Welcome back to the SiteCatalyst Finance Fundamentals blog series.  In this series we are discussing the implementation basics and example analysis of each fundamental solution that Financial Services customers should consider leveraging.  Stay tuned and please feel free to contribute your thoughts/experience as we discuss each solution.

In the previous External Campaign Performance post we covered implementation.  In today’s blog post, we will dive into the reporting/analysis side of this fundamental solution.

Conversion rate denominators

As promised, I’d like to begin by talking about conversion rates and measuring the value of a campaign.  Ultimately, the best solution would measure campaign value / campaign cost.  This can take some work to get to and is certainly well beyond a basic implementation.  In a basic implementation, we usually have the option of visit, visitors, or click-throughs for denominator in the “conversion rate” metric (with conversions in the numerator).

I would argue that in a basic implementation (where value/cost data is not available), your best denominator for determining campaign effectiveness is the click-through metric.   I know that this is a controversial topic in the world of web analytics, so I’ll lay out my case and welcome any discussions or other points of view in the comments to this post.

I prefer the click-through because it most closely aligns with campaign cost for many of the channels (e.g. paid search and banner ads are often PPC) and therefore provides a more accurate measurement of campaign value when compared to visits and visitors.  Visitors would be my second choice, and visits a distant third.

For example, if a single campaign click-through drives three visits and the visitor converts on the third visit, then the “conversion rate” for each denominator would be:

  • Visit: 33%
  • Visitor: 100%
  • Click-through: 100%

Driving more visits might actually be a good thing, but when used as a denominator, it deflates your campaign’s value (especially when considering financial products that may have long consideration periods).  Visits makes a great numerator for a media or loyalty based website, but isn’t a good denominator, and generally not the best numerator in Financial Services, since we often have a conversion goal on our websites.

On the other hand, let’s say another visitor visited the site three times and clicked on the same campaign at the start of the first and third visits.  The reporting would look like this:

  • Visit: 33%
  • Visitor: 100%
  • Click-Through: 50%

Yes, the true “conversion rate” is 100% in the sense that the person did convert, but the click-through paints a more accurate picture of the value/cost incurred by the campaign to convert the visitor.  This second visitor took roughly twice the cost to convert as the first customer.  Tracking conversion rates based on visit or visitor do not account for this.

What the basics provide

This fundamental allows you to track when a user clicks through one of your external marketing campaigns and lands on your website.  It can then connect that click-through with any downstream conversions that occur on the website.  By itself, this solution can tell you how much traffic (visits, visitors, page views, and click-throughs) your campaigns generate, but the real value is connecting the click-through to the downstream conversion.

Get more by combining solutions

In one of my previous posts I talked about linking the external campaign performance with the application conversion solution.  The information provided in that post is just as applicable here, since it takes both solutions to build this report:

Marketing Channels Report

Holistic marketing channel reporting

On a number of occasions, I’ve been asked “I’m already tagging my campaigns with [insert search/display/email vendor here], why should I also tag it with SiteCatalyst?”  The answer is that SiteCatalyst (and web analytics tools in general) can provide a holistic view of conversions across all of the marketing channels, whereas the search/display/email vendor driven solutions usually only track conversions within their silo.

For example, assume that we are using a basic “last touch” attribution method (the last campaign seen prior to a conversion gets all of the credit).  Assume visitor 1 comes through paid search on day one, a banner ad on day two, and then converts on day two.  The paid search and banner ad vendor-based reporting are both going to report on 100% credit for the conversion (thus overstating their true value to the conversion).  In SiteCatalyst, however, the banner ad would get credit for the last conversion.

It isn’t just paid marketing channels that are impacted by this.  Since SiteCatalyst (through the Marketing Channels solution) can track paid and natural click-throughs, it can provide a complete view of all online marketing channels.

While we have assumed a basic solution here with last touch attribution, the need to capture all marketing channels becomes even more important for advanced multi-channel attribution implementations.  Missing channels in a single system results in gaping holes in data that no amount of advanced attribution logic can fix (I’m not going to even attempt to cover multi-touchpoint attribution in this post, but I would suggest reading this, this, and this for more details).


In conclusion, I recommend tracking all of your marketing channels through SiteCatalyst.  Demand and embrace the holistic view of all marketing channels.  Use the data to optimize marketing mix spend and drive the most from each channel.  We have covered the basics of this solution, but there is so much more that can be done with it when combined with other fundamental and advanced solutions.  Stay tuned as we explore the other fundamental solutions over the upcoming months!

Have a question about anything related to SiteCatalyst for the Financial Services industry?  Do you have any tips or best practices to share?  If so, please leave a comment here or send me an email at tucker (at) adobe.com and I will do my best to answer it on this blog! (Don’t worry – I’ll keep your name and company name confidential).