One of the most challenging aspects of hosting a party is sometimes you end up inviting friends and colleagues from two mutually exclusive circles of friends. Under one roof you have your college buddies mingling with your boss and his or her significant other. Those are two distinct groups that represent different realities of you. Both of those realities are based on the same you, but you don’t really want to see those realities collide.
Sometimes integrating your Test&Target data with your SiteCatalyst data is similar to throwing this kind of party. This is one area where the difference between analytics and optimization is most apparent and often abused as analysts integrate their testing data into their analytics platform without carefully considering why they are doing it or how they will use it. With two simple plugins it is possible to push your Test&Target campaign data into SiteCatalyst, resulting in an integration that enables deeper analysis than is available in Test&Target alone. Integrating these two platforms is not a bad idea, but how you choose to use it can be.
If you are integrating these two platforms simply because you can, I’d suggest that’s the wrong way. If you are integrating these platforms to use SiteCatalyst to validate or double check the numbers you are seeing in Test&Target, you’re also pushing your luck. This exercise prompts questions like “I see 20,000 visitors in the Test&Target campaign, but see 24,000 visitors in SiteCatalyst during the same time. Which one is right?” Those are two realities, and they could both be accurate – but that doesn’t mean they will get along. Suddenly your ex-girlfriend and fiancé are now at the same party. The truth is these two platforms are independent and function with different cookies, time durations, and counting methodologies. So what’s the right way to use this integration?
“Those are two realities, and they could both be accurate – but that doesn’t mean they will get along. Suddenly your ex-girlfriend and fiancé are now at the same party.”
Each tool has its areas of expertise. Test&Target is great for testing causation. SiteCatalyst is a great research tool that enables you to look for trends and actionable segments you may not have recognized before. While you decide to use Test&Target’s simple, yet effective reporting metrics to evaluate a campaign, you can look at test campaign data in SiteCatalyst to identify new segmentation or targeting opportunities. There may be interesting sub-segments of visitors whose behavior is affected in specific ways by different test experiences. Because Test&Target requires you to set up any segments you care to see before the test begins, it is not always possible to foresee which sub-segments could be interesting. This would be a good opportunity to examine the data in SiteCatalyst to look at visitors by the test experience they saw and start running sub-relations to research potential segments.
Maybe you will find that visitors who saw recipe A view more videos but visitors who saw recipe B are more predisposed to signing up for your email newsletter. This will not tell you which experience is better (look to Test&Target’s reporting for that) but it may suggest some follow-up tests. The ideal approach here would be to use the pre-defined test success metrics configured in Test&Target to identify the winning experience and use the testing data integrated into SiteCatalyst to research actionable segments.
As with any party, this integration could get messy if you let it get out of hand. If you misuse it, you may leave you asking why you did this in the first place. I have worked with quite a few analysts that end up scratching their heads because they can’t find the answers to the questions they’re asking. In reality, there can be value in this integration if you use it to ask the right questions.