November 16, 2018
Improve Conversion Tracking with Google Tag Manager Triggers
Guest Contributor

Google Analytics has been enabling marketers to acquire, process, configure and get accurate reports about their website and mobile app data for quite some time now. With this data, marketers are able to gain actionable insights they can use to improve their conversions.

However, in 2012 Google released a groundbreaking tool – Google Tag Manager (GTM or just Tag Manager). This product has been a boon to marketers ever since its inception. Some confuse it with Google Analytics or even go so far as to assume that the GTM is the updated version of Google Analytics. WRONG!

Google Tag Manager is a separate and unique tool that helps in tracking your conversions.

In this article, we’ll show you how.

What is Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

Google Tag Manager is the ideal solution to manage tags (or, Javascript snippets) that deliver information to third parties, be it on your mobile app or your website. The best part is, you can seamlessly add other products to your site, like DoubleClick Floodlight and (of course) Google Analytics.

Google Tag Managers simplifies the adding of JavaScript snippets to your website. There is no need to write down lines of codes.

Instead, you use the built-in interface and decide what you need to add, on which page and what action will be used to trigger a conversion. The rest is taken care of – GTM automatically adds the appropriate tracking to your website, ensuring that everything works smoothly.

Usually, GTM consist of three primary parts:

  1. Tags or JavaScript code snippets that are added to a page.
  2. Triggers which decide when or where these tags will be executed.
  3. Variables that receive or store information for tags and triggers to use.

In this article, we will talk about improving conversions using Google Tag Manager Triggers specifically.

GTM triggers can improve your conversion ratio drastically. Usually, a conversion is touted as a successful one only when a user makes a purchase or fills up a form and submits (which triggers a “thank you” greeting as a confirmation of the submission). For instance, below is an example of a ThankYou tag added to a sample website.

ThankYou tag

Here, the “Thank You Page” rule has been set up in a way that the upon the matching criteria of the trigger of URL that contains thankyou.html. Only when this condition is matched, the trigger is fired.

On the picture above, you can see a setup of the “thank you page” rule in which the trigger is fired under the condition that the user reached a page that contains “thankyou.html”.

Something like this can be used when you want to track whenever some form is filled out. You can redirect the people to a certain URL after they click submit and put that URL as the necessary condition for the trigger to fire.

As you’ve probably figured out already, GTM trigger is a specific condition that must either be true or false. It forms an integral part of Google Tag creation process so that you cannot create a tag without a corresponding trigger for the same.

In Google Tags Manager, there are two ways to create a trigger:

  1. You can create a trigger while you create a new tag
  2. By using the Triggers menu in Google Tag Manager

For details on HOW to create triggers, you can follow this documentation available on Google Support.

Google Tag Manager triggers have two types: Firing triggers and Blocked triggers.

Before digging in deeper, are there any pre-requisite to proceed?

YES. Since we are going to talk about improving conversion tracking with advanced triggers, it is important that you are familiar with the basics of Google Tag Manager and how it impacts PPC and SEO efforts. In case you need to do some brushing up, you can follow this video tutorial from Google Analytics that introduces the Google Tag Manager advanced triggers:

Time to move to more interesting stuff.

Improving conversion tracking with GTM triggers

Tracking events can sometimes be a little complicated. So, we will start with the basics and slowly move up.

We have already mentioned about “thankyou trigger” above and how triggers are fired only when the set conditions are matched.

Although these conditions define a proper conversion to a large extent, there are other determinants like clicking on a CTA button or checking out a nearby purchase store, which can also influence a successful conversion. These are called the click-triggered conversions and are probably the most used type of triggers out there.

Some commonly used click-triggers are:

  • Click to find out directions on Google maps
  • Click that redirect to a specific URL
  • Click to submit a form that does not redirect
  • Click on a phone number on the mobile website

The list of click-triggers is much longer than this as keeps evolving according to your needs to track a specific click-triggered event. However, whatever click-trigger you may use, the setup and troubleshooting process are the same for all them.

To improve your conversion tracking, you need to have hands-on knowledge of three major aspects:

  1. How Google processes click-triggers
  2. How can you create a button trigger with Google Tag Manager
  3. How to debug your Google Tag Manager

1) How does Google process click-triggers?

Two important aspects of about Google Tag Manager Triggers are:

  1. The click-triggers function in the same way as any other trigger. Once a click-trigger is fired, it can be added to any new tags without having to make any changes in the tag settings.
  2. Click-triggers are not platform dependent. It means that a single tag can be used across multiple platforms and does not need to repeat if the same trigger is used for different tags.

