Posted by Joel.MesherghiThe more you understand the behaviour of your users, the better you can market your product or service — which is why Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a marketer’s best friend. With built-in tag templates, such as scroll depth and click tracking, GTM is a powerful tool to measure the engagement and success of your content.
If you’re only relying on tag templates in GTM, or the occasionally limiting out-of-box Google Analytics, then you could be missing out on insights that go beyond normal engagement metrics. Which means you may be getting an incomplete story from your data.
This post will teach you how to get even more insight by setting up cookies in GTM. You’ll learn how to tag and track multiple page views in a single session, track a specific set number of pages, based on specific on-page content elements, and understand how users are engaging with your content so you can make data-based decisions to better drive conversions.
Example use case
I recently worked with a client that wanted to better understand the behavior of users that landed on their blog content. The main barrier they faced was their URL structure. Their content didn’t live on logical URL structures — they placed their target keyword straight after the root. So, instead of example.com/blog/some-content, their URL structure looked like example.com/some-content.
You can use advanced segments in Google Analytics (GA) to track any number of metrics, but if you don’t have a logically defined URL, then tracking and measuring those metrics becomes a manual and time-consuming practice — especially when there’s a large number of pages to track.
Fortunately, leveraging a custom cookie code, which I provide below, helps you to cut through that time, requires little implementation effort, and can surface powerful insights:
It can indicate that users are engaged with your content and your brand.The stored data could be used for content scoring — if a page is included in the three pages of an event it may be more valuable than others. You may want to target these pages with more upsell or cross-sell opportunities, if so.The same scoring logic could apply to authors. If blogs written by certain authors have more page views in a session, then their writing style/topics could be more engaging and you may want to further leverage their content writing skills.You can build remarketing audience lists to target these seemingly engaged users to align with your business goals — people who are more engaged with your content could be more likely to convert.
So, let’s briefly discuss the anatomy of the custom code that you will need to add to set cookies before we walk through a step by step implementation guide.
Custom cookie code
Cookies, as we all know, are a small text file that is stored in your browser — it helps servers remember who you are and its code is comprised of three elements:
a name-value pair containing dataan expiry date after which it is no longer validthe domain and path of the server it should be sent to.
You can create a custom code to add to cookies to help you track and store numerous page views in a session across a set of pages.
The code below forms the foundation in setting up your cookies. It defines specific rules, such as the events required to trigger the cookie and the expiration of the cookie. I’ll provide the code, then break it up into two parts to explain each segment.