How to Use Google Tag Manager to Increase eCommerce Sales Conversions

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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One of the top priorities of all online retailers is to increase eCommerce sales conversions. After all, earning sales is what keeps a business from going belly up.

While technical SEO implementations are a powerful method for achieving this, harvesting, analyzing and applying the insights of customer data can be even more fruitful.

Those in the eCommerce arena collect (or should be collecting) a wide range of data points using Google Analytics to understand customer behaviors better, expand their reach and increase sales for their stores. Data is the backbone of nearly all marketing efforts today.

Google Tag Manager business description page

Fortunately, collecting such data is becoming exponentially easier as pixels (or tags) for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Ads and a wide array of other essential channels and tools now exist, allowing retailers far more in-depth knowledge on how audiences move to and through their websites.

However, adding all these individual tags to a site can be a laborious process that ultimately begins to bog down a site’s speed as the coding becomes increasingly bloated. Moreover, managing a variety of tags can also be cumbersome as they need to be tested, updated and continuously monitored.

These reasons are precisely why Google introduced Google Tag Manager (GTM) way back in 2012.

What Is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a tag management system that allows retailers to generate and monitor a variety of tags through a single interface. This system also allows merchants to deploy tags on their web stores without having to modify the underlying code. Instead, users simply embed the GTM code onto each page of the site. Effectively, this means that merchants can add, edit or disable specific tags without touching the source code.

Through this framework, retailers need not manually create tags, thereby making the data collection process far more efficient.

With GTM, there are three primary components:

Primary components of google tag manager
  • Tags: Small bits of code that load when a visitor arrives on a site and tracks their behaviors.
  • Triggers: An event that sets off a tag. These inform GTM on when to initiate a tag’s effect.
  • Variables: Supplementary information that might be necessary for tags and triggers to fire properly.

Using GTM, the tagging process becomes far easier to implement and manage, while also allowing retailers to collect more data than they might otherwise be capable.

With GTM integrated into a site’s data collection system, business owners can direct IT and development resources to other areas of need as the task of coding and implementing each individual tag is handled by the Tag Manager. With Google handling this process, the chances of an implementation error occurring are much smaller.

Since GTM simplifies a lot of the aspects around tag management, marketing analytics teams can work with the system much more intimately, allowing for more significant insights to be obtained and leveraged by each department.

However, these points certainly are not the extent of GTM’s capabilities as there are a wide array of extensions that can be utilized with the platform.

GTM Extensions

There is a wide array of compatible extensions for Google Tag Manager which cover a variety of needs and uses. However, when it comes to increasing eCommerce sales conversions, a few helpful ones include:

google tag assistant screenshot

Google Tag Assistant

Google Tag Assistant is an excellent tool for retailers who are less technically inclined as this extension tests and debugs tag implementations. Moreover, Tag Assistant can also aid in the troubleshooting process on Google Ads and Analytics as well, helping to ensure that retailers are properly collecting data that will help to increase eCommerce sales conversions.


When it comes to vying for sales in the eCommerce arena, competitive research is a must.

GTM SPY helps retailers do just this as the tool allows retailers to see inside the Tag Manager container of other sites. Using this extension enables merchants to better understand the type of data that rivals collect on their customers.

With this tool, sellers can up their data collection efforts and obtain similar insights to those of the most prominent players in their niche.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics Debugger

The Google Analytics Debugger extension allows merchants to view the information sent to Google Analytics and can aid in debugging the implementation of eCommerce tracking.

With this tool, users will receive error or warning messages related to improperly set up analytics tracking code, alongside a complete analysis of the tracking beacons sent to Analytics.

Facebook Pixel Helper

Facebook Pixel Helper is a correction tool used to validate the Facebook Conversion and Custom Audience pixels. With this extension, retailers can certify if Facebook pixels are working correctly as well as view the events that caused them to fire.

