Get lead scoring data right in Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager

Ruth Burr Reedy, VP of strategy at UpBuild, on the benefits of setting up lead scoring in Google Analytics and the steps to get there.

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Ruth Burr Reedy, VP Strategy at UpBuild
Ruth Burr Reedy, VP strategy at UpBuild speaking at MarTech Conference 2019 in Boston.

“These are the wrong kind of leads.”

Sound familiar? If you’re a lead generation marketer, it’s an unwritten right of passage to get that complaint from your sales team.

Perhaps you are generating more leads, but they’re coming from higher funnel campaigns, and sales isn’t seeing them convert like quickly enough. “Top of funnel marketing means you’ll get top of funnel leads,” said Ruth Burr Reedy, VP of strategy at digital marketing agency UpBuild, during a talk at our Martech Conference in Boston last month. Those higher funnel leads will, by their very nature, need more touches to convert to sales. “If the sales team is not expecting them, they’ll be unprepared to deal with them,” said Burr Reedy.

Expectation-setting is critical when marketing teams run higher funnel lead gen campaigns. To help marketers get a claear sense of how their campaigns are performing, the touches involved in converting certain leads and other insights, Burr Reedy laid out a framework for setting up lead scoring for attribution in Google Analytics. This can provide a better picture than what you get in your CRM. “Attribution in CRM can be really confusing and not snapshot of reality,” she said.

How to get started

First, talk to the sales team about how they qualify leads. “If you press them,” said Burr Reedy, “they’ll tell you they look at one or two dimensions — often title, company revenue or company size.” Then agree on the thresholds for those dimensions that qualify a lead as hot, warm or cold. Be sure you’re capturing these criteria in your forms.

Establish with sales the criteria for each lead type.

Once you know the fields you’ll be tracking, using your browser developer tools, get the field ID for each. Then, in GTM create a custom JavaScript variable for the ID with getElementById or getElementByName.

Test your custom variables in the GTM console and in preview mode to be sure they’re returning the data you want. (If you want to track fields from a dropdown list on your forms, Burr Reedy recommends Simo Ahava’s blog post for tips.) Of course, be very sure you’re not collecting personally identifiable information (PII).

Next, in GTM, create Triggers for each lead type — hot, warm, cold — and then Event Tags for each one.

Configure Triggers in Google Tag Manager for hot, warm, cold leads.

Establish and document naming conventions for capturing your lead criteria. Burr Reedy suggests putting lead type criteria right in your Event Labels in GTM for clearer reporting and continuity.

Document your naming conventions.

How to use the lead scoring data in Google Analytics

Once you have this set up, you’ll be able to get a much better picture of how these leads perform from within Google Analytics.

See customer pathing to understand how long the leads take to convert. Share this information with sales to help set expectations as well as get a better understanding of where you should focus your efforts by seeing which referral sources drive a disproportionate share of hot/warm leads that convert. You can also use this information to find on-page optimization opportunities. Look at landing page reporting in Analytics to see which pages drive hot/warm leads and which pages only drive cold leads.

Capture lead scoring data in Google Analytics to better inform your marketing efforts and communication with sales.

To make this work consistently, said Burr Reedy, “You need to have a good system for managing all of your IDs. When a form is changed, be sure there is a process for notifying and capturing those changes. Be consistent with naming conventions.” This requires tight orchestration between any internal and external teams involved in any piece of the process.

Once it’s up and running, marketing will have a much more accessible and real-time view into the lead performance to inform their campaigns, site content and communication with sales.

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Getting started with Google Tag Manager

Here’s how you set up a GTM account, create your first tags and triggers, and use the platform to streamline your tracking setup process.

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Ever put in a development ticket for what you thought would be a simple tracking code update? And then waited weeks for the task to be completed?

Google Tag Manager (GTM) saves marketers and developers alike by allowing you to set up tracking codes for analytics and ad platforms through one simple interface. In this article, I’ll walk through setting up a GTM account, creating your first tags and triggers, and using the platform to streamline your tracking setup process.

Understanding Google Tag Manager hierarchy

The account is the top level of GTM hierarchy. If you’re managing GTM from an agency login, you’d generally want to create one account per each brand you work with, and a container for each website that brand uses. You can access multiple accounts via the same Google login.

A container includes a unique GTM code, which you should add across the site you want to track.

Within each container, you’ll then set up tags that fire tracking codes on your site. Triggers define when tags will fire. Variables are functions you can use on a more granular level indicate when tags will fire.

Setting up your account

To start setting up your account, go here and click “Start for Free.”

You’ll then see a screen where you create an account.

Enter the relevant info into the fields and select the platform. In this article, we’re talking about using GTM for web, but you can also set up accounts for apps and AMP (Google’s framework for mobile pages).

Click Create, and you’ll see the GTM code, which you can then add to the site. If you’re comfortable editing your site’s source code, add the first code within the <head> and the next code right after the opening <body> tag, or send the codes to a developer to install.

Depending on your CMS, you may also be able to set up GTM via a plugin. If your site is on WordPress, try this Google Tag Manager for WordPress plugin.

Setting up tags

GTM includes several built-in tag templates for major analytics and ad platforms. These include Google products, such as Analytics, Ads, Optimize, and Surveys, as well as several third-party platforms, such as AdRoll, Microsoft Advertising, LinkedIn and Quora. If a tracking tag doesn’t have an existing template, you can also use a Custom HTML or Custom Image tag.

To create your first tag, click “Add a new tag” from the Overview screen. 

Now you can start defining criteria for your tag.

