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Adobe SiteCatalyst – ClickTale Integration

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post discussing ways that you could integrate Adobe SiteCatalyst and Tealeaf. In that post, I talked about some of the cool integration points between the two products. In this post, I’d like to talk about how the same integration would work with ClickTale and share some cool new things that are possible that go even beyond what is possible with Tealeaf.

What is ClickTale?

For those unfamiliar with ClickTale, it is an in-page analytics tool that allows you to record website sessions, filter them and play them back. It is often used to see heat maps of pages and to “watch” website visitors and includes even their mouse movements. It is pretty cool technology since often times the best way to get internal stakeholders to understand website issues is to have them watch real users encountering issues.

In a similar manner to what I described in my previous Tealeaf post (which I suggest you read before continuing with this post!), it is possible to pass a ClickTale ID to SiteCatalyst via an sProp or eVar:

Having this ClickTale ID in SiteCatalyst allows you to use the standard segmentation capabilities of SiteCatalyst to isolate visits or visitors who exhibit specific behaviors in which you are interested. For example, you might be interested in isolating visits where visitors reached checkout, but didn’t purchase:

Once you do this, it is possible to open the preceding ClickTale Session ID eVar and see a list of all of the ClickTale session ID’s that match this segment.

Adobe Genesis Extend (BETA) Integration

But as I noted in my preceding Tealeaf post, one of the frustrations of this type of integration is that once you isolate the session ID’s that you want to watch, you are stuck. You have to copy each one individually and then switch to the other application (i.e. Tealeaf) and then start the process of watching the session. My wishlist item in my previous post was that this process could be simplified so you can simply click and view the session, right from within SiteCatalyst. Believe it or not, doing this is now possible! Thanks to the creation of Genesis Extend (still in Beta), you can add a Genesis Chrome browser extension to your version of Chrome and get the ability to streamline this process for ClickTale (not Tealeaf unfortunately).

To do this, simply search for the Genesis Chrome browser extension and install it. When that is done, you will see a new icon in your Chrome browser which you can click to see the settings:

You will notice that there is a ClickTale box you can check (and also one for Twitter which allows you to see actual Tweets in referrer reports). From here you can enter your ClickTale authorization credentials and you are ready to go.


Back in SiteCatalyst, there is a free Genesis “labs” area you can visit to launch the wizard that helps you generate the code you need to capture the ClickTale ID in an eVar of your choice:

After you have completed the wizard and are collecting ClickTale recording ID’s in an eVar, you can open that report in SiteCatalyst, you will see a new link in each row…

…which allows you to click to view the actual recording in ClickTale:

It is also possible to use this new SiteCatalyst eVar to copy a list of ClickTale ID’s and paste them right into ClickTale to create a segment and look at heat maps for just those ID’s.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, this is a cool interface integration that is possible since both SiteCatalyst and ClickTale are “cloud” products. I would expect that you will see more of this in the future in more browsers or even natively as part of SiteCatalyst. If you are a ClickTale customer and use SiteCatalyst, you should definitely try this out!

Published on December 10, 2012 under Uncategorized

Potential India Tour!

Over the past ten years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and connecting digitally (i.e. LinkedIn) with many great web analytics folks across the globe. Through these interactions, I have tried to impart as much knowledge as I can through e-mails, blog posts and, more recently, my published book. During this time, I have had the pleasure of meeting in person many of the folks with whom I have connected at client sites and conferences such as Adobe Summit, eMetrics and our own Accelerate events.

However, given its geographic distance, one group of folks that I have not had many opportunities to meet are the folks in India. As I have learned over the years, India is a country that has a large population interested in web analytics. In my own personal networks, I think I am connected to more folks in India than most countries I am able to visit regularly. Since I have started conducting more training and with the publishing of the book,

I have received a steady stream of requests from folks in India who want to learn more about Adobe SiteCatalyst and other topics related to web analytics. Based upon these requests, I had a conversation with our Indian-based partner eClerx about the possibility of doing training classes in India and we have decided to investigate the possibility.

