In my previous job, when I first started thinking about moving from HBX to SiteCatalyst, I had a big concern over whether we could use the excel client in the same way as we did Report builder. Now I use SiteCatalyst for my new company, I wish I’d blogged about Report Builder because I don’t have access to it any more and realise how good it was. So instead I am going to blog about the SiteCatalyst Excel client, because I can show you bits of it and how you can use it to your advantage.
Firstly though, a bit of history. Report Builder worked so well and was so popular for a number of reasons. First on this list was that it was impossible to do a number of things in HBX that seemed like they should be standard and secondly, creating filters in HBX could tend to be time consuming because you had to navigate to the correct report, then wait for it to load, set up your filters, wait for it to load, etc, etc. Far easier would be to set up one report in Report Builder that referenced a cell, then you could change the cell really easily to get a new report. Or you could even copy and paste it to get two slightly differently filtered lists next to each other.
Particularly useful was the functionality I used for failed search terms on the internal search. We’d set it up so that we collected not just the search term, but four associated metrics (eg type of search, any other drop down variables, etc). We would then use this list to look at which terms we weren’t throwing up results for. This was particularly difficult, because really we were only interested in one type of search, but the user interface in HBX didn’t allow us to filter these terms for just those using site search. Report builder did allow you to do this.
The main area I used it for was reporting upwards on work that we’d done. Specifically the way the tagging worked in HBX meant that every page was named after its hierarchy followed by its page name. This way if you tagged all one type of content in the hierarchy, you could easily filter this list in report builder. You could then create a report showing how a total of all of the entries changed over time to show whether the content was doing better or not. You could also do your single access to show whether the bounce rate had gone up or down. Now there was another step. If you had 20 different types of content, you could paste them into a spreadsheet and get report builder to reference them in a nice copy and paste option.
For SiteCatalyst, they have got around a lot of these issues with the use of correlations. The one thing I don’t like about correlations is the lack of metrics associated with them (you can only have page views). For a content rich site – where you really need entries, single access and visits – the correlations don’t really work that well, so you want to set up reports that you can filter.
This leads us into another point – if you don’t want correlations, but you have set up your account to use the custom traffic variables – can these be of use? Usually recommendations are that you use your custom traffic variables to pick up the hierarchy of your content. We do that in a really useful way that allows us to set up the correlations that we really need – against referring domains, keywords, etc.
However the downside is that whilst these are good at rolling up visits into a nice deduplicated measure and entries (assuming that you always pass a value in), your single access is nonsense. In this case single access is just a situation where that was the only variable that was passed through. So if you look at several different pages with the same custom traffic variable (but different page names), but only one value for that custom variable, you are counted as a bounce.
An easy way around this is to develop an ASI slot for single access visits and compare this with your main account for entries.
This is where the Excel client comes in useful. Rather than sitting and switching between accounts, it can be useful to compare your two accounts in Omniture using a bit of ‘Copy and Paste’.
Personally I think maybe Omniture missed the point of report builder. Where it was probably created to allow people to create automated management reports, I certainly didn’t use it for that – I had a whole library of reports that could just be updated. I find this hard to do in the Omniture Excel client, which has to be mainly used as creating a set of high level management reports. Check out the Omniture blog post on the excel client for more hints and tips.