After tackling Google Analytics a couple of weeks ago, we couldn’t leave it there.

Not when there’s one other tool that’s essential if you want accurate data.


We’re talking about Google Tag Manager or GTM – the grand tourer of the Google tool kit. (Sorry. Could not resist.)

What makes GTM indispensable? It’s designed to help marketers set up tools, tracking and plugins, without involving developers in the process.

You can use it to track the metrics you want and to add code to your site even if you can’t code.

In this workshop, we’re diving into the top tips, techniques and best practices for using GTM to boost conversions.

Our expert guest Magda from House of Progress shares her most successful uses of GTM and show us how she sets them up in the platform.

If you haven’t started using Google Tag Manager yet, you’ll get the foundation you need to do so right after the workshop. And if you’re using it, you’ll get to see some of Magda’s advanced tips in action.

Here’s what you don’t want to miss:

  • How to set up GTM so your data always tells the truth,
  • The framework Magda uses to set up tagging (and that you can swipe!),
  • Five metrics you can track (and how to get the most out of them),

And more.

Watch the recording below:

Transcript and slides

This is a lightly edited transcript to make it it easier to read- just incase you’d rather read through than watch! 

Here’s Magda’s wonderful workshop. Enjoy! 

Before digging into the workshop details, I’m going to tell you a few words about myself.

A few years I noticed that I love specific areas that are like only marketing, data analytics, and psychology. So, I thought that the perfect job for me will be a job that brings each of these three main areas together.

So then, three years ago, I founded House of Progress where my team and I are helping businesses to increase their revenue through a few areas of expertise. We specifically help companies design and implement comprehensive data analytics measurement plans. We also conduct qualitative and quantitative research and build paid funnels from MTN.

We know that bringing data and creativity together is not “a nice thing to have” anymore, it’s a must. And that’s why we are all here.

Google Tag Manager engagement tips every marketer should use

Going back to our topic for today, we are going to show you a few GTM setups that help you get additional data into Google Analytics, and most specifically engage with metrics that are going to be very, very useful for informing your decisions.

And the way we will go about it is that I’m going to:

  • Explain GTM just to make sure that we are aligned and we understand it’s value,
  • Slowly get into the user engagement setups that I built for you and explain the reasoning behind them.

What makes Google Tag Manager great?

Why GTM? Because GTM hasn’t been on the market for the last 10 years. It’s only been around for the last few years.

But here’s why it’s such an important tool:

GTM is a tag management system. It manages tags used for tracking analytics purposes from one single place. What does that mean?

We know that when we have to implement heat maps, AB testing tools, speak cells, events, Google Analytics and all these things, you have to connect them with your website. And, before GTM, it was an old way of doing it.

You had to take a lot of code snippets and add them to the backend of your website pages. That’s not very efficient and I am going to explain you why. The new way is to simply take all of the snippets and place them in a container in Google Tag Manager.

To be more specific, before GTM, the way that marketers were doing it was to simply take each code snippet for every event or for every Facebook ad or anything you should be tracking in there and put it on each page, on the back of the website. It was beyond time consuming.

But now given that we have GTM – and this tool is very efficient – you can directly go into your GTM account and only work from here and implement all the setups you need directly from anyones’ interface. And you can do all this without asking your developer to go through and place snippets  on each page.

So that’s why we are mainly using GTM, but there are also a few more additional benefits.

The benefits GTM brings to your life

1. Huge time saver

It’s a huge time saver. Let’s say that there are websites that don’t use a Content Management System like WordPress where it’s a bit easier to add custom tracking and tags, but you have like 200 pages.

If you don’t have GTM, you have to ask your developer to go in there every week and put an additional tag in the back of the website. And that’s a pretty redundant task for them. It’s not something that’s very enjoyable to do. It’s redundant and generally developers postpone it, so your tracking takes longer to implement…

2. Simple interface

GTM has a nice interface to work with. It takes a bit of time to understand the main components of  GTM, but once you get that going, it’s easy to work with. And you don’t have a lot of text hard-coded snippets on the website.

3. GTM makes your website faster

It speeds up your website, because the code gets a bit lighter. It’s also down to how GTM loads every script, each script after the previous scripts were loaded. So it has a specific way that applies when it closes scripts. That’s why the website is going to load way faster. And we know this is very important.

4. It’s free!

All the other Tag Management Systems are pretty expensive. This one, it’s free.

Engagement metrics

Before going through the setup, I’d like to mention a few things about engagement metrics, because these are generally not taken very seriously, even if they are very important. I see that in my day to day job and I see it in the results.

