Google Tag Manager: A Complete Guide Part I of III

Digital marketing is all about data. In order to build a tailored marketing strategy, we need to understand what our customers are doing when browsing our website. For instance, we may want to know how many people clicked on the contact us page or completed a form submission by clicking on the ‘Submit’ button. While Google Analytics can provide crucial insights into these actions, it can’t without adding tags to your website first. By tagging your website using Google Tag Manager, you’re able to collect more data and record it in Google Analytics. 

If you’re not familiar with Google Tag Manager, you may be wondering what it is and why you should use it. Below, we have outlined a beginner’s introduction to the platform and the benefits of using it. Ready? Let’s grow! 

What Is Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

Each website page has underlying HTML and scripts that form the page that users see in a browser. For every page, there are certain aspects of it that you’d like to track. Using a manual code model, you can track these aspects through snippets of code that are written in advance. However, managing all of them is difficult and can require website developers to change them. 

This is where Google Tag Manager comes in.

Google Tag Manager is a free Google tool that allows you to insert snippets of code (tags) into your website to track user actions without having to actually modify your website’s raw script. This tag management system is a convenient way to quickly update and manage all tags as all the code associated with them is stored in one central location. Most marketing agencies recommend you to use GTM as it allows you to track more information in real-time on Google Analytics.

Components of Google Tag Manager

There are three main segments to Google Tag Manager: 

  1. Tags
  2. Triggers
  3. Variables

These three components are stored in a container.

What Are Tags? 

GTM puts a snippet of JavaScript code or tracking pixels from third-party platforms which then collect and manipulate data. Basically, it tells Google Tag Manager what to do. 

What Are Triggers?

Each tag on a website serves a purpose, such as sending information when someone clicks on the ‘Contact Us’ page. These specific events are called triggers. They signal when to fire a tag. All tags need to have at least one trigger associated with them. 

What are Variables?

Variables are additional, contextual data your trigger may need in order to fire. It allows you to do something once and leverage it across multiple tags. Built-in variables are common, vastly used variables Google has made available for you. Google also allows marketers to have user-defined variables which you can create on your own and are specific to your tag or account.

For instance, as part of your company’s marketing strategy, you may want to track more than one aspect of the website’s behaviour. Thus, Google Tag Manager will require you to create more than one tag for the same Google Analytics account. Instead of having to insert your Google Analytics account number each time a new tag is created, you can create a custom variable for that.

Benefits of Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager allows for a centralized management system for your website’s tags. Some websites can have over 100 tags tracking different user actions and managing all of them can be difficult. GTM serves as a central tool to easily and quickly update different tags. 

The tag management system is also great for improving data accuracy and ensuring agility when it comes to tracking. Instead of having to manually change components of a tag on your website – which is prone for more human error), GTM allows you to improve the process in which we manage tags.

From all we have discussed so far, we can easily conclude that GTM is a powerful tool. While a Google product, it is hardly limited to just functioning with other Google services. Its cross-functional system is another of its many benefits.

Do you have questions about the benefits of Google Tag Manager for your company’s digital marketing strategy? Reach out to our marketing agency in Vancouver and we will be happy to chat with you about it! Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn—we would love to hear from you. 

Stay tuned! We have a GTM blog series just for you. Next up: how to set up your GTM account and link it to your Google Analytics account. 

Thanks for reading, and keep it cool!