This blog is targeted at a marketing audience that may be wondering how to interpret the WFFM tracking metrics, as shown in the form reports.
Definitions of metrics as proposed by Sitecore:
- Visits – the total number of visitors who visited the page containing the web form.
- Submission attempts – the total number of times that visitors clicked the submit button.
- Dropouts – the total number of times that visitors filled in form fields but did not submit the form.
- Successful submissions – the total number of times that visitors successfully submitted the web form and data was collected.
If you’re trying to test the above values by doing form submissions yourself and you don’t fully understand what is happening in the background, it will get confusing very quickly. Indeed some clients have asked me to investigate the tallies above as they believed the report was broken when some of the numbers started declining.
You really need to understand that just closing your browser when trying to affect the above metrics doesn’t fool the xDB into thinking your a different user.
Thanks to xDB cookies the values shown next to the metrics above can actually be reassigned. What I mean by this is if a user is recorded as a dropout and they then return a few hours later to re-submit the form. The tally next to dropouts will actually reduce by one and that value will be added to successful submissions. If you’re trying to test the tally for correctness a drop in some of these counts will leave you scratching your head.
The only guaranteed way for the user to be treated and a unique visitor is to clear your cookies and browser temp data.
A good way to perform these tests is to use “Incognito mode in chrome“. As this will prevent cookies from being stored.
This provides us with an explanation as to why you might see some of the tallies go into the negative. Which makes sense when you realise that dropouts can be converted to successful submissions. How then do we explain when submission attempts drop in number?
Running a few tests on this reveals that when a user is converted from a drop-out to a successful submission, the submission attempts recorded against this user are also adjusted down.
The main takeaway from this is that xDB is clever and knows when the same user returns to a form. It adjusts the tallies in the form report accordingly.
If your marketing department doesn’t care about how well a user is tracked and these tallies confuse them. Let’s say it wants to track the exact number of times a form was submitted (same user or not). You could achieve this independently just by tracking the number of times the thank-you page is loaded.