As Avinash Kaushik pointed out in a recent blog post, while all websites are different, most have one thing in common – a conversion process.  Even if your website doesn’t sell anything, there are still often process steps that you want your customers to go through.  It may be a registration process, the opening of an account or simply a lead generation process.  Regardless of its purpose, the end goal is to see how successful your website is at getting visitors to complete a series of pre-defined milestone steps (usually defined as SiteCatalyst Success Events).  Many clients do this through normal page-by-page pathing analysis, but this only gives you part of the picture.  In this post I will provide “the rest of the story” (RIP Paul Harvey!).

Why Pathing Is Not Enough
When you first start out using SiteCatalyst, it seems like there is nothing you can’t accomplish with page-by-page pathing.  For example, let’s say you have a conversion process that includes the following steps:

  1. Get Customer Information
  2. Get Shipping Information
  3. Get Billing Information
  4. Show Order Thank You Page

Since each of these pages will have a unique page name, there is no reason why you can’t create a pathing fall-out report that includes these pages so you can see customer fall-out.  It might look something like this:

You can monitor this over time and even add multiple versions of this report to a SiteCatalyst Dashboard so you can compare different time periods or countries.  However, pathing reports have one major downside, they include all site traffic.  What if you wanted to see the same fall-out report above for visitors coming from Google Campaigns or only for first time visitors?  To do this, you have a few options:

  1. Use Omniture Discover and apply the segment you desire to the fall-out report
  2. Create ASI slots for the segments you desire and create the fall-out report in the ASI slots
  3. Create a DataWarehouse report and calculate the fall-out using a spreadsheet
  4. Merge together segment and page data into a new Traffic Variable (sProp) and enable pathing (advanced)

While all of these will work, there is a much easier way – utilize the SiteCatalyst Conversion Funnel report.

Conversion Funnel
So what is the Conversion Funnel?  You would be amazed how many long-time SiteCatalyst users have never found or used this report.  At its core, the Conversion Funnel report is a special report that allows you to add Success Events to a funnel and see high-level fall-out numbers between each metric.  While it sounds like a pathing fall-out report, it is actually very different.  In a pathing report, in order for a path view to the second page in the flow to be counted, the page view has to take place after the first page the fall-out report and within the same visit.  Conversely, a Conversion Funnel report does not care about visits and only reports raw metrics (Success Events) that take place during the specified reporting time period and calculates the difference between every two metrics.  For example, in the following Conversion Funnel report, if the time frame is February 2009, then the report would be indicating that, in February, the Customer Information success event took place 328,998 times, the Billing Information success event took place 126,559 times and there were 57,800 Orders (I kept the numbers similar to the pathing numbers above for simplicity, but in reality these might not match exactly).  This doesn’t mean that the same visitors performed each of these Success Events in the same session, it just shows how many of these Success Events took place in the specified time frame.

To get to a Conversion Funnel report, you simply navigate to a set of metrics, Purchase Metrics (shown below), Shopping Cart Metrics or Custom Metrics and click on the item that contains Conversion Funnel:

The truth is that it doesn’t really matter which “Conversion Funnel” link you click on since you can add/remove metrics as you wish, but the report will default to different success event metrics depending upon which version you select.

Now that we are beginning to understand what Conversion Funnels are, why should we care?  The magic of Conversion Funnels lies in the ability to filter them by Conversion Variables (eVars).  As mentioned above, it can be a bit challenging to view fall-out reports by Campaign, Visit Number, City, Marketing Channel, etc… but Conversion Funnels come with a built-in ability to filter by any available eVar:

Filtering is simply a way for you to tell SiteCatalyst to show you a different view of the Conversion Funnel that only shows metric counts where the selected eVar contained the specified value at the time the success event was set.  The best part of this feature is that you can apply a filter and the bookmark the report or add it to a dashboard and compare Conversion Funnels side-by-side.  For example, you can filter a Conversion Funnel by Marketing Channel and see a Paid Search Conversion Funnel next to a Display Ad Conversion Funnel in a dashboard.  Finally, Conversion Funnel reports also provide a slew of conversion metrics at the bottom of the report which can also be added to dashboards.

