When you’re analyzing data (especially for the holidays), you may have questions that you’re not able to find answers to because you simply don’t have the data. For example, what was the add-to-cart rate vs. the product conversion rate?  How often is the “Find in a Store” feature used? If you’re using the free version of Google Analytics (which a lot of us are), these are not out-of-the box metrics. However, we can still get to these answers by using custom events.

Why do you need event tracking? Simply put, customization. If you’ve never used custom events, you may be missing out on valuable information specific to your business. Google Analytics provides us a ton of great data, but event tracking allows you to add additional customized tracking to your site. For example, a home décor site may know which colors/patterns of their custom upholstery items were the most viewed. A clothing retailer may want to see which items/categories are the most gifted during the holiday season. A lead-gen/informational site may want to track how many times a specific PDF is downloaded.

Sounds great, right?! So why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, unless you use Google Tag Manager or another tag management program, implementing events requires additional code. Anyone in the retail world knows that this could be a huge challenge during the holidays, and sometimes even an impossible task.

The good news is, if you do have Google Tag Manager or another tag management tool already on your site, you can create events without ever needing to touch your site’s code (that is… if your element tracking is done correctly). Here are some of the events we recommend implementing that will help identify success and opportunities when planning for next year:

  • Quick Views/More details – Do people use the quick view option? If so, how often do click through to the PDP?
  • Store Locator – Is your site driving in-store traffic?
  • Find in a Store – What products do people want to see in person or need in a hurry?
  • Email Signups – What channels are driving new email signups? How valuable is each new signup?
  • Gift Options – What products / categories are the most gifted?
  • Wish List Usage – Are people using it? What is the ratio of products wish listed vs. sold?
  • Social Shares – What products are people excited about?
  • Product Review Usage – What role do reviews play in the likelihood of the customer making a purchase?
  • Cart Additions/Removals – What’s the add-to-cart rate/orders per cart addition?
  • Alternate Product Views – Are they useful? Does the number of views available play a role in the buying process?

Another tool I love is Optimizely. Optimizely is a testing tool that allows you to test different variations of elements on your site and see which performs better. Once you have the result, it also allows you to push the winner to 100% of your audience without needing to change code. Although you would probably want to make this a permanent change in your code eventually, that might not be possible during the holidays. As with GTM, there is a snippet of code that needs to be placed on your site by your developer first, but then you are in control! For example, you realize your gift page isn’t getting as many views as you think it should be getting, and searches for “gifts” are increasing significantly. You have it in the main navigation, but maybe people just aren’t seeing it.  You want to run a quick A/B test to see if performance would improve if you made the link red and bold. Great! You were right. Optimizely reported with statistical significance that the red and bold option works better. You can now push this change so everyone who views your site sees the red and bold GIFTS version of your site. You could even make this change without testing it if you’re really in a time crunch, but we always recommend testing first if possible. Optimizely even has a version of their product for free (the Starter Plan) which gives you access to basic functionalities.

If you use Google Analytics and do not already have a tag manager in place, I would highly recommend GTM. And if you want to learn more on GTM, tune into our Brainiac episode on this topic. If you’re not already using a testing/optimization tool, Optimizely is a great place to start to try one out. GTM is free. Optimizely has a version of their product for free. Both require a short snippet of code on your site, but then you are in control. So what are you waiting for?