Today the Website Optimizer team introduced some new features that will make Optimizer much easier to use. I’m going to defer to the guys at GrokDotCom for coverage on the new features. They got their post up pretty fast and included a snazzy interview with Tom Leung (the Website Optimizer product manager). Please take a moment and check it out.
I’d like to highlight a seemingly minor update to the WO documentation that opened my eyes. Along with the new product features, the WO team published a simple tutorial about how to track time-on-page based conversions. This method can be used to create conversions based on how much time a visitor spends on a page.
Why is this important? Some conversion activities have nothing to do with completing a process. Some conversions measure how engaged a visitor is with a website. While there are many ways to measure engagement, and many different opinions about what engagement is, time spent reading a certain page is one way to measure engagement.
Anyway, the method that the optimizer team published in their support doc can be used in Google Analytics to create time-on-page goals. The secret to the tracking is translating how much time a visitor spends on a page into a pageview. Remember, goal tracking in Google Analytics is based on a pageview. We need to create a pageview that indicates the visitor has been on a page for a certain amount of time.
How it Works
setTimeout(). This function will ‘do something’ after a specified interval of time. We can use
setTimeout() to create a pageview after some period of time has elapsed. How do we create pageviews in GA? With
Here’s the code that will create a pageview after a certain amount of time:
You’ll notice that there are two parts to the
setTimeout() function. They’re separated by a comma. The first is
urchinTracker(). That’s what will create the pageview after a certain amount of time. The second part is the number 20000. That’s the amount of time that
setTimeout() will wait before executing urchinTracker() and thus creating the pageview.
The time is in milliseconds. 1000 milliseconds equals one second. So 10000 milliseconds = 10 seconds.
Place the code, below the standard GA page tag. Once the page loads the timer will start. When the time limit is reached the
urchinTracker() function will execute and a pageview will be created for the value passed to
urchinTracker(). I’ve used a couple of Google Analytics variable to define the name of the pageview.
udl.pathname is the part of the URL that occurs after the domain extension (.com, .net, etc.) and before any query string parameters (which usually start with a question mark).
_udl.search is the list of query string parameters that appear after the path.
The code will create a pageview for a fictional page named ‘/read-pages’. Part of the fictional page URL will be a query parameter named ‘page’ that stores the name of the page that the visitor was on when the pageview was executed. This setup gives you a lot of flexibility when setting up the goal.
Here’s how the goal would be setup:
And here are some additional settings I’ve added to this goal:
The goal is defined as a regular expression. So any pageview that matches ‘/read-page\?page=’ will contribute to the goal total. Using this setup you can create one generic goal called ‘Read Page’ and then use the Goal Verification report to segment the conversions and identify which pages people actually read.
Let’s say we want to track how many people stay on the following page for 3 minutes:
First we need to translate minutes to milli seconds:
3 minutes = 180 seconds
1 second = 1000 milliseconds
3 minutes = 180000 milliseconds
Now we’re ready to add the code to the page. Remember, it must go below the standard GA page tag:
After a visitor views the page for 3 minutes the code will create a pageview for:
And a goal conversion will follow.
A Note About Website Optimizer
Obviously this technique will work for tracking conversion in Website Optimizer. The implementation is slightly different. You need to include the account number in the SetTimeout() function. The reason is that the GA code might have a different account number than the Website Optimizer.
I can’t believe that I didn’t think of this method before. :) Thanks WO team for posting that very cool article.
Now, what about number of number-of-visit goals or time-on-site goals? I’ve got the number of visits goal tracking figured out and I’m working on a generic time on site. Stay tuned.
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