Events in Google Analytics: What are they and should you use them?
When you had just started using Google Analytics, it may have felt overwhelming. There are so many different types of data you can find, and you need to learn how to analyze all of this information. But then, one day, there is an action on the website you want to track, and you cannot find the right data. The odds are high that you need to create a separate Event to track this action. But what exactly are Events?
What are Events in Google Analytics?
Google Analytics tells you a lot about user behavior, but, in essence, it mostly tells you about which pages are being visited within your domain. Events, which can be found under the “Behavior” section of Google Analytics, are used to track user interactions that do not involve going to another page within the same domain. An Event can be used to track when a user clicks on a certain area of your webpage. You use Google Tag Manager to create a tag that is linked to a certain trigger. For example, whenever a person clicks on the button with the text “Subscribe now”, the tag is triggered and added to your Events in Google Analytics.
When do I use Events in Google Analytics?
You might be asking yourself why it is useful to track these clicks. The truth is that if you ask this question, it is probably not useful for you. If you’ve got a webshop and there are separate pages for every part of the buying process, you do not need to use Events to track the user’s behavior. If, however, you use a “thank you” pop-up instead of a “thank you” page, then you do need to create an Event. After all, the pop-up does not send you to a different page, which means that it is not automatically tracked. Whether or not Events are useful for you depends on the structure of your website and the conversions that can be made.
In general, you create an Event when you want to track one of the following actions:
- A button that leads to a pop-up (Send form, Subscribe now, Contact us, etc.).
- A button that leads to a different domain. This mostly happens when your online (client) platform is hosted on a different domain than your website.
- Phone calls from your website.
- Links to social media from your websites.
- Tracking how many times people clicked on the play button of a video.
- Any other redirect or click that you want to track, but does not lead to a separate page within your domain.
What are the three elements of Event tracking in Google Analytics?
When you create an “Event” tag in Google Tag Manager, there are three parameters that you have to fill in. These parameters are used to organize the data gathered by the different tags. The parameters that you need to fill in are “Category,” “Action,” and “Label”. In the picture below, you can see what the parameters look like in Google Tag Manager.
The parameters are linked to the “Event” section in Google Analytics. Whatever you write as parameters will be shown in Google Analytics underneath the corresponding dimension. You can add one of the other parameters as a secondary dimension. In the picture below, you can see what the parameters look like in Google Analytics.
When you fill in the parameters, it’s best to create a structure that’s easy to understand for you. What I always aim to do is write something broad for “Category,” something less broad for “Action,” and something specific for “Label.” For example, let’s say that on a website you’ve got two contact forms, one on the main page and one on the contact page. On this website, you also have redirects to Facebook and Instagram, and two redirects to the websites of companies you’ve got a partnership with. You want to see not only how many visitors go to another place through your website, but also how many of these go to social media, or, even more specifically, to Facebook. The structure in this case would be as follows:
- Submit form
- Contact Form
- Social media redirect
- Other websites’ redirects
- Contact form on the homepage
- Contact form on the contact page
- Facebook redirect
- Instagram redirect
- Redirect website example 1
- Redirect website example 2
A real-life example of an Event being used in Google Analytics
The following happened with one of our clients. They’ve got a big company in the Caribbean, and we created a new website for them. While the corresponding web developer was talking about the features of the website, I was mostly in the meeting to show them the first results of their website analytics.
There is a call to action on their homepage that leads to a client platform, hosted on a different domain. Their main question was: How many visitors went to their website just to get to their client platform? Since it’s hosted on a different domain, Google Tag Manager had to be used to collect this data.
Since they’ve also got several redirects and the option to call their phone number from the home page, I decided to create several tags linked to different Events. I’m not going to disclose the name of the client, which is why I created censor bars for the first two Events (which are a button that leads to the client platform and a button that leads to a sister company), but you do see how the events are giving them exactly the insights that they were looking for. You can see the picture below for the results.
And that’s how you use Events in Google Analytics. If your website is set up with one domain for every action you want to track, Google Analytics will be sufficient. If, however, you’ve got redirects, downloads, or pop-ups, it is recommended to use Events to get better insights into your website’s performance. So, what is the structure of your website? Do you need to start tracking the website activities discussed in this blog?