Generally, we’re interested in the bigger goal, the bigger objective, right? To increase the revenue.

But we have to understand that we need a better understanding of the micro level behavior that’s happening on the website, because how things work impacts the main objectives from the bottom up.

The micro-actions or the engagement metrics are going to affect the macro actions and macro goals. And then so far you’re just keeping to impact the KPIs and the objectives of the business. So as you see everything starts with the micro actions that are happening on the website and they do tell you if the users are engaged or not. This is where everything starts.

These specific small setups are going to send a lot of meaningful data into your Google Analytics account that can be used for advertising purposes.

So you are going to target the most engaged audiences, and it’s going to be way cheaper to acquire those clients.

These kinds of setups help you understand behavior patterns on the website. You just have to understand what people that convert are doing on your website, so you can scale that and increase the conversion rate.

Here’s another aspect not many are aware of. Product Managers use this kind of data to come up with new product features or to optimize the features they have.

Is the data lying to you?

I want to make sure that you’re looking at the current data, because we are working with … we’re doing a lot of audits on the data analytic side and only one out of ten businesses have accurate tracking.

Most of the times it’s a duplicate code that really impacts the data accuracy. It’s the lack of cross domain tracking, lack of subdomain tracking in all the other analytic setups that should be in there, but they are not.

Sometimes the data accuracy is impacted, it’s highly impacted, but also sometimes it’s about investing loads of additional time in answering a question.

For example, I was working this weekend to answer a few questions for a client, and instead of spending 10 minutes to get their report, I spent around six hours, because we had some data limitations in their qualify parameters that were not stripped and there were so many tweaks, I had to go around to really get the correct data and answer the questions in the correct manner.

So it’s very important to accurately set everything up – it saves you a lot of time later on.

User engagement metrics and examples

Cool! We are ready to go.

We have five GTM setups we are going to go through explaining the reasoning behind them and looking at some use cases for each one.

Just to make sure you understand that we have this container – GTM container – that you can simply import into your Google account, into Google Tag Manager account.

All the setups are done in there, you can simply import them in your account and adapt them. You have to make sure that you are going to test and adapt the setups, because they vary a bit from website to website, from the website structure to another website structure.

You can easily apply them on the website and – if it’s necessarily – you can ask a colleague that’s more technical to test the tags you’re going to see after importing the container.

1. Scroll depth and time spent event

The first one we are going to look at – it’s a very interesting one – and this Scroll Depth and Time Spent Event because this is not only sending valuable data into Google Analytics, but also it sorts data accuracy issue that Google Analytics has by default.

Let me explain why.

Let’s say that we have these contexts that’s happening into different sessions on two different pages or on the same page.

A visitor lands on an article page, spends 15 minutes reading it, then exits the website without visiting a second page. So Google Analytics registers the data differently. If there’s no tags implemented or if there’s a tag implement.

So if by default there is nothing you have implemented in Google Analytics, if we are considering this specific behavior, like somebody that came on one page, spent 15 minutes in there, but didn’t go to the second page, Google Analytics is going to tell you that the visitor spent zero minutes on the website and bounced.

But if you want to really send accurate data and tell Google Analytics that the visitor spent 15 minutes, and it’s an engaged visitor, somebody that has been there for 15 minutes and scrolls at least 65% of the page is an engaged visitor.

Only by having this tag implemented can Google Analytics track the correct data. I wanted to make sure you understand that this is also a tag that has field data accuracy, but of course we also want to send an event to Google Analytics, and the event was like this.

If the event is going to be sending to Google Analytics and then these two triggers [in the screenshot above] are going to happen. The scroll depth is going to be more than 65% and the time spent on the page is going to be more than one minute.

The event is not going to be sent if only one of these triggers is achieved, but only if both of them are happening.

Why? Because if somebody simply scrolls 80% of the page but bounces within 10 seconds, they’re not an engaged visitor. Or if the user opens the webpage and simply leaves ot there without scrolling at least 10%. That’s again, it’s not gonna engage visitors, so that’s why I set up these two triggers so this is data that is going to show up in Google Analytics.

This is a very basic report, but of course you can combine the event action with multiple variables. It might be the page, it might be the source, the channel, and the device and so on.

And also it’s about how you … what are the metrics that you are adding to the report? So for example, if we’re looking at these specific reports, we can see what pages people are most engaged on, and the action that’s happened, and the event action that’s happening.

