Marketing Channels: Master the Processing Rules

The Marketing Channels report in SiteCatalyst is one of my favorite features. The report shows you where 100% of your traffic to the site is coming from and you can compare channel success side by side (even organic vs. paid channels!). This series has featured posts on setting the Channel Names, Paid and Natural Search rules and Campaign Channel rules. Now it’s time to finish setting up the rest of the processing rules in the Marketing Channel Manager.

If you have followed along from the first post of this series, you should have already renamed the default rule of ‘Social Networks’ to ‘Organic Social Networks.’ Renaming the channel will help analysts not confuse your paid social media efforts with organic click-throughs into the site. The Organic Social Networks rule is a default rule set for you by Adobe and matches incoming traffic to a list of known social media sites. You should check the list within the rule. The list is compiled of well known social media sites which may or may not include social media networks specific to your industry or location. Add any domains that you feel should be included in the list for your site and save the rule.

Setting a rule for Affiliate or Partner referrals is optional. If you have a robust affiliate program and all of your affiliates use tracking codes you may want to set the Affiliate rule similar to the campaign rules in the last post and keep the processing rule positioned with all the other campaign rules as well. If you have referrals from partner sites or affiliates that do not use tracking codes (or do not use them inconsistently), this rule is an easy way to group that traffic into one channel instead of trying to filter the referring domains report.

To create a domain based Affiliates Channel set the rule to ‘Referring Domain contains‘ and list the domains you are trying to track. Make sure the ‘ignore hits matching internal URL filters’ box is checked. Do not include ‘www.’ in the domain in your list, just the root domains you want to track.

The last 3 rules should be ‘ Session Refresh,’ ‘Direct,’ and ‘Referring Domains.’ I strongly recommend changing the name of the ‘Internal’ rule to ‘Session Refresh’ if you have not done so yet. SiteCatalyst users tend to confuse ‘Internal’ with ‘Internal Campaigns.’ Internal campaigns should never be included in the Marketing Channels report. Session Refresh entries are exactly what it says. For example, if a visitor is on your site browsing, then goes to lunch and leaves the browser open SiteCatalyst will automatically close a visit after 30 minutes of inactivity. So even though the browser is open with the site up, after 30 minutes of inactivity the SiteCatalyst visit has ended. Now the visitor returns from lunch, sees the site on the open browser and clicks to another page within the site. Presto! A new SiteCatalyst visit starts. However, now we have a new visit with an incoming referring domain that belongs to our own site (i.e. matches internal domain filters). Since the Marketing Channels report contains 100% of visits the entry has to go somewhere, hence Session Refresh. This channel should be a very small percentage of the overall traffic to the site. In a later post we’ll discuss how to trouble-shoot issues if you are seeing a substantial percentage of traffic falling into the Session Refresh channel.

Do NOT change, alter or delete the default settings for ‘ Session Refresh,’ ‘Direct,’ and ‘Referring Domains.’ The 3 rules should remain as they are, in the same order at the bottom of the list. That finishes our rule list and your Marketing Channels Processing Rules should look something like the following:

Now that the rules are set, give the data a few days to compile and then review to make sure everything is bucketing as expected. Likely you will need to tweak some of your rules to get them just right. I’ll go through some tips and tricks on how to use the reports, and trouble-shooting, in upcoming posts.