In a rare case of development on my part, I am today going to tell you to not follow the advice in an article I wrote some time ago. I’m talking about Plugins: New/Repeat vs VisitNum.
At the time I told you to do your friendly marketer a favour, track visit number for her instead of just new/repeat visitor.
Today, I’m going to tell you to track neither.
There is simply no need anymore.
These days, you can use segmentation, plus derived metrics.
One reason to track visit number or new/repeat is to be able to analyse new visitors separately from those who visit repeatedly.
Adobe Analytics has a built-in “Visit Number” metric. Using that metric, you can build any kind of segment.
- “First Visits” — a Visit container with “Visit Number” = 1
- “Newbie Visits” — the same, but with “Visit Number” < 5 (or whatever your idea of a Newbie is)
- “Regular Visitors” — a Visitor container, “Visit Number” > 5
Note that the latter includes all visits by those people, even their very first! If you only want to know what visitors do in their 6th visit and beyond, use a Visit container.
If you want to know what those who became regular visitors did differently in their first 5 visits, you can use a Visitor container with “Visit Num” > 5, then embed a Visit container with the same rule, but set it to exclude. Bam! Compare this with “Visitors who have not yet had more than 5 visits” and see if there are any fundamental differences.
Before SiteCatalyst 15 (am I revealing my age here?), we used the
getNewRepeat() plugins to track the same information. At the time, we didn’t have the ability to segment in the back-end that we have now.
For segmentation, these plugins are obsolete.
You can combine segments, too, so there is no reason why you should stop at this point.
- Use segments based on (micro-) conversions along with visit numbers.
- Use segments that take into account time between actions.
- Speak with your colleagues in finance and marketing, learn what they consider successes or interesting segments.
When you’re done with a segment, it might be time to create a derived metric that goes along with it.
Here’s an example: on your media site, regular users usually land on the home page, then go off to read a bunch of articles. New visitors mostly come from Google, land directly on articles, and mostly leave after having read what they wanted.
For a given article, it might make a lot of sense to show not only the “Article Views” metric, but also “Article Views (regular users)” and “Article Views (new visitors)”. Helps understanding which articles appeal to whom, and whether there is anything that is more likely to help convert a new visitor to a regular.
You could do the same for the article authors. Are there people on the content team who are good at growing and holding an audience? Who writes the best articles for new visitors? And who manages to keep them coming back?
The fun bit: there is no extra tracking needed!
You can make derived metrics using the segments we saw above, plus the “Page Views” metric.
Doing so effectively turns the “Page Views” into “Page Views, but only those in the segment”.
It is likely that someone, somewhere uses the
getVisitNum() or the
getNewRepeat() plugin for a completely different purpose. If you are that person, let me know! It might still be possible to get rid of the plugins!
Why would you?
Well, pruning is good!
You’ll free an eVar or a prop! You’ll slightly reduce your maintenance overhead. And you’ll reduce the cognitive load on your stakeholders by removing what they likely think of as “yet another confusing duplicate (yet not quite the same) metric”!
Simplicity wins every time!