Your Ultimate Guide to Google Tag Manager in 2021

google tag manager

Marketers rely on a lot of tracking and retargeting to ensure that their website is collating useful data that they will be able to utilise when improving their sites or implementing their advertising and marketing strategies. Google Tag Manager makes this easier for them to do. Tags are little parts of code that are inserted into any site’s pages. Some tags can extract and send different information to platforms like Google Ads and Google Analytics, so it is crucial that you understand how it works. Tags collect data that allow marketers to create reports with other marketing tools. Understanding how Google Tag Manager works will ensure that you have all the data you need at your fingertips.

What is Google Tag Manager? 

Google Tag Manager operates as Google’s Tag Management System otherwise known as a TMS. This is essentially space where you can create and track tags for every imaginable scenario that your site needs. Google Tag Manager creates your tags and implements them through your site. 

Google Tag Manager ensures that you have full control of your analytics platforms and has a host of benefits that make it truly unique. It gives you full control of tags that are on your site making it much easier to track your data and collate what is needed for your marketing goals. It also creates a greater accuracy compared to manually coding the tags, and it gives you more time to focus on other parts of your site without worrying about coding the tags. 

What Are Tags? 

Tags are a snippet of code that is used to help marketers glean information around how is visiting their site, the behaviour of their audience, and the impact their marketing efforts are having on their intended audience. Using tags provides vital information for them to remarket work, improve the site, and remarket to their audience. 

There are a number of ways that tags can appear on a webpage. Some use Javascript, like Google Analytics, others can be transparent pixels that are loaded onto webpages. They are designed, usually, to send data from a website to a third party.

They operate a host of functions from integrating third-party content such as social media widgets, placing video players and ads into sites, running Google Analytics, to collecting cookies for users who are visiting. 

Tags collect information like a user’s IP address or the type of mobile browser being implemented by the site’s visitor, they create a user profile for the visitor by storing their data in cookies for targeting criteria, and they analyse user behaviour by assessing what products or content the user was interested in, and if they interacted with any links or ads on the site. This is an incredibly useful function for any marketer. 

google tag manager dashboard

Are There Problems With Tags? 

Despite the host of benefits associated with tags, there are, naturally, some issues that accompany them when implementing them on any website. Adding tags can be incredibly time-consuming, resulting in lost revenue opportunities from the simple instalment of them on sites. 

Changes to pages can cause problems for tags, as they can break their functionality. This is due to tags losing connections with previous data and being prevented from functioning from redesigns. Another issue is the speed of web performance. Many websites have multiple tags installed on sites which can lead to hundreds of tags being operated to get a clear view of the data. This approach can cause a slow website which can affect the customer’s user experience. 

What is the Difference Between Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager? 

While they may seem similar, Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics serve different functions. Google Analytics is only one of the tracking tools that can be integrated into Google Tag Manager. It can integrate into multiple third-party tools as well like LinkedIn Insight and Segment. 

Google Tag Manager is the controller. Its system allows users to add and update different scripts and pixels to track any behaviours on specific websites and send behaviours to different tracking tools like Google Analytics which forms a clearer picture of the data.

How to Set Up a Google Tag Manager Account

To use Google Tag Manager, your step is to set up an account with the host. You can’t simply log in with an existing Google Account, you need to go click on the create account button to set up Tag Manager. From here, you will be invited to input your information. First, choose a name for your Google Tag Manager Account. It is recommended that you only select on account for one business. If you are setting up your account, you can use your business name to do this. 

After you have done this, you will have to set up a ‘Container Name’. This is a piece of code that you have to add to your webpages if you want Google Tag Manager to operate on your site. The container name will be the name of the site or the multiple sites that you control. After you have selected this, choose the relevant platform from the menu which could be iOS, web, Android, or AMP. Click crate and that is you beginning your Google Tag Manager journey. 

After completing the signup process, Google will provide you with two popups. The first will be your terms of service which has to be accepted for Google Tag Manager to function. The second popup will display the details of the container’s snippet that you need to add to your site to allow Google Tag Manager to function properly. 

The container snippet can be broken down into two parts: JavaScript and HTML. The JavaScript extract information should be placed as high as possible on your site, so you want to have this in the header section of your pages. The HTML iframe needs to be put after every page’s opening body tag. 

The reason for sourcing the two and implementing them into your site’s pages. Usually, JavaScript is sufficed but some user visitors will have JavaScript disabled. To ensure that you collate their data correctly, using the HTML iframe is embedded to help the tags still fire. Once you have this setup, you can delve into the deeper workings of Tag Manager. 

code for tag manager
Code helps tags fire, bringing data back from your site to Google Analytics.

