Event tracking allows you to track a specific action on your website that isn’t captured by out-of-the-box Analytics tracking. This could include flash elements, clicks to external URLs, or file downloads. Without event tracking you will not be able to determine if visitors are completing these microconversions. Furthermore, they may be negatively affecting your statistics as leaving the site could be increasing your site’s bounce rate.
On the developers code guide, we can see that the Event tracking code consists of a _trackEvent call that is modified by a category, action, label, value, and noninteraction parameter. Both category and action parameters are required, so you will need to determine how you want to name these qualifiers as well as if you’re going to need to include a label or value for these as well. Feel free to read the Google documentation which further outlines how each of these parameters appear in Analytics data and affect your statistics
To implement Event Tracking, we’ll take this code and append it to the click function on a button. Then, each time someone clicks on this button, we’ll see a tracked Event in the Events report in Analytics. You have the option to determine your own naming convention for each event so that you can easily identify and group events based on category, action, or label.
You can also create what I call automated event tracking which essentially says every time a particular action happens on my site, fire the Event Tracking code with specialized script. You’ll likely need to work with your web developer on how to integrate this automation into your Event Tracking, but it can be done. Feel free to contact me directly for information about how to implement this: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We find that the most common use for Event Tracking is for PDF downloads. Google Analytics does not read PDF pages as URLs because there is no way to put the GA code on these pages. However, you can incorporate the _trackEvent code into the click to the PDF, as described above, to get a count of the number of PDF downloads on your site. You can aggregate the number of PDF downloads by placing the same code on each click or you can dynamically insert the URL for the PDF download to see which PDF is downloaded the most by using additional script.
If you prefer, you can also use the _trackPageview call to gather this information instead. Essentially, this will add a virtual pageview treating PDF pageviews as content pages in your Analytics. As a result, you’ll be able to see additional data associated with pageviews; however, it will also increase the number of pageviews to your site. Event tracking will only count the number of times this action occurs and does not affect the number of pageviews on your site. As the analyst of your website data, you’ll need to decide which is better for your reporting, but you can use this article as a comparison guide.