12 July 2007

Some Tips and Tricks for Omniture Custom Link Tracking

Like anything else with Omniture, it seems that one of its valuable items, the Custom Link tracking available in the traffic reports is poorly explained, and consequently, difficult for people to understand or appropriately implement. Here I have compiled a list of ideas and tricks to not only help you install your own custom links, but to give you a hand making them readable, parsable, dynamic and useful. In some instances, like those related to on-site search, these may provide more insights than your company will know what to do with, in other instances, the simplicity alone may astound you. Read on and feel free to post and questions or comments to aid in the discussion.

Custom Link tracking is the installation of a small event call on certain parts of the actionable areas of your website. Some readers may not be using Omniture SiteCatalyst, in which case, inquire of your provider which method to use to gather this particular data. You can create a tag which calls a script based on the event you wish to collect on. By default, the documentation for this explains this should take place with the "=onclick" action. This works, but sometimes, and often we find, people are clicking less on buttons which hitting the 'Enter' key makes more sense. Therefore, it becomes less accurate in its reporting. To combat this, try using "=onsubmit" or some other action of your choice which can provide a more complete picture of the use of these links or areas of the site.

Using this method, CableOrganizer.com has been able to pull off a few neat stunts.

First, we know how many people are using our on-site search in comparison to what our search provider is telling us. This is important because of all our features on the site, the search is truly the single thing which ties directly to our conversion. The better our search and the more visible, the more people will use it. The more people use it, the more information available to draw from and increase activity of the learning algorithm tied into it. The better the results, the more likely people are to click and buy.

Second, we are able to gather information about the navigational habits of people using the search. Our IT department built a search-aid solution. Its a real time search suggestion application which pops out from the search box based on user input. By attaching a Custom Link to the application, we can actually determine when people use the suggestions, what they chose, and how they executed the action (either by a mouseclick or by hitting the 'Enter' key). This provides us with information about what people are searching for, how often they are searching, what the habits of the majority are and so on. Its a wonderful thing. We've used this to rethink how our navigation and our buttons should work throughout the site as well as groomed some of our keyword strategies.

Lastly, and while this may seem complicated I assure you its simple enough and valuable, we used the custom links in variations in and throughout our multivariate testing. When setting up our most recent multivariate test in Google Website Optimizer, I took some time and extra care to tag each of the variation areas with separate individual Custom Links. While the test is running, I can not only gain insight to the best possible combination as provided by the Google interface, but I can also understand how individual elements are performing their tasks. For instance, in this case, I have 6 buttons which all have their reason and strategy associated with them. Each of these buttons are passed into the page by the Website Optimizer. Along with the button, a little Custom Link tag is passed in as well. While the Website Optimizer is using 'Add to Cart' as the action representing conversion, clicking on the individual button is reporting information to me on the particular visibility of the version. This gives me a more complete picture of what the impact of the button is and how it is related to success of the page. I honestly can't wait to answer that question: "Does performing action A correlate to outcome?"

By themselves Custom Links are valuable without all the tricks and fancy dressing. If for no other reason they help the analyst understand BEHAVIOR. That's really all that matters. If you can't boil out some idea of what a majority of your users are doing, there is no use being an analyst. Without that piece, you might as well make decisions based on the Magic 8 Ball. For me, for us and for the science, there is no room for speculation.

As is regular and customary, if you feel like you have something to add, or you have a question, you can feel free to contact me or post here. I will get to it and answer when time allows.

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