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Best Practices for Event Tracking in Google Analytics


Google Analytics Training

Event Tracking is a very powerful tool available in Google Analytics that allows you to see exactly how people interact with your website.  It is used when something happens on a website that you want to track that is not available with the built-in metrics in analytics, such as pageviews.  Clicking play to watch a video is one example of when Event Tracking might be used.  On the other hand, if the user does something that you consider equivalent to a pageview, but a new URL is not generated, then you would use Virtual Pageviews instead.

The problem with Event Tracking occurs when it is not set up with fairly strict guidelines. In these cases, the results are a lot of data in the analytics account that can be difficult to sort out.  A little planning with your team can help you start off on the right track to make the most of this powerful option.  Here are a few things to keep in mind before you implement Event Tracking on your website.

Track Things That Aren’t Tracked Elsewhere

Many things on your site, such as “number of users”, are built-in with Google Analytics and do not require any special set-up with Event Tracking.  Simply put, if it is already being tracked in an existing area of analytics, you do not want to set up Event Tracking to get at that metric.

Think Big Picture for the Categories

Before you get caught up in all the details, think first about the types of things someone can interact with on your site.  A common category is videos.  However, if you have several types of videos on your site, you may want to be specific with your video categories.

For example, let’s say visitors have the option to learn more about your product through sales videos and can visit another section to watch training videos, two very different categories.  To differentiate these, you could have a category of “Video – Sales” which are promotional ones for prospects.  The second category of “Video – Training” will likely attract current customers who are interested in learning more about how to use your products.  If these two different types of viewers are important, then split your video tracking to these separate categories.  If just knowing  a user interacted with any video is enough information, then you can keep the single Event Category of “Video”, rather than splitting by “Sales” and “Training”.  Remember to define metrics based on what matters to your specific business.

Be Very Clear with Your Actions

Clicking is clearly a desirable action, however, it does not properly describe the details about that action which can make it difficult to sort through the data when you look at the Event Action overview.

Instead of “Click” as an action when people click to access a form, you can call it “Click Form”.  Rather than “View” for viewing any video, consider separate actions of  “View Video A”, “View Video B”, etc. When the action name is very descriptive, you will not have questions about what exactly a user clicks on.

Also note that if you have the action of “View” for both videos, there is only one unique action of View recorded in your account even though two different actions occurred.  Your user viewed video A, then viewed video B.  Those are two unique actions.  To track these as two unique actions, you’ll want to be more descriptive with your Event Actions.

Similar to the explanation with Categories above, if you only want to know that an action of “View” happened at some point, then you can keep the single action of “View” and not worry about differentiating what was viewed with separate actions, such as “View Video A” and “Video Video B”.  How detailed to get with your names depends on how you granular you want to get with the resulting data.  The key is to develop a system that makes sense for your goals and be consistent with it.

Labels are the Specifics

Labels are when you are really getting into the detail about the action performed by the user.  Here is where you specify exactly what the interaction was about, such as the title of a video.  Although it is an optional field, it can be helpful in further describing your data.

Google Analytics Configuration Tool

And finally, there’s the Google Analytics Configuration Tool to help you find your way.  Event Tracking is definitely an advanced feature that requires some JavaScript to implement.  And the data can definitely be complex when you get into this detail.  However, when you take time to first implement some of these best practices, the resulting data will be much more user friendly and valuable to the marketing team.

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