This week, I was work­ing with a client and men­tioned an idea that I have imple­mented at a few clients which I call Suc­cess Event Pathing.  This is just a con­cept that I thought up and is by no means a proven “best prac­tice,” but I thought I would describe it here and see what you all think about it.  Please review the con­cept and add a com­ment below stat­ing if you like it or hate it…

What is Suc­cess Event Pathing?
As described in the Suc­cess Event post, Omni­ture cus­tomers set Site­Cat­a­lyst Suc­cess Events when vis­i­tors per­form an action on a web­site (or within a wid­get).  We use these Suc­cess Events to mea­sure how well our online prop­erty is per­form­ing against pre­de­fined busi­ness goals.  How­ever, for those who are design­ers or infor­ma­tion archi­tects of an online prop­erty, some­times we are less con­cerned with how often some­thing hap­pens as we are in when it hap­pens.  For exam­ple, if the goal of our web­site is to get vis­i­tors to view videos and read blogs, in hopes that they will sub­mit a lead gen­er­a­tion form, it would be inter­est­ing to under­stand the order in which vis­i­tors per­form these actions.  The order these events take place may impact the way we design nav­i­ga­tion or think about the var­i­ous lev­els of the web­site.  We may have ques­tions such as:

  1. What is the first Suc­cess Event vis­i­tors tend to take?
  2. What is the most com­mon order that all vis­i­tors per­form our web­site Suc­cess Events?
  3. What is the suc­cess event most often per­formed directly before our pri­mary “money” Suc­cess Event?

Below is an exam­ple that will show you what Suc­cess Event Pathing looks like when imple­mented.  Let’s imag­ine that you have Suc­cess Events for Blog Post Views, Video Views, Prod­uct Views, Newslet­ter Sign-ups and Lead Gen­er­a­tion Form Sub­mis­sions.  Once imple­mented, you would like to see pathing reports show­ing the pathing order as shown here:

Deter­min­ing the order in which Suc­cess Events take place using page-level pathing can be very dif­fi­cult since the same Suc­cess Event can take place on many dif­fer­ent pages (i.e. Prod­uct Views) and many pages don’t have any Suc­cess Events.  There­fore, my con­cept is to pro­vide Suc­cess Event Pathing which is a pathing report that only con­tains entries rep­re­sent­ing your website’s define Suc­cess Events so you can see, at a 20,000 foot level, how vis­i­tors per­form these actions.  Make sense?

Imple­ment­ing Suc­cess Event Pathing
So how do you imple­ment this idea?  Well the first step is to make sure you have prop­erly tagged all of your site Suc­cess Events.  Once this is done, you have to pass the name of the Suc­cess Event to a Traf­fic Vari­able (sProp) on the page in which it occurs.  There are a few ways to do this:

  • Use JavaScript to look for a Suc­cess Event being set and pass a pre­de­fined name to the new cus­tom sProp at that time
  • Use a VISTA rule to set the cus­tom sProp value when each Suc­cess Event takes place

Regard­less of how you set it, the ulti­mate goal is to sim­ply add a value (name) to the cus­tom sProp for each Suc­cess Event that makes sense to you and your users when the Suc­cess Event takes place.  Once com­pleted, speak to your Account Man­ager or Client­Care and have pathing enabled for that sProp and you will be able to see reports like the one above.  As is always the case with pathing, keep in mind that the reports are for Vis­its only (not across mul­ti­ple vis­its).  If you need to see this infor­ma­tion across vis­its, please speak to your Account Man­ager who can put you in touch with our advanced solu­tions team.  Finally, if the same Suc­cess Event takes place on more than one page and you have a need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between them, you could con­cate­nate the page­name and the Suc­cess Event into the sProp (or a sec­ond sProp).

That’s it.  Use­ful?  Worth­less?  Please let me know what you think?

