Google Tag Manager 101
Website metrics are a POWERFUL marketing resource. This data allows you to optimize your digital marketing strategy to better target leads and increase conversions. Therefore, it is important to understand how to start tracking metrics in the first place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen on its own; the website must be told WHAT data to track and WHERE to send it to. This is all done with a bit of CODE, but don’t let that scare you. You can actually add, edit, and disable tracking code via Google Tag Manager (yay for graphical user interfaces)!
Here’s what we’ll be covering today:
What is Google Tag Manager
Who it is for
How to connect your website
Creating a tag
Testing a tag
Publishing a tag
What is Google Tag Manager?
Google is in the name, but what does “tag manager” even mean? To answer that question, let’s first define “tag.”
Tag = A snippet of code which, when added to a website, collects specific information and then sends said information to third party tools. Some examples of data a tag may collect and the tool it may connect with:
• Page views —— > Google Analytics
• Scroll depth —–> HotJar
• Completed purchase —– > Facebook
Synonyms: Pixel, Beacon
Now that you’re equipped with that knowledge, the phrase “tag manager” may make more sense. Google Tag Manager (GTM) acts as a central location for adding, editing, and disabling tags on your website. The best part is, you do so without diving directly in to the website code!
Who is it for?
While GTM provides a user interface for inserting snippets of tracking code on your website, there is still some technical knowledge required. You need to understand:
1) WHAT tags you need (what data you’re tracking and where)
2) HOW to find and incorporate the appropriate data within your tag settings
This tool is meant for digital marketers that have the need for sending website data to several different platforms AND the time/know-how to understand the details of GTM and all referenced platforms.
How to Connect to Your Website
When you set up your GTM account, you’ll first create a container. Think of this as the digital space that will hold all of your website’s tag information.
This step will generate the code required to connect your website to your GTM account. Yes, this is the ONE step that requires you (or more likely your developer) to edit the source code on your website. The good news is, this will save you time in the long run.
How to Create a Tag
The setup of each tag will vary. However, this is an introduction to Google Tag Manager so we will be reviewing a specific example, Google Ads. Got to start somewhere!
1) Select the Add New option.
2) Give your tag a name.
Be as specific as possible. Best practice is to include WHERE the data is sending to – WHAT is it tracking – and WHEN is it firing. In this case, you could use “Google Ads –Retargeting Pixel– All Pages.”
3) Select the Tag Configuration section and then edit the Tag Type.
4) There will be a long list of different Tag Types (connections). In this case, you’ll notice there is already a Google Ads Remarketing option!
5) Once that is selected, all you’ll be required to provide is the Conversion ID.
This comes from a snippet of code generated over in Google Ads.
var google_conversion_id = 123456733;
6) You now need to tell GTM when to fire the code on your website. That is where the “Trigger” comes in.
7) All Pages will be the default option, which is appropriate for this use case.
For other tags, you may have very specific triggers, like a particular page view or link click. You can set those up by selecting the plus button
8) You’ve set up your tag and told it when to be triggered, but it is NOT on your website yet! You’ll first want to preview the tag to make sure it is being triggered properly.
Things to keep in mind:
- Tags can slow down website speed, so only add what is necessary.
- Before adding tags in Google Tag Manager, make sure you are not duplicating any tags that have already be hard-coded in your website.
Testing Your Tag
1) Back on your dashboard/overview screen, there will be a banner at the top with a “Preview” and “Submit” option. Select the “Preview” button!
2) You may now open your website in a new tab (this should all be done in Chrome). Google Tag Manager will display a section at the bottom of your screen listing the tags that have been fired.
3) The Google Ads Remarketing tag was set up to trigger on all page views. When you landed on the homepage, this action qualified as a page view. This means you should see the Google Ads Remarketing tag right away.
Adding a Tag to Your Website
1) Once you have verified your newly created tag is being triggered correctly you can select the Submit button.
2) This will prompt a screen where you will enter a Version name and Description of the changes. Be as detailed as possible so your future self will easily remember when and why you made the changes you are about to publish.
3) You can then select the Publish button to push your new tag live and exit out of Preview Mode!
This is a very high-level overview of Google Tag Manager. This can be a very powerful tool when used correctly, however, you should expect to invest additional time in learning the details. Below are additional resources to help get you started!
Google’s Overview • Beginners Guide (PDF) • GTM Step-By-Step • GTM and Google Ads • GTM and Facebook