Marketing Channels: Search Reporting Made Easy

This post will focus on how to set up Paid and Natural Search rules in the SiteCatalyst Marketing Channel Report. If you followed the previous post and created your Channel Names, now it is time to set the rule logic.

Marketing Channel Processing Rules are applied to all incoming traffic and follow a ‘waterfall’ order. This means that all traffic pings the first rule, entries that match the rule are categorized under first channel and everything that doesn’t match moves to the second rule. Hits that match the 2nd rule are categorized under that channel and everything else flows to the 3rd rule…and so on and so forth until all traffic is accounted for. Because of this logic pattern the order of the rules is critical. I recommend this order:

  1. Paid Search
  2. Natural Search Branded
  3. Natural Search Unbranded
  4. All other channels with campaigns that use a tracking code (Banner, Email, etc.)
  5. Other Campaigns (catch-all for tracking code campaigns that have not been bucketed into a category above, or prefix syntax not used
  6. Organic Social Networks
  7. Affiliate/Partner (if using)
  8. All other channels based on specific referring domains
  9. Internal (rename to ‘Session Refresh’ for less confusion.)
  10. Direct (typed/bookmarked)
  11. Referring Domains

The paid search rule has luckily already been set up, and as long as you are using the query string parameter listed in Paid Search Detection in the Admin console Paid Search will automatically be bucketed in the proper channel.

Verify that Paid Search Detection has been set up correctly by going to: Admin > Report Suites > (choose report suite) > Edit Settings > General > Paid Search Detection

If the query string parameter your site uses for Paid Search tracking is not in the list add it now.

At this point we have a few options. If your marketing team understands classifications, loves them, uses them and maintains them regularly then you may just want the Paid Search Channel to display the tracking code in the report rather than the ‘Search Engine + Search Keyword’. Don’t worry about splitting paid search into Branded vs. Unbranded since likely your Ad groups will already do this (and have more detail). You can set up classifications on the paid search tracking codes and get all the reporting ever wanted after the rules are in place (we will cover classifications in a later post as well).

Also, be aware that Paid Search Content Network ads will not display in the Paid Search channel by the default rule. This is because the default rule looks for searches ‘from known search engines that contain a keyword and the paid search detection query string parameter‘. There is some debate on whether to include Content Network Ads in the Paid Search Channel, if your organization prefers to see all Paid Search efforts combined and you are displaying Tracking Code instead of keyword in the reports, then set the Paid Search rule to include both ‘Query String Parameter values that start with XXOR ‘Matches the Paid Search Detections Rules’.

If your Paid Search tracking codes are cryptic, and like the rest of us and you have good intentions of using classifications but rarely upload them, then have the report display ‘engine:keyword’ instead of the tracking code and create 2 rules: one for ‘Paid Search: Branded,’ another for ‘Paid Search: Unbranded’ in order to keep in line with the Natural Search Channel reports. In this case Content Network Ads will need to go to ‘Other Campaigns’ or a separate ‘Content Network’ channel altogether.

For ‘Paid Search: Branded’ you will use the default paid search rule, but add a 2nd part of the rule that looks for ‘Search Keyword(s) that contain’. The rule is case insensitive, so you don’t need to worry about listing ‘Keyword’ and ‘keyword’. Also, because we’re using ‘contains’ logic you only need the lowest common denominator in a phrase, like ‘Adobe’ instead of ‘Adobe Consulting’. Also, be sure to include any common misspellings of your branded keywords. Next, have the channel’s value set to Search Engine + Search Keyword.

To set the ‘Paid Search: Unbranded’ rule just set the default rule under the Branded rule. Because the waterfall logic all of the branded words will be taken out in the 1st rule and only Unbranded will be left.

Natural Search rules should follow Paid Search. The process is the same, set up a rule for ‘Natural Search: Branded’ and ‘Natural Search: Unbranded’. Use the default ‘Matches Natural Search Detection Rules’ when creating the rules, adding your keywords for the branded rule.

We’ll finish setting up the rest of the channel rules in the next post.