Bearing in mind that it may end up not being logistically or financially feasible, Web Analytics Demystified and eClerx are conducting an exploratory exercise to see how many in India would be interested in live web analytics classes and what types of training classes would be desired (since we are data people!). Therefore, if you are in India and in the web analytics field (or want to be!), please go to this web page and tell us the types of training would interest you the most. Based upon this feedback, we will determine if we want to take this initiative to the next level. Thanks!

Published on December 6, 2012 under Uncategorized

SiteCatalyst Tip: Corporate Logins & Labels

As you use Adobe SiteCatalyst, you will begin creating a vast array of bookmarked reports, dashboards, calculated metrics and so on. The good news is that SiteCatalyst makes it easy for you to publicly share these report bookmarks and dashboards amongst your user base. However, the bad news is that SiteCatalyst makes it easy for you to publicly share these report bookmarks and dashboards amongst your user base! What do I mean by this? It is very easy for your list of shared bookmarks, dashboards, targets and other items to get out of control. Eventually, you may not know which reports you can trust and trust is a huge part of success when it comes to web analytics. Therefore, in this post, I will share some tips on how you can increase trust by putting on your corporate hat…

Using a Corporate Login

One of the easiest ways to make sense of shared SiteCatalyst items at your organization is through the use of  what I call a corporate login. I recommend that you create a new SiteCatalyst login that is owned by an administrator and use that login when sharing items that are sanctioned by the company. For example, if I owned SiteCatalyst at Greco, Inc., I might create the following login ID:

Once this new user ID is created, when you have bookmarks, dashboards or targets that are “blessed” by the company, you can create and share them using this ID. For example, here is what users might see when they look at shared bookmarks:

As you can see, in this case, there is a shared bookmark by “Adam Greco” and a shared bookmark by “Greco Inc.” While based upon his supreme prowess with SiteCatalyst, you might assume that Adam Greco’s bookmark is credible, that might not always be the case! Adam may have shared this bookmark a few years ago and it might no longer be valid. But if your administrator shares the second bookmark above while logged in as “Greco Inc.,” it can be used as a way to show users that the “Onsite Search Trend” report is sanctioned at the corporate level.

The same can be done for shared Dashboards:

In this case, Adam and David both have shared dashboards out there, but it is clear that the Key KPI’s dashboard is owned by Greco, Inc. as a whole. You can also apply the same concept to SiteCatalyst Targets:

If you have a large organization, you could even make a case for never letting anyone share bookmarks, dashboards or targets and only having this done via a corporate login. One process I work with clients on, is to have end-users suggest to the web analytics team reports and dashboards that they feel would benefit the entire company. If the corporate web analytics team likes the report/dashboard, they can login with the corporate ID and share it publicly. While this creates a bit of a bottleneck, I have seen that sometimes large organizations using SiteCatalyst require a bit of process to avoid chaos from breaking out!

Using a “CORP” Label

Another related technique that I have used is adjusting the naming of SiteCatalyst elements to communicate that an item is sanctioned by corporate. In the examples above, you may have noticed that I added the phrase “(CORP)” to the name of  a Dashboard and a Target. While this may seem like a minor thing, when you are looking at many dashboards, bookmarks or targets, seeing an indicator of which items are approved by the core web analytics team can be invaluable. This can be redundant if you are using a corporate login as described above, but it doesn’t hurt to over communicate.

This concept becomes even more important when it comes to Calculated Metrics. It is not currently possible to manage calculated metrics and the sharing of them in the same manner as you can for bookmarks, dashboards and targets. The sharing of calculated metrics takes place in the Administration Console so there is no way to see which calculated metrics are sanctioned by the company using my corporate login method described above.

