When the Google Tag Manager was released in 2012, it ushered in an era of peace and unity.

Before the Google Tag Manager, chaos reigned. Marketers would demand to know why people choose to buy things, submit forms, or make phone calls. They would pay copious amounts of money to Development Teams or IT to place tracking codes on websites.

Development Teams would spend time stuffing numerous tags onto websites. The tags would bog down the websites’ load times, and they would look messy.

But tracking tags aren’t something you can give up easily. Tracking tags are more important to marketers than second breakfast is to Hobbits.

google tag manager

And that’s saying something.

But considering that developers tend to put a lower priority on tagging websites, there was often a delay in adding tags. This delay cost the marketing teams precious time, precious data, and the inability to see what their customers were doing. Then Google Tag Manager came along to solve everyone’s problems.

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a website that holds and manages all of your tracking codes, or tags on it.

It offers a dashboard where you can view, manage, and edit your tags. It also offers a single tag of its own. That single tag is designed to be implemented in place of all the other tracking tags that you’d usually place on your website.

One Google Tag Manager To Rule Them All

One Google Tag Manager To Rule Them All

These tags that you use can track the actions and activity of a person visiting your website. Creepy, but effective for learning about standard behaviors taken before completing a conversion.

It’s important to note that like many of the tools Google offers, this one is also free. That’s right, you don’t have to pay a cent to use the Google Tag Manager.

Also, as you can tell from its name, the Google Tag Manager is a Google product. This means it integrates seamlessly with your Google account. It’s one less login that you’ll have to remember.

Who is Google Tag Manager Designed For?

Well, if you’re someone who needs to track what people are doing on your website, then this is for you.

According to Google, their tool is designed for Marketers to use. This makes the most sense because marketers…don’t really code.

Keep Your Secrets Google Tag Manager

Me Trying To Code

IT isn’t really thrilled about the constant “add a tag to this page” requests. That’s why they gave us the Google Tag Manager and left us alone. It’s a better arrangement for all.

However, if you’re a web designer or developer, you could also benefit from the Google Tag Manager. Setting it up, even before you have information to track is immensely beneficial as there will always be a day that you need that information.

If you have a data guy on your team, they can happily use Google Tag Manager. Your data analyst can focus on what they do best – running the numbers, without stressing about integrating code.

Lastly, if you’re a do-it-all-myself kinda person, then Google Tag Manager is for you. The tool is designed to be as easy-to-use as possible. We really can’t stress enough that Google Tag Manager takes away the headache of coding and adding tags.

What Are Some Benefits of Using Google Tag Manager?

Benefits of using Google Tag Manager go beyond simplifying all your tracking codes. I’ve listed a few of our favorite perks here.

No Coding Experience Necessary

As mentioned already, with Google Tag Manager, you’ll have one snippet of code to place into your website. Just one. That’s it. (We’ll cover more about that code a little later.)

Once you’ve placed that code onto your website, you don’t need to add any others. Sure, there are other codes that other websites give you, but those are easy to add into the Google Tag Manager.

So you go from finding where to place code among a wall of letters that looks like this:

Google Tag Manager Resolves All This Code

What A Mess…

To simply copy and pasting your tag into something that looks like this:

Google Tag Manager Coding

Ah, That’s Better…

Once you paste the code into this little box, Google Tag Manager will use it like you placed it in the wall of text correctly.

This means that at the most, you’ll reach out to your coding person once to put the GTM code onto the website. However, even that is easy enough for anyone to do. We can show you how.

Its Organization is Awesome

We’ll review the dashboard in more details a little later on. However, as you’ll come to learn, the organization makes setting up your tags as easy as can be.

As shown right above, your tags are stored in their individual, blank boxes. There’s no other code in there for you to worry about. And when you’re done pasting the code in, you close the box and leave it alone.

If you’ve labeled them correctly, you can view all of the tags that you’ve added. You can also add, remove, turn on and off your tags very easily from the dashboard.

And if you’re thinking, “Well, I have multiple companies, but only one Google account. I should find another tag manager…” then you should stop right there. I, also, have multiple companies to manage, and one (business) Google account. You can add multiple companies, multiple websites, and multiple apps into the GTM. Each of them have their own sub-account, and each of those accounts hold all of their tags.

Overview of Google Tag Managers Organization

Overview of Google Tag Managers Organization

Basically, here is what your account’s organization looks like. Each Account has containers, each container has the tags, triggers, variables, and folders.

