Data is the cornerstone of digital marketing. Any site you have, be it a large corporation or a small one-man business, needs to understand how visitors interact with the content it has. Google Analytics may provide most of the important information. However, if it is used on its own some of the important data will slip through your fingers. By using Google Tag Manager and providing required tags on your website in combination with Google Analytics you are able to improve your data collection process.

We use tags, which are basically snippets of programming code, to collect information and send it to third-party websites. For example, to Google Analytics. That way we can see all sorts of useful data like scroll tracking, form submissions, heat maps. We can also use it to conduct surveys, track how people arrive on your website, as well as for remarketing purposes. We also monitor how visitors react to your content, what files they download, which links they click on or items they remove from their shopping cart.

The amount of code required to create several different tags on even a single website would be overwhelming for a common user. Google Tag Manager is a user-friendly tool that is used to simplify the process of working with tags. You can add, edit and disable tags without any programming skills under your belt.

Even though Google Tag Managet (GTM for short) is certainly a google product, you are not limited to only using it with other Google services like AdWords or Analytics. It is friendly with other third-party tags like Twitter, Bing Ads, Crazy Egg or Hotjar, as well as many more. In case you are out of luck and it doesn’t have a template for your specific tag, you can easily add your own custom code. 

You can read up on GTM from Google itself here, but we will cover all the basics below.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Google Tag Manager

Save money on Web Developers

Say you are a marketer and need to implement a new tag on your website. With GTM you don’t need to call your specially trained web developer so he adds new lines of code. Those are usually busy with other high-priority tasks and adding tags gets swept under the rug. Furthermore, quite often the tag takes longer to appear on the website than it is actually live there. Saving time on implementation is a huge advantage.

Does not completely eliminate tech know-how requirements

Good news is you no longer need to write the code itself. Bad news you still need to put the tag into the source code on each page of your website. You have a lot of templates to choose from, but the copy and paste of the code itself is not eliminated by GTM. Not yet, at least. Furthermore you or your web developer will need to remove the tags in the source code that were added before GTM to avoid duplicate data.

Companies of any size can benefit from it

Huge corporations get the advantage of managing a big number of tags in a comfortable and efficient way. Smaller companies don’t need a developer on a retainer or constant technical support to manage their tags.

Bad implementation may cause web site to slow down

There is an issue with some traditional tags that if they start up at the same time, they can slow down site speeds. One tag being slow to load will stop all the other tags from loading until it finishes. Naturally, the longer a website takes to load, the more chance there is that people will simply leave the website without even taking a look. In GTM however, the tags load asynchronously by default, which means they fire anytime they are ready to. In some cases you may need to control the order the tags are fired at and you can do that by using the implemented tag sequencing and firing priority feature. 

AMP websites and mobile apps can use Google Tag Manager as well

Google Tag Manager provides tags for AMP sites or mobile apps. As an added benefit for mobile apps, GTM lets you add and edit tags without the need to issue an updated version of your app, which some users may not have the option to download. GTM for mobile apps and AMP sites is quite similar to the one used for regular websites, but they do differ in some respects. Below we will focus on using GTM for web.

Google Tag Manager’s tag components

Tags may seem easy on the surface, but you do need a grasp of some main concepts to start working with GTM.

Containers

The first thing you need to do when you start your GTM career is create a container. It essentially “carries” all the tags you implement.

GTM will give you some code to add to your website, as soon as you create a new container. You will need to add that container code to each page on your website. Some of the CMSes, for example Shopify or WordPress, have plugins that help you add the code to your website, but you may need to contact your web developer in some cases. Once that is completed you will be able to add, edit, disable and remove your tags through GTM as required.

Triggers

Each tag on your website needs to have a specific trigger to know when it needs to fire. Without it the tag won’t do anything. A trigger can be anything from someone downloading a file to clicking an outbound link or submitting a web form. 

Triggers can be either an event or a filter. When you configure your trigger in GTM, you will see a big list of triggers to choose from. These are mostly events. Once you choose an event, the next step will be to set up your filter. 

You can further summarize filters into three groups: operators, variables and values. An operator is basically a math symbol. It tells the tag how the variable needs to relate to the value (needs to be less, greater or equal). Value does not need to be numerical. It can be any keyword or even another website’s URL.

Now thats about it for the basics of Google Tag Manager. If you want to find out more about how to improve your website income generation start here.