Marketing is evolving everyday and our good friends at Google have developed the Google Tag Manager (GTM), to give us marketers a helping hand with online measurability. In today’s blog we explore what Google Tag Manager is and how it benefits your organisation.
What is Google Tag Manager
GTM is an ‘automated tag management system’ which was introduced on the 1st of October 2012, allowing marketers to add and update tags from websites without requiring the assistance of a technical or web development team. As with many of Google’s products and services, GTM is absolutely free and allows all tags to be managed from one web interface - simplicity eh?
What does it do?
Tags are little pieces of code which allow marketers to track and measure website visits, conversions, where the visitor came from and their behaviour whilst on the website, as well as providing an understanding of the effectiveness of online advertising and activity. Previously, adding tags was primarily a task for the dev team (and a time consuming task at that), however within just a few clicks, marketers can now take the reins themselves providing greater flexibility and control.
How does it work?
Google Tag Manager uses what it calls ‘a container snippet’ which is placed on all the pages of your website, replacing all the other tags previously in existence on your site. Once this container has been implemented across your website, you can then edit, add and update tags from one point - your Google Tag Manager account.
Tags can be added with specific rules, outlining exactly how and when you wish them to fire. The USP - Google Tag Manager stores all tags together (in the one container) making for more efficient and simplified management.
Using Google Tag Manager
Free tag management: the first and most important benefit especially for those with stretched marketing budgets is this tool is absolutely free - Google is here to help you!
Friendly to the tech-averse: if experience in IT isn’t your forte then not to worry. Tags are managed within an easy to use web interface (no need to deal with tricky code).
Risk mitigation: previews of the changes you’ve made are available, as is reverting back to a previous version, thus preventing damage to the website (much to the satisfaction of your tech team).
Fast loading time: nowadays, users are more demanding than ever and 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.
Rules: GTM allows users to set rules for which tags will fire when and according to what triggers, helping to collect the right information at the right time.
Efficient data collection: managing tags is critical for collecting data efficiently. Grouping all tags in the GTM will ensure Analytics efficiently collects all required data to aid future marketing efforts.
Ease of migration: Universal Analytics has recently come out of beta and into the public domain offering additional features, such as custom dimensions, and as Google recommends using Google Tag Manager to implement Universal Analytics, becoming familiar with the technology just now will aid the transition when the time comes for you to migrate from GA to UA.
Mobile: with the recent shift toward a mobile-first approach for web, GTM can also be used across mobile websites and applications.
Help is at hand: 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.
Although an excellent tool for marketers, there are two major drawback which should be considered when implementing Google Tag Manager.
Security: the current level of security offered by GTM falls somewhat short of what is currently being offered by the competition. 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.
Organisation: if you have used GTM you will understand that tags, rules and macros can quickly evolve into an accumulated mess requiring manual organisation. Tags, rules and macros should be built to aid maintenance making implementation of the Google Tag Manager much easier.
Future features and functionality
Let’s talk A/B testing! For those of you unaware of what A/B testing is - it’s a randomised experiment with two variables, A and B (the control and treatment), allowing businesses to gain an understanding of which elements of the website/campaign work best. Call to action buttons, photos, article headlines and navigation bars are just a selection of variables which can be tested using A/B softwarehowever although A/B testing software can be added to the GTM, the functionality of this is currently a little questionable. However, this is Google we are talking about, they are continuously trying to enhance their offering and so the introduction of more efficient A/B testing tags is not far off.
A further work in progress is the ‘rules’ functionality. Although rules can be set on which tags should be fired first, reporting on tag firing is not currently offered by the GTM. Reporting on tag firing is currently offered in Analytics with GTM coming under criticism as a result, however Google have announced this feature will be available in Tag Manager very soon.
Google Tag Manager simplifies the tracking of key data and measurables, aiding the job of the modern marketer and bringing a previously complex discipline into arm’s reach. Given the already impressive list of functions and features, we only see GTM getting better and can’t wait to see more of our clients gaining control of their full business and marketing potential in the online space.