Have you ever vis­ited a travel web­site mul­ti­ple times before book­ing your trip? Or a vis­ited a retail site mul­ti­ple times before pur­chase? How about an auto­mo­tive site — vis­it­ing many times before request­ing a brochure or test drive? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, the vast major­ity of Web users engage in some form of multi-visit or multi-session activ­ity before con­ver­sion. This type of behav­ior is often referred to as deferred, delayed, or latent response. And because it’s hap­pen­ing right now, on your site, it’s crit­i­cal to under­stand how it impacts your mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, con­ver­sion rates, ROI, web ana­lyt­ics, and busi­ness as a whole.

From early on, many web ana­lyt­ics and online mar­ket­ing mea­sure­ment plat­forms sim­ply tracked same-session con­ver­sion. For exam­ple, if a vis­i­tor clicked on a Google key­word, came to Omni​ture​.com and sub­mit­ted a lead in that visit, it would be recorded as a con­ver­sion. Fair enough.

But if this vis­i­tor vis­ited sev­eral times before fill­ing out a lead form, the orig­i­nal key­word would receive absolutely no credit. For mar­keters, this is a really big deal. In my expe­ri­ence, I’ve seen any­where from 10%-90% of con­ver­sions attrib­ut­able to multi-session activity.

So as a mar­keter, you could be under­stat­ing your cam­paign con­ver­sion by 10–90%! What appears to be your worst per­form­ing key­word could actu­ally be your best…poorly per­form­ing emails could be dri­ving sig­nif­i­cant ROI right under your nose…that ban­ner ad on Yahoo that you just killed, it could have been your best acqui­si­tion asset.

For­tu­nately, there are sev­eral ways to get your arms around latent response with web ana­lyt­ics and Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst. First, you should scope the issue. Is this really a prob­lem? To answer this ques­tion, start with a Visit Num­ber report. This report can be tied to any suc­cess event, such as rev­enues, leads, page views, etc. Look at how many vis­its it takes before vis­i­tors con­vert. What % of vis­i­tors are multi-session? Again, I’ve seen this any­where from 10%-90%. What is your %? Book­mark this report, because it will pro­vide an impor­tant baseline.

Now take a look at your mar­ket­ing cam­paigns as mea­sured in Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst. For exam­ple, search key­words, email, ban­ner, offline, etc. Ask your Site­Cat­a­lyst admin­is­tra­tor (if it’s not you) when these dif­fer­ent cam­paigns “expire”. In case you can’t find this, it is under Set­tings -> Edit Your Com­merce Variables.

When does your cam­paign expire? If it expires on the “Visit”, you’re effec­tively miss­ing the x% of con­ver­sion that you just observed in the Visit Num­ber report. Now you see why latent response is such a big deal!

But wait — before you change any­thing — talk this over with your team. There may be a good rea­son you are expir­ing cam­paigns on the “Visit”. For exam­ple, if you are mea­sur­ing inter­nal site pro­mo­tions it often makes more sense to expire on the “Visit” because inter­nal pro­mo­tions tend to be used as nav­i­ga­tion ele­ments more than actual multi-session campaigns.

If there is not a strong busi­ness case for keep­ing the sta­tus quo, then def­i­nitely change this to reflect multi-session activ­ity. And when you do, I’d rec­om­mend you use the Site­Cat­a­lyst cal­en­dar­ing event fea­ture to sig­nify that you’ve made this change — because you’ll surely see a sub­stan­tial uptick in con­ver­sion tied to your mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives and every­one will want to know what hap­pened and who should get the credit! If you’d like to dis­cuss this fur­ther, please do not hes­i­tate to email me.

Happy mar­ket­ing!


Hi Matt, You've hit the nail on the head with this post. What I like about SiteCatalyst is that over time I can measure what the response rate is for different types of advertising, then use that historical data to estimate what the immediate ROAS will be (i.e. within 30 days or so), and what the expected lifetime revenue may be. Although most campaigns will fizzle within the 30 days after advertising has stopped, I often observe latent revenue for campaigns that have been abandoned more than 9 months ago!