To make matters worse, it is possible for end users to create their own calculated metrics and name them anything they want. This can create some real issues. Look at the following screenshot from the Add Metrics window in SiteCatalyst:

In this case, there are two identical calculated metrics and there is no way to determine which one is the corporate version and which is the version the current logged in user had created. If both formulas are identical then there should be no issues, but what if they are not? This can also be very confusing to your end users. However, the simple act of adding a more descriptive name to the corporate metric (like “CORP” at the end of the name) can create a view like this:

This makes things much more clear and is an easy workaround for a shortcoming in the SiteCatalyst product.

Final Thoughts

Using a corporate login and corporate labels is not a significant undertaking, but these tips can save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run if used correctly. You will be amazed at how quickly SiteCatalyst implementations can get out of hand and these techniques will hopefully help you control the madness! If you have similar techniques, feel free to leave them as comments here…

Published on November 26, 2012 under Uncategorized

De-Duped Success Metrics

When working with SiteCatalyst clients, I often see them ask questions related to how often a particular Success Event takes place at least once during a visit. Examples of this might include the following questions:

  • In what percent of visits do visitors add an item to the shopping cart?
  • How often to visitors who add items to the cart reach checkout?
  • What percent of visits do visitors conduct an onsite search?

At first glance, these seem like easy questions to answer, but I see clients making mistakes with these questions. For example, let’s say that you want to answer the first question above and see the percent of all visits that add items to the shopping cart. Most clients would approach this question by creating a calculated metric that divides Cart Additions (scAdd) by Visits. While this seems logical, it will not give you the correct answer, since visitors can add multiple items to the shopping cart within the visit. If Visitor X adds three items to the cart in the visit, the formula in our calculated metric would be:

The issue is that since most people look at this metric for all visits, the individual Cart Addition numbers are obfuscated and you are often seeing an inflated percentage for Cart Add/Visit %. In fact, the same issue applies to all of the questions listed above. If you are looking to compare Cart Additions to Checkouts, multiple Cart Additions or Checkouts taking place in a visit could inflate your ratio.

So how would you resolve this issue? There are several ways in SiteCatalyst to accurately report on the preceding questions so I will share the various methods at your disposal.

Using De-Duped Success Metrics

The easiest way to resolve the preceding dilemma is to set an additional “de-duped” version of metrics that you want to see in calculated metrics like the ones above. Personally, I wish Adobe provided an easy way in SiteCatalyst to see a de-duped version of every Success Event, but that is not currently available. Therefore, you will have to create a second Success Event for those metrics that you want to use in these types of Calculated Metrics. Keep in mind that you are limited to around one hundred Success Events so you won’t want to do this for all of your Success Events, so use your best judgment.

In this case, let’s assume that you are interested in seeing an accurate percent of visits in which a Cart Addition took place. To do this, every time you set the normal Cart Addition Success Event (scAdd), you should set a second, custom Success Event and call it something like “Cart Adds (De-Duped).” For this second Success Event, you will want to apply Success Event serialization to prevent the event from being counted more than once in a visit. I would recommend using “Once per Visit” serialization since it requires less tagging and can be enabled by ClientCare. By setting this new Success Event, you will have a count of how often visitors add items to the cart, but it will only be counted once, regardless of how many times the visitor adds items to the shopping cart within the visit. When this is complete, you can create a calculated metric that divides this “Cart Adds (De-Duped)” metric by the Visits metric to see an accurate ratio for visits in which at least one Cart Addition took place:

To see the impact of this, let’s imagine that you had five website visitors that performed the following actions:

In this scenario, if we used a calculated metric that used Cart Additions and Visits, our ratio would be 120% for these five visitors. Obviously, this isn’t representative of what really happened. However, if we use our new “Cart Additions De-Duped” Success Event, we will only count one Cart Addition per Visit and see the following data:

Doing this provides a more accurate representation that 60% of visits contained at least one Cart Addition. And since you now have a Calculated Metric that is trustworthy, you can see the answer to this question trended over time using a report like the one shown here:

This Calculated Metric can be easily added to a SiteCatalyst Dashboard and can be used like any other Calculated Metric.

