15 for 15: A Stitch in Time Saves… Visitors
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