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).