You Can Keep Everyone in Their Place

Google Tag Manager lets you assign different roles to different people. This allows you to control who has what access. This feature is pretty standard in most PPC programs such as Facebook Ads Manager, Google Analytics, and Google Ads.

We’ll go over how to set up users and permissions in their own section, but here’s a quick overview of the levels offered.

First, you have the account permissions:

  1. User – This person can’t change any settings or add anyone else.
  2. Admin – This person will have the right to change user settings, add other users, and delete users.

Then you have the container permissions:

  1. Read – You can see everything in the container, but you can’t edit anything.
  2. Edit – You can create workspaces, and you can edit things. But you can’t publish anything or create new versions.
  3. Approve – You can create workspaces, you can make edits, and you can even create new versions, but you can’t publish anything.
  4. Publish – You can do everything, including publish things.

It’s Speedy AF

When it comes to time, the Google Tag Manager can save you a lot of it.

Google Tag Manager Gives You Extra Time

Wisely Put, Gandalf

To start with, if you need to use a developer to add code to your website, you might be waiting a hot moment or two. Using Google Tag Manager can remove the middle man, and any time spent adding codes will be on your time and at your speed. You have the time earned back from not having to implement individual codes into your website, but that’s not all.

When it comes to your website’s loading times, do you know that having multiple tracking codes can slow it down? When someone loads your website, the tracking codes load first. Having a lot of them on your page will delay the time until your actual website loads. A long load time can lead to your visitor leaving prematurely. But when you use the Google Tag Manager, you’ll load much faster because there’s only one tag.

Lastly, because the Google Tag Manager is hosted online, updates are instant. That means the minute you hit publish, your website will get updated. Instantly. There’s no waiting around for anything when it comes to the GTM.

The Fail-safes Are to Die For

I hear you. If things can be changed instantly by adding Tags in Google Tag Manager, what’s to stop a mistake from happening. What prevents people from crashing the website in Google Tag Manager?

Well, for starters, hopefully you’ll assign everyone on your team the right level of account and container access. But that’s on you to make sure the people you trust know what they’re doing.

However, even the best of us can make mistakes. That’s why the Google Tag Manager has a few fail-safes.

Preview Function

has a preview function. Before you publish anything, you can always preview the changes you’re about to make.

Changes in Google Tag Manager

Preview Button

In the upper right hand corner, you’ll see how many workspace changes you’ve made. Make sure that number looks right. Then you can select the Preview button to temporarily apply the tags to your websites.

Google Tag Manager will let you know that you’re in preview mode with the following text box:

Google Tag Manager

How You Can Tell If You’re In The Preview Mod

From here you can refresh your mode, leave the mode, or share the preview with someone else. Then once you’re in preview mode, visit the website where your tags are. You’ll see an overlay that looks like this:

Preview of Google Tag Manager Website

Previewing The GTM on Your Website

You’ll have a few options here. You can see Tags fired, and you can see tags not fired. You can also toggle between Window Loaded, DOM Ready, and Page View to see which action fired the Tags.

At the top, you can hop over the Variables and Data Layers to see more information about what is causing the tags to fire and what they’re returning. You’ll also see an Errors option on the top bar. This will show a number next to the number of errors GTM has found.

View Different Versions

Each time you publish a container, you create a bookmark in the history of your workspace called a version.

You can always view how many versions you’ve had and if you have a live version that you’re using. In your workspace, you can view the live version and some basic information about it:

Google Tag Managers

View The Latest Version

At the top of your workspace, you can toggle between your Workspace view, the Versions view, and the Admin view. When you go to the Versions view, you’ll see which one your on, and information about the previous ones.

Version Google Tag Manager

Confirming Your Version Is Life

You can also select any of the old versions to view information about it. You’ll see the changes made on that version, and you’ll see who made the changes and when it was published.

You can also click on the three dots next to the versions to preview the version, publish it, set it as the latest version, delete it, or edit notes about it.

How to Set Up Google Tag Manager

First things first, you’ll want to go to tagmanager.google.com.

If you have a Google account, you’ll be asked to sign in to start. If you don’t have a Google account, then I wonder how your run your Google Ads.

Adding a New Account & Container

Once you sign in, you’ll find yourself at a blank page like this:

Google Tag Manager

Create Your Account From here

From there, you can literally click anywhere in the white box to get started creating an account.

