Product

What is Event Tracking? - with Examples, Best Practices and Tools

TABLE OF CONTENTS
    #1 product adoption platform. Quick setup, lasting engagement.
    Start for free >
    See how UserGuiding can help you level up your product experience.
    Talk to an expert >
    #1 product adoption platform. Quick setup, lasting engagement.
    Join 20k+ product people >
    Ready to Boost
    Product Adoption?
    Meet With Our
    Onboarding Experts
    BOOK A CALL
    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Home / Product / What is Event Tracking? - with Examples, Best Practices and Tools

    Everywhere in the digital world, there is an event. No, I'm not talking about webinars and summits. I'm talking about clicks, taps, hoverings, scrolls, page views, video views, form submissions...

    Every interaction between a website (or a product) and a user is an event. For example, when someone starts your product onboarding tour, it's an event. When they continue and complete a step in your checklist, it's an event. When they give up after the 13th step, it's an event, too —an unfortunate one.

    It's important to monitor these events, as they say a lot about how (potential) users experience your website or application. Event tracking is beyond capturing page-view numbers or trial signups; it's about understanding user behavior and patterns.

    Let's discuss whats, whys, and hows of event tracking 🤸🏻‍♀️

    TL;DR

    • Event tracking is monitoring specific user actions that provide crucial information about user behavior patterns.
    • These user actions can be form submissions, video views, onboarding drop-offs, cart abandonments, and downloads.
    • From clicks and scrolls to comment submissions and social media shares, any interaction between a user and a website or an app can be an event. Depending on your business goals and KPIs, you can decide on which event to track closely.
    • Event tracking enables businesses to pinpoint friction points and understand user behavior. It also creates opportunities to personalize user experience, and eventually increase product adoption.
    • While tracking user events, you should be careful not to track redundant events and cause data overload.
    • When analyzing your data, it's crucial to compare different user segments and customers across various stages of the user journey. This approach helps deepen your understanding of your user base and uncover hidden insights.

    What is Event Tracking?

    Event tracking is monitoring and recording specific actions taken by users on a website or application. These actions can be various interactions between users and the website/application, such as clicks, form submissions, video plays, and navigation patterns.

    By monitoring events, you can gather valuable insights into user behavior, preferences, and engagement levels. Later on, you can utilize these insights to optimize the user experience and improve product features or the UI.

    Let's analyze some hypothetical examples to understand the concept better 👇🏻

    ➡️ An online shopping platform like Amazon can track the number of items users add to their shopping carts during browsing sessions. Monitoring the behavioral patterns of online shoppers might help us to understand user purchase intent better. Thus, we can optimize (and personalize) our product suggestions to the user.

    ➡️ Or, an editing tool like Grammarly can track how many recommendations a user accepts during their writing sessions. By tracking and analyzing this data, we can understand which suggestions are most helpful to users. Then, we can refine our AI algorithms to improve accuracy and user satisfaction.

    How can Event Tracking Improve Your Processes?

    The more you know about your customers, the better you can serve them.

    This goes beyond understanding user interests, needs, desires, or pain points. It's also crucial to know how they interact with your product:

    • what they love,
    • what frustrates them, and
    • what confuses them.

    Only by gaining these insights can you truly improve your processes and deliver a better experience.

    Here's how event tracking helps you in this journey:

    Identifying friction areas

    By tracking user interactions, you can pinpoint the exact moments when (and where) users encounter difficulties or drop off. Sometimes, it's a design issue, sometimes lengthy authentication steps, and sometimes unexpected costs at checkout or slow loading times.

    By identifying these friction points, you can make targeted improvements to retain users and enhance their experience.

    Mapping user journey and user behavior patterns

    You can visualize how users navigate through your product.

    • Which users jump from one subpage to another?
    • Do people at different stages of the customer journey interact differently with your product?

    By analyzing these patterns, you can uncover valuable insights into user preferences and behaviors. Then, you can optimize the user experience accordingly.

    Measuring the effectiveness

    Measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and website elements is key to understanding what drives engagement and conversions.

