While Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics can be easy to use, it’s critical to test any tracking you create. The only way to know if the tracking you added is working is through testing. Here are some tools to help you check that your tracking works:
Google Analytics Real-Time View
Real-Time view lets you watch events come in, as the name suggests, in real time. This tool rests directly in your Google Analytics profile right above “Audience”. Use this to make sure tracking is recording the way you want it to directly in GA, particularly in relation to pulling in source/medium, visits on different pages of the website, and ensuring your events are reporting correctly. If tracking doesn’t seem to be recording correctly in this section, your GA tag has likely been implemented incorrectly.
This is also where you can test your Campaign URLs to make sure they’re working: simply plug in your newly created URL into a web browser to visit the page. Then you can view the source and landing pages in Real-Time View. Make sure to work with your team to outline a consistent approach to your URLs. Inconsistent URL naming conventions are a common pitfall for campaign URLs. For example, if one team uses “newsletter” and another team uses “monthly-newsletter,” it becomes difficult to summarize the data in Google Analytics. It seems like a small difference, but in the long term, even the smallest details will make tracking much easier. Once you have your links created, you can add it to emails, social channels, ads, and so on.
Google Tag Manager Preview Mode
This feature helps you see which tracking tags are firing in real-time. To set Google Tag Manager (GTM) to preview mode, click on the “preview” option on the top right of your screen when looking at your tag manager workspace. Then, simply go to the website you’re working on and hit refresh. This will cause a pop-up window at the bottom of your screen to appear. You can then see which tags have fired, and which have not. Once you complete an event or action to trigger an event, you can then see if it worked in real-time. If a tag isn’t firing, it may be caused by the trigger you have set up. Go back and inspect the item using page source to make sure the right object is isolated so tag manager knows what to pick up.
Google Tag Assistant
The Google Tag Assistant plug-in for your Chrome browser does two things. First, it can confirm that Google Tag Manager is implemented on your site correctly.
Second, the Google Tag Assistant can help you review tracking. It may be helpful to set up a recording, click through the pages and events you need to track, and then review the report generated by Tag Assistant to confirm that it recorded your path through the site properly. Keep in mind that while a tag might be firing, it might be set up incorrectly so that it, for example, is mistakenly starting a new session. An error like this could cause duplicate sessions. If you think a tag is firing, but incorrectly, go back and inspect the item just as you would if it weren’t firing at all. It may take some trial and error to make sure the right object is properly isolated.