What’s the best way to explain a web session to your client?

Use the mall analogy the next time you client ask a question about their analytics report.

A marketer is managing a digital ad campaign that has just ended. He analyzes the data, builds the report, and is ready to present his findings to the client. The marketer presents out “Your sessions have increased and…..” After a quick glance the client ask “What’s a session?”. Uh oh!!! here’s where things get interesting. How should the marketer explain this without being too technical and spewing out a ball of marketing buzz words?

The reason I believe this questioning happens is usually when web sessions and page views are being compared. Page views are always higher than sessions. To the client the attraction of high numbers is all that matters but it’s important to explain the value of other metrics that drive those numbers.

Here’s how Google explains a web session by definition.

Session image explained by Google

Soooo what’s the best way to think of a web session?……Go shopping at the mall.

Mall map for context

It’s a Monday and you decide to visit the mall (visit a website and the session begins). Next you decide to visit your favorite shoe store within the mall (a page visit) You spend time about 30 minutes trying on shoes (event) , walking in them (event), then making a purchase (goal).

Your next visit is a department store (page visit)to try some perfume (event), you spend about 15 minutes doing that then leave.

Next you visit the food court to eat (page visit), purchase food (event or possible goal), then spend about 45 minutes to relax, eat, and then you leave.

Remembering you have to get a gift for a friend’s birthday. You visit a gift shop for 5 minutes then leave. Then you visit a jewelry shop to take a look at lockets and brackets.(events) After 20 minutes you decide to purchase a braclet (goal) then leave.

After some light shopping therapy, you call it a day and leave the mall (web session has ended)

Now let’s summarize your session.

Web session starts — Enter mall

Shoe Store- Page view

Events — try on shoes and walking in them
Goal — make a purchase
Session Duration — 30

Department Store — Page view

Event — try perfume
Session duration — 15 minutes

Food Court — Page view

Events — eat
Goal — purchase food
Session duration — 45 minutes

Gift shop — Page view

Session duration — 5 minutes

Jewlery store — Page view

Events — looking at lockets and bracelets
Goal — Purchase bracelet
Page duration — 45 minutes

Web session ends — leave mall

Total Session duration — 2 hours 20 minutes
Pageviews — 5 (store visits)

So when it comes to understanding and explain a web session you can make a comparison to shopping at the mall.

Here’s a caveat, by default sessions expire every 30 minutes of inactivity. In the case of the mall visit, activity is happening with each store visit so the session doesn’t end.

Shelling is what they call me. A forward thinker debugging life's code line by line. Creator, crossfitter, developer, engineer

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