In the top field, add a name. Be sure to think about naming conventions that will allow you to keep track of several tags easily. I like to start with the name of the platform associated with the tag, followed by the type of tag and unique criteria.

For instance:

  • Google Ads – Conversion – Brochure Download
  • Google Ads – Conversion – LP Lead
  • Google Ads – Remarketing

Clicking within the “Tag Configuration” box allows you to choose your tag type. You can scroll through to find your desired tag, or you can click the magnifying glass to search by name.

Once you select your tag, you’ll see fields customized based on the associated platform. You can then fill in the criteria.

Generally, for each template, you’ll need to pull an ID number from your analytics or ad platform, and then you can use the additional fields to adjust what you want to track.

Have the code for a tracking tag, but don’t see a template? Choose a Custom HTML tag type, and paste your code into the box. 

Setting up triggers

Next comes the Triggering box, where you can choose a trigger that will cause your tag to fire. Triggers can be based on a number of actions such as pageviews, clicks, element visibility, form submissions, time on site, custom events and more.

Choose the trigger you want and then use the fields to specify criteria.

For instance, this pageview trigger will fire when the /thanks URL is viewed. You can also add multiple conditions, all of which will need to be true before the trigger fires. For instance, you might want to only fire a tag if a certain page is viewed and a user completes an event on the page.

Enabling variables

Note that a limited amount of variables appear in your options by default when setting up triggers. If you want to delve into more precise customization, be sure to enable additional variables in the interface.

Navigate to the Variables section and select “Configure” by “Built-In Variables.” You can now select the additional ones you’d like to add. For instance, you might want to target clicks for buttons that all have the same CSS class. You can check the box next to “Click Classes” and you’ll now see this variable as an option.

You can also create custom variables from the User-Defined Variables section. One common use is the Google Analytics Settings variable, which holds your Google Analytics ID to be used whenever setting up an Analytics tag. Custom events are also useful to target specific actions on the site that can’t be otherwise pinpointed with the default variables.

Going live and testing

All changes you make within GTM occur in a draft mode that doesn’t go live until you submit it. You can preview your setup on your site by using the Preview button on the upper right. You’ll see a bar at the bottom of your browser window letting you know when tags fire. 

Once you’ve confirmed your setup appears to be accurate, click “Submit” to make everything live.

After deploying tags on your site, you can also test for proper installation with Google Tag Assistant. Install the Chrome extension and navigate to the site. Click the Tag Assistant icon, and select “Enable” for your site.

You should now be able to see what tags are firing on your site, as well as if there are any errors. Click on an individual tag to see more details about errors and any recommendations to fix your implementation.

Start streamlining your tracking

Once you’ve set up your GTM account, take the time to play with setting up tags. A global Google Analytics tag, a Google Ads remarketing tag and a Google Ads conversion tag are good ones to start.

Once all your ad platforms’ tags are represented, you can now make simple adjustments if changes are made to the site (for instance, if Thank You page URLs change) directly through GTM versus having to change hard-coded tags on the site.

When you’re ready to move beyond the basics, you can learn about additional actions you can track. On Nov. 13 at SMX East, I’ll be talking about how to amp up your user engagement with Google Tag Manager, through tracking actions like scroll activity, video views and PDF downloads.

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Google introduces App + Web for unified reporting in Google Analytics

The new capabilities let marketers look at customer data in more complete and flexible ways.

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The customer journey has become increasingly complex over time, with users often switching back and forth between desktop and mobile and various channels before buying. It is thus fairly challenging for marketers to gain an accurate and complete view of their customers’ paths to purchase.

Two great tastes. Google has historically had two separate tools for web and app analytics: Google Analytics and Google Analytics for Firebase, for mobile apps. Now the company is combining their capabilities in a new property that seeks to provide a more unified view of customer data: App + Web for Google Analytics.

Director of Product Management for Google Analytics, Jesse Savage, said that he hopes the new offering will help marketers and brands improve the customer experience by giving them “a single, consistent set of metrics for more integrated reporting and a more comprehensive view of the customer journey” (on Google properties). Starting today, App + Web will begin rolling out to all Google Analytics and Analytics 360 users for free.

Flexible reporting. Out of the box, it will offer a set of common events or actions that marketers can measure (e.g., clicks, video views, downloads, opens, etc.). But Savage said the tool is very flexible and can be customized according to the needs and specific requirements of the marketer.

Google points out the types of questions publishers and brands can now more easily answer with App + Web, including:

  • How many total users do we have regardless of the platform?
  • Where are the majority of conversions happening (web or app)?
  • Which marketing or advertising channel is most effect at driving new user acquisition?

Analysis module offers new ways to look at the data. A new Analysis module also enables users to look at customer data in various and flexible ways, outside of standardized reports. These include “Exploration,” which allows drag and drop data visualization, “Funnel” analysis to determine where customers are entering and leaving your properties and “Path Analysis,” which helps marketers better understand the steps along the customer journey and why users did or did not convert.

Google says that if customers are currently using Google Tag Manager or the global site tag, you don’t have to do any re-tagging to take advantage of App + Web analytics. But you’ll need to implement the Firebase SDK for your app if that’s not already the case.

Why we should care. It’s critical for brands and marketers to gain as complete an understanding of their customers’ behavior as possible. Of course, Google isn’t the only platform consumers use in making buying decisions. For marketers entirely focused on their apps, or for those who don’t have an app, the new capabilities won’t be particularly meaningful. But for those focused on both mobile apps and the web, the new App + Web capability offers much greater visibility and insight than Google Analytics and Google Analytics for Firebase each could on their own.

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