A few use cases:

You can only re-target because the Google Analytics now knows what’s happening, who is scrolling more than 65% of the page and spends more than one minute on it.

You can now only target this engaged customers through advertising, and you can show them the exact content they are interested in, like content products they visited before. Also, it’s a nice way to understand what are the topics, what are the pages? If that’s the content that gets the attention of the audience, and you have to scale more of that.

It might be that it’s about a few articles. You have them on the blog, and you want to give more content, but you don’t know … what’s getting the attention. So it’s a very useful and efficient way to do it.

2. Social sharing event

The next one, the next event or GTM engagement setup that we want to look at, is the Social Sharing Event.

So let’s say that we want to find out what content we should distribute, repurpose or advertise on specific social media channels. And then we also want to find out what the characteristics of the visitors who are sharing the content are.

The challenges are where they’re coming from, who they are, and how they are behaving on the website and so on. So we can know what kind of visitors we have to attract in the near future, so they can … they share more of all our content.

This is the GTM setup we have in there. We are going to see this kind of data in Google Analytics, and we’ll see where a specific social media share was happening on what page. And of course you can look up the data and a lot of questions by combining the event actions with different variables and metrics and so on.

3. Drop down list selection event

The next one it’s a very interesting one. I’m going to show you how we apply the hostile progress website.

So how we are going to check the drop down list selection. Let’s say that we have this kind of form [see screenshot above] on the website. It’s a sign up form and we want to understand what’s the job of the people that are interested in the content we’re offering, and the information we are putting on the website.

Let’s say that use cases are … that we want to understand where, in one specific group, the visitors fall in terms of the job role they have. Also, we want to create meaningful content for the top roles that are visiting the website according to the job challenges they have. I mean they’re not a fixed area. And then also we want to target visitors on social media channels in a personalized manner.

I’m not going to speak with an entrepreneur the way I’m speaking with a data analyst person, because it’s a different language. So that’s the way it’s possible to reach out in them in a personalized way.

So for this specific event that’s going to be sending Google Analytics, we have two tags. This is a more complex implementation, so we had to combine two GTM tags, and then this is the way we are going to see the data in Google Analytics. We can see that event category has the same name. It makes sense and then the event action is how many of the people that were engaging with the sign up for more in advertising were data analysts, entrepreneurs and so on.

Again, a lot of questions can be answered, it depends on what you want to find out.

4. Comment event

Another very interesting setup, and one especially useful for the blog section, will be to find out which  blog posts have the most comments.

This is a question you can answer with Google Analytics and then you have to dig a bit more to understand why that’s happening, then analyze the types of article that are getting a very high percentage of comments, right?

So the tag that you are going to see in the container, it looks like this [screenshot above], it’s forum comments tag.

And then you are going to see this way the data is going to be shown in this way in Google Analytics.

If we want to see what pages are getting the most comments you have to simply combine a given category with a secondary dimension like page.

5. Sign up event

Last but not least, we have a signup event. This is a traditional Button Click Event.

If you are going to look at this one, you can take the tag and adapt it for more types of button clicks is not only available only for this sign up button. So this is the kind of implementation you are going to do regardless of the button you want to track.

Let’s say that you have multiple sign up buttons, sign up CTAs across the website and had their hero section, side bar, content upgrade and so on. And you want to find out which one works. To know which one you have to emphasize a bit more and which ones you have to simply give up, because they aren’t working. Like buttons that lose the attention of the visitors.

Another question – another thing we might be curious to find out – is this: if there is a signup CTA that’s placed on many pages, you want to find out which pages are bringing the most signups, and then we have this specific GTM tag. That’s also a tag that sends an event in Google tag and Google Analytics, and you really can also play with reports and see, which are the questions you wanted to ask and see where the signups are happening.

Again, digging in to see why things happening.

How do I use all this information?

Before taking a closer look at the next steps for you to leverage this kind of set-up and to extract insightful and actionable data.

I wanted to mention that after you look at this kind of report, and you want to really understand and correctly answer the questions, you have also to understand the context of the data.

So for example, I’ve seen people running a few customer interviews…  if we are going to ask ourselves on what pages the people are commenting the most, is that enough of an answer to say “that’s happening on this specific page?” It’s not.

You have to understand and to look … to take a look at the pages to understand why something is happening. To understand what kind of people are visiting the webpage and dig a bit more to have a comprehensive answer to your questions. So my main idea is to give a bit more context to the data, not only looking at the numbers in there because it’s so valuable and meaningful way to do this.