Facebook Pixel Helper

This extension displays an overview of each pixel’s warnings, errors and successes, which is vital information for increasing eCommerce sales conversions.

Twitter Pixel Helper

As one might assume, the Twitter Pixel Helper serves the same purpose as its Facebook counterpart, but for the Twitter Universal Website tag.

Here, retailers can establish if Twitter tracking code was successfully applied and troubleshoot Twitter conversion tracking as well.

While all these extensions are great for ensuring that data collection tools are working properly, one of the most significant ways to boost the amount of data collected and gain the necessary insights to increase eCommerce sales conversion is to decide on the type of eCommerce tracking that retailers use in Google Analytics.

Standard eCommerce Versus Enhanced eCommerce

Most online retailers are familiar with Google Analytics eCommerce tracking, giving that it has been around for nearly a decade now. However, there are actually two flavors of eCommerce tracking available to merchants:

It’s safe to say that most smaller retailers are likely to opt for the standard variety of eCommerce tracking as this version is much easier to implement. However, as stores increase eCommerce sales conversions and scale digital retail operations, they become increasingly likely to transition to the enhanced model.

Extra reports for Enhanced eCommerce include

The core distinction between standard and enhanced eCommerce is that the former primarily tracks transactions via order confirmation pages. Standard eCommerce gives retailers access to the following reports: 

  • eCommerce Overview
  • Product Performance
  • Sales Performance
  • Transactions
  • Time to Purchase

Enhanced eCommerce, on the other hand, offers a much broader view, allowing access to a wider array of reports, which include:

  • eCommerce Overview
  • Shopping Behavior Analysis
  • Checkout Behavior Analysis
  • Shopping Behavior and Checkout Behavior Funnels
  • Product Performance
  • Sales Performance
  • Product List Performance
  • Internal Promotion
  • Order Coupon
  • Product Coupon
  • Affiliate Code

Enhanced eCommerce gives retailers access to valuable supplementary data like impressions and promotions. With access to this information, users can build funnels through the checkout process that help to increase eCommerce sales conversions. Additionally, funnel reports can help retailers establish cart abandonment rates and how to reduce them.

When deciding which version to implement, the primary consideration tends to be the complexity of the business and the ability to manage and analyze the data produced. As noted before, properly setting up Enhanced eCommerce is a far more complicated task.

Enhance eCommerce and Google Tag Manager

Enhanced eCommerce tracking provides retailers with an incredible amount of data to increase eCommerce sales conversions, and when this reporting is combined with Google Tag Manager, merchants are basically engaging in the future of eCommerce tracking.

However, before setting up Enhanced eCommerce using Google Tag Manager, merchants must:

  • Upgrade Analytics to utilize the Universal Analytics backend
  • Turn on Enhanced eCommerce in Google Analytics

When setting up Enhanced eCommerce, it is not possible to use both standard and enhanced eCommerce. Therefore, it is recommended to create a new property where retailers can learn about the new features before integrating it into their live store.

When merchants are ready to begin implementing Enhanced eCommerce, there are three steps to follow:

  • Enable Enhanced eCommerce in the plugin settings
  • Check the Google Analytics main pageview tag and change the tag type to Universal Analytics. Doing this will reset all custom settings.
  • Enable Enhanced eCommerce in the Universal Analytics tag
event tag creation

Do be aware that this description is greatly simplified, and that all the steps mentioned above are quite technical and are far from a quick upgrade. Therefore, it is highly recommended that retailers who do not possess the knowledge to handle this themselves acquire a skilled developer who can implement such changes.

By developing an integrated relationship between Google Tag Manager and Universal Analytics Enhanced eCommerce, retailers can obtain the type of reporting insights that make clear how customers behave on their sites and how they can increase eCommerce sales conversions effectively.

However, as mentioned, getting these two systems to work in harmony is far more complicated than it seems on the surface. If your brand needs help blending these systems into your eCommerce framework, reach out to Visiture and we can help you obtain the knowledge that this combination has to offer.

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