Using Event Tracking In Google Analytics

Using Google Analytics is a great way to understand your website’s visitors. By default, Google Analytics collects data about the pages a person visits on your site. But, there are actions that a person may take on your website that you may also want to collect data about.

Maybe, you have an opt-in form on your website so people can subscribe to an email list and this form is a vital part of your sales funnel. Or, there may be videos on your site, and you want to know which videos are played the most. This is where event tracking comes in.

Not familiar with Google Analytics? You should probably check out my “Getting Started with Google Analytics” article first.

What is Event Tracking?

Screenshot of the "Overview" page inside the "Events" section of Google Analytics. Shows a line chart of number of events over the month.

Events are a specific action someone may take on your website that gets sent to Google Analytics. For example, there is a popup on this site where you could subscribe to a structured, 6-day email course on Google Analytics. When you submit the form, an event is sent to Google Analytics.

This allows me to see an aggregate view of which channels are sending the most people who sign up for the email course which helps me optimize the experience better.

Instead of a form, you might have a video on your page that you want users to watch. Many video players allow you to send an event when someone starts watching a video and when they watch the whole video. So, you could see the percent of users who watch the video and compare that based on where they came from and which pages they visited on your site.

Using event tracking in Google Analytics is a great way to add data about what actions are happening on your website to your reports. Click To Tweet

If you have a contact form or a “get a quote” form on your site, you could send an event when someone submits the form. This is beneficial when you want to see which acquisition channels are sending the most users that are submitting your form.

Then, you can see how these users go on to make purchases on your sites to optimize and test different strategies for improving the process of taking a new user through the purchase.

The Parts of an Event

Each event has a few elements to it to help you compare and track different types of events. These are the category, action, and label.

Event Category

This is a way to group a set of events together. For example, all of my content upgrades use the category of “Content Upgrades”. This could also be “survey”, “videos”, “pdf”, etc…

Event Action

This is the specific action the user has taken on your site that you want to track. For my content upgrade, I use “download”. For my email opt-ins, I use “subscribed”. Some other examples could be “downloaded”, “play”, and “stop”.

Event Label

Event labels allow you to send over some additional information about the event. If you have more than one of the category on your site, this may be an excellent way to identify which has been interacted with.

An Example

If you have multiple PDF’s on your site, you may use “pdf” as your category and “downloaded” as your action for all of them. You would then use the label to identify each of them. So, for the PDFs, you may have labels of “My eBook”, “Meal Plan”, and “Case Studies”.

Let’s say you had a video in the header of your website called “Getting Started” and then another video in the content of your website called “Why Use Us”. You could structure your events like this:

  • Getting Started Video
    • Event Category: Video
    • Event Action: Play
    • Event Label: Getting Started
  • Why Use Us
    • Event Category: Video
    • Event Action: Play
    • Event Label: Why Use Us

Reviewing the Data

Screenshot from the "Top Events" page showing the top 3 event categories in a table with a column for total events.

Once you have events being sent to Google Analytics, the events can be seen in the “Behavior” section. In the screen above, I went to the “Top Events” section to see the top events on the WP Health website. You can add a secondary dimension to see where the user came from.

Or, you can click on one of the “Event Categories” to get a report of all the actions within that category. Then, add a secondary dimension to review those actions such as in the screenshot below where I am reviewing just the event of someone clicking the “Start Your Free Trial” button.

Screenshot of a report in Google Analytics with the "Event Action" as the primary dimension and "Source/Medium" as the secondary dimension.

If you are running paid ads, such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads, and your primary objective is to get leads to fill out a form, event tracking is useful in determining which ads or platforms are getting you the most leads for the least money.

How to Use Event Tracking

Since event tracking requires some specific code that is unique to each action on your site, it can be challenging to add event tracking yourself. Luckily, most software and features you use usually have an event tracking option built-in.

For example, I use a WordPress plugin to create content upgrades. In the settings for the plugin, there is an option that I can turn on that allows the plugin to send an event to Google Analytics when someone submits the content upgrade form.

Screenshot of a setting in the content upgrades plugin labeled "Fire a Google Analytics event when content upgrades are submitted".

I use Ninja Forms to create forms on one of my sites. Most form plugins, such as Ninja Forms or Caldera Forms, have settings (sometimes in the free version and sometimes as a paid option) to turn on event tracking.

I also use Drip for some of my email marketing. My opt-in form allows users to enter their email address to subscribe to the mailing list. The Drip settings will enable me to configure an event that is sent to Google Analytics when someone submits the opt-in form.

Screenshot of a setting in Drip labelled "Send an event to Google Analytics upon submission" with a help tip of "Look for events with the event category "Drip Opt-in Form".

Most email marketing platforms have a similar option.

If you are using YouTube videos, you can use the Google Tag Manager to set up a “YouTube Video” trigger.

What’s Next?

The next step you will want to take is to look through the various elements and products you use to see if there are settings for enabling event tracking. For most email list providers, eCommerce platforms, and form builders, there are usually options for turning on event tracking.

