Anna Lewis

MeasureCamp London – Brainstorming Event Tracking and Custom Variables

19th Feb 2013 Analytics 6 minutes to read

measurecamp event tracking ideas sessionOn February 16th 2013 I had the pleasure of attending the MeasureCamp London ‘unconference’ (where the agenda is made up on the day) along with over 100 other web analytics enthusiasts. In this post, I’m going to share my experiences and cover some of the tips discussed on the day, with extra tips and advice added here and there.

It was my first time at an ‘unconference’ and I was a little unsure of the set up when I got there. There was no set schedule of talks for the day; instead, everyone was invited to put a notecard on the board with the name of the session they wanted to run. Some people had prepared slides for these, while other sessions would be in the form of discussions based on topical ideas that people were interested in.

After arriving and filling up on the impressive breakfast spread, I soon got talking to a number of people I’d either met before, was introduced to for the first time or had been speaking to on Twitter for years, but never met in person, making me feel right at home.

Everyone’s enthusiasm for the day was catching and by the time the third person asked me if I was running a session I started to think about what I could do if I did. So once Peter O’Neill had done the welcome and made us all feel excited about the day I was encouraged by some lovely ladies I’d met at Digital Females to pop an idea on the board.

There were a lot of great sessions on the schedule board by that point. I expected that around 5-10 people might be interested in my suggestion, so I stuck my session description up for a small room and then headed off to the first session I was interested in. I wished I could have cloned myself as there were a number of overlapping sessions I would have liked to attend!

I found that all sessions led to some interesting questions, the format was much more interactive and informal than other conferences I’d been to. It was fantastic to be sharing knowledge and debating things with like minded people.

The session I had put on the board was ‘Brainstorming ideas for Event Tracking and Custom Variables in Google Analytics’.

I turned up to find that it was a small room with two sofas and a few beanbags. There were a couple of people there already and soon all the seats were taken and people were trying to fill the available space. It quickly became apparent that the session was more popular than I had imagined it would be and we would need a bigger room! So after swapping rooms with the session next door (thanks guys!) I kicked off the discussion.

The objective was to share ideas for uses of Event Tracking and Custom Variables in Google Analytics so that everyone could come away with inspiration and start getting more from their data.

I started off by putting some ideas up and then encouraged everyone in the room to give their thoughts. There were lots of great suggestions! Big thanks to everyone who contributed, especially from Matt Clarke, Billy Dixon and Tim Leighton-Boyce who all threw lots of ideas in.

I wrote everything on the board and at the end we took photos. But I thought it would be good to write it all up here, for those who weren’t there or for those whose photo’s didn’t come out well enough!

measurecamp event tracking ideas board

There is some overlap between the two lists. It might be that your website suits using one method of tracking, whilst another website might be best off with the other method. Also, I wouldn’t recommend implementing everything – you will need to identify the best tracking methods for helping you improve the results for your website, otherwise you risk having too much data to make any profitable decisions.

Event Tracking

I kind of skipped the introduction to Event Tracking in the session, so for anyone looking for more information check out these two posts:

It’s important to understand how Events affect bounce rate and also how important a good naming structure is for all events you use on your sites. The posts above should help you with those.

So, here are all the ideas we came up with (add any more you think of to the comments!):

Clicks on Links:

  • PDFs
  • Documents
  • Videos (more below)
  • Form submissions
  • Add to basket
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Dropdowns
  • Tabs (especially useful with AJAX, flash and HTML5 content)
  • External Links
  • Internal banners
  • Rotating banner buttons
  • Ads


  • Play
  • Pause
  • Stop
  • Duration watched

Form interactions:

  • Fields filled in
  • % filled in
  • Form errors
  • Form drop outs

Blog Comments

Reviews added

Product Review Scores

SEO Scores (i.e. from SEOMoz, best done server side)

Size selections

Live chat session starts

Visit duration

Scroll reach (% of page viewed)

Expanded in the Tips and Tricks session:

Time between top and bottom of page to segment ‘scrollers’ and ‘readers’

Additional Ecommerce information:

  • Stock level
  • Revenue lost due to no stock
  • Discounts / Promotions
  • Credit card failure
  • Payment type
  • Latency
  • Recency
  • Shipping country

Error tracking

  • Track which error messages show
  • Validation errors
  • Voucher code fails


  • Which games played
  • Level reached
  • Scores
  • Time in game
  • Virtual money

Site search

  • Number of results shown
  • When no results shown
  • Additional parameters
  • Search refinements

Rank Tracking

  • Search query
  • Landing Page
  • SERP position when clicked

Sort options for products, blog posts etc. (Price, reviews, popularity, location)

If you add Event Tracking to things like PDFs or external links that open when clicked, you risk losing some Event data due to the new content loading before the Event, if fired. There are two ways around this, the complex one is to put a small delay on the item opening so that the Event has time to fire before the new content loads. The second and most simple option is to open the content in a new tab, that way your Event will fire without anything interfering.

Custom Variables

There were some very interesting ideas for Custom Variables which will provide some interesting data when applied to your reports, although again, try not to overuse tracking if it’s not going to be of benefit to you.

Additional blog data

  • Author
  • Month
  • Revenue (to help calculate profitability of each author)

Visiting patterns

  • Dates of visits
  • Time between visits
  • How many previous visits


  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location (according to user not GA)
  • Language (according to user not GA)

Ecommerce information

  • Product name
  • Brand name
  • Category
  • Price bracket

User type

  • Prospect
  • Logged in
  • Multi device user (fine tuning logged in users)
  • Browsing user vs. high value
  • Returning customer
  • Guest user
  • Which version of product they have (trial versions etc)
  • Logged in to social media
  • Previous converter
  • Frequent visitor
  • On loyalty scheme

Page Type

  • Sale pages
  • Categories
  • Value
  • Breadcrumbs

Product finding methods

  • Searchers vs. navigation users

Experiment variables

Version of site shown

Orientation of tablet or phone


I hope you found some inspiration there! The lists are obviously not exhaustive so throw any more ideas in the comments below, but I think we did pretty well to cover that many ideas in less than half an hour. And also remember that they are not all applicable to every site. I would recommend you work out which ones can help you make positive changes to your website or business and then implement the tracking for those.

So to wrap up, I had a great time at my first MeasureCamp. I’m very grateful to Peter and everyone who helped run the event and also everyone who came to my session and voted for me to win the Best Discussion Leader prize. I’m chuffed with the RC helicopter, the book I won, and all the new people I met. See you there next time!

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