If you’re using Google Tag Manager, Google’s free platform for managing tracking codes (tags), you already know what a powerful tool it is for understanding your customer’s journey and goals.
On the other hand, if you’re just getting started with the platform, or web analytics in general, that same power can be really intimidating.
What is Google Tag Manager?
Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a powerful and user-friendly tool that simplifies the process of managing and deploying various tracking codes, tags, and snippets on a website.
Think of the platform as a conductor leading an orchestra. Just as a conductor directs different musicians to create harmonious music without needing to play every instrument themselves, GTM orchestrates the various tracking codes and tags on a website. It brings order to the chaos, ensuring that everything works in harmony to provide valuable insights and a seamless user experience, all without the need for manual coding or intervention.
Instead of manually editing website code, GTM allows marketers and website administrators to easily add and update tags for analytics, advertising, and other third-party services through a user interface. This not only streamlines the implementation of tracking and marketing tools but also reduces the risk of errors and the need for constant developer involvement.
With so many web metrics available to track on Google Tag Manager, where do you start? While we work with hundreds of different tags for our clients here at Informatics, here are five we commonly focus on to drive change.
5 Metrics to Track in Google Tag Manager
1. Conversion Events
This actually encompasses a number of different possible interactions on your site, but it really boils down to engagements that move the needle for your business. This could be an “add to cart” button, an email or affiliate link, a form submission, an event registration or even the triggering of a drop-down field.
However you define a conversion, Google Tag Manager can track and quantify it on your site, allowing you to refine the items that work and ditch those that don’t.
2. File Downloads
Similar to conversions, you can track when people download or access files on your site. Perhaps you’re offering an industry-specific whitepaper or Excel template as an advertising spiff or a value-added item for your clients. You want to know which resources users are selecting the most, so you can create even more engaging and useful content for audiences.
3. Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is one of the native web metrics tracked by Google Analytics, so why do we use Google Tag Manager to track it? Because GA's broader measurement can be misleading at times.
Consider the scenario of an industry-specific blog post. If a reader finds it from an organic search, reads the content for 25 minutes and then leaves, Google Analytics would still count this as a bounce, even though it was clearly a successful engagement. For many sites, that’s not a problem, but for results-driven agencies like Informatics, we want more granular data on what’s going on.
GTM can help us get a little closer to the underlying behaviors of a user and what they find most valuable on your site. It can be set up to fire tags at certain times, allowing you to ascertain how long users are interacting with your content—a metric known by many as “adjusted bounce rate.”
4. Page Scroll Depth
Google Tag Manager can also track how far down a page a user scrolls, providing insight into users’ interest and engagement with your content. This functionality can even be combined with tags tracking time on site to eliminate users who land on your page and then ignore the computer, helping you zero in on the most valuable user interactions.
Page Scroll Depth is even more useful when combined with third-party services like Hotjar (used here at Informatics), which uses heat maps to visualize how users travel down a page. The more detailed your data, the more accurately you can target your users.
5. Video Watch Times
Another powerfulengagement metric Google Tag Manager can track is how long users watch video content on your site. The platform offers native support for YouTube video, and can fire tags based on how far a user gets through a certain video and/or if they complete it. It can also track elapsed time, or how long the user has been continually watching the video, which is valuable for some longer-form content.
Not on YouTube? No problem—third-party "recipes" (ready-made Tag Manager code snippets) can provide similar tracking capabilities.
A Closing Note
Making the most of Google Tag Manager comes down to developing or finding the right recipes to track your desired variables. Remember to test your new tags in Tag Manager’s Preview and Debug mode, which allows you to browse a site as if your code is implemented. If you’re not capturing information in the right format or your tags are not firing as expected, your efforts will be wasted.
If you’re looking for help with your web analytics strategy or setting up Google Tag Manager, reach out to the experts at Informatics—data is kind of our thing!
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