What is Google Tag Manager and Why Should I Care?

Google Analytics doesn’t give you enough metrics. There, I said it.

But thankfully, it does allow you to create “events” within your account for additional tracking capabilities. This allows you to specify specific interactions which you deem valuable- say, a newsletter signup- and track them!

So if you’ve clicked on this article, it’s safe to assume you have experience creating events within Google Analytics. But, you probably don’t like having to call up your developer every time you need a new snippet of tracking code embedded in your site. Plus, she’s started screening your calls.

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a heroic tool which allows you to bypass your discontent developer, and enables you to create events and tags more intuitively and without coding. If you’re a code-phobe like myself (or simply looking for an easier solution) then I strongly recommend initializing GTM to expand the events you can track within GA. Using GTM is simple: you paste one snippet of code into your site temple, one time, and then all your auto-event tracking takes place through the super neat interface.

Now that we’ve covered the “Why,” let’s talk about the “How.”

Setting It Up

Just as in your Google Analytics you’ll find your Properties within Accounts, the hierarchy within Tag Manager is as follows: first, you have accounts, to correspond to different organizations that you manage. The next layer is containers: this corresponds to the tracked website within an organization. Within your container is where you’ll find a site’s tags. Once you’ve initialized your GTM account, you can then receive the snippet of code to paste within sites you are tracking!

In creating tags within GTM, you need to tell GTM two things: What interactions to look out for and when to look out for them. For instance, you can tell GA to look out for whenever a user spends 30 seconds on a page- any page or a specific page. Then, once you’ve created these tags, you can have GTM create an event whenever the tag is triggered. The event creation can be thought of as a chain reaction: If a user spends 30 seconds on a page, then the tag is triggered. If the tag is triggered, then an event is created within Google Analytics. These if-then statements are technically known as the “firing rules.”

To demonstrate how to create a tag from scratch, we’re going to show you how to create tags for a “form submission” event. These tags will track whenever a form is submitted on your site, (i.e. a newsletter signup) and then create corresponding events within your account.

Example: Form Submit Listener

1. Create a Form ID Variable

First step: To capture the form ID information, enable GTM’s built in Form ID variable. Navigate to the Variables tab and click ‘Configure’ under Built-In Variables.



Select ‘Form ID’ from the list of variables.


2. Create Trigger

Navigate to the Triggers tab and create a new trigger. Match the configuration below and click save. Make sure to enable the Form ID variable first, or it won’t show up in the firing rules.


3. Create your Tag

Next, navigate to the Tags section of the main menu. Create a Universal Analytics tag to match the configuration below. Name the event category, actions, and labels which we want the event to correspond to- just as you would with traditional event tracking. Be careful to ensure that your naming conventions are consistent.

***One thing to pay attention to is the tiny box that says non-interaction hit. Since bounce rate is calculated by seeing if any interactions take place (i.e. clicking to next page), if you set the event to be a “interaction” (non-interaction=false) this will serve to affect your bounce rate. Thus, users who create an event won’t be considered as a bounce even if they leave after one page. Set “Non-Interaction Hit=True” if you want your bounce rate unaffected. Consider what you want bounce rate to measure and select accordingly.

Apply the Form Submit Trigger you created earlier to the tag.



5. Save and Publish

Once you’ve created the tag and trigger, hit publish to put them into effect. Be sure to check your Real-Time reports within Universal Analytics to make sure that everything is copacetic. You can do a breakdown of events by page, to make sure that tracking has been properly implemented for the desired pages.

This process sure beats having to play around with coding. Also, once you’ve created a few tags on your own, the process basically becomes second nature.

We encourage you to scour the web for additional tagging and tracking functionalities which you can implement into your site. This way, you can keep track of the metrics that YOU care most about.