Right from Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Pinterest to LinkedIn and AdWords, they all ask you to add code to your website to track performance. But manually coding tags, testing, updating and deploying them can be daunting. Besides, too many competing scripts slow down websites. Thankfully you and I have Google Tag Manager to make tag management less of a hassle.

If you are new to the tag management system, then this is the best place to start. We’ll go over the basics of Google Tag Manager and prep you to start using it in no time.

Off you go then!

What is Google Tag Manager and Why Use it?

Google Tag Manager is a free tool you can use to manage various tracking codes or tags on your website and apps. Simply replace them with a single, asynchronous GTM tag on each page of your website and half your job’s done! The best part is not having to write new code every time you want to create a new tag.

Benefits of Using Google Tag Manager (GTM)

It’s true when Google says that Google Tag Manager takes the pain out of tagging. After all, you’re at complete liberty to customize what gets reported in Google Analytics. But there’s more to this than meets the eye. Read on.

  • Frees up your time: In GTM you can add, delete and update tags without a tech wizard’s intervention. This means no more running after the IT department or crying over deadlines you think you’ll miss!
  • Improves site load time and stability: When your site has too many tracking tags it slows down. As a result, not only do your visitors leave, hurting your conversions, but Google penalizes you by not ranking you on the search engine. But GTM rescues you by firing tags asynchronously so that they load independently and data collection is faster.
  • Quick implementation with built-in templates and third-party tags: You needn’t add/create new tracking tags every time, instead use GTM’s tag templates. Currently, they clock at 70, all of which are verified by Google.

If you are a tag technology provider/expert and would like to include a template then you can sign up for Google’s vendor tag template program.

  • Conflict-free collaboration across your organization: Workspace and customizable access controls allow teams to work and test independently and efficiently. Agencies that manage multiple accounts can actually see every account in one place. What else could you ask for, eh!

Are There any Drawbacks to Using Google Tag Manager?

Certainly.

  • When you’re just starting out you will make errors. Yes, the user interface is impeccable, but it takes time wrapping your head around it. Ideally, you must go through the Quick Start Guide and then the Developer’s guide.
  • Then sometimes organizations give access to unqualified people who can twist things around in GTM, hurting data collection and breaking the site.
  • Leho Kraav of ConversionXL, talking about the problem of deploying custom HTML tags says, ‘There’s inadequate analytics alert setup or not enough QA to detect it for a long period of time.’

Google Tag Manager Beginner’s Glossary

Container: It includes tags and triggers that you can access at once. From here you can easily add, modify and remove any tag.

Tags: These are tracking codes that tell Google Tag Manager what to do on a particular page. For example, send a pageview hit to Google Analytics.

On GTM you can pause, blacklist and sequence tags at will.

Choosing Tag Type on Google Tag Manager

Triggers: These are the rules that activate or fire tags. You cannot create a tag without first creating a trigger. So if you want to track page form submissions, use Google Tag Manager’s form submission trigger which will fire a tag each time a form is sent. Related: 6 Techniques To Build Lead Capture Forms.

Choosing Trigger Type

Variables: These are additional values that are used in tags and triggers to filter when a tag should fire. There are a couple of built-in variables within GTM. You can also create custom user-defined variables as well.

Variables in GTM

Deep Dive: Setting Up Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Step 1: To get started, head to tagmanager.google.com and click on create an account. A new page will open that looks like the screenshot below.

Under account set up, write your company’s name and country. In the next section titled, container setup, paste your website’s URL. Next, select where you’d like to use the container set up.

GTM Setting up an account

Important note: Google advises you to create one container per domain. If you manage multiple companies/websites then each website should have its own container, linked to a single Google user account. That’s because if you have a single container, all changes will go live regardless of the domain. What a nightmare!

Step 2: After creating a container, you’ll reach a page where Google asks you to place the GTM snippet code on pages that you want to track. Once you’ve added the code you can start creating tags.

Install google tag manager code

Google Tag Manager: Creating Tags

Step 1: Once you’ve created your account, you’ll reach the GTM dashboard which looks like this:

Add a new tag

Go ahead and click on new tag. It’ll open a window where you can name and configure your tags.

Creating a new tag

Remember to name your tags clearly so as to know which tag serves what purpose. Google recommends naming your tags like this: Tag type> Detail>Location. For example, Google Analytics – CTA – LP Psychology Hacks Ebook. The data collected will tell you how well the CTA button on Psychology hacks ebook landing page is performing.

Step 2: Go ahead and name the tag and then click on tag configuration to see a list of tag suggestions. Select what you want to use and fill in the information it asks. You also have the option to create custom tags by selecting the Custom HTML tag type.

For the moment, I’ve selected Google Analytics – Universal Analytics and then added web property Id. After this I chose track type as ‘pageview’, one of the most popularly tracked metrics.

Tag name and tag configuration in GTM

Step 2: Since you cannot track a tag without a trigger, the next step is to set a trigger. In short, I’ll set a rule so that the tag is recorded when a specific action takes place. In this case, ‘All pages’ will give me data insights every time someone views website pages.

Choosing all pages trigger

Step 3: Save tag and trigger configuration.

Save tag and trigger configuration

Step 4: Next up, click submit button for tags to work.

Step 5: Finally, you’ll first preview and then publish your tags. The preview feature gives you an opportunity to verify tag configurations and inspect which tags are fired in which order. It’s an important step because sometimes triggers can break if another JavaScript interferes the process. Also test in older browsers if your product requires support for older browsers.

There you go. As someone new to using Google Tag Manager, you’re now ready to track activity across websites and apps.

Wrapping Up

Google Tag Manager will work if you make it work for you. It starts with creating the right tags and naming them correctly. Make sure you set appropriate triggers and variables in order to capture data more accurately.

Are you excited to work on GTM? Can’t wait to hear about your experiences and how you plan to use it for your business. Do comment and let us know.