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props and eVars | What are pathing reports in Adobe Analytics?
Hello there. Welcome to our sanitized blog. Hope you are doing super amazing. This is the sixth blog of the 10-blog series on props and eVars. I believe this is so far the biggest literature on the internet dedicated to props and eVars.
In this post, I will be elaborating Pathing Reports in Adobe Analytics. Pathing Reports are an exclusive attribute of Prop Reports, so it’s a highly relevant aspect to learn.
So, lets get cracking! Boom Boom.
Pathing reports exist in both Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics. In Google Analytics they are called Flow Reports. But, if you have used both the tools, you will understand how the Pathing Reports in Adobe Analytics are much more flexible and effective than the Flow Reports in Google Analytics.
Let’s start by understanding what are these Pathing and Flow reports.
Pathing reports help us to visually analyze the sequence of actions which users take on the website. In case of Google Analytics, the reports are fairly limited. Even though Google Analytics allows you to choose the dimensions in the user flow and behavior flow, the flow is essentially of pages only. So, what is different in Adobe Analytics?
Well, Adobe Analytics allows you to enable pathing on any prop report. Once you enable pathing, you are blessed with three super powers. First, you can see the first value that a prop receives in a session, these are your entry prop reports. Second, you get a report that contains only the last value that a prop receives in a session. Third, the pathing reports itself which help you to visually see the flow of information in a prop report.
But, this can also confuse some of the stakeholders, because once you enable pathing there are three variants of the same report. For example, if you enable pathing on “Search Keyword” prop report. You and your fellow Adobe Analytics users will see these two extra reports:
- Entry Search Keyword : This will present the first search keyword that a user searches in a session
- Exit Search Keyword : This will present the last search keyword that a user searches in a session
So, don’t be surprised if you are being questioned on the existence of these extra reports and on the difference between the three.
But what can be the use cases?
Once upon a time prop and eVar were hunting for hand sanitizers in local super market but could not find any, while this happened
You get a ping from the digital marketing manager named Bluto. Bluto is concerned that the campaign parameters are not getting tracked in Adobe Analytics properly and hence they are not able to properly analyze the performance of the marketing campaigns.
Just some background, Bluto feels Adobe Analytics is a stupid product and should be discontinued.
You check with Bluto that is he confident that they are appending the marketing query parameters properly to the URL. Bluto says he can sign with his blood that they are doing it properly. Right at that time you know its time to put on your cape.
You, the alpha digital analyst with mojo, fly back to your seat. You already know what to do.
You open Adobe Launch, set a prop report to hold the URL and enable pathing on it from the Adobe Analytics admin. You make sure that the URL contains all the query parameters.
Now, since you have enabled pathing, you will get a report dedicated to the entry page URL.
One day later..
You open your entry page URL prop report and there you have a list of all the landing page URLs with the query parameters.
Now, you simply breakdown this report with the marketing report and whoa! Bluto seems to be right. Even though you can see the marketing parameters in the page URL, the marketing report is showing unspecified.
Seems like you are in a soup.
You go to the website and debug it with dummy parameters and its seems to be working fine for you. Then what the heck is wrong, is it some kind of bug at Adobe Analytics’ end. You sound like Bluto.
You go to Launch, check for any exceptions, don’t find anything unusual. You check for marketing channel processing rules, nothing. You check in the eVar0 configuration, classification and even unrelated reports, nothing. You are pissed.
You decide to take a walk, have some green tea, and think. You remind yourself – you are the alpha digital analyst with mojo.
You go again to the report and pay close attention and perhaps you found the cause? There are semicolons in the URL, which you have never seen before. Can this be it?
You test by copying the entire URL from the report and debug it and this one is not recording any marketing information. You try again but this time remove the semi colons and voila! It works.
You go to meet Bluto. You greet him with a grin and he is already pissed again.
