The Use Case for Google Analytics Events and Event Goals
Updated: Apr 15
CXL Institute Digital Analytics Mini Degree Post #3
Have you ever wondered how long a visitor viewed a video on your site? How about how far down a user scrolled on your homepage? Questions like these are nearly impossible to answer without the help of expensive third-party software or – if you’re smart – the help of a free Google Analytics account and well-setup event goals.
Last week, we talked about duration goals, pages per session goals and destination goals with use cases for each type. This week, we’ll dive into the last goal type, event goals, and the seemingly endless opportunities it provides to discover valuable insights about your website users. Furthermore, we’ll take a quick look at reporting features as well as some excellent advice from Chris “Mercer” Mercer on analyzing Analytics reporting. Let’s get right into it!
Events vs. Event Goals
Before diving into event goals, let’s pinpoint what events are specifically because events and event goals are slightly different in scope. An event in Google Analytics, as Mercer puts it, is simply a behavior that the SEO wants tracked in the Analytics account. Analytics must be told to store the behavior information, which can be done via Google Tag Manager or done with the help of a developer (more on that in another blog post). The interesting part about events is that each event can be drilled down for deeper insights. Events can be sorted into a hierarchy by event category, event action and event label. The event category is the overarching theme of the action and label. You can narrow down further to event action which typically defines a certain action taken or perhaps where the action took place. Lastly, labels can simply narrow down the information even further with insights on scroll depth, landing pages, video view time and more.
When you set up an event goal, you must predefine the conditions to ensure the goal itself fires. The goal must include X category, Y action and Z label, and the goal simply fires whenever the event category, event action and event label line up per your conversion setup. Let’s look at a quick example of an event and an event goal.
Perhaps your Chief Marketing Officer reaches out to you and asks, “Hey which campaign are most of our leads coming from and can we track which landing page is producing the most leads of that best-performing campaign?” Unfortunately, without some fine-tuning in the event tab (under behavior) you won’t have much luck. You reach out to your dev team to try and get a few events running and you can set it up as such. The category for this event will be leads – since it’s what’s being tracked in the long run – and because you have numerous marketing campaigns running at one time, you give them the names of last month’s five best-performing campaigns: Techucate Thursdays, Teaching Tuesdays, Booksmart Mondays, Techucate Consulting 101 and How-To Guide to Referral Traffic. These campaigns will be your event actions. As such with large-scale marketing campaigns, a few of these campaigns have multiple landing pages that need to be tracked as well, so you ask the devs to add each landing page per campaign as an event label. After letting the events run for a few weeks, you’re able to see that Techucate Thursdays and the landing page lp/techucate-thursdays/courses gets the most engagement and conversions in your landing page report.
From there, you can create a goal to fire with the following components: event category = leads, event action = Techucate Thursday and event label = lp/techucate-thursdays/courses. Now you not only have an event set up for further tracking of all leads, but you can keep a closer eye on your highest-performing page with an event goal per your CMO’s request.
As an SEO, I’ve spent a lot of time milling around in Google Analytics, and I can tell you from personal experience that it’s very easy to get lost. I’ve hopped into the all pages tab to look at a page with the highest pageview count only to get lost into a deep hole of “Why isn’t that other landing page getting as many views as I thought it would?” Mercer brought up an extremely valid acronym in his lesson that will hopefully help you refrain from getting too lost as you search through Analytics reporting for answers. That acronym is QIA. QIA stands for question, information and action or as Mercer likes to prioritize it:
The action is the most important part of the equation – even if that’s simply deciding that no true action needs to be taken – but inevitably all reporting searches need to start with a question or you’re just searching for information aimlessly across Google Analytics. I can tell you – that’s no fun. So let’s look at this in action a bit. Let’s say you work for an e-commerce store that sells standing desks, and your Chief Marketing Officer reaches out to you and asks, “Do you think we should invest more of our time on LinkedIn social traffic or Facebook social traffic in our lead generation campaigns?” With your question in tow, you start looking for the information to build your assertions and figure out the answer.
First, you look at overall user traffic from LinkedIn and Facebook to see which of the two sends more traffic to the site. Surprisingly, it appears to be Facebook, but you need to dig a little deeper. You look at which specific social channel produces the most leads for your team and see that it’s LinkedIn. Lastly, you look at the bounce rate of individuals from Facebook vs. LinkedIn and realize that it’s 89% to 45% despite there being fewer users from LinkedIn in aggregate. At this point, knowing that the traffic gains more leads and has a lower bounce rate, you can suggest to your CMO that LinkedIn traffic garners the more valuable traffic of the two.
Let’s look at one final example from Mercer. Mercer’s team wanted to know if they should invest time in redesigning their mobile website. Overall, the mobile website wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t optimized to be the very best it could be. If they decided to do so, it would take a decent amount of time and effort from the development team. Before diving into a project with that wide of a scope, they wanted to understand if it was worth it to begin with. Mercer checked out his all pages report and set the secondary dimension to device category to split up the traffic based on desktop, mobile or tablet over the past year. He quickly realized that only 8 percent of his traffic came through mobile, which meant there’s no real rush to push for a mobile site redesign if no one is using it. As mentioned before, sometimes the best action is no action at all.
This week I’d like to give the readers a little homework. We’ll be talking about Google Chrome SEO-friendly extensions in next week’s blog post, so in the meantime I’d like you to check out these four extensions we’ll detail further next week. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of platforms like SEMRush or Screaming Frog over anything else, but these Chrome extensions have widened my eyes to even further possibilities among SEO auditing for clients.
Confused on how to create event goals? How are you analyzing reports? We’d love to hear how you’re optimizing your Analytics account to better suit your business. Otherwise, thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more insights next week!