable to. Is there a guide on Discover that I can look into for this question?

Estate Agents Derby
Estate Agents Derby

I don't know about this pathing. Thanks for this info. I learned something from it.

Betsy
Betsy

I am trying to exclude 'uturns' from next page reports. I can't figure out a way to systematically and simply exclude next page instances that are actually just people clicking 'back' from a specific path. I've tried pathfinder but the superset of pages on both the 'anything except' and 'specific pages' is too complex. I just want all next pages EXCEPT people who clicked back to the original page. any easy ideas?

Adam Greco
Adam Greco

Khalfani, Here are my replies to your questions: 1. "Instances" in the next page flow report simply shows the # of times the page listed was the next page. I am not sure why the metric is labeled instances. 2. I may be misunderstanding you, but if you filter after looking at a particular page, you are not doing the same thing as looking at all paths to a bucket of pages and where they went after those buckets of pages. I believe that if you do what you are proposing, you would simply be seeing a subset of the pages after one specific page. Contact me if you'd like to chat more… Adam

Khalfani
Khalfani

In a Next Page report, what does "Instances" mean? Regarding your point #4 above, if I run a Next page report in Site Catalyst, then filter the results page based on URL name, won't that essentially give me the next page flow to that "bucket of pages"? Thanks, Khalfani

Adam Greco
Adam Greco

Jason - Great point! Feel free to share an example of what you have done and how it helped! Thanks!

Jason Egan
Jason Egan

Another great use of pathing is enabling it for Flash and AJAX applications. Since these kinds of applications are tied to traditional page views, it's a good idea to send these things into a prop and then enable pathing so that you can understand how people use and navigate through your rich Internet applications (RIAs).