Bada boom! That was my feeling after hearing flow reports coming to Analysis Workspace. Fallout and flow reports were the two visualizations that I waited so eagerly, and now those are alive and kicking in Workspace. I already tested and played around with fallout and now it was time for flow report testing. Btw, is it a flow or pathing, maybe flow pathing? Anyway, it shows very visually how users moves on your site or application.
Sometimes all features are not so simple or you might want to test with your data that you fully understood how new reporting models work. You can do this with your data, but it is difficult to see with 100% confidency that is everything as expected and that’s why I like to make test visits and make sure I can segment to only my test visit. I did this again. Here we go.
User had this kind of flow on my site
homepage & and did 1 refresh.
/category/ab-testing/ & and did 1 refresh.
/category/adobe-analytics/ & and did 1 refresh.
homepage & and did again 1 refresh.
Variables based on different settings and metrics
Before we jump to flow reporting I want to check my data for the test is solid and also want to understand how some metrics change based on different segments and settings. Might be little offtopic, but I believe important to understand how these might affect to flow and other reportings too. You can click my images and see those on full size.
I took different metrics and I can confirm data is right for my test visitor. Yes, I used tracking code when I landed to my homepage. Events and page views are populated on every hit.
I also use s.products variable with “12345” value on my homepage and data for that one looks ok too.
If you go to Workspace project navigation: Project -> “Project info & settings” and you will see some setting including this new one:
Sounds good, always good to get new options to easily choose how you like to handle your data. Wait a minute, what is actually instance or hit? How does it really affect to our data? Are only page views excluded or every single metric that was included on that reload? I removed the checkbox and now my data for test user looks like this:
Breaking news; only page views has changed, so this affects to only those and not e.g. events that happened on the second page view (= reload!). Could be something you already knew, but I have to admit, I wasn’t 100% sure. Have to ask, when do you want to use this feature? If you have good example then please share, I mean I never use page views to measure anything… maybe I could use those to count internal campaign impression, but usually I use just events or something else. This would be great feature on flow reports, but as you saw from my screenshot, this is not working with flow report… oh dear, why oh why? Have to ask from Adobe people.
No worries, I have ace on my sleeve. Hopefully, you don’t have Smith and Swesson, because it beats always even four aces. You can easily build “hit” level segment and choose “reloads” as metric and choose “exclude” from container settings. If I enable this kind of “exclude reloads” segment, here is how my data would look. I also enabled to count all instances from project settings.
Again data looks bit different, now all the metrics that were included on the page reloads are not included on my data. Makes sense! This is actually good way to look your data, especially on events that are populated on every page view – makes data more accurate or should I say truthful (of course sometimes you need to measure every event/impression). Well, that was some nice testing. If you have other opinions or have seen your data to work differently then please comment or send private message to me, thanks.
Now, back to flow reporting. Let’s try with simple example does the new flow report work ok. Hmm, I want this first try to be very simple, and that’s why I did new user joyrney as follows:
/category/ab-testing/ & and did 1 refresh.
Looks good to me, it works. Yes, first thing we learn from this test, is that every page view is included on flow report. And like I said before, disabling “count repeat instances” setting does not help, because at the moment that option is not working at all with flow reports.
Time to use my aces again! Let’s just use “exclude reloads” segment and that should solve our “reload problem” with flow reports and make flow reports more readable. Here it goes:
Breaking news again, this is like Fox news channel, nothing but breaking news! That flow is not true! How could it be? You saw my user flow and I continued to /category/adobe-analytics/. Ok, it has to do with the “exclude reloads” segment. When my segment exclude the second hit = then flow report stop to works, or maybe it works just ok, but it interprets user exit from the site. Wow, didn’t expect this kind of result. So we can’t use this as a detour if my test is true. Have to do couple more backup tests for this one and ask comment from Adobe people or other experienced AA users.
One visit can contain multiple flows
If we look flow data for my first user journey that I had multiple page views on homepage. At first, you might think you had 3 users on the site, bacause you see so many flows and even 3 exit points. But that is just one visit having multiple flows on site. So just a gentle reminder how flow reports work by default. And this is why we eagerly want to get flows with visit metric.
Visitor level flows makes it possible to visualize “attribution flows”
You change container from flow setting to “visitor container” and this way you can analyze flows between different visits, wow, nice! You can even add marketing channels or tracking codes to flow report, bada boom! I know, this isn’t real attiribution modeling, we are not dividing up conversions according to any sort of model, and that’s why I said “attribution flows”. 🙂
For example you could make a segment for “visitors who made purchase (or whatever event) with last touch channel of paid search”. Then you could enable that segment to flow report and choose “last touch channel” to exit point and start to click the flow open and see what were previous channels. Let’s try with my old example where I converted on third visit coming from Natural Search (Google) and before that I had visits from Facebook campaign and from email campaign:
I had so many page views that it is hard to see the full path, but you get the idea? And it seems to be working just fine. I know, would look much better and simplified if I could get that with visit metric and then I would see only 3 paths: Email – Social Networks – Natural Search
Just go crazy with this one and share your learnings (Anyone, Adam? ;)). I’ll surely test this feature much more with bigger sites, and don’t want to make this post too long. Let’s stop the testing for now. I’m quite sure I’ll make updates to this post (or make new detailed posts) when I get some comments from other users and have time to do more testing, so to be continued…
However, I can already start to write down my wishes for better flow reports:
- Possibility to choose “visits” as metric
- Almost same, but little different then above one: setting for “repeat count instances” should work with flow reports too
- At least with Chrome, I can’t resize the flow “image” vertically enough. I can see it all, but when I put mouse over to see “pop up” window and some additional information then I need to scroll to see all text on the pop up and it’s little annoying.
Interesting read Antti! I’m also struggling with the flow report and it being unreadable because of the reloads. Have you found a solution yet to make the flow report work if your website has quite some reloads?
Thanks Rick. Unfortunately, this is still a problem and we need to wait right kind of update from Adobe. 🙁