Intro to Google Analytics Event Tracking for eCommerce

25 minutes

Learn why event tracking is so critical for eCommerce brands that want to understand more about user behavior and increase conversion rates.

Brad Redding

Brad Redding is the Founder & CEO of Elevar. Specializing in analytics, tracking, GTM, and conversion optimization.

What are events, what do they mean, how can we use them towards conversion, and how do we define events?

Brad Redding:

In this episode, we’re going to start diving into events, what events mean, how you can use them towards your own conversion optimization strategy and ultimately, how we define events in the world of Google tag manager and our E-commerce sites.

First off, what are events? Events mean many different things, and we all can make assumptions on what events mean. For us at Elevar, events are interactions that a user can take on your website that is above and beyond the page view. We all know what page view tracking is. We look at these reports every day in Google Analytics. We look at landing page reports, we look at pages per session data. We look at how people are interacting, coming from paid search or paid social and what pages they’re viewing, and how that’s impacting conversion rate revenue. And page views are great. Events is one level up from here.

Most of us all have pages on our website that users can interact with above and beyond a page view. It could be something as simple as they’re scrolling down the page, they’re signing up for an email. They’re watching a video, they’re downloading a PDF. They are interacting through live chat, they are clicking on an abandoned exit intent banner. There’s millions of different events that users can take, and these events are really what we build into those micro conversions or micro steps into leading them down the path to purchase. Page views are great, events, really help take our page view and our conversion analysis one step up. So we can really dig in and understand what really is impacting our users’ purchase path.

A question that we get a lot at Elevar is, are events the same as tags? We live in Google Tag Manager, and everything is called a tag, except for templates. Everything is called a tag in Google Tag Manager, whether it’s a Google Analytics page view tracking tag, whether it’s a Facebook initiate checkout tag. For us, an event, when we say the word event, this is a unique user behavior that somebody is taking on a website, and we are deciding to push that particular event into that marketing channel, or that data source. For this particular training, we’re going to be focusing just on Google Analytics and how event tracking, AKA event tags, work in Google Tag Manager, and how it pushes data into Google Analytics for us to further advance our insight analysis.

What you’re looking at here is a sample event that we have set up as a Google Analytics Tag type. Now, let’s talk a little about defining and defining the dimensions that make up an event. Inside of Google Analytics, events live under our behavior navigation menu, which makes sense. People are doing things on a site, we associate events to that. Google currently breaks down events into event categories, event action, and event labels. And they also actually allow us to push event value to all of these events. But what’s the definition of event category action label? Well, it’s subjective.

For us, the way that we look at these, an event category is a big bucket. A big bucket are things like homepage, product page, collection page, cart page, navigation. Those are big buckets. If we think about the product page, there are many things or actions that a user can take on a product page that all really lives within the bucket of the product page. Are they clicking on additional images? Are they reading reviews? Are they watching a video? That’s where we get into event actions. So watching a video, reading a review, clicking on an additional image, that is what we’d consider an event action. Event actions are really events that are going to bring it one step deeper than our big bucket of category.

Here’s an example of an image click. We have category of product page, and we have an event action of an image click. Let’s take a look at Cariuma’s product page. They have a wide array of product images that users are interacting with, you would think, but it’s not triggering a page view. So if this event tracking is not set up, then Cariuma does not know how many people are interacting with the product images. What product images are people clicking on the most? What product images or what types of images are driving people to convert more than others? Is it lifestyle images? Is it looping images? Is it flat shot images? That’s what we consider an event action. So a unique behavior that someone takes and then really putting the event action on steroids is adding a variable to that event action.

For example, the event action, we name an image click, but we don’t want to have to create an event for every single product page. If Cariuma had 100 products on their site, we don’t want to create 100 different products or excuse me, 100 different tags in a Google Tag Manager to track every little click on the product images. In this case, we’re adding a click URL variable, so when a user is actually clicking on one of these images, not only are we saying and telling Google, “Hey, someone clicked on this image,” we’re also defining the URL of this image. So we’re able to, and Cariuma would be able to in bulk, look at and start sorting their top images and how that’s impacting conversion.

