Classifications (also known by the acronym SAINT for SiteCatalyst Attribute Importing and Naming Tool), or the process of classifying an Omniture SiteCatalyst variable, is a topic that tends to confuse many of my clients. Having been a customer myself, I can understand why Classifications can be daunting, but the truth is that once you understand them, they are not very difficult and can save you a lot of time. In this post I will cover the basics of Classifications and how you can use them.
What are Classifications?
So what exactly is a Classification? Technically speaking, when you “classify” a SiteCatalyst variable you are establishing a relationship between a variable and meta-data related to that variable. Classifications are most frequently used in the Campaigns area so I will use that as a way to explain them. Most clients send campaign traffic to their site using a tracking code. This tracking code is an identifier that may represent a specific keyword purchased on Google, such as “goog123.” This identifier is passed into the s.campaigns variable so you can see what site success events take place after visitors come to your site from that campaign code. But what if, instead of viewing Campaigns just by the tracking code, you want to see campaign results by Search Engine or Keyword or Campaign Channel? Do you have to create a new conversion variable for Search Engine, another for Keyword and yet another for Campaign Channel? If so, you would use up many of your fifty variables on Campaigns alone! Thankfully, you can use Classifications to make your life easier! Since each tracking code could have a Search Engine, Keyword or Campaign Channel, you can simply create three Classifications of the Campaigns variable to represent each. You are essentially telling SiteCatalyst that there is a direct relationship between the Campaigns variable and these three other “meta-data” values. By doing this, SiteCatalyst will allow you to slice and dice site Success Events by all four variables with no additional tagging!
So How Does It Work?
To classify a SiteCatalyst variable, the first thing you (or someone with Admin rights) need to do is to set-up the Classification in the Administration Console. To do this, you select the appropriate report suite(s) and then choose the variable you want to classify as shown here:
In this case we will add the three previously mentioned items as Classifications of the Campaigns variable. Once you have added the three Classifications, you should see this…
…and within SiteCatalyst you will see a new report for each classification like this:
Now that your classifications are set-up, you need to provide SiteCatalyst with the values for each tracking code for which you expect to receive data. This is normally done by uploading a spreadsheet using a template provided by SiteCatalyst. If you have more than 20,000 rows, it is recommended that you use the FTP feature to upload your Classification data (Information on using FTP can be found in the user manual). To upload Classification data, simply go to the Admin area within SiteCatalyst (top-right) and choose “SAINT Classifications” from the dropdown box. There you choose the variable for which you want the template and click the download button to save the template to your computer like this:
Next, you can open the Classification template (I use Microsoft Excel) and fill in the data so that it looks like this:
Note that while it is recommended that as much data is uploaded as possible, it is not required that all data be filled out. In this example, it does not make sense for the “CNN” line item to have a Search Engine or Keyword value so those are left blank. When you are done completing the file, you can use the “Import File” tab to upload your spreadsheet and within an hour or so, all Classification data will be available in SiteCatalyst.
After all of this is completed, you will be able to see the following four reports within SiteCatalyst:
Important Things To Know About Classifications
The following are some important things to know about Classifications:
- Every Classification that you make will create a new SiteCatalyst report. These new reports show you the selected metrics using the Classification value. If no value is uploaded, items will be placed in a “None” row if Conversion Variable or omitted if a Traffic Variable.
- Classifications are retroactive. This means that if you make a change to the SAINT file above and re-upload, the new values will overwrite the old values. For example, if for tracking code “msn998” you realize later that the keyword was “VCR,” not “TV,” you can change it and re-upload and the Keyword report will then reflect “VCR.”
- You can classify any Traffic Variable (sProp) or Conversion Variable (eVar) and there is no additional charge for doing this.
- Any Traffic Data Correlation or Conversion Subrelation that is enabled for the variable you are classifying will also be enabled for any Classification of that variable. For example, since the Campaigns variable comes with full subrelations by default, any classification of the Campaigns variable will have full Subrelations as well.
- Pathing is not available on Traffic Classifications within SiteCatalyst (but is available in Omniture Discover). Many clients attempt to use Classifications on their Page Name Traffic variable as a way to apply “friendly” page names only to later find out that they can only see pathing reports for the “unfriendly” name!
- You cannot classify out-of-the-box SiteCatalyst reports such as Browser, GeoSeg Countries, etc… However, if this is important, you can use a VISTA rule to pass this data to a custom variable which can then be classified.
In this version of our real-world example, our company, Greco Inc. is focusing on its retail subsidiary. The online marketing department would like to see what search terms visitors are searching upon to see which content it should spotlight. Using the information from our previous post they decided to pass the internal search terms entered to a traffic variable as shown here:
However, in addition to looking at this laundry list of product-related terms, they would like to group the products being searched into the Product Categories they use to structure the website. To do this, they enable an “Internal Search Term Grouping” Classification for the Search Term variable and proceed to create/upload the following Classification file:
The result is a more streamlined report that allows Greco Inc. to view Search Terms by Product Category, as shown below, without any additional tagging to the site! Based upon this, it is easy to see that the “Bed Bath & Table Linens” products are being searched the most, a fact that was not apparent using the Search Term report…