Tracking Lead Gen Forms by Page Name
Every once in a while, as a web analyst, I get frustrated by stuff and feel like there has to be a better way to do what I am trying to do. Many times you are able to find a better way, often times you are not. In this case, I had a particular challenge and did find a cool way to solve it. You may not have the same problem, but, if for no other reason than to get it off my chest, I am writing this as a way to exhale and bask in my happiness of solving a web analytics problem…
My Recent Problem
So what was the recent problem I was facing that got me all bent out of shape? It had to do with Lead Generation forms, which are a staple of B2B websites like mine. Let me explain. Many websites out there, especially B2B websites, have Lead Generation as their primary objective. In past blog posts, I have discussed how you can track Form Views, Form Completes and Form Completion Rates. However, over time, your website may end up with lots of forms (we have hundreds at Salesforce.com!). In a perfect world, each website form would have a unique identifier so you can see completion rates independently. That isn’t asking too much is it? However, as I have learned, we rarely live in a perfect world!
Through some work I did in SiteCatalyst, I found that our [supposedly unique] form identifier codes were being copied to multiple pages on multiple websites. While this causes no problems from a functionality standpoint – visitors can still complete forms – what I found was that the same Form ID used in the US was also being used in the UK, India, China, etc… Therefore, when I ran our Form reports and looked at Form Views, Form Completes and Form Completion Rate by Form ID, I had no idea that I was looking at data for multiple countries. For example, if you look at this report nothing seems out of the ordinary right?
However, look what happened when I broke this report (last row of above report) down by a Page Name eVar:
At first, I thought I was going crazy! How can this unique Form ID be passed into SiteCatalyst on eleven different form pages on nine country sites? This caused me to dig deeper, so I did a DataWarehouse report of Form ID’s by Page Name and found that an astounding number of Form Pages on our global websites shared ID’s. Suddenly, I panicked and realized that whenever I had been reporting on how Forms were performing, I was really reporting on how they were performing across several pages on multiple websites. In the example above, I realized that the 34.669% Form Completion Rate I was reporting for the US version of the form in question was really reporting data with the same ID for forms residing on websites in Germany, China, Mexico, etc… While the majority was coming the the form I was expecting, 22% was coming from other pages! Not good!
So there I was. Stuck in web analytics hell, reporting something different than I thought I was. What do you do? The logical solution was be to do an audit and make sure each Form page on the website had a truly unique ID. However, that is easier said than done when your web development team is already swamped. Also, even if you somehow manager to fix all of the ID’s, what is preventing these ID’s from getting duplicated again? We looked at all types of process/technology solutions and then realized that there is an easy way to fix this by doing a little SiteCatalyst trickery.
So what did we do? We simply replaced the Form ID eVar value with a new value that concatenated the Page Name and the Form ID on every Form Page and Form Confirmation Page. By concatenating the Page Name value, even if the same Form ID was used on multiple pages, the concatenated value would still be unique. For example, the old Form ID report looked like the one above:
But the new version looked like this:
With this new & improved report, when I was reporting for a particular form on a particular site/page, I could search by the form pagename and be sure I was only looking at results from that page. Also, a cool side benefit of this approach is that you could add a Form ID to the search function to quickly find all pages that had the same Form ID in case you ever did want to clean up your Form ID’s:
However, there is one tricky part of this solution. While it is certainly easy to concatenate the s.pagename value with the Form ID on the Form page, what about the Form Confirmation page? The Form Confirmation page is where you should be setting your Form Completion Success Event and that page is going to have a different pagename. If your Form ID report doesn’t have the same Page Name + Form ID value for both the Form View and Form Complete Success Event, you cannot use a Form Completion Rate Calculated Metric. For this reason, you need to use the Previous Value Plug-in to pass the previous pagename on the Form Confirmation page. Doing this will allow you to pass the name of the “Form View” page on both the Form View and Form Complete page of your site so you have the same page name value merged with the Form ID.
A Few More Things
Finally, while the Form ID report above serves this particular function, it is not very glamorous and it might not be the most user-friendly report for your users. If you want to provide a more friendly experience you can do the following with SAINT Classifications:
- Classify the Form ID value by its Page Name so your users can see Form Views, Form Completions and the Form Completion Rate by Page Name
- Classify the Form ID value by the Form ID if for some reason you want to go back to seeing the report you had previously
Well there you have it. A very specific solution to a specific problem I encountered. If you have Lead Generation Forms on your website, maybe it will help you out one day. If not, thanks for letting me get this out of my system!