    • Do the right people interact with your webinar banner?
    • Does the placement of your trial CTA hinder anything important?
    • Or does it go unnoticed?

    By tracking these elements, you can determine which strategies and designs resonate with your audience and adjust your efforts accordingly.

    Tracking conversion events and goals

    Event tracking goes beyond design efficiency. By tracking and analyzing conversion events, you can calculate ROI and refine your strategies to boost performance.

    This ensures that your efforts are aligned with your business objectives and deliver tangible results.

    Personalizing user experiences

    By leveraging insights from event tracking, you can tailor your content offerings to meet individual user preferences. This enhances user satisfaction, engagement, and feature adoption.

    It also increases customer loyalty by making users feel valued and understood. Personalization can include recommending content based on past behaviors, customizing the user interface, and providing timely, relevant notifications. 

    Core Components of An Event

    Okay, we know that everything a user does on our website or application is an event. But what actually makes an event?

    Each "event" consists of 4 main components:

    • Event category: The type of events you want to track (navigation, content engagement, e-commerce events, etc.)
    • Action itself: The action taken by the user (submitting a feedback form, removing a product from the cart, etc.)
    • Name of the event: The label of the tracked element (webinar banner, help center link, etc.)
    • The value: A numeric value related to the event (completion rate of a course, scroll depth, rating given, etc.)

    Let's see how we can break down two of the most common events of our times into their components: logging into Netflix and finishing an episode of a favorite show.

    Example #1: Navigating to the homepage

    • Event Category: Navigation
    • Event Action: Logging into the platform
    • Event Label/Name: Session Start
    • Event Value: 1 (indicating the start of a session)

    Example #2: Completing a show

    • Event Category: Content engagement
    • Event Action: Completing a show
    • Event Label/Name: User Watched
    • Event Value: 45 (duration of the movie in minutes)

    How does Event Tracking Work?

    Event tracking works by capturing and logging user interactions with a web page or application. Analytics tools' code snippets monitor and collect data when a user performs a defined action (event).

    Once this data is sent to the analytics servers and processed, it gets structured and ready for analysis. Depending on the tool, you can get easy-to-understand graphs, summaries, or AI insights on your dashboard.

    Here's an example dashboard from Google Analytics (GA4) 👇🏻

    If you're using a 3rd party no-code tool for event tracking, it's almost like magic. All you need to do is to implement the tracking code in the beginning. Then, everything will be ready for you on your analytics dashboard.

    For example, let's assume you create a five-step onboarding tour with UserGuiding. First, you have a welcome message (maybe with a short introductory video), then an interactive tour showcasing some of the tools and the UI.

    Something like this:

    ‎With event tracking analytics, you can monitor how many of your users watch the video, complete the tour, or drop in the middle.

    You can also get step analytics to see the continuation rate after one step to the other and pinpoint the exact moment when users seem to zone out.

    Your dashboard would look like this:

    Or, you can create goals for user engagement (for checklists, guides, surveys, etc.) and then track them, too. ‎All without a line of coding!

    Event Tracking Examples

    Now that we know what event tracking is, why it's important, and what an event actually is (in a technical sense), it's time to discuss examples.

    Let's make one thing clear: there are no strict event categories.

    Sure, most people refer to authentication, log-in, and error events as system events.

    But for everything else, you can create smaller groups, such as feedback events or feature interaction events, or organize them based on the nature of the event (clicking, submitting, hovering, etc.). You can even make your own custom categories. The key is to track what matters to you.

    With that being said, categories always make everything a little bit easier to grasp. So, here's ours for event tracking 👇🏻

    User Interaction Events

    • Button clicks
    • Link clicks
    • Element hover actions
    • Form submissions and all other form field interactions
    • File downloads
    • Scrolling depth
    • Time spent on a page
    • Feature usage tracking

    Navigation Events

    • User dropoff
    • Session start/ end
    • Menu clicks
    • Keyword searches
    • Sorting options selected
    • Breadcrumb clicks
    • Path followed to reach a page

    Content Engagement Events

    • Content downloads
    • Social media shares
    • Comment submissions
    • Time spent on a specific content piece
    • Pause/resume actions
    • RSVPs for webinars/events
    • Event reminders set

    E-Commerce Events

    • Product views
    • Add-to-cart actions
    • Product removals
    • Checkout steps
    • Purchases
    • Abandoned carts
    • Wishlist updates
    • Payment method changes

    System Events

    • Errors
    • Log-in attempts
    • Performance events such as API response time, page load times, etc.
    • Authentication steps
    • Security events such as lockouts, firewall breaches, etc.

