SiteCatalyst is divided into two broad categories: traffic and conversion. In the previous chapter, you learned about traffic variables; now you’ll move into the area of conversion. Conversion consists of two types of elements: success events and conversion variables (also known as eVars), which work together to help you determine how successful your website is at achieving its goals.
In this chapter, you’ll learn about success events and how you can use them to monitor the success of your website. But before exploring success events and how they are used, it is worthwhile to discuss key performance indicators (KPIs).
Key Performance Indicators
If you are in the web analytics field, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with KPIs. But just in case you’re not, KPIs are the metrics used to determine the health or success of a website. If the goal of your website is to get visitors to purchase items, your KPIs might be revenue, orders, and units. Alternatively, if the goal of your website is to generate leads, you might monitor a “leads generated” KPI. The reason it’s important to understand KPIs is because most website KPIs take the form of success events in SiteCatalyst; in fact, so much so that the two terms are often used interchangeably. Normally, KPIs are raw metrics or ratios that represent a target goal for the organization. As such, they can be quantified to see how the organization is doing against its stated goals. Hence, most KPIs are numbers, and as you’ll see, in SiteCatalyst numbers are represented by success events.
So what are success events? Simply put, success events are metrics that count the number of times site visitors complete an action on your site. A success event can technically represent anything that happens on your website. You could set a success event when visitors view product pages on your retail site or when a visitor downloads a file from your site. Or, you could set a success event when visitors “Like” you on Facebook or “Tweet” an article on your site. SiteCatalyst provides over 100 success events, and you get to choose which KPI you want to assign to each.
An important aspect of succeeding in web analytics is to have well-thought-out KPIs. In fact, when I work with clients, I first look at the success events they are capturing in SiteCatalyst to determine if they have correctly identified their KPIs. If I see that clients have only two success events with data, I know they’re in trouble. Conversely, if I see clients with more than 50 success events, I get a bit nervous about how they are tracking their website (unless they are very advanced and doing some sophisticated calculations that require many success events). Overall, my suggestion is that you take the time necessary to accurately identify the key metrics (numbers) that are important to your business before you begin implementing SiteCatalyst. This will make the entire process of setting up and implementing success events much easier.