Sarah Hodges

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Lose your Omniture training wheels!

In Analytics, Web Analytics on February 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm

What are the best resources to learn Omniture SiteCatalyst?

Questions like this one pop up on Quora from Omniture newbies all the time. Kick off your training wheels and check out my response below for a few tips-

I painfully sat through every single Omniture training course offered. And you know what? I didn’t really learn that much…

Amy Chua was onto something by making her kids do 2,000 math problems each night.

She might be a little off her rocker and generally missing the big picture, but her kids sure as hell have mad arithmetic skillz. Practice makes perfect! Want to learn how to use SiteCatalyst, Discover or one of the other Omniture tools? The only way you’ll truly learn is by jumping in and exploring:

Cozy up to the engineers on your team. Get a basic understanding for the way information is captured and passed into Omniture.

Identify the questions you want to answer. Dig into the reports, see what you can uncover and get over the initial intimidation of learning a new UI.

Fill in gaps with a li’l help from the pros. You don’t have to look too far to find experts who are throwing down the Omniture knowledge day in and day out for free! Soak it up!

Dig into Adam Greco’s Blog for a wealth of information about SiteCatalyst, from the fundamentals to implementation tricks that will boost the insight you generate from the tool.

Take a look at Omniture’s Blog; it’s a fantastic resource for learning more about their entire suite of products. You’ll find posts from top notch account managers, analysts, product leads and engineers.

Follow other practitioners! I learned so much about Site Catalyst just by interacting with other analysts and developers who work with the tool everyday. A few top minds in this space include-

Check out Web Analytics TV. Jason Thompson recently planted the seed for what’s sure to become a huge contribution to the web analytics community by launching this killer site. Check out analytics video tutorials from Omniture vets in an easy-to-consume format. After you become an Omniture champ, make sure to go back and submit your own!

Follow the #measure tag on twitter, attend analytics conferences and reach out to other people who are working with the platform for creative solutions to the measurement challenges you’re trying to address.

I haven’t been thrilled with the Omniture training courses. I’ve taken every Omniture training course out there, including the SC courses, Discover and Test &Target. While you can definitely pick up a few helpful nuggets during the classes, I’ve found the pace slow and some of the topics too rudimentary to merit the time investment. Hang onto your $, and instead, invest some time in coming up to speed by doing, reading, watching and learning.


Campaign Tagging: Part 1 – Basics

In Campaign Anaytics on February 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm


Truth: url parameters are key to unlocking mind-blowing insight.

You’ve heard it a thousand times from¬†Avinash Kaushik and all the other heavy-hitters in the analytics space. So, what’s stopping you?

Excuse: url tagging is intimidating.

How do I choose what values to use? How do I add the parameters to my URLs? Don’t let these concerns stop you from getting your ‘tag’ on.

Remedy: I’m breakin’ it down like the Sugarhill Gang for you.

Everyone needs a little hand-holding every once and a while. My buddy, Christopher O’Donnell, and the good folks over at Performable analytics helped me throw together a quick video to walk you through the basics of campaign tagging.

Not everything in life is easy, but campaign tagging sure is.

Set aside a few minutes of time, and BAM!, you’ll be a campaign tagging pro.

There are five basic campaign parameters:

  1. Campaign (utm_campaign): marketing campaign name.
  2. Source (utm_source): marketing channel (email, social media, etc.)
  3. Medium (utm_medium): channel category (email list, facebook, twitter, etc.)
  4. Content (utm_content): most frequently used in cpc campaigns to note ad creative.
  5. Term (utm_term): most often used in cpc campaigns to describe search keyword.
When you’re done, check out Part 2 of this Campaign Tagging¬†video series.

Objects in the analytics dashboard may appear closer than they are…

In Web Analytics on February 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

A new analytics platform crops up every day, each one more slick than the next. Don’t get me wrong- I’m thrilled to see attention paid to great UX design, but…

Beware of shiny reports!

Bait and Switch

When I first started using Omniture’s Site Catalyst product a few years ago, I stumbled on the Events Funnel report.

Holler! Just what I was looking for…or so I thought.

I was working in a subscription model business with a four-step trial signup flow, and we were driving traffic into the funnel from various campaigns; the first step/landing page varied by channel, but all users passed through the same subsequent steps (steps 2-4). I set up my event report, selecting our homepage as ‘step one’. I ran the report, already envisioning revealing the funnel visual to my boss, beaming as I’d paint the picture of how easy it would be for us to track fallout between signup steps for our campaigns.

But then, something didn’t add up. Where I’d expected to see fallout between the first and second steps of the signup full, the number of users who completed step two greatly exceeded the number that had completed step one. How could this be?! Here’s the thing about Ominiture’s Event Funnel Report- the steps in the report don’t have to occur in sequential order. This logic is missing entirely from the report. Step 2 was capturing traffic from all of our marketing campaigns, not just traffic that had entered through the homepage. What at first seemed like a brilliantly simple way to track signup funnel fallout was actually totally worthless to us.

One-trick Pony

Then, last month, I hit the jackpot; I found the funnel report I’ve been whining didn’t exist the last few years. KISSmetrics really excels in tracking funnel fallout. Simply set up the steps in your funnel, and bam!, you’ve got a funnel fallout report.

The problem with this? Unless you’ve identified the steps in the funnel you want to track, you’re taking a stab in the dark. For fixed funnels like the trial signup flow I was tracking in my old gig, this report is hotsauce. Want to track cart abandonment? KISSmetrics rocks at this. That said, it can’t bubble up the steps you’re users are taking or content they’re consuming prior to signing up that’s triggering conversion (Performable is crushing this, btw). Instead, it’s up to you to build a bunch of funnels based on your own hypotheses about the flows users are engaging in, and test them out in the tool. Question is, what might you be missing?

Superhot, but Not Very Bright

Then, there are the reports that look really cool and insightful, but aren’t at all actionable. During a demo, have you ever heard a sales guy say, “Your exec team will really love this report”? Bing, bing, bing! Red flag! This is sales lingo for, “This report looks totally sexy, but it doesn’t actually put out.”

Take the time to figure out what you’re looking for before you take the plunge. You might be okay with the report you get when you see what’s under the paint. Likewise, sometimes a one-trick pony will get you what you’re looking for. What’s usually guaranteed though, is that while ‘superhot but not bright’ might be fun for a few days, you’re probably not going to want to put a ring on it…

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