What can Google Analytics events do for me?

We’ve been hearing a lot about Google Analytics (GA) lately. In July Stratos blogged about the implementation of GA event tracking in the Polopoly CMS and last month, Duncan posted about updates to our GA guidance to cover events and the latest design refresh.

Stratos’ event tracking post
Duncan’s GA guidance post

As someone who is regularly required to interpret and report on analytics in relation to various websites that we support, it was great to hear about events – a GA tool which offers the opportunity to glean some more specific insights into user behaviour.

In particular, I was keen to see how the quarterly analytics dashboards that we provide for the Global Academies suite of sites could be enhanced. Sometimes it can be tricky to get hold of the really valuable nuggets of information among the more general ‘big numbers’ that can help us to interpret trends and changing patterns of behaviour in visitor interactions with our websites. Events can help us to do this by offering an increased level of detail about visitor interactions with a web page that wasn’t previously available – what specific link are they choosing; how far down the page did they scroll; how popular is that new pdf download or should it sit somewhere else?

This was the basis of a short presentation that I made to the Web Publishers Community last week. From a non-technical basis, what might some practical applications be to enhance our understanding of visitor behaviour within our websites and use this to make adjustments to improve the user experience or test the impact of new developments?

GA event tracking and the Global Academies (Web Publishing Community 25 September 2014 presentation)

As with any statistical analysis, events data provides only part of the picture and GA works best as part of a package of evaluative measures that also includes user testing and feedback. It can also be quite time-consuming to gather, but the resulting data is valuable so worth the effort.

We’re just starting to incorporate events into our work with GA. It’s currently been applied to selected behaviours including scrolling, navigation, links and downloads but we could extend this to track other behaviours if required. With this in mind, if you have been using events to gain visitor insights for your website, we would love to hear from you and likewise if there is something you would like to see tracked that isn’t currently available please do let us know.

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