One of my favorite fea­tures of Site­Cat­a­lyst is the Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels report. The Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels report is con­fig­ured in the Admin con­sole and will auto­mat­i­cally bucket cam­paigns and exter­nal traf­fic sources into a chan­nel based traf­fic and con­ver­sion report. A 12 part blog post series will doc­u­ment how to set up the Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels reports, tips & tricks, and how to use the reports for action­able decisions.

My top 5 list for Mar­ket­ing Channels:

  1. Admin Con­sole set-up — finally Mar­ket­ing in charge of Ana­lyt­ics (not IT)!!
  2. 100% of incom­ing traf­fic in one report – I get my pie chart at last!
  3. First AND Last touch allo­ca­tion – have your cake and eat it too!
  4. Easy to use Paid Search and Nat­ural Search reports really do exist!
  5. Cost & Bud­get uploads – get action­able con­ver­sion reports!

The whole idea of Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels is that we finally have a report that will account for all entries into the site, and we can auto-bucket them into appro­pri­ate chan­nels. Bet­ter than that, the busi­ness team gets to set the rules and con­trol cam­paign track­ing codes get allo­cated. This last point, in my opin­ion, makes Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels a hands down win­ner. As Mar­keters, we are fickle; we change our track­ing codes on the fly, mess them up and don’t have time to wait for a release cycle. With Mar­ket­ing Chan­nel rules an acci­dent of ‘EN-12345″ instead of ‘EM-12345′ on the company’s huge anniver­sary email blast doesn’t cost us all report­ing for that cam­paign.  We can eas­ily go to the rule set, adjust the rules to look for the ‘EN’ pre­fix and noth­ing is lost.

Set­ting up Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels is easy, but there are a few hard, fast rules to stick by in order to make them work well. This series will go through how to set up the rules, and then how to use the reports for valu­able insights.

First things first, let’s set-up the report. If you are unfa­mil­iar with the Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels reports, they are located at the bot­tom of the left nav report menu in Site­Cat­a­lyst. If you don’t see them there have the Sup­ported User for your com­pany con­tact Site­Cat­a­lyst Client Care to enable them for the report suite.

Once you have ver­i­fied that you have access to the report, set­ting the rules up is a two step process:

  1. Name the Channels
  2. Cre­ate Pro­cess­ing Rules for the Channels

We’ll set the chan­nel names in this post and cre­ate the rules over the next few posts.

To set up the Mar­ket­ing Chan­nel reports go to the Admin Con­sole > Report Suites > (select the report suite to con­fig­ure the rules on) > Edit Set­tings > Mar­ket­ing Chan­nels > Mar­ket­ing Chan­nel Manager.

If you are still using Site­Cat­a­lyst 14 and have access to an ASI slot, I rec­om­mend set­ting the rules first on an ASI slot that uses a seg­ment that con­tains a good cross-section of all the traf­fic on your site.  After the rules are tweaked just right, you can copy them over with a few mouse clicks to your pro­duc­tion report suite. If you are on Site­Cat­a­lyst 15 or do not have access to an ASI slot, then set the rules on the pro­duc­tion report suite with the expec­ta­tion that you are aim­ing to get the rules per­fected by a cut­off date, like the end of the quar­ter or month so that you can let every­one in the orga­ni­za­tion know the Mar­ket­ing Chan­nel reports will be use­able from x day going for­ward (not back).

Let’s start set­ting up the Chan­nel Names. I rec­om­mend mak­ing a few changes to the default rules. (1) Split out nat­ural search into branded vs. unbranded chan­nels (eas­ier to add the num­bers back together than try­ing to split them out later), (2) add a catch-all chan­nel for ‘Other Cam­paigns’, (3) rename ‘Inter­nal’ to ‘Ses­sion Refresh’, (4) rename ‘Social Net­works’ to ‘Organic Social Net­works’ and (5) add other top level unique cam­paign chan­nels your com­pany uses like Paid Social Media, Part­ner­ship, Mobile Ads, etc. Your rule set should look some­thing like this:

  • Paid Search
  • Nat­ural Search: Branded
  • Dis­play
  • Email
  • Other Cam­paigns
  • Direct
  • Ses­sion Refresh
  • Organic Social Networks
  • Refer­ring Domains
  • Affil­i­ate
  • Nat­ural Search: Unbranded
  • Oth­ers

Add a chan­nel for each main cat­e­gory your site’s mar­ket­ing team uses. For exam­ple, if you have a chan­nel for mobile QR codes add it in. Paid Social Media? Add it. Van­ity URL’s? Add it. Con­tent Net­work? You get the idea. You have only 25 chan­nels, so make sure you are cat­e­go­riz­ing at the top chan­nel level. Also, chan­nel names can­not be deleted, so rename exist­ing chan­nels that you will not use. For exam­ple, if you don’t have an affil­i­ate pro­gram, name the default chan­nel some­thing new and we’ll reset the rule in the next step.


Make sure the check box to the left of each Chan­nel is checked to enable the rules. And by default the check box under ‘Over­ride Last-Touch Chan­nel’ next to Direct and Ses­sion Refresh is unchecked. We’ll go into depth about over­rides in another post, for now you just need to know that any chan­nel unchecked will not receive credit for con­ver­sions or click-throughs (sort of… stay tuned).

Now that we have the chan­nels iden­ti­fied and enabled, it is time to cre­ate rules for each. The next few posts will walk you through how to cre­ate rules to opti­mize your Mar­ket­ing Chan­nel report.