In the last post we began to learn about Con­ver­sion Vari­ables (also known as eVars), their spe­cial rela­tion­ship with Suc­cess Events and how they dif­fer from Traf­fic Vari­ables (also known as sProps).  In this post we will cover the remain­ing basic items related to Con­ver­sion Vari­ables so we can begin to move onto some more advanced topics.

Per­sis­tence
As was pre­vi­ously dis­cussed, Con­ver­sion Vari­ables are per­sis­tent such that as vis­i­tors to your site get assigned a value for a Con­ver­sion Vari­able, it stays with them for a des­ig­nated time frame.  For exam­ple, if a vis­i­tor fills out a form on your web­site and indi­cate that they live in Chicago, we may pass the value of “Chicago” to Con­ver­sion Vari­able 1 for that user.  You don’t need to worry about where that data is stored, but rather just under­stand that it can be stored and applied to Suc­cess Events that take place there­after.  How­ever, this abil­ity to store per­sis­tent val­ues brings with it some com­pli­ca­tions.  What hap­pens if two val­ues are passed to a Con­ver­sion Vari­able before a Suc­cess Event takes place?  Who decides which should get credit for Suc­cess Events?  Who decides how long Site­Cat­a­lyst should store the Con­ver­sion Vari­able val­ues?  Great ques­tions and the answer is that you get to decide!  Site­Cat­a­lyst pro­vides an Admin­is­tra­tion Con­sole where you can adjust the set­tings of your Con­ver­sion Vari­ables.  This tool allows you to spec­ify the Con­ver­sion Vari­able Name, Allo­ca­tion, Expi­ra­tion, Type and Sta­tus as shown here:

Name
Name rep­re­sents what your users will see as the “friendly” name for Con­ver­sion Vari­able in Site­Cat­a­lyst.  In this pre­ced­ing exam­ple, we would name Con­ver­sion Vari­able 1 to “City” so Site­Cat­a­lyst users would know that any­time they want to view Suc­cess Event met­rics by City, they should open that report.

Allo­ca­tion
Allo­ca­tion is a way that you can tell Site­Cat­a­lyst if you want the first Con­ver­sion Vari­able value, the last Con­ver­sion Vari­able value or all Con­ver­sion Vari­able val­ues to be asso­ci­ated with sub­se­quent Suc­cess Events.  If you would like the first value that gets passed to a Con­ver­sion Vari­able to get credit for sub­se­quent Suc­cess Events you would choose “Orig­i­nal Value (First).”  If you wanted the last value passed to the Con­ver­sion Vari­able to get credit for sub­se­quent Suc­cess Events, you would choose “Most Recent (Last).”  Finally, if you want mul­ti­ple val­ues passed to a Con­ver­sion Vari­able to get credit for sub­se­quent Suc­cess Events, you would choose the “Lin­ear” option (How­ever, please note that the lin­ear option does not allo­cate across mul­ti­ple vis­its so it is only divid­ing credit amongst val­ues passed to the Con­ver­sion Vari­able within one visit).

Expire After
Once a value for a par­tic­u­lar user is stored in a Con­ver­sion Vari­able, you use the “Expire After” set­ting to spec­ify how long it should remain there.  If your web­site is very Visit-focused, you may leave the default of “Visit” for many of your Con­ver­sion Vari­ables.  Con­versely, you may decide that once you cap­ture the visitor’s Age in a Con­ver­sion Vari­able, you’d like to keep it as long as pos­si­ble so any future Suc­cess Events can be bro­ken down by Age.  Finally, you may decide that you want to keep Con­ver­sion Vari­able val­ues only until the point at which a user com­pletes a spe­cific Suc­cess Event. All of these options are avail­able to you in the Expi­ra­tion area.

Since Type, Sta­tus and Reset are a bit more advanced and are sel­dom changed, I will cover those in a future post.

When Should Con­ver­sion Vari­ables Be Set?
Another impor­tant thing to under­stand related to Con­ver­sion Vari­ables is when they should be set.  In order to asso­ciate a Suc­cess Event with a Con­ver­sion Vari­able, the Con­ver­sion Vari­able must be set at the same time or before the Suc­cess Event.  For exam­ple, if you set a Suc­cess Event on the third page of your site, but don’t store the visitor’s City to a Con­ver­sion Vari­able until the fifth page, you will not be able to see that rela­tion­ship in Site­Cat­a­lyst reports (you can, how­ever, in Data Ware­house and Discover).

