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Creating and Managing Custom Tags in Google Tag Manager for Your WordPress Site (Intermediate)

13 min read

Introduction

Note: This is the seventh article in our comprehensive series on mastering Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager for WordPress sites. As we progress further, it’s beneficial to review our previous articles, especially the one on setting up Google Tag Manager, to build a cohesive understanding.

Goal: By the end of this article, you will be adept at creating and managing custom tags in Google Tag Manager (GTM) for your WordPress site. This knowledge is key to enhancing your tracking capabilities and unlocking deeper insights into user interactions on your website.

In the world of digital analytics, custom tags in GTM represent a significant leap forward in the way we track and analyse website data. These custom tags allow for the granular tracking of specific user behaviours, from the simple action of button clicks to the complexities of form submissions and beyond. The ability to capture these nuanced interactions is pivotal in gathering rich, actionable data that drives informed decisions for optimising your online presence.

This article will guide you through the intricate process of creating and managing these custom tags. We’ll explore their practical applications, demonstrate how to set them up in GTM, and discuss their profound impact on website analytics. By harnessing the power of custom tags, you open up a world of possibilities for detailed data analysis, enhancing your ability to tailor your website and marketing strategies to the unique needs and behaviours of your audience.

Creating Custom Tags in GTM

Understanding Custom Tags

What are Custom Tags?

Custom tags in Google Tag Manager (GTM) are user-defined tags that track specific actions or events on your website, beyond the standard data collected by pre-configured tags like Google Analytics pageview tags. These custom tags are essential for capturing detailed information about how users interact with various elements of your site, providing deeper insights into their behaviour.

Purpose of Custom Tags

The primary purpose of custom tags is to collect data that is not automatically tracked by standard analytics tools. For example, while a standard Google Analytics setup tracks page views, it doesn’t automatically track interactions like button clicks, form submissions, or video plays. Custom tags fill this gap by allowing you to define and capture these specific user interactions as events.

Significance in Capturing User Interactions

Custom tags are instrumental in understanding user behaviour on a granular level. They enable you to:

  • Track specific actions, like downloads, sign-ups, or engagement with multimedia content.
  • Gain insights into how users interact with call-to-action buttons or navigation elements.
  • Measure the effectiveness of various components of your website in engaging users or driving conversions.

This level of detail is crucial for optimising your website’s user experience and enhancing the performance of your online marketing campaigns. By analysing the data from custom tags, you can identify what resonates with your audience, what needs improvement, and how to better align your website with your business goals.

Step-by-Step Tag Creation

Creating a Custom Tag in GTM

Creating a custom tag in GTM involves defining the type of interaction you want to track, configuring the tag, and setting up appropriate triggers. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Access Your GTM Dashboard:
    • Log in to your Google Tag Manager account.
    • Select the appropriate container for your website.
  2. Create a New Tag:
    • In GTM, navigate to the ‘Tags’ section.
    • Click on the ‘New’ button to initiate the creation of a new tag.
  3. Choose Tag Type:
    • Select ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Event’ as your tag type.
    • You’ll need your GA4 Measurement ID, which you can find in your GA4 property.
  4. Configure Tag Settings:
    • Enter the GA4 Measurement ID.
    • Define the Event Name and Event Parameters. For instance, if you’re tracking button clicks, your configuration might be:
      • Event Name: “subscribe_button_click”
      • Parameters:
        • event_category: “Button Clicks”
        • event_label: “Subscribe Button – Footer”
    • These parameters will be used in GA4 to identify and report on the specific user interactions.
  5. Set Up a Trigger:
    • Triggers in GTM determine when your tag will fire.
    • For tracking a button click, create a trigger based on ‘Click’ events.
    • Specify the trigger conditions, such as the Click Classes, Click ID, or Click Text that matches your button.
  6. Test Your Tag:
    • Use GTM’s preview mode to test your tag.
    • Navigate to your site with the preview window open to ensure the tag fires correctly when the defined action (e.g., button click) occurs.
  7. Publish the Tag:
    • Once you confirm the tag works as expected, publish your GTM container.
    • This will activate the tag on your live website.

