How to Track Key Performance Indicators and Micro Conversions with Events

April 25, 2014 Steve Hennigs

Website technology has evolved so fast that tracking meaningful interactions can be difficult: white paper downloads, form submissions and even watching informational videos can all be seen as KPIs and/or MCs, but are often impossible to track with the “out-of-the-box” functionality of most web analytics tools. If you want to track these critical data points, you need to customize your tracking code – a seemingly daunting task.

This is the second post in my series on web analytics for B2B websites, and builds on a previous post on the importance of establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Micro Conversions (MCs) to make meaningful improvements to your site. Today, we’ll look at how to track those interactions within a web analytics tool with Event Tracking.

If the thought of tracking KPIs and MCs sounds overwhelming, rest assured – all hope is not lost. In many cases, all you need to do is begin tracking Events.

From a strictly technical standpoint, Events are ways visitors interact with your website without going to another HTML page on your site. For example, watching a video or clicking a link to another website are both instances of Events: someone clicked something, and something happened that didn’t involve loading a new page. Setting up all your KPIs as Events can be incredibly useful when it’s time to report your analytical findings to leadership.

Many people are unaware that this functionality is present in any analytics tool worth using. Siteimprove Analytics, Google Analytics, WebTrends, etc. all have the ability to track Events. Therefore, when evaluating tools for your organization, it’s important to ask, “How are Events set up so I can effectively measure success on my website?” There is an opportunity for a whole separate post here on how to decide between free and paid tools, but, for the sake of brevity, I’ll limit my thoughts on that topic to a few sentences:

Free tools and paid tools both cost money in different ways. If you are willing and able to pay with your time to learn the free tools, then you should use free tools. If you are unwilling and/or unable to pay with your time to learn the free tools, then you should purchase a tool. There will always be a certain amount of work involved in effectively analyzing a website, and that time commitment grows if you decide to go the free route.

Once you’ve decided what kind of tool is right for you, it’s time to get Event tracking set up! In most cases, Events require a “Category,” “Action” and “Label” so you can easily distinguish between different Events. It’s up to you (or you and your analytics provider) to determine the appropriate naming conventions for your Events. This is critical, as it will affect how you are able to use the data in your analysis. Due to the importance of this task, I would like to look at each item on its own.

The first part in naming an Event is placing it in a category. Video can be a category that encompasses all video on a website. Links can be a category for your Events that happen to be links. Audio can work for podcasts, etc. It’s best not to get too creative with your categories and just stick with common sense. The only reason to get creative is if you need to distinguish some sub-categories in order to better analyze your information.

Here’s a quick example:

Let’s say I’m a manufacturing company that builds different kinds of widgets based on two different types of customers, Mikes and Ikes. I have some PDF documents that outline the specifications of my widgets, and when those documents are downloaded, that tells me there is an interest in potentially purchasing my widgets. If the only category I had were “Documents,” then I may need to do some extra analysis every time I needed to recommend website updates to my leadership. What I could do instead is have one category called “Mike Documents” and another called “Ike Documents.” Then, I can look at my conversions at a glance based on the type of customer downloading the specs, allowing me to determine a course of action with less effort.

If you’re just getting started with this and don’t have access to a consultant, it might be wise to stick to more basic categories. If there is a case to be made for sub-categories, then go for it.

Actions are very self-explanatory. This is the action that a user takes on an Event. For a video it could be “play,” for a link it could be “click,” for a document it could be “download.” We don’t need to get into much detail on these. Just call a spade a spade, and you’ll be fine.

The Label element is often the name of the Event with which you're interacting. The title of an individual document is a good label, the name of a video will work. This is another area that does not require much depth, just common sense. You simply need to be able to recognize individual Events within your categories and the Label is the way to do so.

Once you have settled on the naming conventions for all your Events, you then need to follow the appropriate steps for your Analytics tool of choice in order to track them. If you’re a Siteimprove Analytics customer, that step is to contact our support team, who will guide you through the entire process. If you’re a client of One North on Google Analytics, some of your events may already be set up to be tracked; contact your Account Manager to find out how to take advantage of this data or identify additional items to track. Otherwise, consult your tool’s support options and get down to brass tacks.

You will then begin collecting the glorious information on how often people are taking action on your KPIs and MCs. This is progress! It is also just the second step in our journey, and there’s so much more value ahead. In the next installment, we’ll take a look at the value of making Campaign Tracking a part of your outbound marketing efforts.

Want more best practices for measuring your website’s success? Register for the #1NWebinar I’ll be hosting next week, 3 Necessary Activities and Skills for Effective Web Analytics.

This post originally appeared on the Siteimprove Web Governance Blog:


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Steve Hennigs Vice President of Customer Success - Siteimprove

Steve Hennigs aims to help firms ensure they follow SEO and web analytic best practices. For over three years, he has worked extensively within the legal community as Siteimprove’s chief representative, and in this time he has successfully launched Siteimprove’s Web Governance Suite into 20 of the Am Law 100 firms, amongst others.

An experienced practitioner, Steve is an Online Certified Marketing Professional, and a Market Motive Certified Practitioner within the disciplines of Search Engine Optimization and Web Analytics. He also carries a certification for Google Analytics.

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