Conversion Variables – Part I [Inside Omniture SiteCatalyst]

In the last two posts we have begun to learn about Omniture SiteCatalyst Traffic Variables and Conversion Variables (Success Events). As previously discussed, Traffic Variables allow you to segment or breakdown Page Views, Visits and Unique Visitors, while Success Events capture metrics around conversion actions taken by site visitors. In our Traffic Variable post we saw how we could segment/breakdown Traffic metrics by Language, but learned that Success Event metrics are not broken down by Traffic Variables in SiteCatalyst. So what if we want to be able to show the percentage of Lead Generation Form Submissions broken down by Language? Perhaps we want to see Shopping Cart Additions broken down by Zip Code or Campaign Tracking Code. There are lots of cases where you will want to segment/breakdown Success Events in a similar manner that Traffic Variables allow you to break down Traffic Metrics. So how do we do this?

**Conversion Variables to the Rescue!
**The purpose of Conversion Variables (also known as eVars) is to allow you to breakdown Success Event metrics in a similar manner that Traffic Variables allow you to breakdown Traffic metrics. While this sounds easy, Conversion Variables are actually one of the most confusing topics for SiteCatalyst customers because there is a lot to learn about how they behave (which is why this is only Part I). I will describe the key points here and then try to make sense of it all through some examples.

Unlike Traffic Variables, Conversion Variables are persistent meaning that once a site visitor gets assigned a value, that value sticks with them until you (SiteCatalyst Administrator) tell SiteCatalyst to clear it out (unless the user deletes their cookies or uses a different computer). For example, if you have a Conversion Variable that stores the visitor’s City, you can capture the City on page three of their visit and have it remain there for several pages, days, weeks, months, etc…

Conversion Variables have a direct relationship to Success Events. I like to think of the two as “married” since they complement each other. When a SiteCatalyst Success Event takes place (i.e. visitor takes an action that results in a Success Event being set), SiteCatalyst assigns credit for the Success Event to one value in each Conversion Variable report (please re-read that once or twice!). For example, if an Online Course Demo Success Event takes place, whatever value is currently stored for that visitor for Conversion Variable 1 gets credit for that Success Event. Whatever value is currently stored for that visitor for Conversion Variable 2 gets the credit for that Success Event and so on until all Conversion Variable values are incremented. So let’s imagine you have a website with only one visitor, where Conversion Variable 1 is used to capture City and we have used custom tagging to capture the fact that this visitor is from the city of Chicago. If that one visitor subsequently launches an Online Course Demo and a Success Event takes place, the Online Course Demo Success Event report would show a total of “1” and the Conversion Variable 1 (City) report would show a value of “1” for the “Chicago” row (assuming that the Conversion Variable 1 report was showing the Online Course Demos metric) as shown in this sample report:

As many more Success Events take place, different Conversion Variable values (Cities in this example) would get credit for the various Online Course Demos that take place on the site such that, over time, the report would have many cities and the associated number of Online Course Demos that took place for each. But, if Conversion Variable 2 represented the current visitor’s Age, then at the same time each City is getting credit for each Online Course Demo in Conversion Variable 1, a specific Age value (say “18 Years Old”) is getting credit for the same Success Event in the Conversion Variable 2 report which would look like this:

**Real-World Example
**Phew! Let’s use one more example to help clarify things and in this example we will build upon the scenarios from our previous two posts. In the Traffic Variable post, Greco Inc. wanted to know what percentage of Page Views was viewed in Spanish so they set a Traffic Variable with the language on each page. In our Success Event post, we learned that one of Greco Inc.’s web properties is in the area of Online Education and they began to capture the number of times visitors viewed Online Course Demos as a Success Event. Now, Greco Inc. would like to see how many of its Online Course Demos were viewed in Spanish. To do this, marketers would work with their IT department to pass the language value (“english” or “spanish”) to a Conversion Variable. Over time, Greco Inc. can use the following Conversion report to see Online Course Demos broken down by Language:

Therefore, at this point Greco Inc. has passed a Language value to both a Traffic Variable and a Conversion variable. The Traffic Variable is used to breakdown Page Views and the Conversion Variable is used to break down Success Events. Hopefully these two examples will help you keep Traffic and Conversion Variables straight and understand when to use each. I recognize that some of this can be a bit confusing, so feel free to re-read parts of this and post comments here so I can clarify as needed. Once you get it, I promise you will never forget it!! Stay tuned for Conversion Variables Part II

Have a question about anything related to SiteCatalyst? Is there something on your website that you would like to report on, but don’t know how? Do you have any tips or best practices you want to share? If so, please send me an e-mail at and I will do my best to answer it right here on the blog so everyone can learn! (Don’t worry – I won’t use your name or company name!)