Success Event Serialization
As you can imagine, as you start setting SiteCatalyst success events for your website KPIs, it is important that these metrics be as accurate as possible. Your organization will be making potentially significant website decisions based on the metrics reported in SiteCatalyst success events. Therefore, part of your job is to safeguard these metrics like your career depends on them (which it might). Unfortunately, the Internet is a messy, nonlinear place. Website visitors have complete control of the experience and can navigate your website in any order they choose. They can start a process on your website, abandon it, and then restart it a week later. In some respects, measuring success on a website is akin to attempting to herd cats.
For this reason, SiteCatalyst developed the concept of success event serialization. Success event serialization is the process of de-duplicating the setting of success events. By using success event serialization, you can limit how often success events are counted by session or by user. For example, if you look back at the Lead Form Submission success event discussed earlier, you can imagine a scenario in which a visitor successfully submits a lead but then decides to click the browser Back button and once again views the Lead Form Submission confirmation page. If you are setting your Counter success event on the loading of that page, you could accidentally set the Lead Form Submission success event twice for the same person. Although this might make your metrics look impressive to your bosses, it is not the desired outcome (because your conversion rates will ultimately decrease). In this scenario, the Lead Form Submission success event should not be set again for the same person for that particular form in the same session (or possibly ever again). This is where success event serialization saves the day. Through success event serialization, you can ensure that only the first instance of this success event will be counted in conversion reports.
Types of Serialization
There are two different methods of using success event serialization: One method is Event ID serialization and the other is Once Per Visit serialization. Although both types of serialization achieve the same goal, they do so in a slightly different manner.
Event ID serialization
Event ID serialization is an approach in which you manually assign an ID with the success event being set. This ID is unique to that instance of the success event being set and can never be repeated. An example of the code required to do this might look like this:
Once this code is set, if SiteCatalyst ever sees the same success event (event12 in this case) being set with the same serialization string (123456789 in this case), it will ignore the success event completely. If the user refreshes the page, uses the Back button, or even comes back the next day, and SiteCatalyst sees the same event and serialization string combination, the success event will not be re-counted.
The method you use to generate the serialization ID is completely up to you. However, there are some parameters to keep in mind when setting serialization IDs:
- Serialization IDs must be 20 characters or less.
- Serialization IDs must be alphanumeric characters.
- Serialization IDs are separate for each SiteCatalyst success event. Therefore, you can use the same ID for multiple success events if needed, just not for the same success event.
- Serialization IDs are tied to the report suite, so if you are using multi-suite tagging to send data to multiple report suites, keep this in mind.
- Serialization IDs never expire, so even if the same ID is used years later, the success event will not be counted again.
- Cookie deletion does not prevent Event ID serialization because serialization IDs are stored in tables on Adobe’s servers and are not cookie-based.
- The one success event with which it is not possible to use Event ID serialization is the Purchase event, which uses a special s.purchaseID variable for serialization.
Once Per Visit serialization
Another way to use success event serialization is to use the Once Per Visit approach. This method of success event serialization forces SiteCatalyst to count only one instance of the desired success event in a given session or visit. You can enable this setting for any success event through your Adobe account manager or ClientCare. Because it is set on the back end, this approach is much easier than manually setting an Event ID for a success event as described in the previous section. In fact, this approach requires absolutely no tagging whatsoever.
There are some downsides with this approach that you should be aware of when determining which approach is best for your situation:
- Once Per Visit serialization will not prevent the same success event from being set multiple times by the same person if that person visits the site in multiple sessions.
- Because Once Per Visit serialization is cookie-based, if visitors delete their cookies, the same success event can be set more than once in a session. However, visitors would have to delete their cookies mid-session for this to have an impact, so it is not a common occurrence.
In general, I use Once Per Visit serialization to prevent obvious duplication of success events that take place via page refreshes and Back button clicks.