Next, if some of the events are part of a secondary or primary goal of the site, you could set up a goal in Google Analytics which would allow you to see the conversion percentage within many of your other reports.

Also, if you are not using UTM?s yet, be sure to check out my “Not Using UTMs? You Should Start Right Now!” article.

How to Track Your Conversions in Google Analytics

In a previous post I wrote an introduction to Google Analytics. In that introduction I discussed why you would want to use it and how to set up UTM’s to learn more about what is driving the traffic to your site. The next step in using Google Analytics is to set up your conversions so you can see what traffic is driving users to your site and how many of these users are converting into customers, subscribers, or any other goal you have.

What Conversions Can Google Analytics Track?

There are a variety of ways that Google can see if your users are converting. Some are easier than others while others may require you to use some code. For My Local Webstop, I offer a free consultation for anyone considering signing up for our service. I then track that in Google Analytics so I can see which source of traffic is leading to the most consultations. For Quiz And Survey Master, I track eCommerce purchases as a conversion and report to Google how much the customer spent. This allows me to see what source of traffic is bringing in the most revenue. You can see an example of how I could use this data in the image below:

Google Analytics Channel Revenue Example

In the image above, I am comparing the different links throughout my Quiz And Survey Master plugin to see what links convert the most users into customers.

How Can Setting Up Conversions Help?

Before you set up your conversions, you probably want to know why you would even want to. Lets look at my example with Quiz And Survey Master above. It’s nice to be able to see the revenue in Google Analytics, but how does that actually help me? Using the UTM’s that I discussed in my introduction to Google Analytics, I can compare the ways people are reaching my site. Now I can combine that with my conversions and acquisition data to see what drives the most users to my site that convert into paying customers.

Google Analytics Channel Revenue

If we look at the acquisition data, we see that more people are coming to the site through searches than emails. However, since we track eCommerce for this site, we can see that people coming from emails actually convert almost 35x compared to people coming from search. We can then use this data to optimize our sales funnel.

Using goals and eCommerce tracking will reveal sources of traffic that convert better than others. Click To Tweet

There are a few ways to set up conversions in Google Analytics. We can track if a user reaches a destination URL, how long the user stays on the site, the amount of pages per session, an event, eCommerce transactions, and more.

Setting Up Goal URLS

Destination URLs are the easiest goal to set up. You can set a destination URL for a purchase confirmation page or a sign-up confirmation page to easily track users that make it to those pages. To do so, log into your Google Analytics account and go to the “Admin” page which should look like this:

Google Analytics Admin

From here, choose your View and then click on “Goals”. On the new page, click the “New Goal” button. You will land on a “Goal Setup” page like in the image below.

Google Analytics Goal Setup

From here, choose the template that is closest to what you are tracking. In this example, I will choose “Place an order”. Select your template and then click “Continue”. Now we can select what type of goal this is like in the image below.

Google Analytics Goal Description

Here is where you can choose what type of goal this is. To track the URL, we are going to select “Destination”. If you wanted to set a goal for how long the user is on the site, you can select “Duration”. If you wanted to set a goal for how many pages the user viewed during their session, select “Pages/Screens per session”. The “Event” type is useful if you want to tell Google exactly when a user performs an action. For example, instead of setting this goal as “Destination”, we could send an event to Google Analytics when the user purchases an item, subscribes to our newsletter, watches a video, and more. I won’t be going into events in this post, but if this sounds like something you are after, check out this great article on WP Beginner about event tracking in WordPress.

Google Analytics Goal Details

The last thing to do is to tell Google Analytics what URL to watch for. Enter your URL into the “Destination” section. In this case, I am telling Google to look for If you want to assign a value to the conversion, you can do so using the “Value” option.

Be sure to click “Verify this Goal” if you have already had users get to that page to make sure you have your goal set up correctly. Once you are finished, click the “Save” button and you are ready to start tracking your goals!

Setting Up eCommerce

Sometimes, you want to know more than just if a user has successfully reached a goal. For example, in my image above, I showed how I can see the amount of revenue certain links and sources have brought in. This is done using the eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics. If you sell anything on your site, you should consider turning on eCommerce tracking to see what sources of traffic bring in the most revenue. The first step is to turn on the eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics. To do so, simply go to the “Admin” page and click on “eCommerce Settings” in your View.

Google Analytics eCommerce Settings

From here, simply switch the “Status” to “ON” like in the image above and you are all set to start gathering transaction data. Unfortunately, since there are hundreds of eCommerce solutions out there, I cannot show how to send the data for every platform. However, most of the popular solutions have a setting for this. For example, WooCommerce has an addon for this called WooCommerce Google Analytics Pro. Or, if you are already using Monster Insights for tracking your Google Analytics in WordPress, they have an eCommerce Addon which integrates with both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads. If you are using any other platform, usually a quick Google search for your platform and “Google Analytics eCommerce Tracking” will get you to the right solution.

What’s Next?

Now that you have your goals and eCommerce set up, you will want to start looking at your data to compare what sources of traffic are sending the most users who are converting. From here, you will know what to focus your efforts on or what to work on improving.