Google Tag Manager: What You Should be Tracking & Why

GTM is Google’s agnostic tag management system, acting as a middle man between your website and third party analytics programs, but are you using it? If so, have you got these basics down?

Kira Hawker

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free and easy tool that is used to collect invaluable data from your website to send to a variety of third-party programs for analysis. From product impressions to contact forms, there are a multitude of elements you can track, which can give you critical insight into how users interact with your site, and therefore your business. At Gravytrain, we use every tool at our disposal within the world of digital marketing, and GTM is one of the most effective.

You may have heard of GTM on the grapevine, whether from your own research or through your agency. The sheer volume of data that can be tracked is enormous, but there are some agencies that are reluctant to provide tag management via this intuitive tool. It may be that some agencies do not know how to utilise it to its full potential – but, with there being so many benefits, if your agency isn’t using it are they really looking out for your best interests?

Let’s take a look at the basics of GTM and what it can be used to track.

What is Google Tag Manager?

Essentially, GTM is a tool created by Google aimed at simplifying the collection of data from your website for export to third party programs like Google Analytics, Facebook or Comscore. The ‘tag’ itself is a portion of code which gets added to your site through the GTM interface.

It is possible to use the same code and apply it directly into your website template files, but this does not afford you the same levels of control that GTM does. There are numerous other benefits to using GTM to fire tags, including:

  • When and where your tags fire
    When you set up a tag, you need to decide when and where it ‘fires’, which involves setting up triggers. For example, you may have a tag you wish to fire on every page, or one that should only work when a single action is completed
  • Fewer hours spent moving code around
    Your IT team, or agency, are likely to be doing things manually, which takes a great deal of manpower because the code will need to be edited time and time again with each new tag. With GTM, you can add, remove or change tags quickly and simply
  • You have the power to run advanced analytics with ease
    Due to GTM’s user-friendly interface and sheer number of available tag recipes, you can run advanced tracking on a larger scale, which is something that could take weeks to set up manually. This makes it an efficient and effective way to discover more about your website’s performance

What Should You be Tracking?

With so many options available, what should you actually be tracking to make the most of GTM’s features? Of course, this depends a lot on your business and what kind of information you require to make your website more effective. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to track.

User tracking icon

1. Advanced ecommerce

Enhanced ecommerce is not complete without doing some additional tracking on site. You are able to use GTM’s DataLayer feature instead of letting Google’s tracking script guess what is in a customer’s shopping cart. You could also use the data layer’s contained information to fire various tags based on events, such as a remarketing tag set to fire when a customer makes a purchase of over £150, for example. It is also possible to track product impressions which can thereby lead to better merchandising.

2. File downloads

To discover more about the nature of your user base and what they find most interesting on your site, tracking micro-conversions, such as clicks on download links, is a great idea. You can track most files, including .pdf, .doc, .xls and .txt. It is possible to do this with Google Analytics, but files like these are not able to request a tracking pixel, making it more difficult to set up.

File download icon

3. Contact forms

Contact forms are often a leading tool for conversion, creating a clear path from the prospect to the company, which sets up a relationship which can then be nurtured until they become a customer or client. You could use this information to identify form fields that seem to be blocking conversions, or to help segment data for better personalisation.

4. Event tracking

Using pre-defined variables, you can track events automatically, without needing to hardcode each click action with Javascript. This is most effective when tracking variables that are unlikely to change over time, such as link URLs. For elements that do not contain identifiable properties, you can use the aforementioned DataLayer feature.

Event tracking icon

5. User Behaviour

Of course, discovering your users’ movements across your site, including when, how and why they use it, is the key to positioning your business in the right place and to the right demographic. There are so many types of behaviour you can track which is all backed up by metrics like bounce rates and pages visited.

Curating the right information to make informed decisions can be difficult if you do not know what to track and how to use the information you eventually glean, but with GTM, you have a wealth of choices at your fingertips.

6. Conversion rate optimisation

The main aim of your website will usually be to convert visitors into customers. GTM allows you to integrate Optimizely or Google Optimize in seconds, meaning you can implement A/B testing and personalisation techniques more quickly. You can also load the tag to the specific pages you want to test – this brings faster results, which can then influence the changes you need to make to influence better rates of conversions.

Graph increasing icon

Among all these basics, GTM can be integrated with heatmap programs like Mouse Flow or HotJar. This enables you to better analyse the customer journey throughout your site, so you can identify areas that block conversions, which fields on forms cause an exit, or pages that receive the most engagement.

Essentially, Google Tag Manager acts as the middle man between your site and a wide range of analytical programs. It works out which information needs to go to which program, and ensures the data sent there is the right ‘language’ to be properly analysed. The information you can glean from GTM can be vital in creating an engaging website that sustains itself in a market that changes so rapidly.

We will be looking at the more advanced elements of Google Tag Manager in our next blog – keep an eye out for Part 2!