You might be thinking, “Okay, we are doing a lot of implementation.” But it’s engagements at tops where being that it’s macro goals that you are tracking in Google Analytics, but there’s a lot of data.

So apart from these simple questions we are asking above, there are so many ways to look at data and to finding meaningful insights.

My recommendation will be to firstly choose the most challenging issues that your website … and the only reason has when it comes to bringing … to bring more qualified traffic or to increase the conversion rate or rates on the website. Then start building a list of the top 5 to 10 meaningful micro or macro actions to track on the website. You can start with importing the setups I presented above. Just import them and adapt it for your website, and a way for the data to come in.

It might be a few weeks, it might be two, three months. It depends on the amount of traffic your business gets monthly, and then you have to start asking questions and digging into your data. The way we are generally doing that is that we start with data segmentation strategy, and we have a framework we are following, and I’m going to share with you to give you access to a strategy framework example, so you understand how to find out those meaning meaningful questions and how to not get overwhelmed by so much data.

So you are going to see in the framework that in order to find the best questions, you have to combine the kind of micro set, micro engagement setups we have mentioned above. Also, you have to combine these setups and metrics, micro metrics with variables like device, source, channel, gender, age, and so many other things just to come up with meaningful questions.


Sophia: I have two questions. Carl says,

“I have a WordPress site, and found that GTM slows the site down, particularly page load speeds, which affects SEO scores and user experience.

Are you saying that GTM is quicker? So writing code snippets for each page, it doesn’t speed the site up, it just doesn’t slow it down as much as the alternative.”

Magda: Yeah. So there’s so many things that impact the load page time. I’m not sure it’s only about the GTM, and I will say that for sure having the GTM on your website is better than having a lot of scripts on the website, because also the way that GTM works,  the code snippets are loaded in a synchronous way.

So before the visitor sees the page, GTM doesn’t wait to load 100% all of those scripts. It simply loads them one by one and at the same time also it shows the page. But if you have the script’s hard coded the visitor has to wait for all the scripts to load 100% one by one, and only after the first script is 100% loaded, the second one is going to be loaded.

So it’s in a synchronous way and for sure the GTM is a better way to improve the load page timing that … But there’s so many things that impact that, especially when you’re using WordPress. Pay attention to the plugins you are using because if you’re having loads of them it might also impact the load time.

One piece of advice I have is this: please you use the page speed insights Google tool. That’s going to tell you specifically what affects the load time.

Sophia: Okay, cool. Carl says thanks. Neo asks:

“How would you look for duplicate codes if the client isn’t using GTM yet?”

Magda: If you are just to briefly answer the question, you can use tools like GA Checker. GA Checker is going to tell you if you have a duplicated code. The Google assistant that’s also telling you if you have duplicated code issues.

Sophia: Okay, awesome. So Vic was saying, “What GTM manager do you use?” So you don’t use one?

Magda: No, generally yeah, this plugin does what you’re talking about. Yeah. I will not use plugins for implementing GTM on WordPress. That would be my answers to this.

Sophia: So Yusuf says,

“I use a code snippet which disables GTM for login admins. Is this okay?”

Magda: Let’s see. We disable GTM for login admins. What do you mean by login admins? Your visitors that are logging in into your dashboards or the people that are logging into WordPress. If you can give me a bit … I suppose that’s for logged in visitors that are just signing in the dashboard. Is that right Yusuf?

If I log in in WordPress. That’s interesting. It’s … for me, it sounds like it’s a filter that simply filters the people that are working with the WordPress. I’m not sure why you are using it. What was the purpose for this? Because I don’t see it, like if you want to make sure that the data and the test you are doing it … you are doing in Google Analytics. I’m an individual working on the website. So I suppose for this data accuracy, for data accuracy purposes you simply don’t want to do have your tasks and your behavior in Google Analytics.

So the way we are doing it is we simply implement Google Analytics filter that excludes the IP of the people we are working with, people from agencies and developers and so on. So, that’s the way we are doing it. If you also have a code snippet that enables that, that’s good, but the best way to just to simply implement the filter without adding additional code on the website because that’s the meaning of the IP filters in Google Analytics.

So I a recommended to not only do that for yourself, to exclude you from the usual traffic, but also exclude the agencies you are working with, developers, contractors and so on. So gather all those IPs and set up a filter for them to exclude from the usual traffic. Yeah, thanks. Thanks for asking the questions. If you have any additional questions, please send them across and I’m going to answer within maximum a few days. Thank you so much.

Resources Magda mentioned:

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