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Google Analytics Events in Tag Manager

As mentioned in an earlier post on Event Tracking, Events are used to track things that are not automatically tracked in Google Analytics, such as links to third-party sites, PDF downloads, clicks on mailto: or tel:, or some user action with a video on the site.  Since these are examples of interactions that do not include a pageload on the site with a new URL in the address bar, they are good candidates for events.  With Google Tag Manager (GTM), Events are managed a bit differently and “tags” – or code –  is fired in response to an event.

With auto-event tracking, all events that are recorded in analytics are based on triggers rather than separate tags.  These triggers are what determine when the tag should fire.  Filters are applied on the triggers to determine the condition for the tag to fire. So with auto-events in GTM, you have triggers, tags, and filters to consider.  A user takes action (the event) and causes Google to activate the trigger to fire the tag which is based on a filter.

Let’s examine how this works when someone clicks on a section of your site.

  1. In this case, to record the action of clicking on a section of your site, you choose a trigger of “Click” in your GTM.
  2. When a new popup is displayed asking you to create the Trigger, you can choose “all clicks”.
  3. Name the trigger “Click” and select the trigger type of “Click” to keep it simple for this example.
  4. Once the trigger it set up, give it a name and include the UA code for your Google Analytics.
  5. The Category field will need a name which can be “Page Click” for simplicity’s sake with “Page URL” in the action (which can be selected from the menu in GTM).  That way, every time a click happens, the event tracks the specified page.
  6. The Label URL would be “Click URL” to track the links clicked.
  7. Preview what you did (and debug if needed).

In addition to recording a click on the site, there is also an option to trigger after a certain amount of time.  If a user spends a lot of time on a site, but does not trigger any events, a timed trigger can be used every 25 minutes to keep a session going since the default is to timeout after every 30 minutes.  This is helpful if you want to record a specific amount of time on site.

Submission of a form on the website is an event that can be recorded using the Form Submit event.  Here are some considerations with forms:

  1. You can fire the tag for any form submission (“All Forms”) or define which forms on your site should trigger (“Some Forms”).
  2. There are additional options to use with your forms.  If you want to “wait for tags”, the form submission will only happen after all relevant tags have fired.
  3. With “Check Validation”, a form submission event is recorded only when the form is successfully fired, rather than including attempted form completions.
  4. Filters used to determine when a form should trigger.  If the form to measure is on a page with a URL /myformpage, then your filter will specify the form completion is tracked when it is done on the page with the URL /myformpage.

As described in an earlier article on Event Tracking, each event with a category, label, and action are viewed in analytics under behavior.  You can also check events in the “Real Time” section of Google Analytics.  Using this real time data is an easy way to check event tracking immediately.

The great thing about events in GTM is that people who do not have strong technical skills can track their events without the assistance of IT (once GTM is setup).  Users will find many variables they need built-in (like Page URL), but can also create custom ones if needed.


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