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    You Are Being Tracked: Product Page Finding Methods

    More often than not if you are somewhere you know how you got there.  Hopefully you don’t have too many weeknights (weekends I will exclude) where you just wake up and have no idea how you got to where you are.  You may be smart enough to know how you arrived at a particular location, but your website – at least by default – is not.

    This post covers the principle of having a Product Page Finding Method (PPFM) tag on your site.  If your site was successful in getting a visitor to a product page, you should really know how they got there.  And if you are a visitor you should know that this is one more way you are being tracked.  For more information on being tracked check out my posts on Internal Campaigns and E-Mail tracking.  I will point out now that this post is less about describing to a visitor how they are being tracked and more about how a website should track the visitor.  This is because a PPFM tag is less common and may not apply to many sites a visitor may go to.  Nevertheless, it is still something to keep an eye out for.

    Back to tracking how a visitor got to a product page.  The easy solution is a ‘Next Page’ or ‘Previous Page’ report.  This will tell you what pages a visitor was going to or coming from, respectively.  It may seem like the answer to our question of how the visitor arrived at a product page, and it does at a simplistic level, but is of no use for aggregating data.  Consider an index page that lists all of a companies laptops.  How often does a customer click through to an individual laptop (a product page)?  There is no easy answer to this if you have more than a few laptops displayed.  A PPFM tag will solve this problem.

    If you add a PPFM – that’s Product Page Finding Method – tag to each link on the index page then when the visitor clicks through to a product page you can tell Omniture to look for PPFM=INDEX_Laptops01 and it will store it to an e.var ( a commerce variable).   Then you can run a report in Omniture and look for instances of INDEX_Laptops01.  Compare that to the Page Views for your laptop index page and you have the rate at which a person is clicking form that index page to a product page.

    Another trick is to make sure that all of your index pages are tagged and have INDEX in the PPFM tag.  That way you can actually do a search to pull back all instances of an index page click on any index page.  With any luck you have your pages named in a similar fashion – so you can get total index page views – and you can then get a site-wide rate that people are clicking though to your products from your index pages.

    Now that we understand the concept of a PPFM, lets look at a few other uses for it.

    Basically, you should not have an instance where a customer navigated to a product page and you do not know how they got there.  Other ways they could get to that product page include a ‘direct to product page’ search and a cross-sell placement from another product page.

    The ‘direct to product page’ is useful if you have a search box that will allow a customer to go directly to a product page without going through an index page.  An additional way to tag this would be to have a search results tag – for instances when a search returns many products – and then any click from that index/search page to a product page would give credit to the search tag.

    The cross-sell tag would be used on any product page where you are displaying some other products the customer might also like to buy.  Any click on these links will bring the customer to another product page and then the cross-sell tag would get credit.  You might also have a similar tag for items displayed in the cart.

    The last thing to discuss is credit.  On a $100 order who gets the credit.  The simple way to do it is the last used tag.  The bad part is that with this method if a customer uses and index for the first 3 items and the last item they clicked a cross-sell item, the cross-sell tag will get all of the $100 attributed to it.  That isn’t really accurate.  The better way is to distribute the $100 via linear attribution.  That means that in the example above each of the index pages would get $25 and the cross-sell would get $25.  The tricky part here is that if a customer is browsing they may click to 10 different products from 10 different index pages and each of the index pages would get 1/10 a share of the revenue even though the customer only bought from one of the index pages.  Just something to keep in mind.

      With this tagging in place on your site you should always be able to answer how a customer arrived at your products.  It does not quite answer the question on a page by page basis – i.e. for Product A the PPFM tags used to arrive there were cross-sell 24%, indes 53% etc. – but it will give you a much better idea, on the whole, how your visitor is getting to your product pages.  Just a little tip that can save a ton of work

      This has been some Thoughts From The Cake Scraps.

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