Google Analytics Custom Events & Variables
Google Analytics has become a standard feature that all clients expect on their websites these days and something they no longer feel they need to request. Checking that GA has been added to a site has been part of our Go-Live procedure for some time now, which I’m sure is standard, or at least for all web developers who’ve had a client request a visitors report or access to the statistics only to realise it wasn’t added to the site. After those awkward conversations with clients or even accounts handlers it’s not an oversight you repeat.
Google Analytics provides great detail out of the box by simply pasting the provided code into your footer but they also offer the ability to send custom information to improve the usefulness of the statistics even further. This custom information can then easily be used to create custom reports or segments in the standard reports.
Most web designers can’t help adding in an array of expandable panels and slideshows of content but is this hidden content ever accessed? If your homepage has a slider with 5 or 6 messages how do you know if customers ever click through to read beyond initial slide, well Custom Events could help track those kinds of actions. Each time the user clicks the next option, uses the zoom facility in your gallery, watches your showreel video or scrolls through the carousel, you spent all day perfecting, you can trigger an event to Google Analytics to record it.
You’ll soon then get a good picture about whether the section is enticing the users enough or whether they’re missing it completely and you need to go back to the drawing board. There’s obviously a huge number of ways to use a feature like this, leave a comment if you have some great ideas.
Now with events you have a better understanding of what your customers are doing on your site you can find out a bit more information about them to improve the stats even more. For example if you have a login area on your site you have access to far more information about them in their account that will make their page views far more meaningful. It’s against Google Analytics terms of service to pass personally identifiable data but you can pass a variety of things that will help give you the power to find your customer tends for thing like exit pages based on gender, age ranges and nationalities etc.
To send a custom variable just add a line for each to the standard footer code Google provides. Custom variables can be sent with different levels of scope which are visitor, session and page. This basically determines if its stored on the users machine so its sent each time they visit your site, whether its sent for each request during the current visit or a single send for the relevant page. Again there are huge number of ways to use a feature like this to your advantage.
If you think your site could benefit from these techniques you can read more at the links below.
_gaq.push(['_setCustomVar', 1, 'Gender', 'M', 1]);
_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Slider Next', '2']);
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