Google Analytics: Top Events Report

By default, Google Analytics will track pageviews, but if actions taken on those pages don’t result in another pageview, you must incorporate custom events. Events are a great way to get a better understanding of your user’s actions. If you need help in setting up events, check out Google’s easy to digest documentation. You will need to place a little javascript code (if you’re not using Google Tag Manager), but it is fairly simple.

The top events report showcases the events that you have tracked to understand what users are accomplishing on your site. Events are broken down into three main levels (category, action, and label) with a fourth (value) rarely used. As you will see, the top events report has an easy way of breaking this down for comparison.

What’s Included in the Top Events Report

The Top Events report displays your top custom events that users have taken action on within your site. The report allows you to see each individual event in all of its tiers (category, action, label, and value) and compare these dimensions to others. The metrics available include total events (each time the event fired) and unique events, along with the total event value, and average value (if applicable).

These give a great overview of the top actions that users are taking and allow you to investigate further into the main areas of focus for those users. This can help you to understand anything from form submissions to levels completed on an on-site game.

Difficulty to set up

Difficulty Meter: 3/5 (medium)
Implementing custom event tracking on your site is the first step in making your tracking custom. If you do not use a tag management system, this implementation can be a little code intensive. Once you get the formula down, you’ll be dropping in JavaScript onClick calls for events with ease. Getting there may take some time however.

If in fact you do have a tag management system, like Google Tag Manager, this can be done a little more easily and straight-forward (no code needed).

Once you are tracking events on your site, you don’t have to set anything further up within Google Analytics. The events, once executed by a user, will start to show up automatically within the top events report. For help with implementing event tracking on your site via JavaScript, see Google’s documentation. If you are using Google Tag Manager, go here instead.

Where it is located?

This report is located under the Behavior tab on the left hand navigation. It is within the sub-heading of Events and labeled as Top Events.

google analytics top events report location

Analysis to Complete

Analysis of event tracking can take on a mind of its own. Pending on how you utilize events and how critical they become to your analysis, they will be included as actions in every report and analysis you conduct. The top events report is a good starting ground to understand what types of things your users are doing on site, but then you’ll want to break that out further. Check out a few ways to get started in this analysis.

1. Cross Compare within Categories

As previously mentioned, events have three main levels of description. You will see the category level by default upon viewing the top events report. While this could give you a good indication of the events that are occurring, be prepared to dive deeper into the actions and labels.

This sounds elementary, but it is something that is often forgotten. We take a look and see that there have been 20 actions within the contact forms category. Upon first glance we happily think, great I had 20 submissions. Then you remember that there are multiple actions that you laid out below that in the action description. Click in further down to the action level to see this. You don’t want to be misguided in thinking you had 20 submissions when really there were 15 starts and just 5 submissions.

top events category and action view

2. Utilize Events in Goal Tracking

This isn’t as much of a tip on analysis as it is on setting up your Google Analytics account. Many people will set up event tracking for their major key performance indicators (KPIs) and then keep it at that. This is fine for most things, but there isn’t a great way to get a handle on the percentage of users who completed, or how and when they dropped off from completing a task, without further work.

For those KPIs that are also site and business goals, set up a Google Analytics goal based on your event. This is easily done in the goals setup area. You can select to have your goal based on an event and specify which events will trigger that goal. This will allow you to take advantage of the goal reports, which can lead to better insights including which page the goal was completed from, which pages were viewed prior and (with some extra work) a funnel visualization of where users dropped off in the completion process of a goal.

google analytics goal event type

Benefit of the Top Events Report

The top events report is more about the benefits of implementing event tracking on your needed key performance indicators and actions on site, rather than the report itself. You can combine event categories, actions and labels with any other report to make your analysis rich and powerful, but remember to get a solid base with the setup of event tracking first. If you don’t know where to start with event tracking, Digital Metrics Guru can always help you get started here.

Chris Kujawski

Founder and instructor at Digital Metrics Guru.

A passionate and driven digital marketer, specializing in Google Analytics, Tag Manager and Data Studio. A qualified expert in Google Analytics and Adwords, with more than 10 years experience delivering sound solutions to clients worldwide.

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