Google Analytics deserves some credit when it comes to getting a comprehensive review of your site’s performance, about its traffic flow, distribution of channels, and how many new users a particular page was able to attract. But that’s merely enough to survive in our aggressive online environment. Sadly, Google Analytics doesn’t have the answers to some of the most asked questions. It’s not going to tell you if your content is up to a certain standard or not. There are different tools, thoroughly described in this article, that will help you choose the right topic, make your post more visually appealing, and also help you with its distribution. As for the metrics, bounce and exit rates are overall good and informative, but you shouldn’t rely on them because you won’t know for sure if a user stayed on your page while diligently reading your content, or if he opened a page, scrolled a few times and went to get a coffee. This will remain a mystery unless you start using Google Tag Manager that allows you to set up myriads of custom activities that will show exactly how users interact with your website.
I bet you’ve heard a lot about Google Tag Manager (or maybe already using it to some extent). But if you are still not convinced about spending some time and learning more about the tricks of setting up your Google Tag Manager, then let me give you a couple of good reasons why it’s worth your time.
According to Google’s own definition, Google Tag Manager is a code management platform that prompts all of your other tags based on triggers you set up in the Google Tag Manager. It also works with 3rd party tags.
But don’t worry about getting developers involved. If you hate begging for help because your team of developers is ALWAYS busy to set up a new Google Analytics tracking on a registration form or a button, then Google Tag Manager will be your time saver. You don’t need to rely on anybody else’s schedule to track the majority of events (e.g. a page load, a form submission, etc). The only thing you’ll ever ask a developer for is a tiny line of code that only takes 1 minute to add. If configured correctly, Google Tag Manager is all you need for your analytical and marketing campaigns.
So where should you begin to start understanding whether your content is engaging? How do you know that they scroll until the very end of your post? Did they click on that particular link? And what about the buttons you integrated into your article? Did they share your post?
All of these questions can make you nervous. But not if you know about the report that tells you the number of users who converted after reading your content. Yes, finally you can start showing the ROI from each of your content piece not only of traffic and registrations but also of sales!
Information about all of the events are sent directly to Google Analytics where you can see the quality of traffic you acquired. For example, you can see whether users who come from social media channels are converting at all.
Aren’t these the best reasons to let Google Tag Manager in your work life? I sure do believe so. But how do you start tracking events in Google Tag Manager?
There’s plenty of information out there on how to proceed with this task. But look no further. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Create a Google Tag Manager account and place Google Tag Manager snippet of code on your site.
You’ll find this snippet after you set up your Google Tag Manager account. After that, go to the ‘Admin’ section where you’ll see a small snippet of code that you need to place in your site’s head and body.
There’s always more to learn about this. If you want to know more, here’s a Google’s Quick Start Guide that explains web tracking with Google Tag Manager.
Before we’re going to move to the next step, you also need to make sure that all of your click variables are checked in on the Built-In Variables menu in Google Tag Manager interface:
To get to that part of the platform, go to Workplace, then click on the section called ‘Variables’, located on the left-hand side of your screen.
2. Understanding basic triggers
Google Tag Manager monitors which tags should prompt and the triggers that you set up to cause those tags to go off. As the user interacts with your post or a the page in general, triggers are evaluated based on the events you have indicated, which causes the tags to fire accordingly.
Thanks to their predefined trigger types, GTM allows you to track user’s activities on your page that are forwarded further as ‘Events’ to Google Analytics. These trigger types cover the following areas:
- Page views allow you to see how many users have been able to see all elements on a page and how many users interacted only with a part of the page.
- Clicks that have the Just Links trigger that reports about clicks that happened in any type of an anchor tag <a> (e.g <a href=”digitalolympus.net”>Digital Olympus</a>). And All Elements trigger captures clicks on any HTML elements, such as <div>, <button>, or <img> tags. In this article, Simo Ahava provides an excellent overview and with details related to the difference between using Just Links and All Elements triggers.
- User Engagement is set of triggers that gives you an ability to control whenever a user interacted with a particular element or elements of the page. It also allows tracking standard form submissions, the depth of scroll and YouTube video engagement metrics.
Everything that goes beyond these standard triggers is captured through custom event types that can be added to your GTM account. In the majority of cases, it applies to forms, buttons and specific elements on your page that can’t be tracked using predefined Google triggers. Here you can learn more about Google Tag Manager triggers, and how to properly create them.
Let’s dive into an actual process of creating triggers:
1. Tracking a particular link in your post.
This function is extremely helpful when you want to determine whether your users click on links integrated in your text, especially if you link to something outside of your site. This can be your social media profiles.
To activate this functionality, follow these steps:
- Go to the ‘Triggers’ section and create a new trigger making it a Just Links type. Within this trigger itself, you need to specify both Page and Click URLs.
- After that, you can create a Tag that will submit information about an event into your Google Analytics account once a user clicks on a certain link you specified. Please note that such sections as Event Category, Event Action and Event Label will appear in Google Analytics Events. So keep this in mind when you will be creating names to provide all the necessary details about this activity.
When in the Triggers section, you need to add the trigger that you’ve created during the first step.
Now you can review and save the changes to double check that everything works seamlessly.
- If you’re not sure about how you set up your trigger, you can check if it’s working correctly by going into the section called Google Analytics Real Time Events.
2. Tracking user registrations on your page
If you’re using a standard HTML form (<form>) with a submit button, you can try to use Google Tag Manager built-in Form trigger. To learn more about setting it up, visit this page.
However, if your form has been developed in a different way, then you have to use custom events. This is when you need to do your best and get your developer’s attention and ask to push a custom event to the data layer upon successful form submission.
After you have this code added to your form, you can start review how many users your content attracted in your Google Analytics Events report.
Moving on, you can also look into what channels bring you both traffic and new registrations that occur on your content pages:
On the screenshot above, you see that social media and direct traffic are bringing the most traffic with the highest percentage of new users.
As you can see, it’s not all that complicated. In this article, I made sure that all the steps from setting up your Google Tag Manager account, to understanding basic triggers, to adding triggers and tracking your registrations, are described in a simple manner. Once you start following the steps I described above, you’ll quickly get a hang of the process and its many nuances. And eventually, Google Tag Manager will become your best friend in interpreting some of the most confusing metrics such as the kind of traffic your social media channels are bringing you, your most clickable links and the truth behind your page views.
Alexandra Tachalova has worked in digital marketing for over six years. She is a digital marketing consultant, helping digital businesses to open new markets and boost sales. Alexandra is a frequent speaker, and Founder of online digital marketing event DigitalOlympus.