Google Tag Manager Main Features

Google Tag Manager has changed the way marketers collect data, making it an easier, more streamlined process for those involved. It keeps track of tags you have implemented on a site and provides the most recent tag configuration to the end user’s browser to instruct them on what tags they should be firing. Google Tag Manager incorporates a host of features that provide a great experience for users while providing the relevant information for marketers to fine-tune their sites and deliver the content their audiences want. 

Defines Reusable Variables

When using Google Tag Manager, it allows you to select important data elements of your site, ensuring that you can collect data easily from them. You can pass on information like the ‘contact us’ page and Google Tag Manager will deliver that through the rest of the tags. 

Site Tag Overview

This smart feature allows a user to see all the tags within their container and their associated triggers collectively. This makes it much easier to select a particular tag if it needs to be modified or removed, and makes adding tags much easier.

Smart Caching 

Due to its intelligent design, Google Tag Manager prevents multiple requests from being made through servers which, in turn, supports bandwidth firing on other tags. 

Asynchronous Tag Loading 

When operating, Google Tag Manager fires tags asynchronously. This means that tags load as they are ready to load with the page elements. This prevents slower performance and other tags firing, resulting in faster page loading and more accurate data collection. 

Multi-Account Support

If you are working for a marketing agency, you are more than likely managing multiple accounts for different clients. Google Tag Manager allows you to move between clients with ease and see how their sites are performing. Multiple users can also access the same account making a streamlined process for agency activity. 

Custom Tags and Custom Macros

Google Tag Manager users can add image, HTML, and JavaScript tags that are not included in templates meaning a fully customisable experience. 

This customisable experience is also possible for macros as you can fire tags based on elements or data on pages. This is effective for users who are buying high price goods. 

Tag Blacklist 

Google Tag Manager’s blacklist allows administrators to define specific tags or tag types that you never want appearing on your site. This is a fantastic security measure designed to prevent malware from attacking and collecting data. 

User Level Permissions

Google Tag Manager allows for complete customisation and one of these features are user-level permissions. Different roles will be using Google Tag Manager, some people with more technical experience who are understanding the needs of the website and those who are more marketing oriented who will sort tagging around the needs of their business.

With this in mind, Google Tag Manager allows for different levels of access for users which allows marketers to specify what tags need to be utilised to those with more technical prowess, allowing changes to occur to the live site without causing any damage.

Preview Mode and Debug Console 

The marvels of modern technology don’t stop with Google Tag Manager. Within Tag Manager, you are able to enter a preview mode to see how a new tagging configuration could be implemented on your site before publishing it. 

Google Tag Manager also offers a tool to help you understand how your tags are functioning and check what tags are firing. 

account set up google tag manager

How Can I Create a Tag?

Creating a tag can be done in a variety of ways as they are an array of tags that achieve different solutions. Marketers will use tags frequently in Google Analytics, so understanding how to make them is critical if you want details sent from your site to collate data on your Analytics account. 

When creating this type of tag, you will have to remove a current Google Analytics Container from your site’s code. This prevents having two embedded on your site and duplicating your data. Click on the ‘Add New Tag’ in the Google Tag Manager dashboard. From here, you’ll be able to configure your tag. 

Start the process of creating your tag by giving it a name. Usually, people name them as the Tag Type, Specific Tag, and then the Unique Identifier. With a name entered, you will be able to select a tag type which are all the tab configurations supported by Google Tag Manager. Choose the configuration for Analytics and choose the ‘Track Type’. Here, input your web property ID and input the tag you want to create. 

There are two different ways of inputting Analytics web property ID. The first option is to input the IP manually for the tag. You can do this by heading to the Admin panel and choosing ‘Property Settings’. From here, you will be able to add the IP into the tracking ID space. 

To confirm these changes, make sure to tick the box that says ‘Enable overriding settings in this tag’ within Google Tag Manager. Here, you’ll see a field that you can place your tracking ID. The second option for creating a tag is creating a custom variable. This will always contain the ID and can be added to tags with a simple click. There are built-in variables and user-defined variables, so ensure that you understand what each variable alternative is before creating custom tags. 

google tag manager variables
Tag Manager's variables allow you to add

Google Tag Manager: The Easy Way to Track Analytics

Google Tag Manager has a host of benefits for marketers that can be more nuanced than simply tracking web traffic to analytics Easy to use, providing reliable and accurate data collection, it allows you to collaborate efficiently with web teams and get the best results from your site. 

Not only does it save time and keeps you organised, but it can also be integrated with all major Goole and third-party tags. Not just for the web but for mobile too. Utilise Google Tag Manager to get the best tracking system for your site.

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