As someone that works on the agency side, it’s always important for me to understand that the client might make content updates to a website without thinking of creating tags to track key interactions. It happens. Have you or anyone you know added a PDF to a website and then wanted to know how many times it was downloaded, but he/she forgot to track it? I’ve performed numerous Google Tag Manager implementations and almost always end up configuring some of the same tags to catch key interactions, like PDF downloads, that may have not been noted in the original requirements.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how to track the following site-wide interactions:

  • External Links
  • Mailto Links
  • Phone Number Calls
  • PDF Downloads

External Links

We’ll want to create a trigger that fires on all link clicks that do not contain our hostname. This tells us if the link is external or not. Just make the hostname equal the root domain of your website. I’ve also added in rules for mailto and PDF links here because I don’t want those clicks to fire off my external link event.

The tag will be a simple event tag that fires on our trigger. For the event label, I’m going to pass in the link text and URL. That way, if we happen to have two external links with the same text OR the same URL, we’ll be able to see which one was clicked.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.31.27 PM

Phone number calls

With the rise of mobile, phone number taps can be increasingly important to track. Especially if you have a contact page with a phone number and one of your KPIs directly ties back to phone calls made from the website.

Create a new trigger that looks for ‘tel’ at the start of the click URL. If users are viewing the website on their mobile device, then the mobile browser typically adds this in there for you. I like adding it in manually because it enables desktop users to make a call from their computer if they have a supporting application.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.44.41 PM

Just like the other tags, the event label will remain the same, but the event category will change.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.49.22 PM

Mailto Links

Similar to the external links trigger, we’ll want to look at the click URL to see if it starts with mailto. That’ll immediately tell us if it’s a mailto link. 

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.36.32 PM

The tag will almost be the exact same as the external link click except the event category.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.38.58 PM

PDF Downloads

In this case, we’ll want to see if the click URL ends with .pdf. Note, if you link to other file types like zip files, docs and ppts, then you might want to consider duplicating this trigger and tag for those file types as well.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.54.52 PM

Similar the other tags, the event label will remain the same, but the event category will change to PDF and the event action will be Download. I changed it to download in case you have multiple file types and want to see an overall picture of how your file download volume is performing.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 8.59.18 PM 


Including these tags should put you in a good place if/when content is added to your website.

Are there any other tags that you typically add to your Google Tag Manager implementation? Let me know in the comments below.

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