With this post, we will be con­clud­ing this series of blog posts specif­i­cally around Site­Cat­a­lyst 15. (If you haven’t been count­ing, this one is num­ber 15!)  We hope you have found some great infor­ma­tion here.  We will con­tinue to pro­vide updates and tips for Site­Cat­a­lyst and the Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite in var­i­ous blog posts in the future.

My first job in col­lege was as an assis­tant in a com­puter graph­ics lab.  My job func­tion was as a seam­stress.  Yes, you read cor­rectly, a seam­stress in a com­puter graph­ics lab.  Ok, maybe it’s more polit­i­cally cor­rect to say I was a “tai­lor.”  I’ve heard it both ways.  In either case, my pri­mary goal was to take two over­lap­ping images that were taken with a dig­i­tal cam­era and iden­tify points on them that rep­re­sented the same objects in each pic­ture.  Once these points were iden­ti­fied, there was a soft­ware pro­gram that would merge, or “Stitch,” the pho­tos together in such a way as to make many pic­tures appear as if they were one.  Of course, these days, this capa­bil­ity is avail­able to all who have a cam­era phone with a “panorama” fea­ture to it.  I find poetic jus­tice in the fact that I now work for the com­pany that has made my col­lege job obsolete.  :)

What does this have to do with web ana­lyt­ics?” you ask?

Web Ana­lysts and Mar­keters are faced with a very sim­i­lar dilemma.  We have many vis­i­tors com­ing to our site using var­i­ous devices.  Often, the same vis­i­tor might browse using sev­eral dif­fer­ent devices.  But we have not been able to effec­tively track them as the same vis­i­tor.  In effect, the result is an over­state­ment of vis­i­tors because of the inabil­ity to de-duplicate them across devices/browsers.

I’m excited to intro­duce you to a new tech­nique that can be used for resolv­ing this prob­lem.  We call this tech­nique, “Cross-Device Vis­i­tor Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”  In order to “Stitch” these vis­i­tors into one, we will need a way to iden­tify the vis­i­tor, such as a login authen­ti­ca­tion.  When a vis­i­tor has authen­ti­cated, we need to place the unique iden­ti­fier into the s.visitorID vari­able.  You may want to con­sider hash­ing or encod­ing this value to pre­vent pass­ing per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion.  Let me illus­trate how this works.

We will look at a sce­nario where a vis­i­tor browses the site from a desk­top at home, then from a lap­top at the office.  Here are the steps this vis­i­tor takes:

Once a user has authen­ti­cated on both devices, we can con­sider them the same vis­i­tor mov­ing for­ward.  This is espe­cially use­ful when vis­i­tors use sev­eral devices to access your site.  The intri­ca­cies of this tech­nique are described in more detail in Appen­dix E of the Site­Cat­a­lyst Imple­men­ta­tion Manual.

If we take a look at how this affects our vis­i­tor count, we will be able to see the effect that cross-device vis­i­tors has on our data.  Let’s take the exam­ple of a fic­tional retail web­site for Egbert Inc.  The web ana­lysts for Egbert Inc. want to see the effect that mul­ti­ple devices play into their Order Sta­tus Check page.  In this exam­ple, we imple­mented Cross-Device Vis­i­tor Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion on Nov. 1, 2011.

As we can see for the data above, vis­i­tors who use mul­ti­ple devices rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of our over­all vis­i­tors.  How­ever, it is impor­tant also to under­stand the effect that this has on our conversion.

From these num­bers we see that some of our con­ver­sion pre­vi­ously attrib­uted to “Direct” is now cor­rectly being attrib­uted to the appro­pri­ate chan­nel for the vis­i­tor, not just the device-specific chan­nel.  This gives us the con­text we need to make opti­miza­tion deci­sions for our site and improve its performance.

In the ever-changing land­scape of the Inter­net, the num­ber and types of devices con­tinue to increase.  Track­ing your vis­i­tors appro­pri­ately will enable you to get a proper view of vis­i­tor activ­ity in this dynamic environment.

Have spe­cific ques­tions about Adobe Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Want to track a data point on your web­site, but not sure where to start with the imple­men­ta­tion?  Fol­low me on Twit­ter @sitecattips Please feel free to leave a com­ment here or send me an email at adobe­site­cat­a­lyst (at) adobe​.com