Google Tag Manager (GTM) gives your internal team more control over tracking on your website, without the input from a web developer. As with many Google products, it’s absolutely free! Which is great news for your business.

So, what is Google Tag Manager? First introduced in Q4 2012, this ‘automated tag management’ system provides marketers with the ability to add and update tags on your website, without requiring assistance from an internal web development team or external web developer. Essentially, GTM allows you to place one snippet of code on your site, this code is called the ‘GTM container’, and this is where your internal team will add/replace all tags on your site.

This means that you can add Google Analytics tracking, your Facebook pixel or event tracking and manage them from the one web interface - clever eh?! Tags can be added with specific rules, outlining exactly how and when you wish them to fire. The USP is that Google Tag Manager stores all tags together (in the one container) making for more efficient and simplified management.

Previously, adding tags was a task for web developers which could, not only, be time-consuming for them but could also take a lot longer than necessary to complete. However, with GTM, marketers have greater flexibility and control; applying tags in just a few clicks.

What are the benefits of Google Tag Manager?

  • This tool is absolutely free!
  • Tags are managed within an easy to use web interface (no need to deal with tricky code)
  • Anyone can learn to use GTM
  • Previews of the changes you’ve made are available, as is reverting back to a previous version, thus preventing damage to the website
  • By reducing the number of scripts on your website, you can reduce the loading time of your site content. Website load speed is a critical determinant in whether the user remains on your website. Previously, multiple tags impacted the delivery speed of your website, but with GTM, tags are centralised and fire faster, enhancing load speed
  • GTM allows users to set rules to determine which tags will fire according to which triggers, allowing you to collect the right information at the right time
  • Grouping all of your tags in the GTM will ensure Google Analytics efficiently collects all data to required to aid your future marketing efforts
  • Universal Analytics offers additional features, such as custom dimensions, and Google recommends using Tag Manager to implement Universal Analytics
  • With the shift toward a mobile-first approach for web, GTM can also be used across mobile websites and applications
    Although there are other tag management systems out there, Google is far supreme and in the eventuality of a problem, it is likely to be resolved within minutes with the help of Google’s endless learning resources and its vast online community sharing hints and tips

digital marketing teams can benefit greatly from tag manager

Image from Analytics Mania

Are there any drawbacks?

GTM is indeed a brilliant tool for marketers, however, there are two drawbacks which should be considered before you implement the interface:

  • GTM does not include all the usual restrictions on the publishing of code, therefore if access is gained, websites could be wiped out in minutes or detrimental changes made without the knowledge of a developer or the approval of a senior. This can be addressed by careful management and appropriate setting of user administration levels. The following article from Bounteous provides insight into how to manage any security concerns you may have
  • Turn-key-tags are limited within GTM so it is actually quite difficult to use with other analytics (if you are not using Google Analytics). So in order to get your tags to work, you need to paste JavaScript code into a custom HTML tag in GTM — which requires some expertise
    If you have used GTM before you will know that your tags and rules can quickly evolve into a mess which has accumulated over time. This can be manually managed so it is not the end of the world, but this is definitely something to be wary of

How to Upgrade to Google Tag Manager

1 - Define your business objectives before proceeding, it is imperative you understand and define:

  • a) The data you wish to collect
  • b) Which events you wish to track
  • c) Which 3rd party vendors you use to collect the data such as Google Analytics, Universal Analytics or Google AdWords.

2 - Set up Google Tag Manager here, followed by creating a container for each of the domains you would like to track.

3 - Once your container has been created, you will be provided with a code snippet. This ‘should be placed directly after the opening tag on every page of your site, carefully adding each tag from the site into the Google Tag Manager container’ for tracking purposes.

4 - After the snippet of code has been applied to all pages of your website, it is time to start setting up your tags (bearing in mind the objectives you defined in step one). Remember to test your tags before publishing to ensure that everything is firing effectively

5 - Google experts recommend creating a copy of your existing container for testing purposes

6 - It is now time to push GTM live (ensuring that you have selected the correct version). When published, data can be viewed instantly.

Sign up for Google Tag Manager here: https://tagmanager.google.com/#/home