Important Things To Know About Conversion Funnels
The following are some important things to know about Conversion Funnels:

  1. You can use the Compare to Site feature to see two different report suite Conversion Funnels side-by-side or two different date ranges side-by-side
  2. Calculated Metrics cannot be added to Conversion Funnel reports
  3. Conversion Variable (eVar) filtering will only apply if the Conversion Variable (eVar) is set before or at the same time as the success events in the funnel

Have a question about anything related to Omniture SiteCatalyst?  Is there something on your website that you would like to report on, but don’t know how?  Do you have any tips or best practices you want to share?  If so, please leave a comment here or send me an e-mail at insidesitecatalyst@omniture.com and I will do my best to answer it right here on the blog so everyone can learn! (Don’t worry – I won’t use your name or company name!).  If you are on Twitter, you can follow me at http://twitter.com/Omni_man.

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4 comments
Aaron
Aaron

Hi Adam, thanks for highlighting these reports however, I can't help but think the only real benefit of this report is to display data in a different format than if you went to the individual Conversion Variable report itself. In your example, it seems to me like you would achieve just about the same information by going to your Campaign Type report and adding in the success events "Customer Info", "Billing Info", "Orders" & "Revenue". All that would be missing is the % calculations. What I think would make this report really useful is if it did in fact take into account that the "Billing Info" event occurred after the "Customer Info" event. So it would effectively become a version of the Pathing Fallout report but with filtering options and be based on events rather than pages. Regards, Aaron

Liz Nakamoto
Liz Nakamoto

Hey Adam, I just put a bunch of these reports into a dashboard for my marketing channel managers, and they are going to go bananas!! Per Michael's post above, I used SAINT to classify my campaign tracking codes into channels and it's AWESOME. As always, thanks for the rockin' blog--you and Ben G definitely rank on my list of top-10 reasons not to switch to Google Analytics :) Liz

Sushant Ajmani
Sushant Ajmani

Hi Adam, Thanks for providing your perspective on this topic but, I am not completely convinced with the value prop. Let me explain. Whenever I think about the term conversion funnel, it reminds me of Napolean Russia Tour where, he started with millions of soldeirs and by the time he came back, he left with few thousands. At each stage of the war, he lost a great chunk. Now, if I apply the same analogy to our conversion report, I don't get the same picture because, the 2 checkpoints that you are choosing for your conversion funnel are mutually exclusive. For e.g. Product Views, Cart Open and Checkout Initiation are not getting triggered at the same time. When you choose Product View followe by Cart Open, you expect the adjusted Cart Open number depending on the previous selected checkpoint. Now, take a typical retailer site which recieves 30-35% of traffic from their repeat visitors, and a decent % of these visitors have a non-empty shopping cart which they abandoned in their first visit. At the same time, their is a decent % of traffic on the site comes from Comparison Engines and Affiliate Sites which takes the visitor directly to the Product Pages. I have always seen, a great difference between Product Views and Cart Open and if you are not introducing the pathing component in the funnel, you might be misleading the audience with an overstated or an understated conversion number because, every business is different and especially in this Web 2.0 world where, features like MIni Cart, Quick Lookup, Cross Sells and Product Finders reduces the Product View count in the spirit of faster checkout, you would find business scratching their head. Please correct me on my perception because, I believe if their is no FALLOUT and ADJUSTED numbers at the consecutive checkpoints then, it's not a conversion funnel. I will cover more on this on my blog i.e. http://learn-n-optimize.blogspot.com/

Michael Feiner
Michael Feiner

Hi Adam, Great post. I find the filtering feature in the conversion funnels report extremely valuable when combined with SAINT classifications. It could give a whole new dimension to your analysis. Thanks, Michael