Advanced Google Analytics Event Tracking

advanced google analytics event tracking man at computer

If you only ever use the out-of-the-box version of Google Analytics, you’ll get some valuable information but you’ll be missing out on so much more. One of the best ways to take Google Analytics to the next level is with event tracking. Through this article I’ll discuss the top three events to track and then provide information on Google Analytics event tracking best practices.

Google Analytics event tracking lets you measure different ways people engage when they are visiting your website. By default, the only engagement metric Google Analytics provides is the pages people went to—that is interesting and helpful, but incomplete. To get a better picture of how people use your website, you want to know everything else people do when they are visiting your website’s pages.

With advanced Google Analytics event tracking, you can answer questions such as:

  • Do people scroll down the page?
  • How much time do people spend on a page?
  • Which links do people click?
  • Do people click the call to action buttons?
  • Do people use your navigation?
  • Which videos do people watch?
  • How much of the video do people watch?
  • Do people scroll through that image carousel?
  • Do people read comments?
  • Do people expand accordions?

And more. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Top 3 Events To Track

At Elementive, we regularly help people configure advanced event tracking on their website to help them get more out of Google Analytics. Here are three events we find can be the most helpful to track. If you’d like configuring any of those for your website, contact me today to get these (and others) setup on your website.

User Experience Events

There are a few fundamental pieces to every website’s user experience, including scrolling and the time people spend using your website. In this UX Event Tracking script from Elementive, you can measure:

  1. The time people spent on the website or on a particular page
  2. The way people scrolled through each page of your website, or if they scrolled to key areas of a website
  3. The way people browse through your website and the time it takes people to browse.

Download the code or get more information about how this script works.

Link Clicks

Another critical part of a website’s user experience is clicking or tapping on links. To better understand how people use our website, we want to know every link people click on. This is especially true for important links on our website—like links taking people to a checkout page or a lead generation form.

You could setup event tracking for each individual link, but there is a better way. There is an event tracking script you can use to automatically track clicks to every link on your website. Download the code today.

Form Errors

Nearly every website relies on some type of form to help people convert—whether that is a checkout form on an ecommerce website or a lead generation form. However, not everybody will be able to complete the form successfully and, in order to improve your website, you need to know about the errors people encounter on your forms.

We can fire an event tracking script every time an error returns back to the visitor. For example, we could fire this script every time a visitor sees an error message indicating that their phone number was blank. That way, in Google Analytics, we can track just how many people ran into this particular issue. If it is a lot of people, then we know we have a problem to fix on our website.

ga('send','event','Contact Form','Error','Phone blank')

More Information

I covered these event tracking scripts, in my presentation at MozCon 2017. Check out the slide deck for more information and context about these three advanced event tracking scripts.

Google Analytics Event Tracking Best Practices

As you begin setting up event tracking on your website, there are a few general tips and tricks to keep in mind.

  1. Track everything about users interact. You may not need the data right away, but down the road chances are good somebody at your company will begin to question if people read that page, watch that video, or use some other feature. Setup the event tracking early so that you have the data to answer these questions when they arise.
  2. Track macro/micro events. Too often, it is easy to only track the macro events on your website. For example, did people submit a form. Remember to also track the micro events, like the example above of tracking form errors. Sometimes you need to change the macro ways people interact, but more commonly, you can improve the experience with small tweaks to the micro ways people interact.
  3. Prioritize which events matter. As you begin amassing event data, the event reports can quickly become overwhelming. Don’t let this happen to you. Stay clear on which events matter most and which events you want to focus on improving first. For example, even if you track how many people click links to download PDFs, you may not necessarily need to work to increase the number of people downloading those PDFs.
  4. Use descriptive categories, actions, and labels. There are three parts to an event: the category, the action, and the label. When configuring your own events, make sure each part has clear and descriptive text. The last thing you want is an event that says “Clicks” on “Pages” because that will leave you useless data and lots of unanswered questions.
  5. Decide how event tracking affects the bounce rate. Event tracking by default will lower your bounce rate. For some types of events this might be okay—for instance, you might want to say that people spending over a minute on a page no longer count as a bounce even if they were to leave without looking at another page. For other types of events you may not want to affect the bounce rate—for example, just because somebody scrolled you may not want to reduce the bounce rate.

Setup Advanced Google Analytics Event Tracking

Contact me today to take your analytics to the next level with advanced Google Analytics event tracking. Or, if you’d like to learn more about analytics, check out my course with O’Reilly on how to use event tracking.