15 for 15: New Metrics, Metric-Related Features, and Breakdowns

As a part of the “15 for 15” blog series, I’m going to take a look at the new metrics, metric-related features, and breakdown options available in SiteCatalyst 15. If you were at the Adobe Summit event last March, you heard how version 15 is essentially a new platform. One of the main benefits of this new SiteCatalyst platform is its increased flexibility in terms of metrics and breakdowns, which is exciting news for anyone using SiteCatalyst on a regular basis.

New metrics

One metric that has received a lot of attention in the field of web analytics is Bounce Rate. In previous versions of SiteCatalyst you could build a calculated metric (Single-Page Visits / Entries) and add it to a page report. Many SiteCatalyst users wondered why Bounce Rate wasn’t just a default metric in the tool. In version 15, all of your wildest landing page optimization dreams have come true – Bounce Rate is now a standard metric on the Pages report!

In order to fully appreciate the new Bounce Rate metric, you need to understand another underlying metric, Bounces (also new). A Bounce is defined as a single hit visit with no other link event. For example, a single-page visit is a bounce if a visitor does not interact with the page in any way that sends data to Adobe such as clicking a link or starting a video. Bounce Rate is defined as Bounces divided by Entries.

It’s important to note the slight but key difference between how the Bounce Rate may have been calculated in previous SiteCatalyst versions, and how the new default Bounce Rate is defined. In essence, if a visitor interacts with your content in a deliberate way (i.e., fires a link event), that entry won’t be considered as a bounce even if they only visited a single page.

In addition to these two new metrics, version 15 also introduces some improvements to two familiar metrics: Visits and Time Spent on Site. As a preview, the visits metric will be more consistent, and the average time spent will be more accurate. Ben Gaines will be discussing the metric improvements in more detail in an upcoming post.

SiteCatalyst 15 offers several metric-related enhancements that are worth mentioning. First, all three metrics — Page Views, Visits, and Unique Visitors – are available on most of the SiteCatalyst reports (a few exceptions include Custom Links, Referrer, and Referrer Type). For example, within the Search Keywords report, you can now see which keywords are driving the most page views, visits, etc., and you can build a calculated metric for average page views per visit. Previously, you could only tie keywords to searches (instances) and custom events – not page views (unless a custom event), visits, or unique visitors.

Second, the Unique Visitors metric represents unique visitors for the time period of the report rather than the sum of daily unique visitors. For example, if I select a three-day time period for a specific report and the same 100 people visited each day, I will no longer see them as 300 daily unique visitors (day1 + day2 + day3) but instead as 100 unique visitors for the selected three-day period.

Third, the new Key Metrics report enables you to trend multiple metrics at the same time. For example, you might be curious to know if your page views are increasing at the same rate as your unique visitors. If you’re comparing a calculated metric (e.g., average page views per visit) against a total metric (e.g., visits), you have the option to normalize the data to observe patterns.

Fourth, in a past article, I discussed the steps required to create default metrics for individual reports in SiteCatalyst 14. It involved using the menu customization feature and custom reports. In SiteCatayst 15, it is very simple for an administrator to apply default metrics at the report level. You add the metrics you want to the report in question and then click on the “Set as Default” option. That’s it.

New Breakdowns

If you’re familiar with SiteCatalyst, you’ll know what correlations and subrelations are. For those of you who don’t know, they are the breakdowns that are possible between similar types of reports or variables (prop breakdowns = correlations, eVar breakdowns = subrelations). On the eVar side, the mother of all breakdowns is referred to as “full subs” or full subrelations, which means that a particular eVar report can be broken down by any other eVar report. In past versions of SiteCatalyst, this was limited to the Campaign variable and one or two specified eVars.

In SiteCatalyst 15, full subrelations are enabled on all conversion reports so you can break down any eVar by another eVar. You are not able to nest more than two breakdowns like you can in Discover, but you do get the flexibility to perform a single breakdown of any two conversion reports you like.

As Spider-Man was once told by his Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility”. With this new breakdown capability, it becomes more important to properly name eVars and add background information to reports’ notes sections. You don’t want users to misinterpret the data they gain through the breakdowns. For example, you might collect “Customer Type” data from an obscure lead form that is still tracked but no longer being actively promoted. An online marketer may misunderstand the exact source of the data – thinking that “customer type” would be a useful dimension for analysis – and come to illogical conclusions. Make sure your end users don’t hurt themselves and are able to gain the full benefit of the new breakdown options.

Note: The new metrics and full subrelations will only report data from the date of the upgrade moving forward. For example, if you add unique visitors to a report and the chosen date range includes time prior to the upgrade, you will get zeros for that metric prior to the upgrade (and you will get a clear message at the top of the report letting you know this).

The combination of new metrics, metric-related features, and breakdowns represents a small sampling of the exciting new features in SiteCatalyst 15. Stay tuned to learn about more enhancements in the next “15 for 15” article.