    Custom Events

    • Completion of a course
    • Quiz scores
    • Completed game levels
    • Time spent on character customization
    • In-app purchases

    Best Event Tracking Practices

    Event tracking can easily spiral out of control if not properly organized. It's like trying to juggle too many balls at once—things can get messy fast!

    It's common to track more than necessary or to overcomplicate the process. This can lead to confusion, wasted resources, and data that doesn't provide clear insights.

    Here's what you should do to master event tracking 🏋🏻‍♀️

    Minimize Redundant Events

    Events follow events. It can be hard and overwhelming to track all events of all customers. Luckily, we're not supposed to do so!

    Avoid tracking events that provide little to no actionable insights. Not every action is a behavioral pattern that needs to be examined closely. Make sure you track only what is really important for your business. This way, you can reduce noise in your data and prevent data overload.

    Ensure Alignment with Business Goals and KPIs

    Just like we make sure not to track each and every event, we should also make sure that we track specific events that are linked to our business goals and KPIs. This approach ensures that our strategies are grounded in actionable insights.

    For instance, if your goal is to enhance user engagement in a fitness app, you might prioritize tracking events like workout session starts, session lengths, achievement unlocks, and social shares of fitness milestones.

    You can then link these data with your tasks on your product roadmap and strategize accordingly.

    With UserGuiding, for example, you can track your goals, as well as user events. First, you need to create and define your goals.

    Then, you can easily monitor them on your dashboard. You can see weekly goal conversions, create impact reports, and analyze product performance.

    Keep Consistency in Naming

    Consistency in naming conventions across all tracked events is essential for clarity and ease of analysis. By maintaining a uniform naming structure, you avoid confusion.

    You also ensure that everyone interpreting the data understands each event's purpose. Consistency and standardization across names, values, and formats of the events are important for getting the highest efficiency from the analytics tools, as well.

    Analyze Comparatively

    Analyzing events comparatively through user journey mapping offers valuable insights into how users interact with your product or service over time.

    Mapping out the sequence of events users undertake —from initial engagement to conversion or churn— helps identify bottlenecks or friction points in the user experience.

    For example, comparing the paths taken by users who complete a purchase with those who abandon their carts can highlight areas for improvement in your checkout process.

    By understanding these comparative insights, you can enhance retention rates, and ultimately optimize the overall user experience.

    8 Best Event Tracking Tools

    The best part of event tracking is that you do not need to do all the hard work (coding, tracking, and analyzing) all by yourself. There are tools for that!

    UserGuiding

    UserGuiding is a product adoption platform that helps you engage with users within your products and increase product retention and user satisfaction.

    It enables you to create interactive in-app experiences, user surveys, resource centers, product update pages, and more.

    ‎👍 With UserGuiding, you can create events based on changes in user attributes and monitor them through the analytics tool. ‎

    Once you choose the user attribute to monitor, make sure it's one you've already identified and sent to UserGuiding. The system will then track and count the event whenever this attribute's value changes to the specified one.

    You can activate backward tracking if you want this event to apply to the users who met the criteria before it was created. This way, you can capture historical data and get the whole picture.

    👉🏻 Try it out yourself 👈🏻

    Mixpanel

    Mixpanel is an event tracking and product analytics tool for mobile applications, web applications, and websites. It helps businesses to understand customer behavior and trends.

    ‎Mixpanel not only tracks events but also creates custom dashboards and reports. ‎The dashboards show correlation (or lack of it) so that you can get to the root cause faster.

    It also offers many filtering and breakdown options, such as demographics, account types, or behavior.