Example: Tracking a Form Submission

  • Tag Configuration:
    • Tag Type: Choose ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Event’ instead of ‘Google Analytics – Universal Analytics’.
    • Configuration Tag: Enter your GA4 Configuration Tag. This is necessary to send data to your GA4 property. You’ll need your GA4 Measurement ID for this.
    • Event Name: Enter an event name like ‘newsletter_signup’.
    • Event Parameters:
      • event_category: “Form Submission”
      • event_action: “Newsletter Sign-Up”
      • event_label: Use a variable that captures the form’s name or ID.
  • Trigger Setup:
    • Trigger Type: Choose ‘Form Submission’ as in Universal Analytics.
    • Set Conditions: Specify which form submissions should trigger this tag, such as triggering only on forms with a specific ID or form name.

By following these steps, you can create custom tags in GTM to track virtually any type of interaction on your WordPress site. This tailored tracking enables you to gather specific data points that are crucial for understanding user behaviour and optimising your website’s performance.

Setting Up Advanced Triggers in Google Tag Manager

Advanced Trigger Configuration

Understanding Advanced Triggers in GTM

Advanced triggers in Google Tag Manager (GTM) are critical for activating tags under specific conditions, allowing for nuanced data collection based on user interactions. While basic triggers like ‘All Pages’ are used for general tracking, advanced triggers let you capture detailed events, such as clicks on specific elements, form submissions, or interactions with dynamic content.

Role of Advanced Triggers

Advanced triggers determine when and how your custom tags fire. This precise control is essential for collecting targeted data that standard tracking might miss. For example, if you want to track how often a particular button is clicked or a specific form is submitted, advanced triggers can be configured to capture these events accurately.

Configuring Advanced Triggers

To set up an advanced trigger:

  1. Go to the Triggers Section in GTM:
    • Navigate to the ‘Triggers’ section within your GTM container.
    • Click ‘New’ to start creating a new trigger.
  2. Select the Trigger Type:
    • Choose a trigger type that matches the interaction you want to track. The choice depends on the specific user action you’re monitoring.
    • Common trigger types include:
      • ‘Click – All Elements’ for tracking all kinds of clicks on your website.
      • ‘Form Submission’ for tracking when forms are submitted.
      • ‘History Change’ which is particularly useful for single-page applications (SPAs) to track changes in the URL without a page reload.
  3. Define Trigger Conditions:
    • Specify the detailed conditions under which your trigger should activate the tag.
    • For example, if you’re setting a click trigger for a specific button, you can define it to fire only when a button with a certain ID, CSS class, or specific text is clicked.
    • This step is crucial for ensuring your tag fires under the right circumstances, reducing irrelevant data collection.
  4. Save and Test the Trigger:
    • After setting up your trigger, save it and then test using GTM’s preview mode.
    • Preview mode allows you to see whether the trigger activates the tag as expected when the defined conditions are met.
    • Make adjustments as necessary based on the results of your tests.
  5. Publish Your Changes:
    • Once you’re confident that the trigger works correctly, remember to publish your GTM container to apply these changes to your live site.

Practical Examples of Trigger Setup

Example 1: Setting Up a Click Trigger for a Button

Imagine you want to track clicks on a ‘Sign Up’ button on your site:

  1. Create a New Trigger:
    • In GTM, go to the ‘Triggers’ section and click on ‘New’ to create a new trigger.
    • For the trigger type, select ‘Click – All Elements’. This trigger type is used for tracking all types of click events on your website.
  2. Configure Trigger Conditions:
    • Set the trigger to fire on some clicks, not all. This is essential to ensure that the trigger fires only for specific interactions.
    • Specify the conditions under which the trigger should fire. For example, if you want to track clicks on a ‘Sign Up’ button with an ID of ‘signup-button’, set the condition as ‘Click ID’ equals ‘signup-button’.
    • This step involves identifying the unique identifier (like an ID, class, or text) of the ‘Sign Up’ button to ensure accurate tracking.
  3. Associate the Trigger with a Tag:
    • Link this new trigger to your custom tag that’s designed to track button clicks. This could be a GA4 event tag if you’re sending data to Google Analytics 4.
    • The tag should be configured to capture the relevant event data, such as event name, category, action, or labels, depending on your analytics setup.
  4. Test the Trigger in Preview Mode:
    • Use GTM’s preview mode to test your trigger and associated tag. This step is crucial to ensure that the trigger fires correctly when the ‘Sign Up’ button is clicked.
    • In preview mode, navigate to your site and perform the action (clicking the ‘Sign Up’ button) to verify the trigger and tag functionality.
  5. Publish the Changes:
    • Once you’re satisfied that the trigger and tag are working as intended, publish your changes in GTM to make them live on your website.