The “None” Row
One of the most fre­quently asked Site­Cat­a­lyst ques­tions I get is: What is the “None” row in Con­ver­sion Vari­able reports and how can I get rid of it?  If there is no value stored in a Con­ver­sion Vari­able for a user at the time a Suc­cess Event is set, Site­Cat­a­lyst gives credit to that event to “None” so that the Suc­cess Event met­ric total at the bot­tom of the Con­ver­sion report will match the same total as the Suc­cess Event report.  An easy way to remem­ber this is to sub­sti­tute the phrase “Instances in which Site­Cat­a­lyst didn’t know the [Con­ver­sion Vari­able Name]” for “None” in each report.  In the pre­ced­ing para­graph where the City value wasn’t set prior to the Suc­cess Event, that instance of the Suc­cess Event would be attrib­uted to the “None” row in the City Con­ver­sion Vari­able report since Site­Cat­a­lyst didn’t know to which City it should give credit.  To reduce the num­bers in the “None” row of Con­ver­sion reports you can set Con­ver­sion Vari­ables early in the visit and/or keep val­ues stored for longer peri­ods of time using the Expi­ra­tion set­ting described above.  How­ever, keep in mind that the “None” row can be extremely use­ful.  For exam­ple, you may get a ques­tion in which some­one wants to know what per­cent­age of time peo­ple com­pleted appli­ca­tions with­out hav­ing come from any online mar­ket­ing cam­paigns.  The answer to this ques­tion can be found by sim­ply adding the Appli­ca­tions Com­pleted Suc­cess Event met­ric to the Cam­paigns report and look­ing at the per­cent­age of the “None” row (14.61%) as shown here:

Real-World Exam­ple
So let’s go through another real-world exam­ple.  Our fic­ti­tious client, Greco Inc. has a web­site where it places many inter­nal pro­mo­tional ban­ners.  Each time vis­i­tors click on a pro­mo­tional ban­ner, they cap­ture the ID# of that pro­mo­tion in a Con­ver­sion Vari­able that is set to expire at the end of the Visit and gives credit to the Most Recent (Last) ID# the user clicked.  They use this Con­ver­sion Vari­able to see which pro­mo­tional ban­ners, clicked within a Visit, get site vis­i­tors to con­vert.  How­ever, one of the mar­ket­ing man­agers believes that vis­i­tors who click on a pro­mo­tional ban­ner may con­vert a few weeks later.  To test this the­ory, she wants to learn which pro­mo­tional ban­ners are the first ones clicked by users and give credit for all Suc­cess Events tak­ing place for the next 30 days to that pro­mo­tion. So how would she do this?

First, she must cre­ate a new Con­ver­sion Vari­able (let’s call it “First Inter­nal Pro­mo­tion”) in the Admin Con­sole.  Using the set­tings men­tioned above, she would set the Expi­ra­tion to be “30 Days” and change the Allo­ca­tion to be “Orig­i­nal Value (First).”  Next, she would work with IT to pass the same value passed to the pre­vi­ously men­tioned Inter­nal Pro­mo­tion ID# Con­ver­sion Vari­able to this new First Inter­nal Pro­mo­tion Con­ver­sion Vari­able.  Even though many dif­fer­ent val­ues will be passed to this new First Inter­nal Pro­mo­tion Con­ver­sion Vari­able, due to the set­tings cho­sen, Site­Cat­a­lyst will ignore all of them except the first value it receives until 30 days have passed (after which it will reset and then accept the next value passed to it).  After this is com­plete and data has been col­lected, the mar­ket­ing man­ager will be able to open up the “First Inter­nal Pro­mo­tion” Con­ver­sion Vari­able Report, add any rel­e­vant Suc­cess Event met­rics and see the results as shown here.  In this case, it looks like “promo456” is the inter­nal pro­mo­tion clicked most often prior to Lead Form Sub­mis­sions and that “promo122” is the inter­nal pro­mo­tion most often clicked first prior to Appli­ca­tion Completions.

In future posts I will cover more top­ics related to Con­ver­sion Vari­ables such top­ics as:

  1. Con­ver­sion Vari­able Sub­re­la­tions
  2. Stan­dard Con­ver­sion Vari­ables (i.e. Search Engine, Search Key­word, Entry Page)
  3. Mer­chan­dis­ing

Hope­fully these ini­tial posts about Site­Cat­a­lyst Vari­ables pro­vide you with a good foun­da­tion on the dif­fer­ent Site­Cat­a­lyst Vari­able types so that sub­se­quent posts can be eas­ier to understand…

Have a ques­tion about any­thing related to 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 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!)

 

5 comments
Sindhu
Sindhu

Your posts are very very helpful. I just started using SiteCatalyst data and my confusion is lifting thanks to your posts on sProps, SuccessEvents and eVars. Thanks a bunch :).

Sam
Sam

We are able to capture page views and visits for a given page and also captured clicks on links on the page using custom link tracking. Now, how do we go about reporting click-through rate for the links which is = ( clicks on link / page views ) - please let me know how to go about doing the reporting part. Thanks!

Adam Greco
Adam Greco

Brandon - Lead Forms Submitted and Application Completions are Success Events.

Brandon
Brandon

What variables would you be setting in your example here for "lead forms completed" and "application completions"?

Roman Appeltauer
Roman Appeltauer

We're going to implement SiteCatalyst on our company web but there is not many available resources online. So I'm very happy for these articles, because we can think about the way we'll track our conversions as soon as it is implemented. Keep posting! Thanks!