Tools to Help Organize Google Analytics Events

I love event tracking. If you’ve never used Google Analytics event tracking here’s what you need to know:

Event tracking is a flexible, data collection mechanism that you can use to track almost anything. From video players, to mortgage calculators, to mobile apps, events are a way to collect and count visitor actions. While the data may seem simplistic, it’s valuable insight into visitor behavior.

But event tracking can be hard to implement, especially if you don’t know how to code. Even if you do know how to code, managing a larget amount of events can be a challenge. I wanted to push out a couple of tools to make implementing and maintaining events easier.

A Quick Review of Google Analytics Events

There are five parts to an event: category, action, label, value and a flag that controls interactivity.

  • Category: The category is at the top of the hierarchy. It’s a way to bundle visitor activity together. It encompassed all of the other event data.
  • Action: The action is literally what the visitor does. In our video player example some potential actions might be: play, pause, share, get embed link, etc.
  • Label: Provides a bit more information about the visitor’s action. For example, if you are using events to track a video player you might record the movie name as the label when an action occurs. That provides more context to what the visitor is doing.
  • Value: Any positive integer value. It’s a number. You can use it to count things, like dollars or seconds. If you choose to use your event as a goal, then you can specify that Google Analytics use the event value as the goal value.

The last event setting is a bit different. It’s called non-interactive and it is used to alter how Google Analytics interprets the event data. Normally, when an event is sent to Google Analytics, the system recognizes the user as interacting with the site. So it records that the visit is NOT a bounce, even if the visitor only sees one page.

But there may be a case where you want to track the visitor interactions with events AND bounces. In those cases you can set the non-interactive value to true and GA will still count a bounce.

Setting up an event is a four step process:

  1. 1. Design your event data (ie write down you categories, actions, labels, etc.)
  2. 2. Identify where you need to put the event code
  3. 3. Add the code to the appropriate places of your site (or app, or whatever)
  4. 4. Analyze data

My goal with the tools below is to help you with step 1, and to some extent step 2. But remember, you need to add this code to the correct parts of your site.

Event Creator Tool

Below is an Event Code creator. I wanted to create something where anyone can enter in their values for an event and have the code automatically generated. If you’ve ever used the Google Analytics Link Tagging tool then you’ll be able to use the Event Creator.

Remember, you’ll still need to attach this code to the appropriate place to capture the visitor action.

[iFrame below, if you can’t see it please visit the site.]

In addition to the standard event data, you can select added a few formatting options:

  • Force Lowercase: This setting forces the event values to lowercase. This can increase the consistency of your data by making everything the same case. You don’t need to force everything to lowercase, but make sure you’re consistent!
  • Replace White Space: This setting will strip out all of your white spaces. Again, this is not necessary, but it can make your data more uniform.

This tool may seem very simplistic, but it is a very good learning tool. If you’re trying to show someone how to take an event from idea to code this can be very useful.

Event Management Worksheet

If you run a large site, then you probably work with a lot of events. As a result the event creator tool is not very useful. It just doesn’t scale.

A good alternative is using a Google Doc with an embedded formula. It does the same thing as the form above, but you can crag the formula to create a lot of code quickly. You can enter all the standard event values, then drag the forumla in column F to create the event code. You can also add a description of what the event does and a note about where in the code the event should be placed.

[iFrame below, if you can’t see it please visit the site.]

I personally like to do this with a Google Spreadsheet, so I can share it with other people at a company. But you can use the “other” spreadsheet program if you like :)

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    1. Eric Bernhard says

      Hey Justin,
      Great post, is there a black and white definition of when to use virtual pageviews vs events? in my eyes, events are really for flash interactions, ive seen events used to capture a onsite banner or nav click, however i usually use the url builder to track internal clicks like that. Is one better than the other for segmentation? sorry for any typos im on my mobile…

      • says

        @Eric: With the introduction of the Flow Visualization, and the Event Flow reports, the line between using events and virtual pageviews has become a bit more blurry. There is one metric in GA that is depended on virtual pageviews: Abandonment rate. Abandonment rate is based on goal starts, which do not exist for events.

        By the way, do NOT use the URL builder to track internal banners. You’re actually inflating your visit count by doing that.


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