Getting Visual with Sitecore’s Path Analyzer Tool
As with my past posts about Sitecore® Experience Platform™ capabilities, I like to focus on interesting features and functions of the Sitecore stable. Here’s a tool that’s powerful and put simply…very cool and innovative: the Path Analyzer. It’s a prime example of how Sitecore continues to evolve and support marketers at the very core of their responsibilities—being there as consumers change their habits when engaging with brands across new devices and social platforms. With our 8.1 release, Sitecore enables companies to market to their customer “in context”—taking into consideration contextual intelligence, robust content management, and omnichannel automation.
So, here we are with Path Analyzer. I am fortunate to work in the same office as Alex Shyba, Director, Platform Innovation and Engineering at Sitecore—and the owner of the Path Analyzer—so my peers and I have enjoyed watching this product evolve firsthand.
The idea behind Path Analyzer is to observe, analyze, and understand the web journeys that your prospects and customers follow when navigating your website. Where are they coming from initially? Is their path “organic” (via a search engine) or from a paid ad? Social posting? Or even a traditional direct mail campaign that you initiated? The power of Path Analyzer is in demonstrating graphically where you are getting the most “bang for your buck” and informing the marketer where to course correct if necessary.
As with any of the Experience Platform tools including the Path Analyzer, all customer engagement is captured in the Experience Database so you gain a 360-degree view of a customer’s interaction with your brand. It is with this granular data—supplemented if you wish by other systems’ information such as CRM, PoS, ERP, etc.—that best showcases Sitecore’s value proposition. To use all that rich history and information to understand and communicate with your audience in real time, in the right format on their preferred channel (likely their mobile phone), is Sitecore’s contextual intelligence and the kind of knowledge that wins loyal customers for life.
What Path Analyzer does
The Path Analyzer is an application that enables you to create a map that shows the sequential paths that contacts take as they navigate through your website. In any campaign, there are numerous components:
- Outcomes (more than a goal, an outcome is a business significant result, e.g., purchasing a car)
- Experiences (a set of activities over more than one channel)
Path Analyzer is able to report on all of these different components visually with maps. You can see the paths that contacts take while interacting with campaigns, and on their way to converting on business critical activities such as goals and events.
You can create new Path Analyzer maps to track the different types of experiences contacts have on the way to content such as campaigns or digital assets. You can also configure the Path Analyzer to track different kinds of visits to your website, such as the experience of a first-time visitor or a returning customer. This information can provide you with insight into how different kinds of contacts interact with your content.
The Path Analyzer shows you which paths have the most traffic, which paths provide the highest Engagement Value, and which provide the highest engagement value per visit or efficiency. This enables you to gain insight into which contact experiences on your website work efficiently, and which content is less efficient and could be optimized. If you want to add other metrics, the path analyzer in XP 8.1 also gives you “potential gain” and “Monetary value.”
The colored paths we see above are those web journeys performed by different visitors. Each node represents an actual webpage and the colors communicate the efficiency of the journey based on the goals and values assigned for each node; green is more effective while red is less so. This visualization provides marketers with an insight into which pages are underperforming so they take action.
The Page Analyzer
Another related tool at the marketer’s disposal is the Page Analyzer. While the Path Analyzer tracks how contacts interact with your content on a large scale, the Page Analyzer shows you the paths to and from specific pages on your website on a smaller scale.
As shown below, here’s an action with a typical goal: registering for an event on a website. The Page Analyzer allows you to explore paths that lead to a page and then view the individual contacts that took this particular path experience with its accompanying values.
What’s new with Path Analyzer in 8.1?
In 2014, with the introduction of Sitecore 8.0 and the introduction of Path Analyzer, our primary focus was on improving the marketer user experience. It was essential to make Sitecore’s tools (email, social, web, print, etc.) have a consistent look and feel to facilitate easy mastery of the marketing function.
In October 2015, we released XP 8.1 with new features, product improvements, and platform deployment options. Specifically for Path Analyzer, Alex expanded the scope of what maps you can generate so that now marketers can report on outcomes, channels, and “experiences”—where marketers can determine which customized sequences or activities they wish to include. Now you can have a consolidated view of activities or drill down to a specific campaign component or customer if you wish.
Sitecore’s overarching goal is to enable marketers to speak to customers and prospects “in context.” Only by providing what customers want when they want it, when they want it, and on their channel of choice will brands earn their trust and business for the long term. And Path Analyzer helps facilitate that experience in an appealing, visual way.
We will be sharing some Path Analyzer recordings on our Sitecore YouTube Channel shortly.