Example 2: Form Submission Trigger

To track when users submit a contact form:

  1. Create a Form Submission Trigger:
    • In GTM, go to the ‘Triggers’ section and click on ‘New’ to create a new trigger.
    • Select ‘Form Submission’ as the trigger type. This type of trigger is specifically designed for tracking when users submit forms on your website.
  2. Set Conditions for the Trigger:
    • If your goal is to track a specific form (like a contact form), you need to set conditions to identify this particular form.
    • Use conditions such as ‘Form ID’ equals the unique ID of your contact form. This can be found in the form’s HTML code (e.g., <form id=”contact-form”> would mean your Form ID is “contact-form”).
    • Alternatively, if your form doesn’t have an ID, you can use other attributes like form name, class, or even specific text fields within the form.
  3. Link the Trigger to a Custom Tag:
    • Associate this trigger with a tag that’s set up to track form submissions. This could be a Google Analytics 4 event tag if you’re integrating with GA4.
    • Configure the tag to capture and send the necessary data to your analytics platform. For example, in GA4, you would set up an event tag with an appropriate event name (like ‘form_submission’) and any additional parameters you wish to track.
  4. Test the Trigger and Tag Configuration:
    • Before publishing, test the trigger and tag using GTM’s preview mode. This allows you to ensure that the form submission is being captured correctly when users submit the form.
    • Make adjustments as needed based on the results of your tests.
  5. Publish Your Changes:
    • Once you’re confident that the form submission tracking is working as expected, publish the changes in GTM to apply them to your live site.

These practical examples illustrate how advanced triggers in GTM can be tailored to track a wide array of user interactions, providing you with rich, actionable data. By mastering these trigger configurations, you enhance your site’s tracking capabilities, enabling more informed decisions and optimisations based on user behaviour insights.

Utilising GTM for Enhanced Website Analytics

The application of custom tags and advanced triggers in Google Tag Manager (GTM) extends far beyond the realm of basic tracking. By integrating these customised elements with Google Analytics, you unlock a new dimension of data analysis that provides a richer, more nuanced understanding of user behaviour and website performance.

Beyond Basic Tracking:

Custom tags and advanced triggers in GTM enable the tracking of complex interactions and user engagements that standard Google Analytics tracking might not capture. This can include events like specific button clicks, interactions with a dynamic element on the page, scroll depths, or even tracking user journeys through a multi-step process. By capturing these specific interactions, you’re gathering data that is highly relevant and actionable, allowing for a deeper analysis of how users interact with your website.

Integration with Google Analytics:

Integrating these custom tags with Google Analytics is a critical step in making the most of your data. By doing so, you can view and analyse this granular interaction data right within your Google Analytics dashboard. For instance, if you’ve set up custom tags to track downloads or video plays, these interactions can be viewed as events in Google Analytics, providing you with insights into what content is engaging your users the most.

Analysing Custom Tracking Data:

Analysing the data from these custom tags involves looking beyond pageviews and session durations. It’s about understanding user behaviour at a more detailed level. In Google Analytics, you can segment your data based on these custom events to see how different types of interactions correlate with other metrics like conversion rates or bounce rates. For example, you might find that users who interact with a specific feature on your site are more likely to convert, indicating areas where you might want to focus your optimisation efforts.

Custom tags and triggers, when used effectively, transform your Google Analytics from a basic tracking tool into a powerful analysis instrument. They provide the kind of insights that can drive significant improvements in user experience and website performance, ultimately leading to better engagement, conversion rates, and overall website success.

Conclusion

In this comprehensive exploration of creating and managing custom tags in Google Tag Manager (GTM), we have unlocked the potential for advanced website tracking and analytics. By understanding and implementing custom tags, you have the tools to track specific user interactions that standard analytics might miss. These customisations in GTM not only enhance your data collection but also provide a deeper insight into user behaviour and website performance.

We encourage you to continue experimenting with different types of tags and triggers. The versatility of GTM allows for a wide range of tracking possibilities, each offering unique insights. Whether it’s monitoring specific button clicks, form submissions, or any other unique interactions, each custom tag you create adds a layer of depth to your data analysis.

Looking ahead, our next article will delve into tracking specific website activities, such as downloads, video views, and e-commerce transactions. This next step will provide even more detailed insights into user engagement, helping you to refine your online strategy and improve the user experience. Join us as we continue to explore the powerful capabilities of GTM and Google Analytics in enhancing your website’s analytics and performance.

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