On the next screen, you’ll have the option of naming your Account, picking your country, and sharing your data anonymously with Google and others.

Once you enter that information, you’ll type in the website for your container, which will name it.

Google Tag Manager

Follow The Step By Step Instructions

If you notice, there are four options for where to use the container. The website, iOS, Android, and AMP.

This means that if your company has a website, an app, and an AMP website, you won’t be limited.

You can track your regular website. Your app on iOS and your app on Android. It’s important to note that AMPs have a limited number of  JavaScripts, so tracking through Google Tag Manager is a must.

Each of these containers can be made under a single account. So you don’t need to make multiple accounts for one company.

Inserting Google Tag Manager’s Tag Into Your Webpage

Once you agree to all the terms and conditions that Google Tag Manager will ask for, you’ll be taken to your default workspace.

The first thing that will pop up will be the GTM code. It’ll look like this:

Google Tag Manager

Grab This Code

As a note, you can always access this code by going to Admin, then Install Google Tag Manager.

Google Tag Manager

Where To Find The Code To Grab

If you’ll notice, the two tags tell you exactly where they need to go. One goes as close to there as possible. The second one goes right after the body on your webpage. Just pop those on every webpage you have, and you’re ready to start tracking.

That’s all for installing codes into websites, I promise!

How To Add People & Edit Users/Permissions

I figured I’d include this in the setup phase, so you can add your team before rushing ahead into the features.

For every container you create, you’ll need to add the members of your team that you want on there.

Starting at the main page, you can click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of any container. You’ll get this menu:

Google Tag Manager

User Management Means User Management

Naturally, you’ll want to click on User Management. This will slide open a new tab with a list of all your people, their emails, and their roles. You can search through them, apply filters, and add them here.

In the upper right-hand corner, they’ll be a blue plus button. Clicking that will give you the option of adding a user.

Google Tag Manager User Permissions

How To Edit Someone’s User Permissions

From here, you’ll type in their email address, select the permissions you want them to have, and send the invite.

Then if you’d like to edit someone’s permissions at any time, you’ll go to User Management, click on their name, and make changes from there.

Navigating Your Google Tag Manager Account

Next, let’s take a look at how to find your way around your account. Thankfully, Google has made most of the navigation pretty intuitive. I’ll break this down into sections so it’s easy to follow.

Adventuring Into The Google Tag Manager

Here We Go!

Let’s go on an adventure into your Google Tag Manager account.

The Main Page

After you create your Google Tag Manager and your first container, you’ll see a different view when you log into the GTM.

Google Tag Manager

Different Accounts

Exactly like Google Analytics, you can click on the All accounts drop-down to access a menu of all accounts and their containers.

Google Tag Manager

How To Navigate To Your Account

You can also visit Google Analytics, Optimize, Data Studio, and Surveys from this menu.

Options Within Google Tag Manager Menu


Asking to Visit Platform Home will take you to marketingplatform.google.com

The three buttons on the right next to your Google Account picture will give you the following options.

The four boxes will give you a drop-down of Google Marketing Platform where you can visit the Data Studio, Google Tag Manager, or view other Google Products. The three dots next to your picture will allow you to make changes to your GTM settings such as how you’re using your tag manager and your language preference.

As you’ll notice, the largest part of the main page will be your accounts with all your containers. At the bottom of the page will be any deleted containers in the Trash Can. You can re-establish deleted containers for up to one month. After that, it’ll be gone forever.

Clicking either the gear or the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the container will bring you to the admin page options, which I’ll cover in a moment.

To get into any of the containers, you’ll click on the blue link under the Container Name option. That brings us to our next part.

The Container – Workspace

Once you pop open a container, there will be a lot of information on the screen. Believe it or not, there are even more layers in the container too.

Google Tag Manager Container Overview

Overview Page

Here’s what your default view of the container will be. Starting out, you’ll be in the Workspace. You can change between Workspace, Versions, and Admin by clicking on one of the options at the top.

The column on the left is where you’ll be doing a lot of your work, though.

Google Tag Manager

Navigation Column

The current workspace option allows you to toggle between up to three workspaces per container. When you go to publish changes, GTM doesn’t discriminate. All changes will be published. That’s where workspaces come in.  Each workspace can be assigned to someone on your team, and changes can be made in each workspace.

That way, someone can publish changes in their workspace, and they’ll only publish their changes.

The overview is your main home screen with a quick and visually-engaging dashboard. Below that, we have the meat of the operations.

