If you have had any expe­ri­ence with Adobe Site­Cat­a­lyst imple­men­ta­tions, you have had the plea­sure of get­ting to know the Site­Cat­a­lyst vari­ables. There are two basic types of vari­ables used in Site­Cat­a­lyst: Traf­fic Vari­ables and Con­ver­sion Vari­ables. (Known to their friends as “props” and “eVars” respec­tively :) One of the most basic yet per­plex­ing ques­tions is, “When should I use one over the other?” Let’s take a look at some cri­te­ria to help you make the right deci­sion for your implementation.

The con­fu­sion comes because the infor­ma­tion that can be passed into each of these vari­ables looks very much the same. To the devel­oper who is per­form­ing the imple­men­ta­tion, hav­ing the same infor­ma­tion in mul­ti­ple vari­ables appears inef­fi­cient. How­ever, the expe­ri­enced Site­Cat­a­lyst user knows that the data will man­i­fest itself quite dif­fer­ently in the reporting.

The most impor­tant aspect to mak­ing this impor­tant deci­sion is to know the under­ly­ing busi­ness ques­tion behind the track­ing request. As indi­cated by Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

So, let’s take a look at the dif­fer­ences and sim­i­lar­i­ties. To be thor­ough, I have included a third type of data, namely “events.” Suc­cess Events are quite dif­fer­ent than either of the other two vari­able types, but they will help us dif­fer­en­ti­ate them. Three cat­e­gories of cri­te­ria will be used as the basis our deci­sion: Pur­pose, Func­tion, and Metrics.

Traf­fic Vari­ables (props)

Con­ver­sion Vari­ables (eVars)

Suc­cess Events


Traf­fic Counters

Con­ver­sion Segmentation

Con­ver­sion Metrics


Non-Persistent, Pathing, Participation

Per­sis­tent, Merchandising

Counter, Numeric, Currency


Page Views, Vis­its, Vis­i­tors, Time Spent

Suc­cess Events, Vis­its, Visitors

Traf­fic Vari­ables (props)

There is some infor­ma­tion about your web­site that you will want to col­lect about every page on the site. One good exam­ple is unique page names. You will want to know how many page views or “hits” each page received, how many vis­its and vis­i­tors came to each page, and the time spent on the page. You may also want to see which pages came before or after a par­tic­u­lar page in a path. These ques­tions can all be answered by using Traf­fic variables.

If you use the word “pop­u­lar” to describe your busi­ness ques­tions, this may indi­cate good can­di­dates for using Traf­fic Vari­ables to cap­ture the infor­ma­tion. Here are some other examples:

· “I want to know the most pop­u­lar site sections.”

· “Which search terms are most popular?”

· “What are the most browsed prod­uct categories?”

Pathing is another com­pelling rea­son to use a prop. Let’s say you want to see how vis­i­tors nav­i­gate between val­ues for a par­tic­u­lar data point, such as how they move across Site Sec­tions within your web­site and in what sequence. In this sce­nario, a pathing-enabled prop is the way to go!

Con­ver­sion Vari­ables (eVars)

Con­ver­sion refers to the objec­tives of your web­site. What do you want your vis­i­tors to accom­plish on your site? What are the inter­me­di­ate steps to get there? These activ­i­ties should be cap­tured as con­ver­sions or con­ver­sion events (Suc­cess Events). Some exam­ples include pur­chases, account reg­is­tra­tions, email sign-ups, and leads ini­ti­ated.

Con­ver­sion vari­ables refer to the data dimen­sions you will use to seg­ment your con­ver­sion events. Any val­ues you want to sep­a­rate by met­rics by should be set in con­ver­sion vari­ables. One of the use­ful fea­tures of eVars is that they are per­sis­tent for a defined period of time. In other words, a con­ver­sion vari­able value can be set on one page and apply to suc­cess events set fur­ther down­stream in a click path. Site­Cat­a­lyst remem­bers the val­ues for each vis­i­tor until the value expires.

So you want to look at some exam­ples of good eVar can­di­dates, you say? Again, let’s look at the busi­ness ques­tions to be answered:

· “How many clicks did we get for each of our mar­ket­ing campaigns?”

· “Which prod­ucts were pur­chase the most?”

· “What age group reg­is­ters on our web­site most often?”

Can’t I have it both ways?

The answer, of course, is “Absolutely!” There are sit­u­a­tions where it may be appro­pri­ate to have the same value in both a prop and an eVar. For exam­ple, let’s say I want to track my inter­nal search fea­ture. I want to under­stand not only how much rev­enue each search term is respon­si­ble for, but also what pages Vis­i­tors see after per­form­ing a search. If we place the search key­words into a prop and an eVar, we can accom­plish both! There are sev­eral ways to accom­plish this, but let me give you a cou­ple examples:

s.prop1=s.eVar1=”search key­words”

You could also take advan­tage of the dynamic vari­able pop­u­la­tion by using this code. This may help you if you are con­cerned about the size of your image bea­con requests.

s.prop1=”search key­words”


In sum­mary, there are pros and cons to using props and eVars in your imple­men­ta­tion. Imple­men­ta­tion of these in the proper man­ner becomes an art when you under­stand the impli­ca­tions of each.

Have spe­cific ques­tions about Adobe Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Want to track a data point on your web­site, but not sure where to start with the imple­men­ta­tion?  Fol­low me on Twit­ter @sitecattips Please feel free to leave a com­ment here or send me an email at adobe­site­cat­a­lyst (at) adobe​.com