As you're probably aware, Google Tag Manager (GTM) simplifies the often difficult (but necessary) task of adding tracking tags to your website.
Inside Tag Manager, you'll find over 70 pre-built tag templates you can quickly install and use to improve your website tracking and user experience.
Considering all those options, how do you know which tags you really NEED to have on your site?
Well… with that question in mind, I am going to share my top seven “must have” tracking tags. I'll also detail why each of these tags is critical to achieving your marketing objectives and enhancing your website's user experience.
If you're just getting started with GTM and you want to bone-up in the basics, check our Free 4-Part Google Tag Manager Tutorial. You can also grab our GTM Account Setup and Installation Checklist below
Use GTM to bring a “spark of joy” to your website
Once you get the hang of using GTM, it's easy to go nuts and tag your website with every snippet tracking script you can get your hands on.
That's why in this post (and the video above), we are taking the Marie Kondo approach to our website tracking.
Focus on adding the tags to your website that give you a “spark of joy” (or contribute to increasing your marketing ROI)… and let the rest go!
With that in mind, here are the seven most vital tracking tags to have on your website in 2020.
Must-Have GTM tag #1 – Google Analytics (with the settings variable)
Without a doubt, the #1 tag on my list is Google Analytics (GA). Your GA tag is the gateway to a wealth of information about your website visitors. Using your GA tag, not only can you track your website traffic and page views… but you can also track on-page events, like page scrolling, downloads, and button clicks, etc.
The bottom line is GA is the most versatile and valuable tracking tag you can add to your site. And because there are so many different ways you can use this GTM tag template, I always recommend configuring your Google Analytics setting variable. The setting variable is like a place holder for your Google Analytics tracking ID.
Taking five minutes to set up this variable will potentially shave hours off time tagging your site. For a detailed walkthrough of how to enable your GA Setting variable, check out our 5-Minute GTM installation Guide.
If you're looking for a Done-For-You (DFY) solution for getting the most valuable GA tags on your site, check out my Tag Manager Mastery Course. Inside this course, you can Download our DFY GTM Container. Then, you can install this container on your site in minutes, saving yourself tens of hours of work.
Must-Have GTM tag #2 – Email marketing analytics
Almost every email marketing platform shows you how many opens and clicks your messages generate. But, what happens after the click-through? To collect more in-depth information about how your email traffic interacts with your website, you need to install an additional tracking tag from your email service provider.
Many email platforms like Convertkit and Mailchimp have plugins that will help you get their code on your site. However, if you can't install your email tracking code using a plugin, you can always use GTM.
Be aware you may run into one small roadblock when installing your email tracking code in GTM. Most email platforms do not have a tag template in the GTM Library. So how do you get this tag on your site?
By following these three relatively simple steps:
- Copy your tracking code from your email marketing system
- Create a new Custom HTML tag in GTM
- Install that tag on your site using the pageview trigger set to all pages
Must-Have GTM tag #3 – Remarketing pixels (Google Ads and Facebook)
OK- I am cheating a bit here. This one's a twofer. That said, the reason I'm doubling up (or doubling down) is that remarketing is one of the highest ROI activities you can do.
And the gateway to remarketing is your tracking script.
So even if you're not running ads right now, I recommend installing your remarketing pixels so you're ready to go when the time is right.
Google Ads tag template in GTM
To install your Google Ads Remarketing tag, log in to your Google Ads account.
Navigate to your audience sources. Select GTM as your installation method for your tracking code.
Then, copy your conversion ID, and paste into your Google Ads Remarketing tag template in GTM.
As usual, make sure to preview and debug your tag before publishing it.
Where's the Facebook Tag Template in GTM?
There's NOT a native tag template for Facebook Ads. (Though I hold out hope that maybe one of these days Google and Facebook will learn to share their toys with each other, and we'll finally have a Facebook Ads tag template).
But until then, you have to install your Facebook pixel using the custom HTML template (or install a template from the Tag Manager Gallery).
Not having a tag template for the Facebook pixel is a bit of an inconvenience. So you might be wondering, “Why Don't I just manually install the Facebook pixel code on my site?”
The reason… Because you can also use GTM to collect even more data for Facebook pixel events. Collecting data on Facebook pixel events allows you to execute deep (ROI-increasing) segmentation and analysis with your remarketing audiences.
Learn more about this with our Facebook Retargeting Cheat Sheet.
For example, you can create Facebook remarketing audiences based on page scrolling, video views, and many other on-page visitor actions. And in Facebook-Speak, more data points = better targeting = better ROI.
Inside our Data Driven FB Ads Mastery program, you can get access to our Done-For-You Facebook pixel tracking container. You can check out more information about this plug-and-play Facebook Ads tracking system here.
Must-Have GTM tag #4 – Visitor analytics (Leadfeeder)
Our #1 “must-have” tag, Google Analytics, is great for tracking aggregate actions, like page views, button clicks, etc.
Yet, what if you want to know “Who's” coming to your site? My recommended tool for this kind of tracking is Leadfeeder.
Leadfeeder will not only send you data about who visited your website, but they'll also show which company your visitor works for. This type of data is highly valuable for B2B marketing and sales campaigns.
At this time, Leadfeader does not have a tag template in GTM. So you'll need to use a custom HTML tag in GTM to add your Leadfeeder tracking code to your site. (To see how I install this code using GTM, make sure to watch the video at the top of this post).
Must-Have GTM tag #5 – Customer behavior tracking (like Hotjar or Crazy Egg)
If you want to get access to conversion optimization reports like heatmaps or page recordings, both Crazy Egg and Hotjar provide you with this type of data. Also, both of these products have tag templates in GTM. So all you need to do to set up these tools using GTM is input your account ID, set your page view trigger, publish your tag… and you're ready to start tracking!
Must-Have GTM tag #6 – Youtube video views
GTM offers you a pre-built tag trigger to track the YouTube videos you embed on your website.
You can use this trigger to track how visitors engage with your videos. For example, you can collect data on video plays and completions, as well as the percentage of your video that was viewed. Then you can analyze this data in Google Analytics alongside other important metrics like time on site, conversions, or page value.
If you're using Google Analytics 4, you can also use the enhanced measurement feature which we talk about in our beginner's guide to GA4 click tracking.
Must have GTM tag #7 – Customer engagement/Help desk beacons
One of the best ways to improve customer engagement is to give your website visitors access to support using a help desk beacon or messenger app.
Our customer support tool of choice at Data Driven is Help Scout. And yes, you can set and control where on your site Help Scout displays using GTM.
To set up Help Scout using GTM, you'll need to follow the steps we outlined for installing a custom HTML tag. Then, you can use the logic settings in your page view trigger to control where your support beacon displays.
deadly essential GTM tags
There are potentially hundreds of tracking scripts you can add to your site with just a few button clicks in GTM.
My recommendation is to focus on adding the tags to your site that bring you (and your business) Joy!
While not every marketing platform that's vital to your organization will have a GTM tag template, you can almost always add your code to your site using GTM's custom HTML template.
And with spring in the air… now's a great time to clean up your website tracking code and start fresh using GTM!