You tell him that there are semi colons in his URL which is causing this issue and ask him on how they are coming. Bluto is unsure. Even he is confused and then he tells you that they are using some URL shortener and perhaps that is causing the issue. You both check it and yes, it is URL shortener that is adding semi colons and hence affecting the tracking of the query parameters.
Bluto gets the shortener removed and going forward there are no issues in the campaign tracking.
What is the lesson here? Always make sure to test everything end to end, every time you start using a new tool. You can never predict how can something like URL shortener affect your campaign tracking.
Now, a case on pathing visualization.
Once upon a time prop and eVar were trying to make water kefir at home, while this happened
You get a ping from your friend Hola, asking if you want to accompany him for a tea break. You refuse. You can see that the conversion has been consistently lower than your threshold, and that’s your call of duty.
It’s time to put on your cape. You, the alpha digital analyst with mojo.
You quickly open the CRM tool and extract the orders for last one week. You want to make sure that whether this is an Adobe Analytics issue or the orders are actually down.
You check for the ratio of Adobe orders vs CRM orders and there is no change in the ratio, which means that the orders have actually gone down.
You open your conversion funnel and compare the results of last one week with one month prior. Your objective is to find out the step for which the conversion has gone down.
This is a smart analysis and you discover that the conversion has gone down from the second last step to order confirmation.
The conversion has gone down from ‘Review’ to ‘Order confirmation’. What is the user journey here?
At the review step, the user is shown the order summary. If the user approves it, the user is taken to the payment gateway. The gateway is not on your site, it’s usually some kind of banking site. Upon the order confirmation, the user is redirected from the banking site to the order confirmation page.
So, is there something wrong with the payment gateways?
You raise a flag with the product team, who in turn check with the payment partners. You are pretty confident that there is an issue with payment gateway.
You ping back Hola, you want to have a tea break. Hola accompanies you and you plan for nth time for having a bike trip to Ladakh.
After wasting like 45 minutes, you come back to your desk and there is a ping from the product team, “All the payment gateways have confirmed that there is no issue. They have even provided the logs and nothing is wrong. Are you sure there is an issue?”
This questions your mojo.
If the users are not going forward with the payment, then where are they going? You suddenly remember about your pathing super powers!
You open the flow report in Adobe workspace:
You expand items in your pages report in the component selection, and you select the review page and drop it on the placeholder where its written “dimension or item”
You then compare the distribution of traffic from the review page. If the users are not going to the confirmation page, where are they going is your question. Are they leaving the site, are they going back, is the payment gateway having an error which they are not reporting?
You note down the % flow to the next pages in this month and then you change the date range and note down the flow from a previous period with higher conversion rates.
What has changed?
And it shines in front of you – there is a considerable increase in flow of traffic from the review page to the first step of checkout.
You know that the only way to move back to the first page of checkout is by hitting the back button. Why would people hit the back button?
Usually, someone would hit the back button if their action on the current page is not responding.
You also notice that this is happening only in few cases, it is not happening every time. So what are those cases?
Is it for certain browsers? No
Is it for certain operating systems? No
Is it for certain products? No
Is it for certain channels? No
Is it for certain times of the day? No
Is it for certain device types? No
Is it for certain cities? No
Can it be purely random? Perhaps. Should you report you are sure this is happening, but it is random? No! You are the alpha digital analyst with Mojo!
Can it be for certain promo codes? Voila!
It is happening for a promo code “summer-sale-100”.
You report this to the product manager that this drop in conversion is happening in cases when users are applying the identified promo code. The product manager responds that this is an expired promo code and they are not promoting it. He comes to your bay and you both go to the marketing bay and inquire about the issue.
After some investigation, it is revealed that a new intern has accidentally started the promotion campaign which was paused after its conclusion.
They immediately pause the campaign and you saved the day yet again.
This use case is actually a genuine one by yours truly 🙂
With this I am concluding my 6th post in this series. In the next post, I would put some cases for merchandising in eVar.
Till then, stay home, stay safe.
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