The tags will be where you add tags, the triggers will be for triggers, and the variables are where you set up variables. (More on adding tags and triggers later.) Folders allow you to group your tags, triggers, and variables into one organized spot. You’ll use folders if you want to organize your information by team, project, type, etc.

We covered the Versions tab and the perks in the benefits section, so let’s skip ahead to the Admin options.

The Container – Admin

The Admin section of your container will hold all of your settings and options.

Google Tag Manager

All The Options You Have

The blue plus next to your company name will create a new account and container, and the plus next to your container will create a new container for your existing account.

Under your company name, you’ll have a few options:

  • Account Settings – You can view your Account ID, rename your company, agree to share data, and require a 2-step login verification.
  • Account Activity – Here is where you can see all the actions taken on the account.
  • User Management – Here is another place you can add or edit users, specifically on the account level.

In the column for your container name, you’ll have more specific options:

  • Container Settings – You can rename the container name and delete the container.
  • Container Activity – This shows all the history of the container.
  • User Management – Here is where you add or edit users on the container level.
  • Install Google Tag Manager – Here is the snippet of code that you’ll put on every one of your webpages.
  • Import Container – You can upload an existing container as a new workspace, you can overwrite the existing one, or merge a new container with your current one.
  • Export Container – Here’s where you can export the existing container to another workspace or version.
  • External Account Links – This is where you can approve link requests from outside sources like DoubleClick Campaign Manager.
  • Approval Queue – Here’s where you can view what’s in the queue for being approved and published.
  • Environments – You can see all the environments set up in your container, and you can add new environments here.

Now that you know where everything is, let’s move on to how to actually use the Google Tag Manager.

Tags In Google Tag Manager

First and foremost, tags are bits of code from analytic, support, tracking, and marketing companies that are designed to be placed on your website or in your app.

Tags can track anything from where the visitor came from, what pages they view, and if they make a conversion. They can also track information such as how many pages are viewed, how much time was spent on the website, and even more.

However, a tag needs to be told what is going to trigger it to fire. Tags, triggers, and variables work hand in hand.

Google Tag Manager

It All Needs To Work Together

Just like Frodo couldn’t have made it to Mordor without his Sam, tags have a difficult time working without their triggers. But tags can also have more than one trigger. One tag can fire when a page is loaded, and then it can fire again when a click or a conversion happens. We’ll cover more about triggers a little later.

Adding New Tags

When you have the tag from the company you’d like to use, you’ll start in the container that you’d like to add the tag to.

Here, you have two places to go to add a container.

Add a New Tag in Google Tag Manager

Places To Add A New Tag From

You can either start by clicking the Tags option in the left-hand column, or you can click on the big box that says, “New Tag”.

From there, a new tab will slide open, you’ll have your options. Start with Tag Configuration.

You’ll find a large list of tag types. Some, like Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, and FoxMetrics are already built out for easy integration. If you don’t see the company you’re adding on this list, you’ll create a Custom HTML Tag or Custom Image Tag.

Once you add in your tag, you’ll move on to adding a trigger.

Triggers In Google Tag Manager

A trigger, or a rule, is what tells a tag to fire. Without a trigger, a tag will uselessly sit on your website or in the GTM.

After you add in your Tag, you’ll go to the box below to define the trigger.

Google Tag Manager

Click Here To Add The Trigger

The default that Google Tag Manager has for you is called All Pages. It triggers your tag whenever a page gets loaded.

After you select All Pages and you have your tag in, you’ll want to name your tag and save it. If you’re integrating one of Google Tag Managers built-in 3rd party tags, it will name the tag for you. (Google Analytics Universal will name itself Google Analytics Universal, etc.)

Adding New Triggers

Let’s say you want your trigger to be more specific than a page view. You can either build your triggers as you add tags by clicking the blue plus where you add triggers, or you can to go the triggers tab.

There’s a blue plus in the upper right-hand corner of the Choose a trigger page. Clicking that will open another tab with the same options as you’d get if you’d click on the New button in the Triggers option in the column.

Google Tag Manager

You Can Also Go To Triggers > New

At this screen, you’ll select Trigger Configuration, and get this menu of options.

Trigger Options in Google Tag Manager

A Lot Of Things Can Trigger Your Tag

As you can see, the options are incredible. You have clicks on the page and clicked links. You have form submissions, scroll depths, and YouTube Video information. If you have custom coding for a trigger, you can even code that in. It’s pretty incredible.

