Google Analytics: Campaign vs Event Tracking

By July 8, 2014 No Comments

Over the last few years, tracking online visitors has become a necessity for anyone with a website. Analyzing statistics about content, traffic and marketing strategies has become a requirement to correctly evaluate whether the website is effectively reaching and converting its target-audience. As the web continues to expand and grow, new traffic sources and events need to be tracked in order to get a good understanding of how people are interacting with your website. Google Analytics allows content creators to do this and track a variety of traffic sources and actions using Campaigns and Events.

Side note: If your website doesn’t have the Google Analytics tracking script installed…get it done today! You’re missing out on vital data about your visitors, their behavior and your content. You’ll need it installed to be able to take advantage of these features. You can go here to get more information on how to set that up.

Difference between Google Analytics Campaigns vs Events

If you aren’t familiar with Google Analytics campaigns and events or you aren’t sure how to track what you want to, it can be a little confusing to determine which option meets your needs. The basics of campaigns vs events is that campaigns are used for tracking external links or links outside of your website that send traffic to your site, and events are used to track actions that take place on your actual website.

So in a very basic summary, campaigns are typically used for offsite tracking, and events are typically used for onsite tracking. Now, let’s dig into how to implement each and why you might want to.

Google Analytics Campaigns

Every time a visitor reaches your site, Analytics is able to capture how the visitor found your site. In most circumstances, Google is able to automatically detect this information, but there are some occasions where this information isn’t available. Campaigns are an excellent way of tracking a specific traffic source to your website when Google cannot automatically detect the source. Utilizing campaigns helps you track unknown sources, such as an email newsletter, an advertisement or links within a mobile app. Tracking these can help identify whether these links are effective or not, and utilizing the data can help you determine whether the links to your site from the external source are effective or if the landing page for these links needs revisiting.

Track Email Traffic with Google Analytics Campaigns

Take for example an email you just sent out to millions of your enthusiastic followers. If someone clicks a link within that email and heads over to your website, Google Analytics doesn’t know how that visitor found your website. This is where Campaigns within Google Analytics helps pick up the baton. With a few additional parameters added to the links, the analytics tracking script on your site can pick up what email newsletter your visitor was reading and what specific link they clicked on. If that link heads to a specific blog post on your site, it can help you decipher if a majority of traffic on that blog page comes from your newsletter, Google or another page on your site and ultimately help you determine whether those links to that blog post (either from your newsletter, Google or another page) are effectively marketing the post to your audience.

Many third-party systems, like MailChimp, automatically add campaign tracking to the links used in your newsletter, but some external sources will need the content creator to develop a custom link to help your website track these external sources. Google offers a helpful tool in this process and allows you to add campaign details along with the website URL, to develop the perfect campaign tracking url. Try it out here:

Google Analytics Events

Events are much different from campaigns and allow you to track specific behaviors of a visitor once they are actually on your site. If a visitor submits a form, watches a video or clicks on a PDF, your website can track these behaviors (and many others) within Google Analytics. This can help you determine whether a specific piece of content is relevant or whether a feature is utilized on the website. If no one is watching your video or submitting your form, it might be time to reevaluate that piece of content or eliminate it completely. Events can ultimately help you determine the usefulness of a piece of content on your website.

Track a Form Submission with Google Analytics Event Tracking

Implementation of event tracking is a bit more complicated and customized than tracking Campaigns. It requires a little snippet of Javascript added to the page or link you’re trying to track.

Let’s use the basic example of tracking form submissions on a website. You’ll want to create a Thank You page and add this snippet of code to the page:

<script type=”text/javascript”>
ga('send', 'event', 'form submission', 'contact form’);

Now in Google Analytics, when you go and view events, you’ll be able to see what forms were submitted and details about the visitor who submitted the form. Pretty neat!

Don’t Miss Out

These small additions to your website can provide valuable information about your visitors, how they’re interacting with your website, the content on your website, and content outside of your website that are bringing visitors in. Being able to effectively determine what’s successful and what isn’t will help to increase your website traffic and, ultimately, the money in your pocket. Don’t miss out on valuable data! Implement these tricks or get in touch with us to brainstorm how Google Analytics features can help benefit your organization. For more information on Google Analytics, check out this blog on how to use Google Analytics to convert visitors.

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