Lifetime Metrics in Omniture SiteCatalyst are one of the most obscure and least utilized features in the entire product – and for good reason. In their current implementation, they do not do all that much. In this post I will explain what they are, how they are meant to be used and offer some suggestions on how Omniture can turn Lifetime Metrics into a more useful feature.
What Are Lifetime Metrics?
Before reading this post, I would hazard a guess that the majority of you reading this have never used Lifetime Metrics and that a good number of you haven’t even heard of them. Most people who hear about them assume that they are metrics that are stored for website visitors for their entire lifetime (or until their cookie is deleted). Unfortunately, that is not correct, as Lifetime Metrics have nothing to do with unique visitors or cookies… When Omniture calls these “Lifetime Metrics” they mean the lifetime of the report suite (data set) in which the metrics reside. For example, if you have a website Success Event for Form Completions, you use a regular Success Event to see how many Form Completions take place each day, week, month, etc…, but you would use the Lifetime Metric version of that Success Event to see the total number of Form Completions that have taken place since they were ever collected in the report suite.
So let’s say that in your main report suite, you started collecting Form Completions about a year ago and were segmenting those Form Completions by Traffic Source. In the current month, you had 27 Form Completions driven by SEO, but going back until you started collecting Form Completions in the report suite, you had a total of 964. In this situation, you would click the “Add Metrics” link and when you see the metrics selector window, you would use the drop down box (same place you go to use Participation or Calculated Metrics) and change “Standard” to “Lifetime” as shown here:
Once you have selected “Lifetime,” you should see a list of metrics that looks similar to what you would see under “Standard,” identical to what but with the word “Lifetime” in front of each (if you don’t see these metrics, talk to your Account Manager or ClientCare). Simply select the appropriate Lifetime metric you desire (Lifetime Form Completes in this example) as you would any other metric and you would see a report like this:
As you can see here, the metrics for standard Form Completes is very different than the Lifetime Form Complete metric. Again, this Lifetime metric has nothing to do with Cookies, but rather, it represents the sum total of all Form Completions that have taken place since the inception of the current report suite.
So What Can You Do with Lifetime Metrics?
Great question! The truth is that these metrics are a bit limiting. Here are the things I have seen done with these metrics:
- You can use these metrics to see how you are doing in the current time period as compared with historical performance. For example, in the report above, it might be interesting to note that SEO is greatly under-performing during the selected time frame (13.5%) as compared to its past performance (23.1% of Form Completes).
- You can divide Form Completes by Lifetime Form Completes to see how the current time frame is contributing to the overall total.
I have really struggled to find other cool things you can do with these metrics, but I am hoping that maybe one of you can share how you have used them so I can learn new ways to use them (along with my readers)…
What I Would Do With Lifetime Metrics…
If you have read my posts in the past, you have heard me say that I don’t like to complain about something unless I can offer some potential solutions. This will be no different. I think that there is one simple change that Omniture can make to dramatically increase the usefulness of Lifetime Metrics… (drum-roll please…):
Give SiteCatalyst Administrators the ability to determine when Lifetime Metrics are re-started/expired
I know this subtle change doesn’t sound like it would accomplish much, but here is why I think it could:
Tying Lifetime Metrics to the date that data was collected in a report suite makes little sense. Often times, you need to start a report suite or move to another one on arbitrary dates. Therefore, these Lifetime Metrics make no sense in a business context. If I use the same report suite for three years, why on earth would I want to see how my current month/quarter is doing compared to the last three years? How would my users even know that Lifetime Metrics had been stored for three years? It just doesn’t help make these metrics valuable. However, if I could choose when Lifetime Metrics started over, I might re-start them on January 1st of each year and now I have a cool, easy way to see YTD information (i.e. how March is performing in relation to January-March). As described above, I can also see how the ratio of SEO or SEM is performing against my YTD percentage. Maybe I want to keep these metrics for two years, or re-start them when my company’s fiscal year starts – that should be my choice using the Admin Console. While this will not propel Lifetime Metrics to MVP status of SiteCatalyst features, you could actually have something of use (of course, it would probably require a name change since Lifetime Metrics may not be appropriate) and bring this feature “back from the dead” so to speak…
Well…that’s it…just wanted to provide a bit of education about this little known feature and some suggestions on how it might be improved… If you would like to see the change I propose made by Omniture, click here to vote for this idea in the new Idea Exchange (requires an Omniture Account).