How to Set Up Conversion Tracking for Digital Downloads

If you regularly produce high-value assets such as white papers or infographics, it’s critical to track your return on investment. To find out how and when your users are downloading your files, you can set up conversion tracking for these downloadable items in Google Tag Manager. In addition to monitoring your return on investment, tracking downloads can also help you identify what topics users are most interested in so you can make strategic decisions about what kind of assets to produce next.

In this post, we’re sharing the step-by-step process for setting up digital download tracking for a PDF file through Google Tag Manager. Once you learn this basic steps of this process, you can apply it to other types of digital downloads on your site.

Note: If you haven’t yet set up a Google Tag Manager account, please refer to our article, “How to Get Started With Google Tag Manager.”

1. Create a new tag

First, open up your Google Tag Manager account and click into the dashboard view of the site you’re working on. Click on “Add a new tag.”

A window will pop up that looks like this:

First, rename the “Untitled Tag” to something like “Digital Download – PDF” so you can easily identify it later.

2. Configure the tag type

Under “Tag Configuration,” click on “Choose a tag type to begin setup” and a sidebar menu will pop up. Select “Universal Analytics.”

This is what the Tag Configuration area should look like now:

Select “Event” as your Track Type, and a few additional options will show up. Here’s what you will be changing:

  • Type “Digital Download – PDF” in the Category field.
  • Type “{{Click URL}}” in the Action field. The “Click URL” variable validates that a particular asset was downloaded.
  • Type “{{Page URL}}” in the Label field. The “Page URL” variable allows you to track where the asset was downloaded. This is useful if you repurpose your assets on multiple pages (for example, on a blog post as well as the “Resources” section of your site).
  • Check “Enable overriding settings in this tag.”
  • Add your Google Analytics Tracking ID.

This is what the screen will look like after setting up the tag type:

3. Set up the tag trigger

Now that you’ve set up the tag type, it’s time to establish the tag’s trigger. Under “Triggering” click on “Choose a trigger to make this tag fire…” You will be directed to a page that shows all your current triggers, including your “All Pages” trigger. Click on the blue plus sign in the top right corner next to the magnifying glass:

On the next screen, rename “Untitled Trigger” to “Digital Download – PDF Trigger.” Then click on “Choose a trigger type to begin setup…” and select “Just Links.”

The next screen that pops up will ask you to configure the trigger. Click on “Some Links,” and three fields will pop up. Select the “Click URL” variable, select “contains,” and then input “.pdf” in the last field. With these components together, the conditions for the trigger will be “Click URL contains .pdf” as demonstrated below:

4. Save and publish tag

Once you’ve configured the tag and set up the tag trigger, your tag should now look like this:

Once you’ve satisfied with your tag, there’s a multistep process to push it live. First, click “Save” in the upper right-hand corner. You will be brought to the main Tags dashboard. Click on “Submit” to continue the process:

You will be brought to a screen that looks like this:

This page allows you to document the changes you’ve made to your tags. Simply explain what you’ve done in this version. In this case, just write “Added ‘Digital Download – PDF’ tag” in the name and description, then click on “Publish.”

The next page will give you a brief rundown of information about your new tag version:

Congrats! Your digital download tracking tag is now set up in Google Tag Manager! With this tag, you can now track conversions through your Google Analytics account. To retrieve the digital download data you are now tracking, open up your Google Analytics dashboard. In the left sidebar, follow the following path: Behavior > Events > Top Events. The resulting page will show you the new conversion data you’re collecting from the date you began collecting it.



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