How to Shape Visitor Behavior Using Event Tracking in Google Analytics

The Event Tracking feature in Google Analytics is a great way to measure how users are interacting with your website content. By just adding a small amount of extra code to each web page or template you can track pretty much any actions that a user takes on a specific page, such as clicks on specific links, downloads or video plays. I guarantee setting up Event Tracking is worth your time and just the process of setting up Event Tracking and examining the possible behaviors that visitors can take on each page will get you thinking about what you really want your visitors to be doing.

If you really want to get a good overview of what’s happening on your website I suggest you track virtually everything, but make sure you have a good organizational structure. To start with an Event is defined by four components;

Category – A name given to a group of events you want to track. Create categories that correspond to the primary templates your website makes use.

Action – A label to specify the action related to an event such as; click, download, play video or scroll.

Label – The label should be something you clearly understand such as “Bottom Inquiry Button” or “Primary Picture.” Make sure that each label within a category is uniquely defined. For example, if you have two links on your product page for “Buy This” I suggest giving them each a separate name based on their relative location on the page.

Value (optional) – You can optionally give a value to each event but I would typically reserve values for Goals and instead think of Events in terms of behaviors rather than micro-conversions.

You can set up event tracking in a variety of ways. This methodology is just a suggestion to get you started thinking about visitor behavior on your website. Just setting up Event Tracking is a good exercise and can get you started thinking about how visitors are flowing through your site and how you can best sculpt visitor flow towards the macro-conversions that you really care about.

Event Categories

Event Categories Correspond to Templates

Let’s run through a quick example of how we might label events on a specific template and start thinking about the optimization process. This example illustrates how we set up event tracking for the sidebar for the blog of Himalayanwonders and we labeled those events.

Event Labelling

Event Labeling on Blog Template

One of the primary goals of the blog is to attract visitors via organic search and then funnel those visitors to our product pages where they can book or inquire. The process of setting up events got us thinking that our current menu is not helping us in that regard. The value of having the Archives links in the sidebar is certainly questionable. Just because the links are their does not mean we want visitor to click on them. This thinking inspired the new side bar design as shown below.

Redesigned Sidebar

Redesigned Sidebar Attracts More Clicks to Tours

Event tracking is super useful for thinking through the navigation options available you have on each template and questioning whether those are the best options to give your visitors. Lots of websites have filled in every bit of whitespace with widget type fillers, but are these really helping you to meet your macro-goals or are they simple distracting your visitors and directing them away from your conversion funnel?

How are you using Event Tracking? Do you have any suggestions on how tracking events can lead to better optimized websites? Let me know and I’ll be sure to respond.

Here are a few things answers to simple questions about events;

  1. Can a single user complete an event more than once? A single user can only trigger one event one time. In other words each event represents a unique action.
  2. How does Event tracking influence the Bounce Rate? If you have an event that executes on a page that page will no longer be counted as a bounce even if the user leaves directly. For example if a user enters the page, plays a video and then exits the website it would no longer be counted a bounce.
  3. Where do I see Events once I log into Google Analytics? You can find events under the Behavior Menu. You need to add the code for tracking events before you will start to see any data.
  4. What else can I track look at events? You can use event tracking for just about everything. A few examples might be tracking actions like how many visitors scrolled down a page, how long visitors watched a video or how many visitors closed your pop-up. The example in this blog post looks at sculpting overall traffic flows towards your macro goals but Event tracking can be just as useful when optimizing elements of a single page.

Suggested Reading –
http://www.optimizesmart.com/event-tracking-guide-google-analytics-simplified-version – A complete overview of how to setup and implement events in Google Analytics.

https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/gajs/eventTrackerGuide – How to guide for setting up Events.

About David Urmann

David Urmann is an entrepreneur and avid traveler. He keeps an authoritative expertise on many subjects including SEO, SEM, UI/UX Optimization. An avid traveler and a guide book writer Dr. Urmann is the founder of Touristlink.com one of the world's most active social travel networks.

  • vikasford

    Nice Article Sir. I would like to suggest, heat maps from SumoMe toolset, which enables us to see in realtime, the behaviour pattern and other analytics which is not provided by Google.

    • http://www.davidurmann.com David Urmann

      Hi Vikas.. thanks for the comments. Event tracking lets us not only individual pages but templates as well. Google features In page Analytics that show click through rates visually on specific pages without requiring the user to set up a separate tracking code or pay for additional services.