10 Things You Can Track with Google Tag Manager

By LeVi Pham
Image source: AnalyticsMania 

In our previous blog post on the topic, we covered the basics of Google Tag Manager (GTM) including its benefits and how to set up. In this article, we will provide you with guides on how to enable the 10 most popular tracking metrics and save you some time spent Googling them! This list is by no means exhaustive - there are many default tags and custom tags that can be added to suit your marketing strategy. Take time to experiment with different tags, triggers, and variables to improve data gathering and gain useful insights into your campaign performance.

  1. Button Clicks

  2. Button clicks are the most important points of conversion on many websites. Some examples of buttons you might want to track include: navigation bar, subscribe/sign-up, “Learn More,” and just about any calls to action. The key difference to note is that there can be two types of click triggers set up for buttons: All Elements or Just Links. As their titles imply, the All Elements trigger tracks clicks of any element (link, image, button, etc.) while the Just Links trigger tracks link clicks only. If an HTML element is clicked and it (or its parent elements) has no hyperlink, the Just Links trigger will not catch that event. An “Add to Cart” button would be an example of a non-link button where an All Elements trigger is needed to send the click event to Google Analytics.

    By comparing the GTM clicks report to the purchases report in Google Analytics, you can gain some insight into the conversion rate of your site, identify particular drop-offs, and make some changes to your flow or design. A guide on how to set up triggers for generic and custom buttons can be found on Luca Tagliaferro’s blog.

  3. Scroll Tracking

  4. Scroll tracking is especially useful if you have a content-heavy site that aims to keep the user engaged for long periods. While standard pageview tracking on Google Analytics tells you that a web page was loaded, it does not tell you whether the user scrolled to view the content on the page. Enabling scroll tracking in GTM will help you understand metrics like Bounce Rate more thoroughly and tailor your marketing strategy according to users’ behaviour on your website. For example, you can show an additional promo banner at 25% of page depth to catch users that are about to leave the page or to try to collect their email so you can reconnect with them later. ClickInsight’s tutorial can show you how to set up scroll tracking in a few simple steps.

  5. Outbound Links

  6. For many, it is just as important to identify exit paths from your website through outbound links as tracking entry points. It is crucial to keep track of links that may have become outdated or broken. Although outbound links can be tracked with Google Analytics, this process requires you to manually add additional JavaScript code directly to your site. With GTM, you can set up a simple Trigger + Auto-Event Variable combination to start tracking outbound links without changing the base code.

    To track outbound links, you need to set up two things:

    1. A Variable which captures the hostname of the clicked link 
    2. A Click Trigger which has a filter for your site’s hostname 

    You can view Simo Ahava’s guide on how to set up these things in GTM. After this process, simply link the trigger back to Google Analytics by adding a new tag to track Outbound links.


  8. Google Analytics does not automatically track PDFs and other downloadable files
    because they do not trigger JavaScript. You will need to use a plugin or put additional event tracking codes onto your website that corresponds to the file. However, this process can quickly become time-consuming and complicated if you need to track many downloadable files. With GTM, you can simply set up an event trigger that will fire every time a visitor clicks your download link, which includes file extensions such as .pdf or .docx in the URL. JeffAlytics offers a quick guide on this process in his blog.

  9. Social Media

  10. In GTM, you can install pixels to measure ads performance on social media platforms as well as to install features onto your website without editing the page directly. GTM currently support tags from Facebook (which includes Instagram), Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. A list of Facebook features that can be added are shown on Social Media Examiner, which includes the Customer Chat Plugin, Alerts for Comments, or measuring conversions from Facebook traffic. Read on to find out how to measure ad performance on other social media platforms!

  11. Ads

  12. You may already know the importance of monitoring ads with Google Analytics. Google Ads and Google Analytics go hand in hand to provide you with a full picture of how well your ads are performing. Google Ads can provide detailed reporting on Ad Spend and Ad Performance, while Google Analytics can show you the path your visitors take through your website and the factors that influence the conversion rate. While you can easily link Google Adwords with Analytics, what about monitoring ads on other platforms? This is where GTM comes in. It allows you to link other ad platforms without having to paste additional code into your templates or individual pages. ClixMarketing offers a guide on other popular ad platforms and how to set them up in GTM.

    Related Article: How to Improve Your Adwords Campaign

  13. Form Submissions

  14. Form submissions are one of the most popular conversion actions on a website and are often the key goal of email, social media, or other digital marketing campaigns. However, the variety of available tools, plugins, and scripts for implementing forms on a website meant that there is no comprehensive solution for tracking all forms of submissions. You can check out AnalyticsMania’s very comprehensive guide on how to set up tracking on a standard HTML form as well as other types of forms. This includes “Thank You” page tracking, AJAX forms, Element Visibility triggers, and more.

  15. Video Views

  16. GTM offers native support for YouTube video tracking through its built-in Youtube video trigger. It can capture the start and complete points of videos, as well as a user’s progress (e.g. 25%, 50%, 75%) and behaviours (pause, seeking, and buffering). It also supports lazy-loaded or dynamically inserted videos, which is useful for sites that defer loading videos until they are interacted with by the user. Simo Ahava gives a step-by-step guide of the setup process for video tracking in GTM. If your website uses other types of video players such as Vimeo or JW Player, you can set them up using different GTM container templates (or Recipes) as shown here.

  17. Phone Calls

  18. There are several ways you can track phone calls with Google Tag Manager, which includes calls on Google Ads as well as website calls. To track phone numbers called directly from your website, you can use the same process as that for tracking link clicks, given that your phone number is shown as a hyperlink (formatted as href=”tel:555-555-5555” in your html code). You can see this post from AbsentData for a detailed step-by-step process.

    GTM has a tag type called “Google Ads Calls from Website Conversion” which integrates directly with Google Ads to track phone calls, enabling you to track everything in one place. Before setting this up, you would need to create another tag to swap out the existing phone number on the site with a free Google Forwarding Number. This is necessary because Google Analytics cannot track phone calls on its own. If you have multiple phone numbers on the page, they can all be replaced with one Google Forwarding Number. View Bounteous’ article for some guidance with the process. Finally, do not forget to create goals in your Google Analytics account to analyze this information with regards to Acquisition. After you have set up your Goal, you can see the channels, sources, etc. that converted the most.

  19. E-commerce

  20. There are two different implementation methods for tracking e-commerce in Google Analytics: 

    1. Standard e-commerce: this report allows you to measure transactions and analyze purchase activity, such as product and transaction information, average order value, conversion rate, time to purchase, and other data 
    2. Enhanced e-commerce: adds functionality to the standard e-commerce reports, to include metrics like: when customers added items to their shopping carts, when they started the checkout process, and when they completed a purchase.
    This information is important to help you optimize your digital marketing campaigns, and potentially alter the flow, content, or design of your target site(s). You can analyze where or why people are potentially abandoning your cart or the sales funnel. Use the data to create a better experience for the customer and improve your sales. See this guide from Google to learn how to implement Google Analytics ecommerce tags with GTM.
The Final Verdict

Google Tag Manager is a powerful tool that provides you with endless possibilities and freedom to collect marketing data. If the above list overwhelms you, remember that you do not need to track every single thing on your website! Keep in mind these last few tips to maximize the benefits of Google Tag Manager:
  • Create a measurement plan and track only what matters for a specific project - reduce the noise and avoid errors!
  • ALWAYS test and use debugging tools before publishing your tags - free Chrome extensions such as Tag Assistant and GA Debugger are among the most popular tools.
  • Compare data between Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics - make sure they are consistent and avoid double tagging.
For more information and tips on Google Tag Manager implementation, speak to an UpOnline representative today!