Google Tag Manager

Just recently I stumbled upon Google Tag Manager and I had no idea how it worked or why it matters. Little did I know, this simple tool that has been around since 2005 would be a game changer for our clients and for us. Crowding websites with all the scripts and tags to track, functionality may slow down the website reducing the user experience. For this reason, Google Tag Manager is essential for any business making data-driven decisions for their digital marketing strategy.

Getting Started

The structure of Google Tag manager is very similar to Google Analytics. In Analytics, we have accounts that contain “web properties” for each domain. Google Tag Manager functions in the same way that we have accounts that hold containers for each domain and the tags are placed on the site. This is where all the snippets of code that help you measure and monitor all your online campaigns are held.

To get started with Google Tag Manager you need first to have a Gmail account and sign in here. Once you name your account, you will be prompted to setup a container. You will need a separate container for every website or mobile app. The name of the container isn’t important but should be easy to identify. After you have created your account and accepted the terms of service, you are given two snippets of code that need to be placed on the website. This code will be able to replace many of the other snippets of code such as the Google Analytics code and any pixels you have installed. You will want to keep this handy for installing them in Google Tag Manager.

The secret behind Google Tag Manager lies within its code. When you create a new container, you are given two snippets of code that are placed on the site. The first script tag which holds a JavaScript function that loads the specific container and all the tags inside that container. It then tells your page to load your website while GTM is working to access the tags. This prevents all the tags and scripts that you would have placed on your site from slowing down the speed the site loads. The second snippet of code is only necessary if you care to track non-JavaScript users, but since most of our tags require JavaScript, it isn’t critical.

Installing Tags

Once you have the account setup and the code installed, you are set to start installing your tags including Google Analytics. When you press new tag you will be prompted with several tags that Google has decided to help you install or you can just drop the code snippet into a custom HTML tag. If you go through the pre-setup tags, google takes you to a new page and asks you to fill out all the information needed for the tag.

Now you need to add a firing rule so Google Tag Manager knows what pages of your website the tag should fire. For many of the tags you will want them to fire on every page of your site but others such as form completion, you will need to setup a rule that it only fires on the thank you page to get accurate data. The options you have here go pretty deep, so I recommend you come back to this and play around with the different firing rules and exceptions.

Lastly, in the top right, you can turn on preview mode. This is one of the strongest features if you’re installing pixels on your websites to track conversions. Once turned on, you can navigate to your website and Google Tag Manager will pop up from the bottom of the page and show what tags will fire on that page. The ability to test if you setup the pixel correctly and it fires on the right pages helps tremendously.

The Takeaway

In conclusion, Google Tag Manager is a universal tool that removes the headache of installing tags on your website, while at the same time improving the user experience on the site by not slowing it down with various tags. All your tags will be in one place so the more tags you use to track what people are doing on your site, the more beneficial Google Tag Manager becomes. Please note, this is a quick guide to getting up and running with Google Tag Manager. If you have any problems or would like to know more, please feel free to contact us.