Note: Some companies implement the Carts (scOpen) Success Event at the first shopping cart addition and de-dup it using “Once per Visit” serialization. This is a similar approach, so if you are doing this, you can use the Carts Success Event divided by Visits to see the same cart rate.

As you can see, the addition of one more Success Event allows us to greatly improve our reporting for cases in which you want to see if something happened at least once in a website visit. If you look at the other questions posed above, you will see that the same concept can be applied. For example, if you want to see an accurate ratio of times that visitors do at least one Cart Addition and one Checkout, you might create a “De-Duplicated” version of Cart Additions and Checkouts and use those versions in your Calculated Metric.

Keep in mind that these new “De-Duplicated” metrics will not be accurate when used in Conversion Variable reports (i.e. Products Report, eVars, etc…) since they will only be counted the first time the Success Event takes place. This means that if a visitor adds three products to the shopping cart, only the first product will be associated with a value in the conversion variable (i.e. Product XYZ). These new “De-duplicated” metrics should only be used in global website calculated metrics and the normal metrics (i.e. Cart Additions) should be used in detailed Conversion Variable reports.

Segmentation Approach

If you are averse to using more Success Events to answer the questions above, it is possible to answer them using Segmentation. I think this method is more cumbersome, but will describe how to do it for educational purposes.

To use Segmentation to answer any “how often did X happen in a visit” question, you will have to create a Visit-based segment that isolates visits in which the Success Event in question took place. Using the preceding example, if you wanted to see how often visits contained a Cart Addition, you would create a Visit segment and add the Cart Addition Success Event to the segment as shown here:

Once you have this segment, you can open the Visits report and see how many Visits took place in the desired timeframe. For this example, let’s use the data for the five visitors we described above. In this case, three of the five visits would qualify to be included in the segment so our Visits report would show a total of three. Now you can write that number down and then remove the segment (go back to “All Visits”) and look at the same Visits report for the entire population. In this case, you would see a total of five visits, so you can divide the three Cart Addition visits by the total visits to get the same 60% we saw above. If this is something you will be doing on a recurring basis, you can automate this process using Adobe ReportBuilder. To do this, you would create two different data blocks in Excel – one for all Visits and one for Visits with the above segment applied. Then you can create a formula that divides the totals of these two data blocks and trend it over time using a custom graph.

As I mentioned previously, I think this approach is more time consuming, but it does save Success Events if that is a concern.

Page Name Approach

In theory, there is another way to answer these types of questions, though I don’t recommend it. This approach involves using Page Names. To do this, you can use Adobe ReportBuilder to isolate the specific page on which a Success Event takes place (i.e. Cart Addition page) and look at that pages’ Visit count and divide it by total Visits. However, since page names can be unreliable and it still requires work in Adobe ReportBuilder, I don’t recommend this approach.

Final Thoughts

If you ever have questions in which people ask you how often something took place at least once in a website visit, I hope that you will think about these concepts and make sure that you are accurately answering them for your organization. While some of these concepts are a bit complex, they can save you the embarrassment of reporting inflated conversion metrics to your organization.

Published on November 19, 2012 under Uncategorized

SiteCatalyst Variable Naming Tips

One of the parts of Adobe SiteCatalyst implementations that is often overlooked is the actual naming of SiteCatalyst variables in the Administration Console. In this post, I’d like to share some tips that have helped me over the years in hopes that it will make your lives easier. If you are an administrator you can use these tips directly in the Administration Console. If you are an end-user, you can suggest these to your local SiteCatalyst administrator.

Use ALL CAPS For Impending Variables

There are often cases in which you will define SiteCatalyst variables with a name, but not yet have data contained within them. This may be due to an impending code release or you may have data being passed to the new variable, but it hasn’t yet been fully QA’d to the point that you are willing to let people use the data. Of course, you always have the option to use the menu customization tool to hide new variable reports until they are ready, but sometimes it is fun to let your users know what types of data are planned and coming soon. Anther reason to enter names into variable slots ahead of time is to make sure that your co-workers don’t re-use a specific variable slot for a different piece of data, which can mess up your multi-suite tagging architecture.

