A look at the importance of using Google Analytics' custom events - with examples
Google Analytics has many useful features, but one that is often overlooked is custom event tracking. This is unfortunate considering the valuable insights custom events can provide about user behaviour on websites. Ultimately a better understanding of which elements of a website are used the most facilitates the creation of better user experiences.
UXB set-up custom event tracking on all the websites we build. The insights gained help us improve site performance for clients and inform the design and build of future sites.
So why are custom events so important?
Useful scenarios for custom events
Custom event tracking can be used to monitor how many visitors follow links to document downloads such as forms or brochures. This can be especially useful when combined with goals to monitor conversions where the downloading of a document is a call to action on a webpage.
Clicks on links to social media pages
This not only tells you how useful your users find these social media links overall but also which channel they're most interested in.
Form opens vs. submissions
If you've got a form on your website such as a contact or booking form then it's valuable to understand how many people are submitting the form as a proportion of form opens. This can be done easily with custom events, which can also enable you to track whether users started but didn't complete a form and, if so, at which point they abandon the form. This will enable you to improve your website's forms to reduce abandonment rates.
Use of content filters
Where a section of a website provides a way of filtering content, such as with a drop down list or links to tags, custom events can be used to track how widely used these filters are but also which filters are the most popular. This will give you a better understanding of what content is of most interest to website visitors and may lead you to want to promote certain content outside of the filtered content or change the focus of your content strategy.
Interaction with slideshows
These days slideshows are a widely used feature on websites but how do you know how useful they are to your users without tracking interactions with them? Using custom events it's possible to track usage of slideshow previous, next, and control buttons. Clicks on links within slideshows could also be tracked as well as time spent with the mouse cursor hovered over the slideshow (there's a strong correlation between where a user positions their cursor and where they're looking on the screen).
Custom event tracking in Google Analytics is a powerful tool for understanding website usage. The data which these events provide can be invaluable for improving the user experience of website visitors. Considering how easy it is to track interactions with page widgets using custom events they should be considered an essential part of developing a new website. After all if you can't show how useful an element on a webpage is to your users then what's it doing there?
Configuring custom events requires a degree of technical knowledge and access to a website's source code. Detailed instructions can be found on Google Developers website.
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