Traffic Variables (sProps) [Inside Omniture SiteCatalyst]
Like any software product you use, there are a few key elements that you need to understand to be successful.
In working with clients I have found that many do not have a good understanding of the three fundamental building blocks of SiteCatalyst: sProps, eVars and Success Events. When I was an Omniture client, I will admit that I had much more important things to do with my time than to learn about Omniture’s variable types and their capabilities. However, over time, I came to understand that these variables are the foundation of all SiteCatalyst reporting, so if I wanted to use Omniture reports to measure my website success and/or justify my re-design theories, I had better suck it up and learn about these three variable types. I hope you will do the same. In this post I will review sProps and will cover the other two types in my next posts.
Traffic variables (known to old-timers as sProps) help to track page-by-page site traffic activity. Site Traffic is normally measured via Page Views, Visits or Unique Visitors. The primary purpose of sProps is to allow you to breakdown Page Views, Visits and Unique Visitors into meaningful buckets. While SiteCatalyst provides reports to see total Page Views, Visits and Unique Visitors for your site, most web analysis needs to take place at a much more granular level. Without sProps, you would not be able to see such things as which pages are the most popular or what percentage of pages were viewed in the USA vs. Canada, etc…. The following is an example of the most commonly used sProp report, the Most Popular Pages report:
An important thing to know about sProps is that they are not persistent. This means that they do not retain their value from one page to the next, a concept that often confuses Omniture customers. I find that the easiest way to understand sProps is to think of the most commonly used sProp: Page Name. Let’s assume a visitor to your site starts their visit on the Home Page and the value “Home Page” is passed into the Page Name sProp. From the Home Page, the visitor clicks on a link and is taken to the “Contact Us” page. You would certainly not want the value of “Home Page” to persist and be passed into the Page Name sProp on this next page or it would look like the Home Page had two Page Views instead of each page having one Page View.
Another important thing to know about sProps is that they are used for Pathing. Pathing is the ability to view the order in which values are passed to a particular SiteCatalyst sProp for a specific Visit. For example, let’s say that each page on your site has a pagename and the values passed to the Pagename sProp are Page A, Page B, and Page C respectively. If Pathing is enabled for that sProp, SiteCatalyst would record the order in which the values were passed and allow you to view reports that show the percentage for which all site users went from Page A to Page B, etc… I will definitely be talking more about Pathing in a future post.
Did You Know?
The following additional items related to sProps are worth noting:
- Visits, Daily Unique Visitors, Weekly Unique Visitors, Monthly Unique Visitors and Quarterly Unique Visitors can be enabled for any sProp (for an additional fee)
- SiteCatalyst provides several “out-of-the-box” pre-defined sProps including: Pagename, Site Section, Server, Browser, Country, etc… These are similar to all other (custom) sProps with the exception being the Pagename sProp which is somewhat special in that it captures the page URL if no value is passed to it.
- Any two sProps can be “correlated” or broken down by each other
- Pathing can be enabled for any sProp
- Any sProp can be “classified” using SAINT
In every post I will attempt to provide a real-world example of the topic at hand. Let’s say that we are working for Greco Inc., an Omniture SiteCatalyst customer that owns several different types of web properties. One of Greco Inc.’s web properties has a translation utility which allows each page of the site to be viewed in either English or Spanish. The CMO is working on a marketing campaign targeting Hispanic customers and, as such, would like to get a feel for the percentage of all site Page Views viewed in Spanish. To accomplish this, the client would pass the language that the current page is being viewed in to a custom sProp. For best results, this sProp should be populated on every page so that the total Page Views in this report matches (or is close to) the overall number of Page Views for the same timeframe. Doing this might produce a report that looks like this:
Thus, by using a custom sProp, Greco Inc. now has a new way to breakdown Page Views and can answer the specific business question at hand.