So now, let’s get to the first tip. If you have cases in which you have variables that are coming soon, I use the Administration Console to name these variables in ALL CAPS. This is an easy way to communicate to your users that these variables are coming soon, but not ready to be used. All you have to do is explain to your SiteCatalyst users what the ALL CAPS naming convention means. Below is an example of what this might look like in real life:


I have found that this simple trick can prevent many implementation issues. For example, I have seen many cases where SiteCatalyst clients open a variable report and either see no data or faulty data. This diminishes the credibility of your web analytics program and over time can turn people off with respect to using SiteCatalyst. By making sure that reports that are not in ALL CAPS (proper case) are dependable, you can build trust with your users. When you are sure that one of your new variables is ready for prime time, simply go to the Administration Console and rename the variable to remove the ALL CAPS and you will have let your end-users know that you have a new variable/report that they can dig into.

Some of my customers ask me why I wouldn’t simply use the user security feature of SiteCatalyst to only let administrators and testers see these soon to be deployed variables. That is a good question. It is possible to hand-pick which variables each SiteCatalyst user has access to using the Administration area. Unfortunately, you can only limit access to Success Events and Traffic Variables (sProps). For reasons unbeknownst to me, you cannot limit access to Conversion Variables (eVars), which are often the most important variables (I have requested the ability to limi access to eVars in the Idea Exchange if you want to vote for it!). But you can certainly use this approach to limit access to two out of the three variable types if desired. Another approach I have seen used is to to move all of these impending ALL CAPS variables to an “Admin” folder using the menu customizer.

Add Variable Identifiers to Variable Names

As you learn more about SiteCatalyst, you will eventually learn the differences between the different variable types (Success Events, eVars and sProps). I have even seen that some power users end up learning the numbers of the specific variables they use for a specific analysis, such as eVar10 or sProp12. While normally, only administrators and developers care about which specific variable numbers are used for each data element, I have found that there are benefits to sharing this information with end-users in a non-obtrusive manner.

For example, let’s say that you want to capture which onsite (internal) search terms are used by website visitors. You would want to capture that in a Conversion Variable (eVar) to see KPI success taking place after that search term is used, but you also might want to capture the phrases in a Traffic Variable (sProp) so you can enable Pathing and see the order in which terms are used. In this case, if you create an eVar and an sProp for “Internal Search Terms” and label them as such, it can be difficult for your SiteCatalyst users to distinguish between the eVar version of the variable and the sProp version of the variable (which is even more difficult if you customize your menus).


Therefore, my second variable naming tip is to add an identifier to the end of each variable so smart end-users know which variable they are looking at in the interface. As you can see in the screenshot above, I have added a “(v24)” to the Internal Search Terms eVar and “(c6) to the “Internal Search Term” sProp as well as identifiers for all other variables. This identifier doesn’t get in the way of end-users, but it adds some clarity for power users who now know that internal search phrases are contained within eVar 24 and sProp6. Being a bit “old school” when it comes to SIteCtaalyst, I use the old fashioned labels from older versions of the JavaScript Debugger as follows:

  • Success Events = (scAdd), (scCheckout), (e1), (e2), (e3), etc…
  • Conversion Variables = (v0) for s.campaigns, (v1), (v2), etc…
  • Traffic Variables = (, (c1), (c2), (c3), etc…

Obviously, you can choose any identifier that you’d like, but these have worked for me since they are short and make sense to those who have used SiteCatalyst for a while. Another side benefit of this approach is that if you ever need to find a report in a hurry and you know its variable number, you can simply enter this identifier in the report search box to access the report without having to figure out where it has been placed in the menu structure. Here is an example of this:


