Understanding Google Analytics: Event Tracking

In this post, we’ll explore the importance of event tracking with Google Analytics. Events are a perfect way to measure the success of your site and are seen as the “future” of analytics. Whereas Goals & Conversions function on a “page-view” mindset, Event Tracking is much more user-experience focused. In GA, events are treated as interactions and are independent from specific webpages. They will help you track what’s most important to your business.

WHAT IS EVENT TRACKING?

Directly linked to Goals and Conversions, Event Tracking does exactly what it says—it tracks users’ interaction with specific events (actions) on your site. Some examples of events that can be tracked are the downloading of a PDF or other file, interaction with embedded videos, clicks to external links, and call to action buttons. While just about anything can be tracked on your website, it is crucial that you are tracking and paying attention to the most relevant actions—the ones that will most directly measure the effectiveness of your online marketing. 

DEFINING SUCCESS

In Google Analytics, Event Tracking is set up by attaching specific tracking code to the particular element (button, text link, etc.) that you want to track. There are three primary components to this code—category, action and label. By defining these elements up front, you are essentially defining the success that the particular event can and will have. Using the example of an annual report PDF download let’s look at what each component means.

Category
This is the generic name of the group of objects you want to track. In reference to the PDF download, the category title for this event can simply be “PDF Download.”

Action
Actions are always paired to a specific category and can speak to a more specific type of user interaction. Using our annual report PDF example, the action title for this event could be “Annual Report.”

Label
Attributing labels to events is optional, but recommended. Labels add another dimension with which to present the event data. In our example, the label would be specific to the actual PDF that is being downloaded. So, if it’s the January 2012 report, the label can be the actual file name of the downloaded file (i.e. 2012January-Annual-Report.pdf).

This is just one, very basic example of how you can use Event Tracking within Google Analytics. Event Tracking is a perfect way to determine trends of where your users are navigating. Over time, with a healthy practice of Google Analytics, these trends will translate into educated design changes on your site as well as recommendations for future events.   

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
  • What do I want my users to experience and accomplish on my website?
  • How can my website be a means of defining business success?
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