The next step down, we have our event category of product page. That’s our big bucket. We have our event action, which is a unique behavior that someone’s taking that we can then apply variables to that, to start getting a little bit more granular in our analysis. And next we’re going to break up event label. Event label is a way that we look at it if we take our event actions, which is our image clicks or different behavior interactions on a product page. And now we want to break that down even further by page. For us, event label is almost always page URL. I’m going to show in our limitations of event tracking, I’m going to show why we choose to always use page URL instead of potentially letting the default tracking that events take with pages without spilling too much.

Our focus again is on E-commerce from conversion tracking, so for us, we are breaking down event action always by page URL. The reason for that is, in Cariuma’s case, we want to be able to look out across all of our product pages and break down all of the event interaction that users are taking. Not only with image clicks, but potentially interacting with a size and fit guide, or other interactions on a product page. So event category, our big bucket of a product page, homepage, et cetera, event action, a unique behavior that someone’s taking, event label is our page, our page URL that we are wanting to track the same behavior across all of these similar pages on our website.

Let’s take a look at another example. This is a product tab click. So we have an event created inside of Google Tag Manager, our category is product page. Our action is tab click, so we actually want to view different behavior for people that are clicking on these different tabs. As you can see, these are not triggering page views, but for Direct Sports, they would really benefit from seeing people that click to read reviews or click to view the sizing guide, or click to view shipping returns. Which one of these interactions are driving more people to purchase?

For example, if people that click on price matching, and you think they are at least reading part or all of this, is that leading to higher conversion? People that click on shipping and returns, is that leading to higher interaction? Or people that potentially click on reviews that have no reviews, is that leading to a lower conversion rate? All of this data can really help Direct Sports make decisions on either making some of these interactions more prominent on the page, or potentially hiding that. Let’s take a look at this in action.

Looking at our event category breakdown, we can see we have these big buckets. Now, let’s actually jump into our products category. Clicking into our products category, by default, Google drops us into products category. This doesn’t do a whole lot. Now we actually need to change this and look at our event action. Our event action, this is the dimension that now we’re looking in that big bucket of product page, and Google’s going to show us all the event action behavior that users are taking, and the associated conversion rate for that. We’ll give this report a second to finish loading. All right, it’s loaded. Now we’re seeing all of our event actions from add to cart down to some of our TapClicks. This data is great.

We can see sizing guide TapClicks. That’s more than double the amount that people are clicking and interacting with shipping and returns, or price matching, but we’re not quite there. And how does this help us analyze behavior and conversion rate? We need to go to our E-commerce tab up top. Any event that we’re pushing into Google Analytics, Google is associating conversion data to these events. Now, instead of just looking at the number of unique events of people clicking on it, now we can actually associate revenue, transactions, conversion rate, etc., to these unique events as part of a user’s interaction on the product page.

With this data, we’re armed with putting this into action, potentially creating AB tests. So it should be high, different tabs that people aren’t interacting with. Should we look at improving the content of our sizing guide because our conversion rate is so much lower than our description, or shipping return clicks? Now, with this in hand for just this one single event that we created in Google Tag Manager, one event that’s tracking across all pages. Now we’ve seen this one product tab – one event that we created the Google Tag manager that has one single trigger, that’s tracking all of this data, pushing all this rich data into analytics that we can now use in our analysis.

The last part is just looking at our event label. Let’s say, we wanted to dive into our size guide, and we wanted to see how this is broken down across product pages. We’ll click into our event action, and now that we’re looking at our event action of size guide clicks, we can actually see how the event label is tracking all of our page URLs. So now, we can actually look at our conversion rate and usage across pages. You can see, this is how we start with event category. We break down to our event action, and finally, we break down to our event label, which helps us analyze a really unique behavior across all of our pages. And we can analyze conversion rate differences for that.

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