Front-Load Success Event Names

When you are naming SiteCatalyst variables, you should do your best to be as succinct as possible as having long variable names can have adverse effects on your menus and report column headings. However, there is one issue related to variable naming that is unique to Success Events I wanted to highlight. Let’s imagine that you have a multi-step credit card application process and you want to track a few of the steps in different Success Events. In this case, you might use the Administration Console and set-up variables as shown here:


In this case, the variable name is a bit lenghty, but more importantly, the key differentiator of the variable name occurs at the end of the name. So why does this matter? Well let’s take a look at how these Success Event names will look when we go to add them to a report in SiteCatalyst:


Uh, oh! Since the key aspects of these variable names are at the end, they are not visible when it comes to adding metrics to reports. This makes it difficult to know which Success Event is for step1, 2, 3, etc… You can hover over the variable name to see its full description, but this is much more time consuming. I have asked Adobe repeatedly to make the “Add Metrics” dialog box horizontal instead of vertical but have not had any success with this (you can vote for this!). In this case, I would suggest you change the names of these Success Events to something like this:


Which would then look like this when selecting metrics:


Keep in mind that there is no correlation between the length of the variable definition box in the Admin Console and when the Success Event name will get cut-off in the Add Metrics dialog box so don’t get tricked into believing that if it fits in the box you will be ok!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few variable naming tips that I would suggest you consider to make your life a bit easier. If you have other suggestions or ideas, please leave them here as comments so others can benefit from them. Thanks!

Published on November 15, 2012 under Uncategorized

Can I Track you Maybe?

At our Boston Accelerate conference, we had a little fun with this music video … if you don’t see the embedded video below, you can watch at YouTube.


Published on October 24, 2012 under About this Blog, Uncategorized

London Baby!!

I am excited to announce that, based upon the tremendous feedback we received from the Boston test class, the folks at eMetrics have asked me to repeat my one-day advanced SiteCatalyst class at he upcoming London eMetrics conference (November 29th). This is a modified version of my “Top Gun” training class that I do for my consulting clients who really want to understand the inner workings of SiteCatalyst.

Since this is a bit “last minute” I need your help to spread the word and get folks registered for the class. If you know anyone in Europe that is interested in learning how SiteCatalyst works behind the scenes and how to do some advanced implementation techniques, please have them sign-up on the London eMetrics website. Did I mention that all attendees get a copy of my Adobe SiteCatalyst Handbook?

I hope to see you there!


Published on October 22, 2012 under Uncategorized

The Adobe SiteCatalyst Handbook Now Available!

After months of writing, editing and re-editing, The Adobe SiteCatalyst Handbook: An Insider’s Guide is now available!

I have received many questions about the date it is available and formats. The book is available in both hardcopy and digitally from the Pearson publishing site using the preceding link. The book is also available on and in the iTunes Bookstore. You can check out the table of contents on the Pearson site as well as on these other sites.

To hear more about the making of the book, you can listen to Rudi and I discuss it on this podcast.  If you have any questions, please leave them here as a comment. Thanks and enjoy the book!


Do You Want to be the Best of the Best?

As mentioned in my last post, I was asked by the great folks at eMetrics to conduct a one-day advanced SiteCatalyst class in conjunction with the Boston eMetrics conference. Yes! #TopGun @adamgreco  on TwitpicThis was a modified version of my “Top Gun” training class that I do for my consulting clients who really want to understand the inner workings of SiteCatalyst. I am pleased to say that the class went very well and that the room was filled with folks from all over the country. Afterwards, I conducted a similar class in London and all participants enjoyed it. You can check out some of the recommendations on the Web Analytics Demystified LinkedIn page or my LinkedIn profile. I am conducting this class next in April 2013 at the San Francisco eMetrics conference.

In the meantime, if your organization would like to have my “Top Gun” training class, please let me know by contacting me.

Published on October 16, 2012 under Uncategorized

My Web Analytics Cocoon

It has been a few months since I have been able to blog (or podcast) and I have started received some e-mails from readers asking where I have been! I apologize for the hiatus, but have been busy during this time. In this quick post, I wanted to update you on why I have been gone and hopefully you will forgive me once I explain.

