Guide Book to Built-in Reporting

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 @ 04:30

By: Scott Gillis, Lead Consultant – Taking a journey without a good guidebook can be exciting and scary all at the same time. Having looked at the journey our data moves through from collection, squeezing through formatting to arrive at reporting, I thought we should have some more detailed guiding points (the cheap man's guide book) as to what we can 'do' on the journey.

If you are looking for some guidance on the reports and screens provided by Sitecore, checkout their excellent walk-throughs over at https://doc.sitecore.net/sitecore_experience_platform/analyzing__reporting/analytics/reporting/the_experience_analytics_reports_relevant_for_marketers.

Dimensions + Filters = Segments

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When talking about the tables and charts that are combined into the reporting dashboards of the Experience Analytics (xAnaltyics), the data is shown based on "Segmentation". In marketing terms, a segmentation is a targeted subset of the general visitor base to the website. Sitecore's reporting is built on this idea as its purpose is to allows us to best focus the visitor experience to further foster long term engagement with them.

A major point of confusion for my users has been the re-use of the concept of 'segmentation' in the context of the Email Experience Manager (EXM) and xAnayltics. Grammatically, the use of segmentation is the same in both contexts, but they are configured and maintained separately. Thus, it has to be clearly shown and explained that, just because there exists an email segment called 'High Caffeine Drinkers', the same named segment in xAnayltics possibly does not report on the same group of visitors. [With proper setup and management, this is possible for these to be exactly the same.]

Every request to the Reporting Services API requires the Sitecore ID of a segment item. A segment is defined in the Marketing Control Panel as children of a dimension. In this context, 'dimensions' define what fact the data will be summarized on, such as goals or page URL. New dimensions can be added to the system by a developer. Once the proper dimension is selected, and the new segment item is created, you will apply a filter to the segment.

Filters use the Sitecore rules engine to define condition(s) that a data point must meet to be summarized for a segment. Filters can be defined once and used across many different segments, depending on the dimension the segment is summarized on, the filter may not provide any data to be calculated.

Steps to Creating Custom Reporting within Sitecore

There are number of steps that must be accomplished to get us to the point of either enhancing the out-of-the-box tables and charts in xAnalytics or creating our own tables and charts to answer business specific questions.

To provide context for the review of what is needed, we will use the Paragon Coffeehouse demo site built to reflect an eCommerce experience. (Note, there is no real eCommerce backing the site, just the appearance to help facilitate an experience for testing Sitecore specific elements.)

We will assume that the business would like to understand what page a visitor who has completed an order for coffee entered the site on. This will help them to gauge elements that a successful landing page should contain to increase order volume.

To do this, there are four major steps that must be taken that will be explored in upcoming posts, so stay tuned.

As always, feel free to tweet me questions or comments @thecodeattic or on Sitecore Slack Community as @gillissm.

 

 

Scott Gillis, Lead Consultant at Paragon and 2017 Sitecore MVP, has been working with Sitecore for several years. He has a deep passion for helping clients leverage their content and data into powerful new capabilities in Sitecore and has produced successful outcomes as the technical lead on numerous, complex implementations. Recently, Scott has been focusing on helping these clients take advantage of the wealth of data collected by Sitecore Experience Analytics.