Cross-Visit Participation [Inside Omniture SiteCatalyst]

In one of my earliest blog posts, I discussed how Conversion Variables (eVars) have different types of allocation. For example, if someone comes to your site multiple times from a few different campaign tracking codes, you can choose to give credit for any Success Event to the first tracking code or the last tracking code using allocation. The same is true for every eVar, but there may be times when you want to see all of the values passed to an eVar prior to the Success Event taking place. In this post I will explain how to do this in SiteCatalyst through Cross-Visit Participation.

**Cross-Visit Participation
**So what is Cross-Visit Participation? In Omniture-speak, it is a JavaScript plug-in that concatenates a series of values into an eVar for attribution purposes. As alluded to above, the most common use of this plug-in is for what we call Campaign Stacking. For example, let’s say that a visitor comes to your site from a CNN Display Ad and the tracking code is “cnn_123” and the same visitor comes the next day from a Google Paid Search keyword with the tracking code “ggl_456” and then applies for a credit card. In this case, if you were using the Campaign Conversion Variable (eVar) and the allocation was set to “Most Recent” then the credit card application success event would be attributed to the Google keyword. However, that visitor may never have conducted a search on Google had he/she not seen the display advertisement on CNN so we may inadvertently reduce the budget for CNN and increase it for Google only to be surprised later that we are not getting as many credit card applications as before. Sometimes a little (incorrect) data is worse than no data at all!

Omniture is well aware of this attribution issue and is taking steps to improve the overall accuracy in the future. In the meantime, the Omniture Consulting team has created the Cross-Visit Participation plug-in (sometimes referred to as Campaign Stacking) that lets you see the entire picture. So in the preceding example, while the Campaign eVar would always have the latest tracking code value, the plug-in would pass the historical string to a custom eVar:

By doing this, when the credit card application success event is fired, the Google tracking code will get credit in the Campaigns report, but in the eVar12 report, the string “cnn_123:ggl_456” would get credit so you, as the online marketer, could see what percentage of all credit card applications involved each combination of tracking codes. This information can then be moved to Excel using the ExcelClient, where more in-depth analysis can take place.

**Variations of Cross-Visit Participation
**However, the value of this plug-in reaches far beyond the realm of campaigns. There are many fun and creative ways you can use this plug-in such as:

  1. Tracking which site tools/calculators visitors used prior to success
  2. Tracking which products visitors viewed prior to success
  3. Tracking which videos visitors viewed prior to success
  4. Tracking which search terms visitors entered on your site prior to success

The list goes on and on. Any time you want to see a concatenated list of values in the order that they took place, you can consider using the Cross-Visit Participation plug-in.

**Important Things To Know About Cross-Visit Participation
**The following are some important things to know about Cross-Visit Participation:

  1. You need to work with Omniture Consulting to set-up this plug-in
  2. You must specify the maximum number of values you want to concatenate in the plug-in and the time period for them to be considered germane in impacting conversion
  3. The plug-in will not store duplicate values

**Real-World Example
**In this real-world example, I will build upon the preceding campaign example by using the Cross-Visit Participation plug-in to capture Marketing Channels. Let’s imagine that your CMO comes to you and wants to know how often Greco Inc. is paying to drive people to its site from various Marketing Channels. The CMO is primarily interested in seeing if paid acquisition converters are always coming to the site first from Paid Search and then Paid Display or vice versa. Due to budget cuts, ad spending may have to be cut back and the CMO needs to justify which channels and channel combinations are important to continuing to drive applications.

To answer this question, you would need to classify Campaign Tracking Codes by Marketing Channel and use Cross-Visit Participation to “stack” Marketing Channels (i.e. Paid Search, Display Ad, E-mail, etc…). The classification of Campaign Tracking Codes by Marketing Channel should be straightforward (if you have read the SAINT Classifications post). The second item needed is a concatenated string of “stacked” Marketing Channels so you can see the interplay between them prior to website conversion. There are many ways to “stack” the channels ranging from creating SAINT Classifications of stacked campaign tracking codes to capturing the channel by using the Get Query Parameter plug-in (I suggest you work with Omniture Consulting to identify the best approach for your organization).

Once you have both of these set-up, you are ready for analysis, so let’s dig in. Let’s say that Greco Inc. has a Campaign Channel Conversion report, which is the report of classified campaign tracking codes, set to “Most Recent” allocation as follows:

As you can see in this report, only 16.49% of Completed Applications are coming from Paid Display as compared to 66.59% coming from Paid Search (in this case, let’s assume e-mails are inexpensive) so your first thought might be to cut the Paid Display budget. However, if we look at the report that shows the “stacked” Marketing Channels described above, we can see the interactions that visitors took with all Marketing Channels prior to completing an application as shown in this report:

When we look at this report we notice something interesting. Display Ads are often times part of the mix that leads to success, but Paid Search is most often the one that is the last touch prior to conversion. In fact, if we add up all of the times that Paid Display is part of the mix (or used individually) the percent impacted is 47.43%. If you only looked at the first report (Campaign Channels) you would see a skewed picture since the “Most Recent” allocation would attribute most of the success to Paid Search. Thus, you have to ask yourself, how much of my success would still come through if Paid Display were not in the mix? At 16.49% you might be willing to take the risk to save some money, but at 47.43%, you may not be willing to do so and might consider some more in-depth testing prior to making any rash marketing spend decisions!

This is just one example of how Cross-Visit Participation can add more context to your analyses so that you can make the best marketing decisions possible.

Have a question about anything related to Omniture 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 leave a comment here or send me an e-mail at _<insidesitecatalyst@omniture.com_> 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!). If you are on Twitter, you can follow me at

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