Let ‘s see how to actually create a button trigger.

2) How to create a button trigger with Google Tag Manager?

First, you must configure the variables. We already know what variables are. For more insights, you can check out this in-depth guide.

The first step is to create a new trigger. You will find this option under Google Tag Manager.

Once you’ve created and named your trigger, it is time to do some configuration. You will immediately notice the triggers are divided into two categories:

  • Page View – these triggers are quite familiar to users who have already used Google Tag Manager for URL tracking.
  • Clicks – this includes two commonly used click triggers -“Just Links” and “All Elements”.

A) Just Link Triggers

Let’s say you want to track clicks on a text hyperlink. In this case, you will need to opt for Just Links trigger. However, it is rare that you will want to track ALL the clicks on a given page.

Hence, it is better to establish strict criteria to filter your results. Google Tags Manager comes with “Some Clicks” option where you can create the necessary conditions to filter out your results. While you set up these criteria, you must know that all the previously defined variables will come into play.

The Just Link trigger type also has some additional features, like:

  1. Validation check: This ensures that the click always initiates a valid follow-up action. This means that no unwanted conversion is recorded in a single session.
  2. Wait for tags: When you use multiple triggers in GTM, the page loading time increases as it waits for all the mentioned tags to get fired or reach the maximum waiting time limit. This ensures that all conversions are recorded before the user exits from that page.

There are many more action triggers that you can customize or create for your business.

This was all about Just Link Click trigger. Let’s see how the All Elements Trigger type works.

B) All Elements Triggers

There are three major ways to use this trigger type.

  • Click to call: Trigger is activated when a user clicks on any element that initiates a phone call to the pre-specified number.
  • URL’s to external websites or a domain name: Sometimes, a user can get redirected to an external website or domain name. This happens due to the complex ways in which a website functions. This trigger helps in tracking these diversions.
  • Clicks to direction: Sometimes visitors click on the contact page to locate your physical business address. You may have more than one office or business center. This trigger helps in tracking which location your user is clicking on. You use two variables for this trigger- the first is the page URL, and the second is the Google map URL.

Once you have created your triggers, it is important to check that they work as intended. To ensure this, you will need to adhere to a unique tag for every trigger you have created. Hence, you must review the working of your triggers before you hit the finish button. The preview option is easily accessible on Google Tag Manager workspace.

The preview option lets you see in details the entire analytics and details of the tags fired. Since the updates happen real-time in the preview mode as well, you can monitor all the changes at a glance.

NOTE: Hold down the CONTROL [CTRL] button (or Command button on Mac) when you are testing a click that is linked to an external site.

3) Debugging Google Tag Manager

If everything is working fine, then great. However, you might come across two most prominent errors:

  1. Tags are firing when they shouldn’t
  2. Tags are not firing when they should

When any of the above two errors happen, it means you will need to re-check all the trigger conditions. There may be typos, incorrect tags, or missed settings.

The Tag Assistant extension in Google Chrome helps in rechecking all the published click-triggers. You can review all the pages to see if the tags are getting fired properly or not. This shows the accuracy in the implementation of the conditions of tag manager codes, AdWords, or analytics codes.

Let’s say all these above measures fall flat and you continue to experience errors with your tags. Here are some effective practices that can help you resolve your issues and increase your conversion rates.

  • Make sure you SUBMIT all the changes successfully. The live preview on GTM must always show the latest version including all the immediate changes or edits you have done. Remember, GTM preview shows real-time updates. If you don’t see the latest version, probably your changes were not saved in the last session.
  • If you are not able to submit edits even after checking multiple times, maybe you will need to review your tag setup. Check the corresponding pixel code of the button/image/text/link to be sure that they got transcribed properly. Since preview panels show live updates, the error may lie in mismatching of pixel code and tag setup.


Google Tag Manager is an important and efficient tool that can provide you with the valuable insight you can use to achieve higher conversion rates. Even though every platform has documents about tracking and monitoring correctly, most tools come with advanced tracking features that have its base in Google Tag Manager.

As one of the most commonly used features of GTM, click triggers are designed to retarget your audience, acquire more customers, and get detailed insights into patterns of your potential customers. They allow you to get an overview of your entire website engagement performance so you can create data-based marketing automation strategies.

What are your experiences with Google Tag Manager? Tell us in the comments below.

Pritha is the content lead and strategist at Aritic. She has an eye for detail and manages all the content efforts at Aritic. Pritha is mostly seen scouting for new information over the web for her research articles. Other times, she is busy traveling to new places and eating good food. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Guest Contributor
This post was written by a guest contributor and polished by Point Visible editorial team.


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