eCommerce Tracking, Tagging, Analytics & Pixels with Google Tag Manager

Guest blog from Rob Edlin of Niddocks one of the speakers at our eCommerce MasterPlan Virtual Summit 2018

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Ecommerce Tracking, Tagging, Analytics and Pixels

Take control of your ecommerce tracking, tagging, analytics and pixels like a pro!

Running a profitable ecommerce business and juggling dozens of platforms can be a real headache unless you’re an mega-geek. If you’re like most online store owners, you probably only have a fundamental understanding of the technology and need to rely on web developers or expensive support options from the ecommerce platform vendors.

Google Tag Manager is the solution you may have never heard of yet it’s been around for 6 years and it supports just about any ecommerce platform and almost all advertising and analytics platforms in addition to lots of custom functionality.

Google Tag Manager is a free service from Google and acts as a hub or interface between your website and the outside world.

A basic implementation is very easy to get going. Often businesses that have a poor relationship with their web developer, or those on a limited budget, turn to Google Tag Manager to carry out some code implementation required by the likes of Google Analytics, Facebook or Google Ads.

For example, you may have a requirement to deploy a Facebook Pixel and associated Standard or Custom Events and not know where to start.

Many platforms (Facebook included) now have guides for implementing their pixels via Google Tag Manager.  Before you jump right in though there’s a few things you have to do to get Google Tag Manager installed on your website, for this one-off task, you may need the help of a web developer or need to install a plugin or module (subject to the ecommerce platform you use)

There’s two parts to the installation of Google Tag Manager:-

  1. The Google Tag Manager container code needs to be placed in a very specific location on every page of the website.
  2. A Data Layer will be required on most pages and especially the checkout complete page as that will contain all of the transaction data that you want to get access to.

I won’t go into the detail of how you go about the above in this post as it really does vary significantly from site to site but that is well documented on the web anyway.

Once you have Google Tag Manager installed, you’re then ready to deploy any code or tags you require.

As mentioned above, Google Tag Manager acts as a hub or interface, or “middle-man” if you like between your website and almost any platform. I will highlight a typical installation below to help you start to understand how it all fits together.

A Google Tag Manager container has three elements to it:- Tags, Triggers and Variables.

  • Tags are premade pieces of code or custom code tags (such as Google Analytics, or Custom HTML for a Facebook Pixel)
  • Triggers are the rules that you can set to fire when certain conditions are met (for example, a page view or click of a link)
  • Variables are conduits to data that exists on your website (e.g. the name of a product or the value of a transaction)

An example of a simple implementation could be to deploy Google Analytics with Standard Ecommerce tracking, to do this, your container would be configured as below.

  1. A trigger for the URL of the thank you page that fires when the Page Path variable contains part of the name of the page (i.e. /checkout/thank_you)
  2. A Google Analytics Settings variable configured with all the options you’d like (such as cross domain tracking, Display Advertising features and the Analytics Tracking ID)
  3. A Google Universal Analytics Page View tag configured to use the Google Analytics Settings Variable and set to fire on the built-in “All Pages” trigger
  4. A Google Universal Analytics Transaction tag configured to use the Google Analytics Settings Variable and set to fire on the trigger created in step 1

The combinations of tags, triggers and variables in Google Tag Manager are limited by your imagination only, once you have Google Tag Manager and Data Layer installed, you can configure it in any way you wish.

When faced with a tracking or coding challenge for your website, ask the question “Can I do that with Google Tag Manager” – almost always the answer will be yes!

by Rob Edlin, Niddocks