In a recent post by Avinash Kaushik on his blog, some questions arose about how to create/use Bounce Rates in SiteCatalyst, which are “out-of-the-box” metrics in some other tools. I will use this post to answer these questions.
Question #1 – How Do I Create a Bounce Rate Metric in SiteCatalyst?
By great coincidence this question comes right as I was about to launch my post on Calculated Metrics so the timing is great. To SiteCatalyst, Bounce Rate is nothing more than a Calculated Metric (Single Access/Entries). You can create this metric as you would any other as explained in my previous Calculated Metrics post. Once you have created the Bounce Rate metric, you can open the Pages report, add it as a metric and view the Bounce Rate for any page on your site. If you are tracking Site Sections in the s.channel sProp variable and have pathing enabled for it, you can use the same Calculated Metric in the Site Sections report to see Site Section bounce rates. This latter example illustrates the point that SiteCatalyst tries to provide powerful tools that enable the end-user to utilize the same functionality for multiple purposes. The downside of this is that sometimes doing the easy, basic things are left to the end-user vs. being done “out-of-the-box” for you. Bounce Rate is a good example of this and as a result, you may end up seeing it as a default metric in a future release.
Since someone will undoubtedly ask, there is also a way to create a site wide Bounce Rate. To do this, when you create the Calculated Metric, make the formula “Total Single Access/Total Entry Pages” and save it as “Site Bounce Rate.” Then you can add this metric to the pages report and switch to the trended view (you will see the same #’s for each page in the ranked view so ignore that) to see a graph of the overall site Bounce Rate.
Question #2 – How Can I See Visits and Bounce Rates for Top Landing Pages?
This next question is no different from the first question above. SiteCatalyst does not distinguish between Landing Pages and other pages so creating the above mentioned Bounce Rate Calculated Metric would be sufficient. Simply add this metric to the report and look for your Landing Pages. I would consider naming your Landing Pages in a way that makes them easy to find using the search function (i.e. Landing Page:December Sale, Landing Page:January E-mail, etc…) or you could add “Entries” as a metric to the report and sort by that to make your Landing Pages rise to the top. With respect to Visits for Landing Pages (or any other page for that matter), you simply need to have Visits enabled (which is by default for Pagename). Then you can add Visits to the report and view it for any page.
Question #3 – How Can I See Visits, Conversion & Bounce Rates for Paid/Organic Keywords?
I assume that the business need behind this question is to identify which Paid and Organic Search Keywords (or Search Engines for that matter) lead to visits/conversion and which of these lead to bounces (meaning that visitors from the keyword “boots” reach the first page of the site, but do not click on anything after that). To begin with, seeing Visits by Paid and Organic Search Keywords is out-of-the box functionality in SiteCatalyst, but the term used in the tool is “Searches” instead of Visits. The Searches metric is a variation of the “Instances” metric for the Search Engine/Keyword reports and can be added to reports as needed. The only caveat that you need to be aware of is that in order to see Paid vs. Natural Search Engines and Keywords, you must enable Paid Search Detection in the Admin Console. This is very easy to do and simply tells SiteCatalyst what query string parameter represents Paid Search activity.
Determining which Search Engines and Keywords lead to conversion is out-of-the-box functionality as well. Once Paid Search Detection is enabled, Paid Search Engines and Keywords will be captured in Conversion Variables (eVars) so that you can see any success events that take place after visitors arrive to your site from a Search Engine. To see this in SiteCatalyst, you simply open the same Traffic Sources report mentioned previously and add your conversion Success Events to the report (in place of, or in addition to, Searches). Note that these out-of-the-box Search Engine/Keyword eVars expire at the end of the Visit (or earlier if you specify in the Admin Console) by default. If you would like to extend the expiration beyond the Visit, you would need to use a VISTA rule to pass the values to custom eVars.
So far so good, but here is where things take a turn for the worse! Understanding the Bounce Rate for specific Paid/Organic Search Keywords is not something that comes out-of-the-box in SiteCatalyst. We have had many clients do this, but unfortunately, at this time it is a custom solution implemented by our Engineering Services team. If this is something that is critical to your business, I would suggest that you speak to your Account Manager who can put you in touch with Engineering Services and if you are coming to Summit, feel free to shout it out at Brett’s customer feature request voting session!
On a related note, another approach to this that I have seen clients take is to use a VISTA rule to pass the search type (paid or organic), keyword and pagename concatenated to a custom sProp (i.e. paid:boots:home page). On subsequent pages, you simply pass the regular pagename to the same custom sProp. Once you have done this and enabled pathing, you can find the combination you care about, in this case, all people who came to the site using the paid search keyword “boots” and landed on the “home page,” and use pathing reports to see the paths they traversed after arriving. If you want to get a bit more fancy, you can add the Search Engine to the mix so you have the following: “google:paid:boots:home page” which will allow you to do the same thing, but subdivided by search engine. While these examples are not as easy as seeing a basic keyword bounce rate report, you can see the exit rates of each combination and have the added insight of the exact paths visitors took after arriving from a specific Search Engine, Keyword and Landing Page. This is something that I do not believe other web analytic vendors provide.
Hopefully this helps, but feel free to contact me if you have additional questions…Thanks!
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