The Book!

As some of you may have heard, I have been working with Adobe on writing the first-ever book about SiteCatalyst – The Adobe SiteCatalyst Handbook: An Insider’s Guide.

I am very excited about this project, but it has been way more work than I anticipated. While my hundreds of blog posts have provided lots of good starting material, I decided to re-write everything from the ground up to present the most relevant and up-to-date product information. I even got my friend Kevin Willeitner to help me write a bonus chapter on Adobe ReportBuilder!

The book will focus on three main areas:

  1. Understanding how SiteCatalyst works and all of the features you need to understand to take full advantage of the product.
  2. An overview of how to use the SiteCatalyst interface so you can help your end-users understand what they can do once they get access to the tool.
  3. Example applications of the product features including some best practices and tips and tricks for solving business questions with SiteCatalyst.

While the book won’t cover the implementation (tagging) side of the product, it should have a little something for everyone who uses SiteCatalyst. This book, on top of my regular consulting projects has kept me very busy! My hope is to get back to more regular blogging once the book is released. I apologize for the silence, but I think having the book out there will ultimately prove to be more valuable than a few months of extra blog posts. The book is due out around October 25th and is available for pre-order on

Top Gun Training Class

In addition to clients and a book, I was asked by the great folks at eMetrics to conduct a one-day advanced SiteCatalyst class in conjunction with the Boston eMetrics conference. As a consultant, I frequently conduct what I call “Top Gun” SiteCatalyst training classes for my clients. In this class, I explain all aspects of the SiteCatalyst product and explain how each works behind the scenes. I have found that many clients have only a basic understanding of SiteCatalyst and never get to the advanced features that are so powerful. Providing these private training sessions has been fun for me and very educational for my clients. Now, as part of eMetrics, I will be doing an abbreviated one-day version of this class. This class is open to anyone who wants to learn more about SiteCatalyst, though it is offered at a discount if you are attending the eMetrics conference as well. If it goes well, my hope is to conduct a similar class in San Francisco at the eMetrics conference in April 2013 (also, it gets cold here in Chicago in November so if anyone reading this lives in London and wants this class for London eMetrics, please let me know!). Over the last few months I have been working on this training class and I think it will help attendees think about new ways they can use SiteCatalyst at their organization. If you are interested in attending, you can learn more by clicking here.


Lastly, all of us Demystifiers have been gearing up for our next ACCELERATE conference taking place in Boston this October. These events have been a blast and this one is at a super-cool venue. If you are on the east coast, come join us for this event (it is free!). You can learn more and register by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, even though I have been in a bit of a cocoon, I have been busy and hope that the things I have been working on will pay off for all of you in the near future. I hope to get back to my regular blog posts in the fall (or sooner if I can) so stay tuned!

Published on August 9, 2012 under Uncategorized

Cart Persistence and Duration [SiteCatalyst]

I was recently working with a client who had some interesting questions. In general, he wanted to see different derivations of how long products had been in the shopping cart prior to being purchased. Some of his detailed questions included:

  1. Of all visitors hitting my website today, how many already have items in their Shopping Cart (which is persistent on this website)?
  2. For those visiting the site today, for how long have they had items in their Shopping Cart? (i.e. 1 Day, 10 Days, etc…)?
  3. At the time visitors purchase items, for how many days had they had items in the Shopping Cart?
  4. Is it possible to see cart duration by product?

While it is easy to see why this might be interesting to know, after some reflection, it turned out to not be a very straight-forward thing to understand/report upon using Adobe SiteCatalyst. I wrestled with a few different ways to answer these questions, but ran into a few roadblocks. In the end (and after bouncing some ideas off some friends), I settled on an approach that seemed to work (by no means the only one), so thought I would share it in case it is helpful to others out there with the same questions. If you have the Adobe Insight product, solving this question is much easier, but this post will deal with answering it for those of us who only have SiteCatalyst.