Make sure to name each trigger you create applicably so you can use them again and again with different tags.

Also keep in mind that each trigger will have more options on it. For instance, the Clicks – All Elements trigger has the option of triggering on all clicks or just some.

Google Tag Manager

Change To Some Clicks

The trigger can be set to fire based on page information.

Google Tag Manager

One of Your Options

If you want it to fire based on if it matches, does not match, etc.

Google Tag Manager

Read Carefully

And then you define the page’s URL. You can even include multiple preliminaries that must be matched or can be matched before a trigger is activated.

Google Tag Manager

Define Your Pages’ URL Here

After you have your triggers set up, there are two other things you’ll need to decide for your Google Tag Manager. These two decisions are what variables you’d like to set up and if you’d like to implement folders.

Variables in Google Tag Manager

A variable is a specific set of criteria you can assign to a tag or trigger. When you assign a variable to a tag, you’re telling Google Tag Manager to record a specific bit of data or a specific value. When you assign a variable to a trigger, you’re telling the GTM when the trigger should be fired.

For example, a variable that can be assigned to a tag would be a variable assigned to gather the amount of money spent in a transaction. A variable for a trigger would be a URL variable that will only fire the trigger when a certain URL is loaded.

Google Tag Manager offers built-in variables, but it also allows you to build your own variables as well.

Google Tag Manager Variables

Where You Find Your Variables

At any time, you can click the Variables option in the left column to view the ones you have set up. If you’d like to add a built-in variable, you’ll click on configure to select from the list of ones that Google has set up. If you’d like to make a new one, you’ll click on the new option next to User-Defined Variables.

When we cover tag examples later on, we’ll discuss some options you have with Variables.

Folders in Google Tag Manager

Perhaps the easiest thing to understand in Google Tag Manager is the Folders. Folders are ways of grouping together your tags, triggers, and variables. If you need to make a group exclusively for a team in your company, or if you want to organize your things by projects, folders make it super easy.

Folders have a pretty universal purpose, from filing cabinets, to your computer’s hard drive, to Google Drive, they all use folders to group and store information. While you don’t need to use folders to have the information (such as the tags, triggers, and variables) exist, folders make the organization incredibly easy.

Folders can be found in the last option of the left-hand column. To create a new one, click New Folder.

Google Tag Manager

Where To Find Your Folders

Right after you click New Folder, it will ask you to name the folder.

Google Tag Manager

Be Creative

Then you can click the three dots on the new folder to add new tags, triggers, and variables.

Google Tag Manager

Add New Tags, Triggers, or Variables To This Folder

And there you go, things are filed and organized.

Submitting Your Changes

Once you have everything organized and created, you have a few more things to do.

First, you’ll want to return to your Overview screen. There is where you’ll see the changes you made:

Workspace Changes in Google Tag Manager

View Workspace Changes

From there, you have a few options.

Google Tag Manager

Abandon or View Changes

If you click on the three dots next to the email address, you’ll see that you can Abandon Change to delete what you did. Or you can View Change to open a new tab and review all the changes made.

As covered earlier, if you added new tags, you can enter preview mode to make sure everything is running smoothly. If you add new tags, triggers, or variables, you definitely will want to check your website in preview mode to make sure nothing is causing an error.

But after you’re satisfied with all changes, you’ll click that Submit button in the right-hand corner, and all changes will be immediately applied.

Google Tag Manager

It’s Over Now

Done and done.

What the Google Tag Manager Can Track For You

After this last section, you should have a basic understanding of how to navigate the basics of Google Tag Manager. You may even understand how to add tags, triggers, and variables. However, something is missing. You don’t have an inkling of what you can do with it?

Well little Hobbit, you’ll want to hug me like I’m Gandalf by the end of this because I’ve included several ideas for your GTM arsenal.

Google Tag Manager

I’m Gandalf here.

Either way, let’s cover some of the best practices and best ways to use the Google Tag Manager. That way you not only know how to use this tool but some things you can do with it as well.

Your First Tag – Google Analytics

The very, very first tag you’ll want to implement should be Google Analytics. Not only is Google Analytics a basic necessity for any website, but the two Google products also accomplish so much more together.

Google Analytics is one of those built-in 3rd party tags. (Although, is it really 3rd party if both companies are Google?) Either way, adding Google Analytics to the GTM is incredibly easy.

