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Web Site Measurement Hacks by Eric T. Peterson

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Hack #31. Use Custom Variables Wisely

Use of custom variables to track data most relevant to your business, generating a more complete view of the visitor in the process.

While there is no industry standard definition, a custom variable is essentially an addition to your standard web site data collection strategy, commonly collected via a page tag or query string parameter and stored in a client-side cookie (Figure 2-18). You can have many custom variables per cookie, each containing a name=value pair such as "color=blue" or "rating=five stars". Custom variables can be used to count nontraditional data elements, but are ideally tied to a specific business objective.

**pd#119**Custom variable deployment

Figure 2-18. **pd#119**Custom variable deployment

When an objective tied to a custom variable is reached, the web measurement application records the event (and any quantifiable value of the event). Through this simple process, you can gain valuable insight into which initiatives are most successful.

Uses for Custom Variables

As long as your measurement application supports these custom variables, the opportunities are unlimited. Some examples of common uses for custom variables include:

  • Internal search terms, so you'll be able to determine which searches are leading to conversion events [Hack #64]

  • Split-path test participation [Hack #63] , so you can keep track of which test a visitor is participating in at any given time ...

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