This is for WebTrends newbies who are ready to try a custom report. We think, we hope, that WebTrends users who have hesitated to tackle this ultra-valuable feature will find it far easier than they thought. Often, the hesitation is simply due to terminology issues! We’ll go slow.
A “report” is simply a table just like you see everywhere in WebTrends’ results . It’s just rows and columns. The rows have labels and are a list of things, like a list of page URLs or referrers. The columns have labels and contain numbers that quantify the things in the rows, like number of visits or number of page views … per “thing” on the “list”.
Don’t read further until you have the above nicely fixed in your mental concept map. List of things … numbers for each thing on the list … the list of things goes down the side … the numbers for each thing go across.
- The “list of things” is called a “Dimension” in WebTrends. WebTrends has a lot of ready-made dimensions, plus you can easily make additional ones.
Examples of out-of-the-box dimensions: Page URLs and titles. Content Groups. Referring sites. Campaign names found in the WT.mc_id parameter. Visitor’s cookie value. Day of the week. New visitors and Return visitors. On-site search terms that appear in the parameter called WT.oss.
Examples of dimensions you can create: Product names as found in your site’s “productID=” parameter. Campaign names found in a parameter that has a name other than WT.mc_id. Product colors as found in your site’s “color=” parameter. On-site search keywords as found in a parameter called “searchterm” or something other than WT.oss.
- The columns containing numbers are called “Measures.” Again, WebTrends has a lot of them already made. In addition to the out-of-the-box ones, you can of course make additional ones..
Examples of out-of-the-box measures: Number of visits. Percent of total site visits. Number of views. Viewing time. Number of orders.
Examples of measures you can create: Number of instances of the parameter “color” having the value “purple.” Number of instances that contained the parameter “promocode=yes”.
Big point: The two bullet points above, Dimensions and Measures, are in fact a basic custom report! Making a custom report in WebTrends goes something like this, once you have opened the Custom Reports >> Reports >> New Custom Report screen:
- You choose a dimension.
- You choose at least one measure.
- You give the report a name and save it into the custom report pool.
- You attach it to a profile.
- You make sure the template will allow the report to be displayed.
- You analyze some data.
- You look at the data.
- If you don’t like the custom report you modify it or you can un-attach it from the profile and delete it from the pool of custom reports.
That’s the basic structure, but it’s of course not the whole story. Here are the two other essential things:
- Use filters to make a custom report that shows data only for a subgroup of your overall data. For example, you may want the custom report to display data only for first-time visitors, or visits from Google, or visits that included a purchase.
Examples of out-of-the-box filters: Day of the week is Sunday. Entry page is URL “xxxx.” Visitors are Returning. Campaign ID (from WT.mc_id) is “zzzzz.” Visits that did NOT arrive from a search engine.
Examples of filters you can make: Product page views where the product has the color parameter “purple” or “blue.” Visits that contained at least one product page view where the product has the color parameter “purple” or “blue”. Pages classified as error pages. Visits that arrived through search terms that contained your company’s name. On-site search terms that returned no results, i.e. that had a value of zero for the parameter than shows number of search results returned.
- If you want, you can nest one dimension inside another, in a so-called 2-dimension Custom Report. For example, you can nest the “Page URLs Viewed” dimension inside the “New vs Return Visitor” dimension. The result would be a list of all the Page URLs Viewed by New visitors, followed by another list of Page URLs Viewed, this time by Return visitors. All in the same report. The “outside” dimension (New vs Return in this example) is called the Primary dimension and the inner nested dimension is called the Secondary dimension and the whole thing is a Two-Dimension Report. By the way, when you’re ready, The WebTrends Outsider has a post with more details about the ins and outs of 2D custom reports.
Finally, there are some smaller details that you don’t have to worry about until you’re fairly comfortable making custom reports:
- If you want your report to show a trend graph (over time) for a particular measure you have to tell WebTrends to do so, by checking the “use interval data” box. Otherwise WebTrends will conserve database space by not storing the day-by-day info necessary for a trend graph.
- If you have a trend graph, the first measure will be the one graphed in the default view. Keep this in mind as you decide on your measures.
- Check the box “Exclude activity without dimension data” if you don’t want a “None” row in your data for hits/visits that don’t fit the dimension. We recommend not checking this box while you test your report, because the “None” row can help with troubleshooting.
- If you use both Include and Exclude filters, remember that Exclude filters trump Include ones.
Having covered the basic concepts and structure of a custom report and hoping you’ll just want to jump in and feel your way through the setup of one, we want to add this:
The hard part of custom reports is deciding what should be the dimension and filtering. Really. It is not always easy to translate some vague “I wanna know …” question into specifics of dimensions and filters. If this stumps you, don’t be discouraged. You will get better at it as your mind wraps itself around this way of thinking.
To get examples of some custom reports that have been explicitly described here in the Outsider, go to the Cool Custom Reports category. A few of them are a little high-level but you’ll see custom report logic in action.