Start by clicking on the New Tag option:

Google Tag Manager

New Tag

This will pop open the new tab where you’ll want to click the Tag Configuration to begin setting up the new tag. Universal Analytics is generally at the top, but you can also search for Google Analytics tags to add as well.

Once you add the Google Analytics tag, you’ll have a few options to look at:

Google Tag Manager

Options For Google Analytics

As it’s your first tag, you can start by leaving most of these settings alone. The Track Type will ask when you want the tag to fire. Page View is a great place to start. Then to make sure your Google Tag Manager is accessing the right Google Analytics account, you’ll click on the drop down labeled Google Analytics Settings.

Google Tag Manager

Enter Your GA Tracking ID

From there, you’ll enter your Google Analytics Tracking ID.

Finding Your Google Analytics Tracking ID

When you want to find your Google Analytics Tracking ID, you’ll pop open a new tab and go to analytics.google.com.

After you log in, you’ll go the settings gear in the bottom left-hand corner, and make sure you’re in Amin view. The middle column, Property, will have the option of Tracking Info. Click on that to expand it, and click Tracking Code.

Tracking Code will slide open a new tab where your Tracking ID will be at the very top.

After you enter the Google Analytics Tracking ID, you’ll have the option of looking at some Advanced Settings. These allow you to rank the tag’s priority, enable a schedule, assign the tag to only fire in published containers, determine how often per event the tag fires, and decide if you want another tag to fire before or after this one. That’s a lot of options, and you really don’t need to mess with any of them right away.

The last thing you’ll need to add before you save your new tag is the Trigger.

You’ll start by clicking the Triggering box, and add what you’d like to make the tag fire. Since this is your basic of basic tag, you’ll want it to fire on all pages. This is what your tag will look like before you save it:

Google Tag Manager

Adding The Trigger

You can name it from here, but when you go to save it, GTM will suggest a name for you.

Tracking Events With Variables

Knowing if someone has visited your page is just not enough. What you have on your landing page, and what people do on your landing page is just as important as the act of visiting it.

Before Google Tag Manager, you’d email your development team to add different codes for each action available on your landing page. Now you’ll just select variables to track from the list of built-in variables, or you can add code into GTM to make your own variable.

The most specific event you’ll want to enable with GTM is clicks:

Google Tag Manager

Select All The Clicks

The reason why you’ll enable these options is to track if a click happens and what’s being clicked on. This means if you have links on your page, a link click can be tracked. If you have a video on your page, a click that plays the video can be tracked. This can bring in some important data and a whole world of options.

Time Spent on Site Tracking

Don’t skip this section yet. We know that Google Analytics can track someone’s time spent on your website. However, we should look into the how, first.

Let’s say a visitor lands on your webpage; Google Analytics will track how long they’re on your page. Then if that visitor goes to another page, Google Analytics will track that time spent on the other page as well. However, these will be recorded as two separate events and two separate amounts of time spent.

If you’d like to track the total time amount spent by a visitor, no matter how many pages they bounce between, GTM can help with that. You’ll need to enable a new trigger called a Timer.

Timer Trigger in Google Tag Manager

Timer Trigger

When you go to create a new trigger, you’ll scroll to the bottom, where it says Other, and you’ll click on the Timer. Then it’ll give you some options:

Timer Trigger Options in Google Tag Manager

Fill Out The Options

Leave the name as it auto-fills. 1,000 milliseconds equals 1 second, so choose the amount of time between firing events based on that information. You’ll want the tag to only be able to fire once so it tracks a continuous session. Lastly, you’ll want to enable the trigger to fire on all webpages.

After you’ve created and saved the Timer Trigger, you’ll want to create a new tag for Google Analytics. When you create a new tag for Google Analytics, you’ll want to make sure you add the Firing Triggers to be Timer.

Firing Trigger Timer

It Should Look Like This

After you have that all set up, make sure to preview and test it, and then you’ll be good to go.

Form Downloads

Did you know that GTM can track downloads from your website? If you’re surprised, then you might have missed the bit about code being able to track literally anything. Regardless, the integration with Google Tag Manager is flawless.

While most of the times, downloads aren’t your conversions, they’re still valuable to track. You’ll want to track who is downloading what so you can gather a list of highly interested people. You can also track multiple download offers to see what your audience reacts best to.