    Because it's an analytics tool, you can also use it for other monitoring tasks, such as retention tracking, growth tracking, campaign tracking, etc.

    Hotjar

    Hotjar is a user behavior analytics tool that enables companies to understand users better by creating heatmaps and recording user sessions.

    Hotjar's heatmaps reveal which parts of your website get attention and traffic. They show the effectiveness of your banners, CTAs, and interactive elements.

    With session replay, you can see exactly how users navigate your site or app. This allows you to identify issues and bugs they encounter and understand their behavior.

    Amplitude

    Amplitude is another powerful tool for event tracking and product analytics. Similar to Mixpanel, it works both on apps and websites, and similar to Hotjar, it offers session recording.

    ‎Amplitude visualizes all user data and gathers them into one big‎ dashboard. There, you can track real-time event stream, session engagement, or product KPIs.

    It provides full-funnel ‎insights and reports across different channels, marketing and sales campaigns, as well as web pages. Based on user behavior, you can then create user segments or run A/B tests to improve your engagement.

    Heap

    Heap is a product analytics and event-tracking tool with extensive automation features and well-organized dashboards. It helps teams efficiently manage and analyze their data without drowning in or overlooking important parts.

    ‎Heap's most prominent features are Heap Illuminate and Journeys.

    Heap Illuminate uses advanced algorithms to automatically uncover key user behaviors and patterns. It helps you identify what drives engagement, retention, and conversion.

    Heap Journey visualizes the complete user journey and it maps each step from initial interaction to final conversion. This helps you understand drop-offs, identify bottlenecks, and optimize the user experience.

    Fullstory

    Fullstory is a behavioral data analytics tool that promises businesses to understand user behavior: how users feel (and possibly why). Every click, tap, and page reload indicates a sentiment -even the lack of them indicates a sentiment. And Fullstory offers interpretation for them.

    ‎Fullstory enables companies to identify friction points and solve them before they cause them (more) revenue loss‎. For dead clicks, rage clicks, and error clicks, it also generates reports with auto quantification and shows lost revenue.

    Like many other event tracking tools we've seen so far, Fullstory offers session recording and heatmap functionalities. It integrates session replays into summaries and reports, providing valuable context for teams.

    Matomo

    Matomo is an open-source, data security and privacy-oriented web analytics and event tracking system. Its unique selling points include full data ownership, strong privacy compliance (including GDPR), and extensive customization options. Matomo allows businesses to track user behavior and interactions, analyze website performance, and generate detailed reports —all while ensuring that user data remains private and secure.

    One of the most unique features of Matomo is visitor profiles. You can analyze every action an individual user has taken on your website, compiled into a comprehensive historical profile.

    Matomo also offers all the basic event-tracking functionalities, such as heatmaps, session recordings, A/B testing, funnels, and goal tracking.

    Google Analytics (GA4)

    Google Analytics is one of the top choices for website analytics and tracking. It seamlessly integrates with other Google tools like Google Ads Manager and Google Search Console. Plus, the free version is loaded with features. You can easily track conversion rates, analyze your audience, and model attributions. 

    Google Analytics stands out for its built-in automation and modeling functionalities. It allows you to generate predictive reports, summaries, and insights from your customer data using machine learning.

    GA has a very comprehensive analytics functionality. It offers detailed engagement reports from event tracking data, as well as monetization and acquisition reports. It visualizes the customer journey and funnel, giving you a clear view of user interactions.

    However, it has a great learning curve and is not very intuitive to use.

    To Sum Up...

    Event tracking is like scheduling follow-up doctor appointments.

    It's not just about setting up a web page, product, or campaign and leaving it alone. Instead, it's about staying in touch to see how things are going and how people are reacting.

    Just as follow-up appointments help doctors tweak treatment plans based on patient feedback, event tracking allows businesses to optimize the user journey and experience.

    By understanding how users interact with your product, web page, or campaign, you can make smart adjustments and improve engagement, as well as feature adoption. And ultimately, make everyone happier.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Join 1000+ teams
    driving product success at speed

    14-day free trial, no coding needed, 30-day
    money-back
guarantee!