Establishing Cart Addition Date

The first challenge is to identify the date on which each visitor added items to the Shopping Cart. This is similar to an earlier post I had about Date Stamping, but with a twist. In the Date Stamping post, we just set the current date of each visit, but in this case, we want to set the date that a Product was added to the Shopping Cart (I suggest you use an eVar with original value, expiring at the Purchase event). Once you have done this and have data processing for a while, you can open the new Persistent Cart Date eVar report and add the Visits metric and see a report like this (in this example using the current date of 3/3/12):

Here we can see that we have answered our first question.  By looking at the “None” row, we can see that approximately 92% of the time, Visits are from people that have not previously added items to their Shopping Cart (does not include those pesky cookie deleters!). If you broke this report down by the Products variable, you would be able to see the actual products that were associated with each date:

Identifying Duration in Cart

Our next challenge is to determine exactly how many days products have been in the shopping cart. As mentioned above, there are actually two flavors of this question. The first is to see how long ago products were added to the shopping cart at the time the current visit takes place, and the other is to see how long ago products were added to the shopping cart at the time a purchase takes place. We’ll start with the former.

With the preceding report and its breakdown by the Products variable, we have all of the key elements needed to figure out how long items have been in the shopping cart. However, to calculate this, it’s easier to use Microsoft Excel so I suggest you move the data to a spreadsheet using ReportBuilder or Data Extracts and then adding some formulas to break out the data as shown here (I have replaced the None row with the value “NO CART” in Excel):

Once this is done, you can create a pivot table to group like items together and build a report like this (for illustrative purposes, I only created a few rows but in reality there would be many more rows of dates in this report):

In this pivot table, we can still see our same 8% of Visits with no items in the shopping cart, but now we can see that our largest percentage is tied to cases where visits had items in the cart for 6 days. If you had more data, the next logical step would be to group the number of days into meaningful buckets using SAINT Classifications or directly in Excel. Also, note that instead of moving data to Excel, another way to create a report like the one shown here would be to create a SAINT Classification file that maps the current date to the number of days in the past  (i.e. 3/2/12 = 1 Day), but we’d have to update the SAINT file each time to adjust for the current date which would be a pain!

Next, since we have the report data by product ID, we can also break down the above pivot table by product to see which products are associated with each # of Days in the cart:

Conversely, if your organization is more product-focused, you can flip the pivot table and look at Product ID’s by days in shopping cart like this (which will have more values per product ID when the data is real!):

You will note that these reports help us answer the first cart duration question which is how long products were in the shopping cart at the time a Visit took place, but the same process can be used to answer the second question which is how long products have been in the shopping cart at the time of purchase. To do this, all we need to do is modify our original SiteCatalyst report to show Orders instead of Visits like this:

Note that in this case, we should no longer see a “None” row since to complete an Order, something must have been added to the shopping cart prior to purchase. It’s likely that you will also see that the majority of the rows are for the current date (which in this case is 3/3/2012). Once you create this report, you export it to Excel and create the table and pivot table in the same manner described above. This might result in a report that looks something like this:

Product-Specific Cart Duration

The last question to be answered is related to the duration in cart of each product.  In the examples above, we have set a date when products were added to cart, but this date was a general one or the date that the first product was added to the shopping cart. There will be cases when you want to get more granular and know the date for each product since visitors can add a product to the cart on 2/28/12 and then add different products to the cart on 3/1/12. If you desire this level of detail, in addition to setting the Persistent Cart eVar described above, you can set an additional Merchandising eVar (with “Original Value” allocation and expire at the “Purchase” event). This will “bind” the date to the specific product that is being added to the shopping cart. Since this is more complex, I won’t go into all of the intricacies here, but if you have questions, feel free to contact me.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, this is a somewhat complex solution, but should get you the answers you need. There may be other ways to answer these questions, so if you have tackled this, feel free to leave a comment here. Thanks!

Published on April 23, 2012 under Uncategorized


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