When using Omniture SiteCatalyst, segmentation is one of the most important functions. As such, there are several tools at your disposal to segment your visitors in SiteCatalyst. In previous posts, I discussed several methods of segmenting visitors including Traffic Variables, Conversion Variables, Data Warehouse and ASI. Each of these provides a different level of visitor segmentation which can be aligned to your needs. In this post, I will discuss another way that you can segment visitors using a tool named VISTA (“Visitor Identification, Segmentation & Transformation Architecture”). While VISTA can be a complex topic, I will do my best to provide the basics here, so you can understand what it is and how it can be used.
When I first became an Omniture client, it took me a while to fully understand VISTA because it can be used to do so many things. The way I like to explain VISTA is that it is a way that you can apply a rule or logic to your SiteCatalyst data after it is collected, but before it is stored in Omniture’s data tables. For example, let’s say that you would like to send all website traffic coming from within your company to an “internal” report suite so that it is not lumped together with customers and prospects hitting your website. If you know the range of IP addresses that your company uses, you could use a VISTA rule to look for those IP addresses and if a hit comes from an IP address in that range, send it to a separate SiteCatalyst report suite (commonly known as IP exclusion). This is a good example to understand how VISTA works: 1) You work with Omniture to identify the definition for the VISTA rule and 2) Once it is turned on, the VISTA rule scans every hit coming in and uses the VISTA rule definition to take some sort of action. In this case the action is to move the split data into two different report suites, but there are many more things you can have a VISTA rule do for you. Here are just a few examples of VISTA usage:
- Add visitors to a Segment on the fly based upon data found in sProps, eVars or querystring parameters. For example, if your website has a form in which visitors are required to enter Birth Year, State and Gender, you can write an detailed VISTA rule that will evaluate the responses and assign the visitor into a segment by passing a segment name (i.e. “Middle-Aged Midwestern Women”) to an eVar or sProp on-the-fly
- Pass data found in GeoSegmentation or Technology reports to custom variables so it can be classified using SAINT Classifications
- Set Success Events based upon a URL or a querystring parameter
- Pass encrypted values into SiteCatalyst variables (i.e. customer ID, revenue) and use VISTA to decrypt the values back to the original values to ensure secure data transfer
- Prevent other “copycat” websites that may copy your website from sending traffic to your SiteCatalyst report suite
- Look for potentially fraudulent orders (i.e. Revenue> $XX,000) and move them to a separate report suite so SiteCatalyst data is not tainted
- Send traffic from “bots” or internal monitoring tools (i.e. Gomez) to a separate report suite
Important Things To Know About VISTA
The following are some important things to know about VISTA:
- VISTA rules have access to and can act upon any data point that is available on the page including IP address, referring URL, querystring parameters, sProps, eVars, Success Events, etc…
- Data Warehouse and ASI reports can be configured so that they run on pre– or post-VISTA rule execution
- Omniture’s engineering services team has created a mechanism which allows clients to update their own VISTA rules (via FTP) after they have been deployed
- While VISTA rules can be used to automate certain types of SiteCatalyst tagging, this is not recommended as a long-term solution since changes in your site could have adverse affects on predefined VISTA rules
In this week’s real-world example, I will describe an actual VISTA rule that one of my clients used to segregate their website traffic. In this case, the client had pretty accurate information about whether the current site visitor was a Prospect or a Customer and they wanted to use this to send data to different data sets. They also wanted to focus on a particular geography such that all United States traffic was separated from non-United States traffic. Finally, they wanted exclude their own traffic and that of their ad agency from external website traffic (phew!). So in all, they had three key elements they wanted to use to determine where SiteCatalyst data went. To accomplish this, we designed a VISTA rule that used the following logic:
If traffic comes from an internal IP address, send data to “internal” report suite; else
→ if sProp1=“Prospect” and Country=“USA”, send data to “prospect_us” report suite; else
→→ if sProp1=“Prospect” and Country<>“USA”, send data to “prospect_intl” report suite; else
→→→ if sProp1=“Customer” and Country=“USA”, send data to “customer_us” report suite; else
→→→→ send data to “customer_intl”
As you can see, VISTA rules can become quite complex. The good news is that all you have to do is identify the rules that you might want to apply to your data and Omniture can help with the rest.
In my next post, I will build upon the concept of VISTA by exploring its counterpart — DB VISTA.
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