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7 Best Practices To Follow While Setting GTM For Different Subdomains

April 17, 2023
Google Analytics 4 Migration Via Tagmate

Subdomains can be incredibly useful to digital marketers for several reasons. Their most common use case is helping organizations reinforce their brand by creating separate sections for different types of content and services while maintaining branding consistency.

Creating separate website sections helps attract specific target audiences which in turn helps attract more qualified leads and improve conversion rates for specific topics or products. In fact, you may use subdomains to test new marketing strategies or campaigns without affecting the main site.

While these aspects help improve SEO by enhancing your content’s relevance to specific keywords and aiding search engines in easily crawling and indexing your website, subdomains have a tremendous positive impact on analytics. They help track performance metrics of different sections of your site individually so that you can identify areas for improvement and optimize your marketing efforts.

Having said that, it is important to note that it is generally advisable to use subdomains only when you have a good enough reason to do so. This is due to the fact that subdomains can lead to additional complications in marketing analytics.

If you are looking forward to creating subdomains, you must make the necessary provisions in your Google Tag Manager account as well. In this article, I will walk you through the top seven best practices that you can follow for setting GTM for different subdomains. 

Let’s get started:

Top Seven Things You Should Do When Setting Up GTM For Multiple Subdomains 

When setting up Google Tag Manager (GTM) for different subdomains, it's important to follow the below best practices to ensure that the tracking works accurately and efficiently. Failing to do so may result in the loss of important insights and business at large:

1. Use A Separate Container For Each Subdomain

It is recommended to use a separate GTM container for each subdomain. This will make it easier to manage the tracking for each subdomain individually. This isolates the data of each subdomain and prevents any chances of data duplication with other subdomains or your main domain.

Hence, using separate containers for subdomains improves data integrity and helps you get more granular insights into how users interact with each subdomain and optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.

Coincidentally, having separate containers also enables marketers to isolate and debug tracking issues more easily. This allows you to manage to track each subdomain separately and make changes without affecting other subdomains.

Also, it helps you reduce the amount of data that needs to be loaded on each subdomain, thereby improving your website performance. This can be especially helpful for mobile users or users on slower/limited internet connections.

Separate containers for subdomains provide you with greater control over the tracking scripts and tags that are used on each subdomain for staying compliant with data privacy regulations.

2. Use A Consistent Naming Convention For Containers

It is necessary for marketers to use a consistent naming convention across all subdomain containers to keep track and quickly identify which containers are associated with the respective subdomain. This will also help your team members avoid confusion and collaborate with greater ease. 

For instance, you might use a subdomain container naming convention that starts with the subdomain name, followed by the type of tracking, and then a brief description of the tracking element.

This will not only ensure that existing containers are managed well but also adds to your team’s ability to create new containers for new subdomains and manage them in an equally efficient manner. By using a standardized approach, you can ensure that your tracking data is consistent and compatible across all of your properties.

Lastly, this approach helps you simplify the process of maintaining your tracking activities over time as you can quickly identify which containers need to be updated/retired. 

3. Set Up Cross-Domain Tracking

Setting up cross-domain tracking in GTM is another crucial best practice to keep in mind to guarantee that you are gathering accurate data and insights across all of your subdomains. It allows advertisers to follow user behavior and activity as they browse between subdomains, even if the subdomains are housed in other domains.

Without cross-domain tracking, you may end up with incomplete or inaccurate analytics data which will lead to misinformed decisions. For instance, current users that navigate across subdomains may be considered new users.

It provides marketers with a clearer picture of user behavior and activity as no ambiguity affects the data quality. Hence, marketers can get a better understanding of how visitors engage with the website as a whole. Also, it will play a pivotal role in predicting trends, optimizing marketing efforts, and enhancing customer experience.

4. Use Consistent Data Layer Variables

To ensure that the data you collect across different subdomains is consistent and accurate, you must use consistent data layer variables in all of them. Failing to do so can misguide you into making wrong decisions about your website and its performance.

Moreover, this practice makes it easier for marketers and analysts to access and use the data without spending time learning the different variable names for each subdomain. Thus, it improves collaboration among team members responsible for managing different subdomains.

Most importantly, consistent data layer variables make it easier to scale your tracking efforts across multiple subdomains or websites as it helps you create consistent tracking rules for events and tags across subdomains.

5. Test Thoroughly

Given the technical ins and outs of configuring containers for different subdomains, it is necessary to test the setup thoroughly before you deploy GTM on all subdomains. It helps ensure that your tracking is accurate and that the data being collected is correct despite the complexity.

It also helps identify and fix any issues with your GTM setup before it goes live, thereby helping avoid expensive blunders or sabotaging user experience. Ultimately, it helps you avoid costly downtime and ensure that your tracking is working as intended from the start. 

6. Use Folders To Organize Tags, Triggers, And Variables

One of the easiest ways to make subdomains more manageable is to use folders for organizing your tags, triggers, and variables into logical groups, making it easier to navigate and manage your GTM setup. 

For example, you might create a folder for each subdomain, and within that folder, create subfolders for specific types of tracking, such as pageview tracking, event tracking, or e-commerce tracking. This will make it easier to locate and manage specific tracking elements, especially if you have multiple subdomains to manage.

This can save you time and reduce errors by allowing you to quickly locate and modify specific elements. Naturally, it helps your team collaborate more effectively and efficiently as they don’t need to reinvent the wheel due to unorganized tags, triggers, and variables spread across multiple subdomains.

Folders also make it easier to test your GTM setup, as you can quickly enable or disable specific folders to test different parts of your setup. Lastly, folders can simplify the process of maintaining your GTM setup over time. For example, if you need to update or delete specific tags, triggers, or variables, you can do so more easily if they are organized into folders.

7. Document The Setup

Last but not least, you must document the entire setup like any other technical operation within the organization to help your team members understand the setup and make changes or updates as needed. It will also aid them in the troubleshooting process and minimize downtime.

Many data privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), require companies to maintain documentation of their data processing activities. By documenting your GTM setup, you can demonstrate compliance with these regulations.

Notably, documentation helps you limit the negative impact of attrition as new team members can be easily trained regarding your tracking and tagging practices for all subdomains and the main domain.

Wrap Up

These best practices will serve your efforts on various levels and help ensure that you get the maximum benefit from marketing analytics but the technical aspects of implementing them can be taxing.

Tagmate helps you with all GTM and GA4-related operations with ready-to-use templates, thereby eliminating the need for all coding and technical expertise. On top of that, it also ensures that the best practices mentioned above are implemented to keep you at the top of your game.

Try Tagmate now!

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