What Adobe should do for SiteCatalyst version 15
Given that my last post was number 100, I was thinking that this post should be a Web Analytics 101, but then I decided that was too cheesy for even me. So instead, I’ve come up with a list of things that should definitely be in the next version of the SiteCatalyst tool powered by Omniture. Although, I’m well aware that there is going to be a release of SiteCatalyst version 14.9 coming out soon, which will presumably have some nice feature updates – this is what I think should take the next step in Adobe’s next step and will be a bit far removed from improvements on the current system.
Before I go into anything else, I’d just like to point out the Omniture Ideas website. It is awesome. I am going to submit all of these to that website. In the morning, once I have had some sleep.
1. Tagless Events
Let us start with the biggest one that is around. Whatever you want to call them: conversions, events, goals – the things that you want people to do on your website. In Omniture you can set them up as custom events (see the customer conversion section of my post on SiteCatalyst reports) in the tags on your page. I’m not going to lie to you, I think for implementation they are overly complicated. Moreover they are named completely wrong – how on earth can you have ‘events’ which are effectively conversions, whilst you have ‘coversions’? I’m going to attempt to explain it to you here in layman’s terms:
A custom event in SiteCatalyst can work in three ways. It can be a:
- Counter – every time it occurs it goes up by one.
- Currency – it goes up by a certain amount of currency which you can specify in the tag
- Numeric – it can go up by a certain number which you can specify in the tag
So first off you need to make sure you set it up in the admin screen and then you also have to code it into the page. So with the counter ones you can just set them to go up by one by one by giving a parameter in the tag that says s.events = “event1”. For Currency and Numeric ones you should also add in how much you want them to go up by in a separate variable which is described by the products tag. You can put in here what the product is, how many of them there have been, how much value is associated with each of them. This is amazingly powerful if you have lots of different products on the site that you want to tag through your events (eg an online shop). It’s particularly powerful.
I don’t like it.
Why not? Let’s see how you set up goals in Google Analytics:
See how easy that is? It’s one step and I don’t need to change anything on the page. The results of Counter Custom events in Omniture work exactly like Goals do in the results part of each of the two tools. Omniture must come up with a way for us to create events on the fly without having to change the code on the page.
2. Custom Traffic variables defaulted to Custom Conversion variables as well
One of the biggest issues that I frequently have is where users of SiteCatalyst are using custom events in custom traffic reports. Why? They give back a gibberish answer.
Ok, Ok, they don’t really give back a gibberish answer, but they don’t necessarily give back the answer you were expecting. Remember custom traffic variables are counter variables (page views, visits, entries, etc) whereas custom conversion variables are on page tagged campaigns. Therefore having an event convert against a custom conversion variable makes a lot of sense. You can choose in the interface if you want the event to occur against the most recent value, the first noted value or linearly across both (it would be nice if it could be fully attributed to both – the total of each of them doesn’t need to add up to the total of all of them). You can choose when you want the campaign to expire (after the visit, after a time length, after converting against one of your events) and you can choose a whole load of other things (see my learnings from the Summit for custom conversions as counters).
However having an event convert against a custom traffic variable doesn’t make as much sense. And indeed you can’t really track your events against something that are just counted as flat options. Except in the case of page views, where it turns out you can. How does that work? Well instead of attributing it to the first page view (you can do this in your paths reports – if you have it enabled – where you have the choice of measuring against the entry page) or the last page view before you get to the conversion, it gives it a representative value against each of the page views. That kind of makes sense – you might want to be able to attribute a value to all the pages in the journey.
But you might also want to see how good a page is at, say, driving registrations to a site, even though it isn’t directly linked to from there. If you want to do this, you need to use your custom conversion reports and set up the same variable as in your custom traffic report. This seems very long winded to me. The data is collected anyway – why can’t there be a button in the admin section to just enable it? Or better still, just auto enable it.
Yes, yes I know you can do this with a VISTA rule – but I shouldn’t need an Adobe consultant to flick a switch.