Conversion, however that is defined for a site, is always the reason the site exists. For me, a conversion is a visitor viewing at least 2 pages. If I can do that then I know that I have engaged the person enough to look around the site a bit more. You probably have some other definition of a successful conversion on your site.
A fairly common conversion point for a website is account creation or e-mail capture (e-mail sign-up). The most common way to look at how successful the sign-up process is is by using a fallout report. A nice funnel that shows how many you started with and how many fell out at each step. The bottom of the funnel is the total number of people that made it through the process. This is a great way to look at things but there are two very different ways of doing it.
The first way is based on pages viewed. This is a very common way to look at fallout. People that made it from Page A to Page B to Page C. This works nicely in a very straightforward way. It gives you a nice view of the total performance of that site path. Unfortunately, at least in some WA tools, that is about all you can get at with the basic reporting capabilities. The problem with this is that you might be missing some huge cake scraps, or golden nuggets, of information by looking at the data in aggregate.
Setting a success event on each of these pages will provide a much greater degree of flexibility. For instance you could very easily look at campaign tracking codes and see how many of each event was set for each tracking code. This might give you information that you simply didn’t have before.
Say, for example, that you had both display advertising and paid search campaigns pushing traffic to your site. In all likelihood you know what the conversion is off of each of these tracking codes but you might not know how many of your email sign-ups are coming from each campaign. It is very easy to start setting a success event on the sign-up confirmed page so that now you can get a count of that event by campaign tracking code. Perhaps you find out that your paid search converts better but they don’t come and sign up for email. This might cause you to change the messaging that you are doing in paid search (perhaps message email strong to drive sign-ups or message something else since e-mail sign-up just didn’t work).
Similarly, if you had a 2-step process, and set a success event on each page, you would be able to see if one type of campaign had huge sign-up issues. Perhaps you would learn that you want to create a different on-site expirence for that type of campaign to drive up sign-ups.
Another thing that is great about using events is that they are easy to trend across time whereas fallout reports based on page views can be a bit more difficult or time consuming to generate. The downside is that you probably have a limited number of events, so use them wisely.
What type of conversion goal do you have for your website?
This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.