Performance-Tracking meets User Journey

On the topic of web analytics, we hear time and time again how complicated it still is to collect usable data and findings for website performance analysis across multiple devices and once URLs have been opened, so that the user’s journey can be optimised. The criticism is that the standard features of Google Analytics do not provide the desired data for this. This is certainly not true! Very often, ‘connected commerce’ is even simpler than one might imagine.

Google Analytics tracks many things, but nowhere near everything

For Web Tracking, many website operators fall back exclusively on the standard implementation of Google Analytics as their tool of analysis. In some cases, this can even be quite sufficient; after all, Google Analytics provides information about a whole range of important indicators (KPIs), such as the number of users, sessions and sites accessed, or the bounce rate within a defined period. Furthermore, together with demographic features, the tool provides a whole range of device information; for example, identifying the sub-sites that many mobile device users, in particular, bounce onto – in this way, you can discover problems in using your site on mobile devices.

However, how do you proceed, if you wish to evaluate how often a very specific button has been clicked on in a site? Or from which site a user has interacted with your Chat Support? And how do the scroll depth, file downloads or access to external links appear to me? Google Analytics alone cannot answer all these questions. There is, however, both a simple and powerful solution that is firmly integrated into Google Analytics: Event-Tracking, namely capturing all types of Events.

Up until now, these Events have already needed to be carefully planned during their preliminary stages and embedded when programming a website, so that they are also sent to Google Analytics for tracking. With Google Tag Manager, even set-up is more agile and clearly easier. It requires no knowledge of programming and can be launched immediately, as soon as the Google Tag Manager is integrated into your site. For many CMS and shop systems, plugins are already provided, so that you never need a developer for installation.

Never heard of Google Tag Manager before? Christoph Küpfer, from ad agents very pointedly describes the tool as follows in the article, ‘All-singing, all-dancing Google Tag Manager’ on internetworld.de, “Web analytics without Tag Manager is like washing without a washing machine. It works, but it’s a waste of time and resources”.

Capturing and analysing Events using Google Tag Manager – here are three examples of how to do it

1. Do you want to know how often a button/graphic has been clicked on?

Websites generally use several formulas or teaser-graphics, which request visitors to perform an action. With Google Tag Manager, you can easily register how often visitors actually interact with these ‘Calls to Action’ (CTAs). In each case, you will also set up a trigger (the ‘WHEN’) and a tag (the ‘THEN’) – WHEN, for example, a button labelled ‘Send Message’ is clicked, THEN an Event shall be sent to Google Analytics on a corresponding day. An Event always consists of four dimensions, which you can populate with random values in Google Tag Manager: the Event Category, Event Action, Event Label and optional Event Value.

Let us take, for example, a contact form: First of all, you determine an Event Category. This might contain the static text ‘Contact Form’. In the Event Action, the action will read ‘Sent’ in this category, if the form is dispatched. As Event Labels, we mostly capture the current page path during our current implementation. For this, there is a function installed in Google Tag Manager, which you can apply while you insert {{Page Path}} in the corresponding place. If you have installed your contact form on several sites or in a side tab, you can ascertain in this way, where the contact form was sent from and how often. The Event Value can then re-assess the Event’s weighting. You would consign a higher value to a sent contact request than to a teaser that has been clicked on.

2. Qualifying bounce rates through scroll depth

A bounce is not always a bad thing. Blog operators are familiar with the phenomenon of visitors finding a solution to their problem and then leaving the blog again, without any further interaction. Here, the dwell time will already give an initial indication of whether the visitor has read your text or left immediately. However, since more and more people open several sites in tabs, the dwell time in several tabs can run parallel, even in inactive tabs.

One of many ready-made scripts can be the remedy for this. These can be integrated using Google Tag Manager and can register the scroll depth in 10 or 25 per cent intervals. Corresponding Events will show you later in the analysis, how many of the visitors reading your text on the site in question have also read it to the end, or at least scrolled through it.

3. Capturing data downloads and outbound links

Google Analytics is not actually designed to track file downloads. Here again, functions installed in Google Tag Manager can help test link click conditions.

The link destination is contained within the installed function {{Click URL}} and can correspondingly be tested. Does the link contain a specific file extension, for example, ‘.pdf’? Then trigger an Event, which the current page ({{Page Path}}) and the link destination ({{Click URL}}) will capture. Therefore, you can later evaluate in Google Analytics which files were downloaded from which pages and how often. For outbound links, you will only test whether the destination domain differs from the current domain. If this is the case, then this is an outbound link and you will again capture the current and target pages in an Event.

Conclusion

While the standard functions of Google Analytics allow for more of an overview of user groups, you can obtain detailed insights by Event-Tracking with Google Tag Manager. You can even break down to user level, which Events a specific user has triggered. At the very least, this is therefore helpful, if you receive paid traffic from search engines or social networks. Through Events, you can very precisely establish, whether these visitors you have paid for then actually perform as you wish and generate a corresponding Return on Investment (ROI) for you. The subject is all the more interesting, if we place Web Tracking in the overriding context of connected commerce. For some unexplained reason, Google Tag Manager is only installed on around 14 per cent of all websites (according to a usage statistic from the Internet service, BuiltWith), despite the fact that it offers a robust and especially simple base with valuable functions that can help you get to know your customers and place them centre field. It will thereby contribute to you offering a seamless and user-centred customer journey.

This article was also published at Internet World Business.

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