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Mission Control / Digital Marketing

Getting Started with Google Tag Manager: 4 Ways to Improve Your Tracking

Google Tag Manager is a powerful tool, but it can be intimidating to new users. Here’s how to make the most of it and improve tracking across your digital platforms.

Google Tag Manager Basics

Google searches, Facebook likes, website visits — these are just some of the many online engagements that help us understand not only who our target audiences are, but also what drives them to click, scroll and convert. And that is why it’s essential that you have some way of tracking user behavior across all of your digital assets.

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is perhaps the most efficient means of accomplishing this, enabling you to gather, measure and refine data from your organization’s online interactions into actionable insights. Think of GTM as a way to consolidate your most useful tools like Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Facebook Pixel into a single, supercharged interface.

How to Use Google Tag Manager

At this point in GTM’s 12 yeas of existence, most marketers are at least casually familiar with its myriad uses. You can use GTM to track button clicks, file downloads, video plays, form submissions and drop-down field selections. You can also use it to manage cookies and implement privacy controls. It can detect incognito browsing, track when users print pages and tell you when users hover their mouse over individual website elements.

Obviously, the potential use cases for GTM are virtually endless — which is a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing. After all, seas of data can make us feel adrift in an ocean of information. That’s why it’s so important that when we harness the power of Google Tag Manager, we know exactly what we need and how to get it.

How to Make the Most of Google Tag Manager

There are several basic ways to set up Google Tag Manager to improve your marketing efforts. For instance, by utilizing its user-friendly dashboard, you can streamline your analytical process, removing the need to track user engagement across multiple online resources via multiple interfaces. This can save you tons of time as GTM enables you to conduct all of your analysis from one shiny window.

You can also use GTM’s easy preview feature to test your tags, experiment with new triggers and adjust variables. And because you don’t need to be fluent in coding languages to operate GTM’s many useful features, you have the flexibility to quickly edit your tags, triggers and variables without waiting for a developer to make adjustments to your website code.

For example, you could customize tags by adding third-party elements to a tag’s variables. Or you could build custom event triggers to track website interactions that go beyond certain default behaviors, such as altered form submissions. Any of these actions provide your marketing team the ability to make adjustments to your website strategy in real time.

But to extract more from Google Tag Manager, we recommend diving into the question of why Google Tag Manager for your business? For instance, think of your customer journey. Your goal as a digital marketer should be to steward visitors through your website, ultimately leading them to a desired point of conversion. To do this, we curate spaces — landing pages, home pages, content hubs, nav bars and footers that compel them to click and scroll toward that conversion. You should approach the use of GTM with this in mind. Understand which of a user’s interactions on your website are the most important and how you can track them with precision and authenticity.

Here are four ways to improve your GTM experience that get to the why.

4 Ways to Improve Your Google Tag Manager Experience

To get more out of your GTM experience, consider not only what behaviors you are tracking, but also what variables are present in each of those behaviors. That way, you can start to build a more comprehensive picture of your customer and of their decision-making process.

  1. Conversion Tracking. The most basic conversion tracking in GTM entails configuring a single tag or a set of tags to tell you how website visitors are reaching a desired conversion point on your website or other digital asset. But to use GTM to its fullest, consider adding multiple variable layers to each tag. That way, you develop an understanding not only of how that visitor was led to convert, but you also get a better sense of why they converted by tracking the series of behaviors that led to the conversion.
  2. Goal Tracking. Goal tracking in GTM is a way of essentially compartmentalizing your behavior tracking across multiple online assets or across a single website. Goals could include, for example, form submissions and ecommerce purchases. By setting up and tracking goals, you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing, seeing which calls to action or which pieces of content led to conversion, and which did not.
  3. Cross-Domain Tracking. Cross-domain tracking applies to organizations that manage customer funnels across multiple URLs. Without using a comprehensive analytical tool like GTM, Google Analytics has no way of knowing that a user visiting one website is the same as on another. Google Analytics treats these website visits as two separate visitors. With GTM, you have the ability to implement tags, triggers and variables that account for user behavior across all your online assets.
  4. Social Tracking. If you’re doing any kind of paid advertising on social media, you can track this activity using the Facebook Pixel code from your organization’s Facebook page. By installing Facebook Pixel in your Google Tag Manager, you can track page views and engagements at the same time as you track website activity. This gives you a holistic view of the success of your paid digital advertisements across each of your online platforms.

Get the Most out of Google Tag Manager

We have the digital marketing experience needed to help you do just that.


Tina Kelly
Tina Kelly Chief Marketing Officer

Tina brings more than 10 years of experience to C/A, where she partners with companies to develop digital marketing campaigns that leverage content, encouraging audiences to consume, engage, share and convert. Tina’s experience spans industries, having led digital marketing strategy development and execution for several global and national brands, including The Children’s Place, Nationwide Insurance, Delta Faucet and many more.

Tina has presented at a number of industry conferences and events, including SXSW Interactive and Content Marketing World. Outside of work, Tina and her husband can usually be found on a sports field somewhere, cheering on their two kids.

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