Have a ques­tion about any­thing related to Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Is there some­thing on your web­site that you would like to report on, but don’t know how?  Do you have any tips or best prac­tices you want to share?  If so, please leave a com­ment here or send me an e-mail at insidesitecatalyst@​omniture.​com and I will do my best to answer it right here on the blog so every­one can learn! (Don’t worry — I won’t use your name or com­pany name!).  If you are on Twit­ter, you can fol­low me at http://​twit​ter​.com/​O​m​n​i​_​man.

Learn more about Omni­ture Consulting
Learn more about Omni­ture University
5 comments
Cindy
Cindy

Adam, Thanks for the post and the idea. Tim's comment above sparked an idea for me. What if we were able to read the "visit number" from the cookie and append that value to the success event name? Could Omniture possibly come up with a plug in that could do this (i'm not sure how easy/tough it is to translate a value from the cookie to a value that can be populated in an sprop.) You could then use this report to path by all success events that happened on the first vis, second vis, third, etc. You could also see whether certain media held a greater propensity to lead a visitor down the "conversion path" during a return visit rather than their first or second visit. This works for media sites and news sites which don't really have a clear purchase conversion. These sites usually have visitors that generate numerous return visits before putting enough trust on a site to follow it or give it any information. All the best! Keep the great ideas flowing! -Cindy Wang

Tim Elleston
Tim Elleston

Hey Adam, You mentioned above that this doesn't work from visit to visit. How easy/difficult is it to get it to work across visits? We have a really long sales cycle; lead start/lead complete are within the same visit, within the same tool, but they might come back to another tool and do lead start/lead complete, then come back again and do app start/app complete. Even the app start and app complete are generally not completed within the same session as we have save and resume on the apply online application tool. Can this be accomplished through the s_code using GetAndPersist, or does it require a VISTA rule? Thanks Tim

Seth
Seth

Hi Adam, Good call using query string parameters or VISTA rules to set success events -- I hadn't thought of that -- though I don't think it gets us around our problem of wanting to minimize the number of success events we've set up in the report suite. I agree with you that pathing is highly useful when used on a single sProp, but, in addition, inter-visit pathing or a hierarchical-sProp path visualization could be a killer new functionality.

Adam Greco
Adam Greco

Seth - On your first point, if tagging is an issue, you can always use a VISTA rule or a query string parameter to set Success Events. Let me know if you need more info on this. On your second point, I see no problem with many different types of pathing. I have many clients that have pathing enabled for 10 sProps. Each of these is totally separate so they don't intermingle and mess each other up. On your last point, I know of no way in SIteCatalyst to do pathing across multiple visits or to combine these different pathing types together (other than concatenating values into a new sProp). Perhaps that can be done in Discover OnPremise... Adam

Seth
Seth

Hey Adam, We're a new Omniture customer and I just spend a bunch of time catching up on all your old blog posts. Now I'm afraid I won't have anything else to learn at Omniture Training next week! I think success event pathing could be a seriously useful tool for anyone who has the flexibility to tag up a large proportion of their site with success events. Unfortunately, we're running a site that has three or four entirely separate areas with different user experiences, so to keep ourselves under 30 success events, we've had to tag up only the most important events. I think that your idea strikes at a greater problem with pathing, though. We have pathing enabled on our page names, of course, and also on our three levels of site hierarchy; it's great to see how users are flowing from one of our three or four main areas to the others. Success event pathing seems like it's mainly inserting another level of detail into the equation (which is great, because the more choices you have the better chance one of them will work well for you). But now, I could have five different ways of looking at paths through my site -- the three levels of site hierachy, the page names, and the success events. You could imagine even more levels coming into the picture -- pathing from visit to visit, for example (first visit, this visitor went through user registration; second visit they went through user training slideshows; third visit they responded to a poll; etc.). The existing pathing functionality is highly flexible, but I have to imagine that there's some creative way to visualize paths within several hierarchical levels of data at once (without needing to drill), including page names, success events, and even maybe something as-yet undiscovered like visit number, all in the same graphical representation.