Getting to Know GTM Triggers: A Comprehensive Guide


Welcome to the world of Google Tag Manager (GTM) triggers! In this enlightening journey, we will unravel the intricacies of GTM triggers, exploring what triggers are and how they can be harnessed effectively. By the end of this article, you’ll have a firm grasp of how to employ triggers in your GTM implementations. Let’s dive right in.

Understanding the Objectives

To begin our exploration of GTM triggers, let’s clarify our objectives for this lesson:

  1. What’s a Trigger? – We’ll delve into the fundamental concept of triggers, understanding their essence and importance.
  2. Trigger in Context – We’ll explore how triggers fit into the larger context of Google Tag Manager and web analytics.
  3. Types of Triggers – We’ll provide a general overview of the various types of triggers at your disposal.
  4. Real-World Examples – We’ll discuss practical scenarios where triggers come into play and how they can be applied.

The Journey So Far

Before we embark on our trigger-driven adventure, let’s take a quick look at the journey we’ve covered so far:

  1. Introduction to GTM Basics – We initiated our exploration by acquainting ourselves with the fundamentals of Google Tag Manager.
  2. GTM Tags – In our previous lesson, we explored GTM tags, understanding how they define the actions we want GTM to perform.

Now, it’s time to pivot our focus to triggers and subsequently dive into variables, the data layer, and organizational aspects as we continue our quest to master Google Tag Manager.

Are you excited? I sure am! Let’s start by unraveling the enigma of triggers.

What Exactly Is a Trigger?

To comprehend triggers effectively, let’s envision them as the directives we give to Google Tag Manager. Picture GTM as an astute overseer, observing various user behaviors on a webpage. It’s like having a diligent guardian angel for your website’s data.

Now, we’ve already discussed how GTM uses tags to execute specific actions. But here’s the critical question: When should GTM perform these actions? This is where triggers come into play. They provide the timing or condition for GTM to act.

Let’s visualize this with a simple analogy. Imagine GTM as a conductor orchestrating a symphony of actions, and triggers as the cue sheet telling the orchestra when to play. For instance, you can instruct GTM to fire specific tags:

  • When a page loads (page view).
  • When a user plays a video.
  • When a conversion event occurs.

In each scenario, the trigger dictates when GTM should swing into action. Tags are the “what” – they define the action, while triggers are the “when” – they determine when that action should occur.

Exploring Trigger Types

Now that we grasp the essence of triggers, let’s delve into the diverse range of triggers at your disposal within Google Tag Manager. We’ll provide an overview of these trigger types, and in subsequent lessons, we’ll dive into each in greater detail.

Page View Triggers

Page view triggers are your go-to option when you want GTM to respond to the loading of a webpage. They encompass various stages of page loading, providing flexibility in triggering specific actions based on different loading phases.

Click Triggers

Click triggers come into play when a user interacts with elements on your webpage. Whether it’s clicking on a hyperlink or any other clickable element, click triggers allow you to capture these interactions and trigger specific actions accordingly.

User Engagement Triggers

User engagement triggers open up a world of possibilities. They activate when specific user behaviors occur, such as when certain elements load, forms are submitted, or users scroll through your page. These triggers are versatile and can cater to a wide range of actions based on user engagement.

Custom Event Triggers

Custom event triggers empower you to create triggers tailored to your unique requirements. They’re highly flexible and allow you to define triggers based on custom events that matter most to your analytics and tracking goals.

History Change Triggers

History change triggers come into play when there’s a modification in the user’s browsing history. These triggers are especially useful for tracking navigation events and changes in the URL structure.

In this course, we’ll primarily focus on page view triggers, click triggers, and user engagement triggers, as these are the ones you’re likely to use most frequently in your GTM implementations.

Practical Applications

Let’s discuss some practical scenarios where triggers prove invaluable:

YouTube Video Triggers

Imagine you have a website with embedded YouTube videos. With YouTube video triggers, you can track user interactions with these videos. You might want to trigger specific actions when users start, stop, pause, watch a certain percentage, or reach a specific time point in the video. This data can be immensely valuable for retargeting on platforms like Facebook and analyzing user engagement in Google Analytics.

Scroll Triggers

Scroll triggers come into play when users scroll down a page. You can set up triggers to fire when users scroll a certain percentage of the page. This can be useful for determining user engagement levels and adjusting your marketing strategies accordingly.

Form Submission Triggers

If you’re keen on tracking leads and conversions, form submission triggers are your ally. You can trigger actions when users submit forms on your website, allowing you to capture critical lead generation data.

Click Triggers for Specific Links

Click triggers can be configured to respond to specific links on your website. This granularity enables you to differentiate between various links and trigger tailored actions based on user interactions with these links.

Page Load Triggers

Page load triggers are ideal for capturing general page view data. You can use them to trigger actions whenever a page on your website loads. This can be valuable for basic tracking and analytics.


In this introductory lesson, we’ve laid the foundation for our exploration of GTM triggers. We’ve learned that triggers dictate when GTM takes action, while tags specify what action to perform. We’ve also explored various trigger types and their practical applications.

As we progress through this course, you’ll gain deeper insights into each trigger type, discover advanced techniques, and learn how to harness the full potential of Google Tag Manager. So, are you ready to become a GTM trigger virtuoso? Stay tuned for more enlightening lessons!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between tags and triggers in GTM?

Tags define the actions you want Google Tag Manager to perform, while triggers specify when those actions should occur. Think of tags as the “what” and triggers as the “when.”

Can I create custom triggers in GTM?

Yes, Google Tag Manager allows you to create custom event triggers, giving you the flexibility to define triggers based on your specific requirements.

How can scroll triggers be used for marketing?

Scroll triggers can be used to gauge user engagement. For example, you can trigger actions when users scroll a certain percentage of a page, enabling you to adjust your marketing strategies based on user behavior.

Are page view triggers suitable for basic tracking?

Yes, page view triggers are ideal for basic tracking needs. They can trigger actions whenever a page on your website loads, providing fundamental tracking data

can I track user interactions with embedded YouTube videos using GTM?

Absolutely! You can use YouTube video triggers to track user interactions such as video start, stop, pause, percentage watched, or specific time points. This data is valuable for retargeting and analytics.

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