Google Tag Manager: Easily Track All Your Tags From One Place

17 Apr 2017 | Marketing

In this post we want to take Google Tools a step further and look at Google Tag Manager. We’ll take a look at exactly what GTM is, why it is important and how you can use it.

What is GTM and why do you need it?

GTM is a tool that lets you easily and quickly manage website tags for digital marketing campaigns. If you have a website with lots of pages or manage many websites, then GTM is a really important tool to help you manage everything easily without the risk of missing something.

Imagine GTM acting as a central repository or "bucket" for all your tags. It is neutral, so it can handle 3rd party tags as well. This means all you need to do is get all your tags into the GTM "bucket" (and deploy the bucket to all relevant pages), and when you need to add new tags or or edit existing tags - you just make the changes in one place. This means that these changes can be managed without IT and developer support - and nothing gets lost in the process. You don’t need to modify individual pages - just GTM.

cart-abandon.jpgThis reliability is what makes GTM so valuable. Whether it is multiple websites, several landing pages, etc., everything can be managed from one central place. Can you manage your tags separately?  Of course (clearly you like to live dangerously), but there is a chance a page will get missed, or breaks, and let's not forget the time factor here.

GTM also has great deal of in-built flexibility, so you can customise what pages the tags will fire on, and what pages they won't. You can also make the tags event driven, e.g., user clicks on x and y tag fires. Wonderfully, no IT intervention is needed to do this.

Further, GTM can be role neutral. Let's say you have two marketers on your team. One marketer works solely on social media and one marketer works solely on website driven stuff. In this case, both marketers will need to manage their tags separately - and communicate those changes to each other. With GTM, (remember that bucket) both marketers make their changes in the bucket. Either you can deploy those changes, or they can, but importantly, it is all in one place for easier management.


But maybe we should back up a minute.


What is a Tag?

A tag in digital marketing speak is a piece of data collecting code that sits (hidden) on your web pages and your mobile apps. The purpose of tags can vary, but typically tags are used to track (and collect) visitor behaviour and data, or launch some functionality such as live chat. Anything that is html based can be tracked. What we are really talking about is data. Data about customer behaviour and interactions and how they move through their buying journey.


So how does GTM work?

The first step in working with GTM is to set up your website in tag manager. If you already have your Google Analytics account set up (and of course you do), set up will be a simple task.

Next, add the GTM "bucket" to all your pages and apps. Then add all your tags into your bucket. You just need the one bucket, but within that bucket you can create separate folders, i.e., social media, remarketing, twitter, youtube etc.

You also have some customisation options at this point. You can select the tags to fire for all your pages or in the event of certain behaviours: clicking a page or link, sending a form, page load, tap screen or referrers, like Facebook referrals for example. When the trigger fires the tag, the tag's code executes.


Here's an example sequence: Tag Manager detects a page load event. The tag is set to fire when the page loads, and fires a Google Analytics tag. The Google Analytics tag then sends its data back to the Google Analytics servers.

It is like a beautiful data dance between your pages and apps and Google Analytics.

What makes the GTM so great is that without any intervention from you, Tag Manager tracks which tags should fire and when and what causes those tags to fire. As long as you are consistent, and make changes only to what is in the bucket - updates happen automatically.

Keep in mind that Google Tag Manager doesn't reduce the number of tags on your site or app, but it does simplify the task of managing them. For websites, Google Tag Manager executes asynchronously and can be configured to fire tags only when they are needed, helping your pages to load more quickly.

But back to the set up.

Once you have all your tags in your bucket and organised into folders, you need to deploy Tag Manager on all your pages and apps. Once deployed, you can open Google Analytics and using real time view, browse your site and apps to check that the tags are firing as you require. You should be able to see yourself move through your site in real time, and see the tags work their magic. Once you have everything working you can remove your old tags.


Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager

The real strength here is the interplay between Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. For example, with Tag Manager running you can decipher a form click versus a normal click, and even get special insights such as a hover over. So for example, if your customer hover overs a particular show, but does not click, you could follow up with them with a special discount or other remarketing campaign. This is a more advanced use of Tag Manager, but can be done through the set up of an audience or goal in Google Analytics.


So where is analytics heading in the future?

Digital marketing analytics is ever evolving. Chris Penn describes this evolution succinctly.


First, analytics simply said: here is the data. Now we are at the stage of diagnosing the data, with tools trying to help us understand what happened. The next stage, which is rapidly being developed, is prescriptive, here is what happened, now go do this to try and fix it. After that comes predictive: here is what is going to happen, do this instead to prevent it. And finally - a few years away - we'll hit the pro active stage, where the system will have enough data to correct as it goes.



So are you ready for the future analytics? Certainly Tag Manager is a great start.  


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