Ins and Outs of Sitecore OMS

Aaron Branson
February 01, 2011
Sitecore , Digital Marketing

Since we have been really digging into Sitecore OMS (Online Marketing Suite) in the past six months or so, we've gotten more and more excited about the features and benefits. However, we hit a few roadblocks along the way - a few in's and out's involved in configuring OMS and getting it to meet our expectations. I thought now that we've gotten over the hump with several of them, this would be a good time to share what we ran into and how to get around it.

Customizing Visitor Identifications

One of the great features of OMS is the powerful analytics that gives you an almost instant view of activity on your site - who's on the site and what pages they viewed, in what order and for how long. That in itself is nice, but the icing on the cake is the ability to segment these visitors with "Visitor Identifiations" and then subscribe to reports when these types of visitors return. OMS comes with a set of default identifications that you may want to modify to fit your business.

For instance, I changed the default Visitor Identification key of "Business" to "Prospect" for our needs. I did this by going to the item in: System/Settings/Analytics/Visitor Identifications/010-Business. I renamed the item to "010-Prospect" and also updated the Header field to "Prospect" and the Description field to "The visitor is a prospect." and left the Value field at "10". The problem is that in the Latest Human Sessions report, when I classified a user, the report still displayed "Business". But the window with the slider that allows you to set the classification correctly said "Prospect".

We found from working with Sitecore that the reason why you still get "Business" instead of "Prospect" is that the change via the OMS UI only affected 1 of 2 databases. The change does not get recorded in the Analytics database. This was hence logged as a bug with Support but in the meantime, once you make your changes, do them manually in the VisitorIdentification table as well. This is typically something you'll do very rarely.

Session Trail Error Messages

We noticed with some of those handy session trail reports (what pages a user had visited), a few were displaying an error message:

Error: Could not update index entry. Action: 'Saved', Item: '{75EF6E29-94B3-46DC-9051-C2CA918FEE50}' Exception: Access to the path 'C:\...\Data\indexes\__system\segments.gen' is denied.

We were using Win2008 Server R2 and the key thing is R2 includes IIS 7.5 (yes 7.5).  Apparently it doesn't use NetworkServie anymore as a security measure (http://learn.iis.net/page.aspx/624/application-pool-identities/). It uses a new set of identities. So, maybe this was the culprit. We ACLed the new app pool identity to the data directory and we've been monitoring it for over a month - no problems. I have to give credit to Marco Tana for working this one out for us poor marketing folks. :)

Multivariate Test Reports

Perhaps one of the coolest features, yet one of the biggest headaches we encountered. MV tests allow you to quickly produce multiple variations of content and see which one performs the best by comparing goal conversions of users who have encountered each variation. Only problem was the report meant to show this fantastic data didn't show any goal information! However, after beating our heads against the monitors for a few weeks, it was found to be a bug and Sitecore did have a patch for it! Hooray!! But that wasn't the end of it. After running the patch... still the same problem. We had a report that told us how many times each test variation was viewed by users, but no Goal Conversion data to go with it. Turns out there was still one more step beyond installing the patch - to remove the old cached report file at [Site root]\Temp\MVTests.1b862a06772345d6b55984284b8fed09.default.dll. Once we did that, VOILA... all of our previous MV tests were showing all of the appropriate goal conversions.

More to come? We've recently begun several OMS consultation, implementations and training in addition to using it ourselves since mid '10. These were the major hurdles we've encountered - which I think is a relatively positive commentary on this still new product. Hope this helps if you run into any of these!

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