When setting up tracking for an online download, you’ll need to create a trigger first. Here’s what it’ll look like:

Online Download Trigger Google Tag Manager

How To Track Downloads

So the trigger type would be Click – All Elements.

Then you’ll need to set it up to only fire on some clicks. The specifications of that click will be Page URL (which will be determined by you adding the trigger to a tag) matches RegEx (ignore case) .(the format of whatever you want to track)$. In this case, we’re tracking a PDF download, but you can track PDFs, PPTs, and PNGs. You can even track all at once.

Scroll Depth Tracking

While HotJar is the industry go-to for scroll depth tracking, Google Tag Manager can provide you with this information as well. If you want to see where your visitors are going on the page, you’ll want to set up this tag.

Google Tag Manager

As Good As Elf Eyes

It’ll be like having elf eyes on your visitors when they visit your page. There’s a few back and fourths here, so bear with me, and we’ll get this set up.

Trigger 1 – A New Page View

You’ll start by creating a trigger. This trigger will be super basic; just have it as a Page View Trigger that’s separate from your other page view. It’ll look like this:

Google Tag Manager

A Page View Will Do

You want this trigger to fire on all pages that load and have the opportunity to be scrolled through.

Tag 1 – Custom Scroll Depth HTML Tag

After you create your trigger, you’ll create the tag.

When you create the tag for this, it’ll need to be a Custom HTML Tag. You’ll want to use the tag found here.

It’ll look something like this:

Scroll Depth in Google Tag Manager

Pop That HTML In There

Make sure to add the trigger you just created to it, and save it. Then we’ll move on to creating Variables.

Variables – Only Four Of These Needed

There are four we need to create: a Category, an Action, a Label, and a Value.

You’ll start under Variables, click New next to the User-Defined Variables, and select Data Layer Variable smack in the middle.

Data Layer Variable Google Tag Manager

Data Layer Variable

Then you’ll name the variable like so:

Google Tag Manager

The Options You Have

Now repeat three more times.

You’ll end up having the following names for your variables:

  • eventCategory
  • eventAction
  • eventLabel
  • eventValue

Once those four are set up, you’ll need to add them to yet another tag! So pop back over to that Tag tab and add a new one.

Tag 2 – Google Analytics w/Event Track Type

This one will be a Google Analytics Tag with the Track Type set to an Event. Then you’ll match each of the variables you just created with their Event Tracking Parameter! Easy-peasy. The last setting you’ll need to change here will be the Non-Interaction Hit. Change it to True so it can’t affect your bounce rate. Here’s what it’ll look like:

Google Tag Manager

Google Analytics Scroll Depth Tag

Lastly, there’s one more trigger to make, and then I swear we’re done.

Trigger 2 – Event Equals Scroll Depth

The very last thing you’ll need to add to tie it all together will be the final trigger.

You’ll create a new one, assign it as a Custom Event, and name the event Scroll Depth. Like so:

Trigger 2 Scroll Depth in Google Tag Manager

The Trigger You’ll Use

After you’ve set this up, you’ll want to run the preview mode to test that it works. Then when you’re satisfied, you can publish everything.

Cross-Domain Tracking

Going from a complex subject to an even more difficult subject is gonna make you feel like this.

Google Tag Manager

Cross-Domain Tracking Makes Everyone Unhappy

However, it’s important to cover cross-domain tracking as it’ll play a vital part in most advertiser’s strategy at some point.

Let’s say you have two domains set up; one for webpages and one for a payment portal. This seems to be the most common example. Because your visitors will generally go from one domain to the next, you need to track what they do to make sure they’re completing the transaction.

Google Analytics will naturally track these visitors as two separate people because they’re visiting two separate domains. This where you need to set up tracking in Google Tag Manager to have a full understanding of your customer’s journey.

You used to have to set up a lot of variables, but Google’s made things a lot easier in recent times.

The Google Analytics Tag Settings

So start by opening your pre-existing Google Analytics Tag.

Under Google Analytics Settings, click the last option of Select Settings Variable. This will open a new pane for you to view.

Google Tag Manager

New Variable

In the new pane, you’ll click the dropdown labeled “More Settings”, and then pop open Cross Domain Tracking. In the box for Auto Link Domains, you’ll type in the domains you want to use, separated by commas.

Cross Domain Variables Google Tag Manager

The Variables Should Look Like So

The last thing you want to edit will be in your Fields to Set drop-down. You’ll want to make the Field Name allowLinker and the Value true.

