I've just realised it has been a month since I last posted. That is too long, so my humble apologies. For those of you who aren't aware I have been guest posting on eConsultancy as well (follow me on facebook/twitter if you want to get all the updates!), so I have been busy still. Anyway, moving onwards, I thought today I'd look at a little side project that I've been working on looking at a website where the conversion takes place off site. This adds a level of complication that you spend half your life looking at solving. This is especially pertinent for those sites whose sales process is completely offline (eg lead generation websites) or where the sale process is online but on another site (eg PayPal, eBay, Amazon, etc). Here are my top five tips on how to get better analytics:
1: Collect as much data as you can
This may sound blindingly obvious, but if your users complete the sale offsite, collect the last possible point that they're on your site as your conversion point. By that, I don't mean the last page (because many pages have a 'checkout' link that will point out of your site). What you can do instead is tag up the outbound link so that you can collect the data.
In Google Analytics you need to collect the information as a faux page view using the _trackPageview parameter. This effectively reloads your tag when a user clicks on a link with a custom value for your page url. I'd recommend you choose wisely as you don't want to use a link that is later going to be used as a proper page. Google has a very good example of how to do this on their support site:
This onclick event is something that can be used in SiteCatalyst as well to much greater effect. As well as being able to set up custom links on any page, you can also do the same in your downloads reports and your exit link report. You can also include in your onclick event LinkTrackVars and LinkTrackEvents (look them up in the help under codes 1452 and 1453 on how to complete these from a technical point of view).
I'm sure that all other tools have something equivalent you can use with an onclick event - talk to your account managers and they'll be able to tell you.
As with all of these work arounds you need to be wary that you aren't measuring your end goal. This is just the last available point you can collect data to. What you would see if you could look at the whole data set may be that different traffic sources, partnerships, etc convert in different manners - but you have less control over that. What you do have control over is your website and how many of them you can get across that divide.
2: Use all the data that is collected
Frequently I find people who have collected a whole host of data on one system not comparing it to a whole host of data they've been given from another system. The most frequently used response to this is that they don't match up and you are comparing apples with oranges. Those of you who have been paying attention may have noticed that I even said as much in my last post - you can't compare analytics systems.
|Early Analytics experts showing that there is a link between conversion and rotation of the screen|