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    The Best Use Of Participation Metrics

    January 28th, 2009

    In my previous post on participation metrics I got a great question about how participation works across multiple visits.  And as long as I was going to write about that question, I thought it would be a great time to also state the single best reason to use participation metrics.

    First, I will address the question about multiple visits.  It is a great question, and I would expect nothing less from a guy who is crunching Milwaukee Brewers stats dating back to pre-1900 over at Brewer Leaders.  Hell, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe wasn’t even playing yet (bonus points if you tell me why he was famous in the comments).

    Getting back to the subject at hand.  Participation metrics are generally only good for a single visit and a visit is arbitrarily defined by ‘the industry’ as you leaving the page or being idle for 30 min.  A full dictionary (pops a PDF) can be found here.  Therefore if you added a bunch of stuff to your cart and ended your visit the next time you came only the pages that you then touched would be counted.  This is the same for the non-participation metrics as well.  Therefore it would be possible to have a visit that only has one page and has an order and revenue associated with it.  Just think of a person sitting on the order confirm page, going idle for 31 min, then checking out.

    There are metrics that will track across multiple visits, but because this is all based on cookies, to say they are reliable would just be wrong.  They are only as right as cookie deletion rates allow them to be.  Anyway, that is a whole post in and of it self.  But now you know about participation metrics (or most other metrics) across visits.

    The other things I wanted to touch on – and the title of the post – relates to when to use participation.  The single biggest reason, in my opinion, is ease of communication.  People like to see big round numbers.  If you can say that a promotion page was viewed by 50% of your visitors by participated in 60% of your revenue that is easy.  There are less moving levers.  With revenue distributed, when page views go up for some reason (say you are doing a lot of liquidations and people have to click around to find something is a size or color they want) it is going to give an odd looking number compared to what people might be used to seeing.

    Giving a nice number or % of total revenue just makes communication much easier.  And sometimes, when you’re working on something that you don’t really want to work on, finding the answer and communicating it out and being done with it is all you want.

    These metrics discussions sure are fun, no?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.