Fields To Set Google Tag Manager

Set The Fields Like This

After you save all these settings and publish the container, you’re good to go.

Tag Sequencing

If you want your tags to fire in a certain order, tag sequencing is incredibly easy to set up.

You’ll pop open any one of your tags that you want to be in the sequence, and pop open Advanced Settings and then Tag Sequencing.

You’ll want your setup to look something like this:

Tag Sequencing Google Tag Manager

Tag Sequencing

You’ll check the option to fire a tag before or after the tag you’re using fires. And then the Setup Tag will open a list of pre-existing tags for you to add.

After you add the other tag, you’ll have an option to not fire one of the tags if the other fails. Pretty cool, huh?

Exclude Your Own IP Address

To be honest, as part of the marketing team, I spent a lot of time on my client’s websites. I mean…a lot of time. This can skew some data.

For instance, I clearly don’t convert every time I spend on my customers’ sites. I also don’t want the hours of stalking to be recorded as a very interested customer. So the solution is simple. I exclude my IP Address.

So let’s start with a variable. It’ll be a Data Layer Variable, and you’ll want to name it around your IP.

Visitor IP Google Tag Manager

The Variable

Something like this. Then, you’ll need to create a trigger. This will be a custom event, with the following set up:

IP Address Google Tag Manager

The Trigger

(As a note, I named my variable Linear IP. You’ll look for the name of your own variable in the list, and you’ll need to add your own IP address.)

Then you’ll add this event to your Google Analytics Tag. Voila, you’re good to go.

Adding Exceptions For Tags

If you want a tag to not fire for certain triggers, you can set those up. For instance, you may not want a tag to fire on certain webpages.

You’ll want to create a trigger for that specific webpage. (Remember, this will just be a new Page View” Trigger with the “URL equals /whatever-page-you-want-to-exclude”.)

Add Exception Google Tag Manager

Click Add Exception

Then when you open the tag you want to add the exception to, you’ll add it under the Firing Triggers. Once you save and publish the container, you’ll have an exception created.

Get Alerted of JavaScript Errors

The last tag we’ll cover here is one that will track and inform you of JavaScript errors.

If your JavaScript isn’t working on your website, it can really mess with your data. It can also ruin your website’s performance for your customers. Basically, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong if your JavaScript isn’t working as it should.

There are three parts to this set up, a trigger, a tag, and variables. Thankfully, most of it is already in Google Tag Manager for you; it’s just waiting to be set up.

The Trigger

This is already in your pre-made triggers list. You’ll start by finding the JavaScript Error trigger type.

JavaScript Error Trigger in Google Tag Manager

JavaScript Error

Just go ahead and add it in so you’ll create your ready-to-use trigger.

The Tag

Here is where you’ll create something new, kind of. You’ll copy your Google Analytics Tag.

To do this, pop open that tag, and click on the three dots in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll see the option for copy.

Copy Tag in Google Tag Manager

Copy The Tag

Once you copy it, you’ll automatically be in the new copy, ready to edit. Make sure to name this tag in a way that you’ll remember it’s for your JavaScript Errors. You will need to change the Track Type to an Event, and update the other options like so:

JS Error Tag in Google Tag Manager

Update All The Options

That will be your tag’s settings done and done. Lastly, we’ll need to double check the variables.

The Variables

You’ll hop over the Variables tab and click Configure next to the Built-In Variables. When it pops open, you’ll make sure the boxes are checked, like so:

Errors in Google Tag Manager

Check All Your Boxes

Once they’re configured, you can see them in your list of Built-In Variables.

Built In Variables in Google Tag Manager

Check Your List To Make Sure They’re All There

And then you’re all set for tracking JavaScript Errors.

We’ve Tagged The Google Tag Manager

Alright, that’s a wrap on Google Tag Manager.

After reading this, any marketer should be able to run their very own Google Tag Manager. Remember that there are many more tags out there on the internet, so if you need something specific done, you might be able to find it.

Google Tag Manager

Happy Day

This is me when I find the perfect custom HTML code for a new event I need to track.

Marketers, let us know how Google Tag Manager works for you. If we missed anything, let us know in the comments.

Evie Welborn

Account Manager

Evie is dedicated to keeping an eagle eye on her PPC and digital marketing accounts. When she’s not scouring through her accounts to make sure they’re flawless, she can be found ascending new heights in the local mountains or hiding inside the rock climbing gym when it’s too cold.

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