A Guide to Using Google Tag Manager

Ryan Jones

Head of PPC

Analytics and Data Science

Google’s online suite of innovative tools and software are helping businesses of all sizes to improve their online performance. One of these tools is Google Tag Manager. In this blog, we will run through everything you need to know about Google Tag Manager and how you can use it to benefit your business.

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Tag Manager is a free tool that allows you to add, edit, and disable multiple marketing tags on your website without having to change any code on the website itself. Marketing tags are typically short snippets of JavaScript code used to collect information about your website visitors, including their behavior once they’re on your site. These insights can be used to inform your digital marketing strategy, for example by identifying which pages are more likely to cause abandonment, or gathering data to be used in remarketing campaigns.

We often find that brands struggle to get adequate developer time and resource to manually implement tracking tags on their ecommerce website. Each tag tracks something different. For example, you can use it to see how many people fill out a form on the contact us page of your website. They can also be used for scroll tracking, conducting surveys, generating heat maps, remarketing, or tracking how people arrive at your site.

Google Tag Manager works alongside Google Analytics, allowing you to collect data more easily than if you were using Analytics alone. It works by carrying information from one data source (your website) to another data source (analytics). It stores all your code in one place, which is an important asset to businesses who have a lot of tags to manage.

While Tag Manager is a Google product, it can also be used to manage third-party tags, like Twitter, Bing Ads, Crazy Egg, Hotjar, and more.

Reporting on performance is important, and in order to track sales figures, form fills, and conversions on your site, you need an effective management platform such as Google Tag Manager.

Why use Google Tag Manager?

Manually coding tags is a long process which normally requires a specialist development team. With Google Tag Manager, the tagging process becomes much easier, meaning marketers or Technical SEO experts can create new tags as and when they are required. We use Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360 to implement our clients’ tags. We sometimes find that, for clients who do not use a tag management platform, codes which are sent  across to their development team can fall behind the queue of tasks, meaning we have to wait longer for the code to be embedded than we would like.

With Tag Manager, you only need to embed code into your pages once; once this has been done, new tags can be created in Tag Manager which will be automatically rolled out site-wide. We will cover how to embed Tag Manager code later in this article.

You might have multiple pieces of code on any one page. For example, you could have a Facebook pixel, a Google Ad pixel, a Bing Ad pixel, and Google Analytics code. This is where Google Tag Manager is important, as it allows you to implement multiple tags using one bit of code site-wide.

There are a number of advantages to Google Tag Manager running these codes for you:

  1. Frees up developer time. Your development team don’t have to manually input all the codes, giving them time to focus their time elsewhere
  2. Reduces human error. Using Google Tag Manager to input your code greatly reduces the risk of human error
  3. Marketing in control. Google Tag Manager allows your marketing department to take control of the creation and monitoring of tags. This will increase the efficiency of the process and generate higher quality reports.

Google Tag Manager is free so it’s worth giving it a try yourself – further on in the article we will talk you through setting up an account, how to use it, where to input Google Tag Manager code, and how to check if Tag Manager is working.

Business benefits of using Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager makes it easier to track visitors, but why is this data beneficial to your business?

Analyzing visitor behavior will give you insight into:

  • Who is visiting your site
  • Where visitors are coming from
  • What content they are viewing
  • If they found what they wanted
  • How much time they spent on the site.

Understanding the behavior of your customers can help you improve your website to enhance your ecommerce:

Enhance user experience. Understanding the key demographics and interests of your visitors will help you create a better on-site experience specifically for them.

Understanding strengths and weaknesses. Using Tag Manager and Google Analytics will show you what pages are performing best on your website, and which are underperforming. These insights can be used to improve content on pages you want users to visit and stay on.

Improves SEO. Understanding your visitors’ demographics and interests will help you create targeted content and get better visibility on search engines, generating more organic traffic to your site.

Track referrals and build strategies. Analytics offers more insight into where your traffic is coming from and how visitors get to your website. This allows you to focus your strategies around these referrals to drive more visitors to your site.

Track outbound links. Insight into where your visitors are going after they’ve left your site can offer up potential partnership opportunities. For example, if a lot of your traffic is heading to one website, you could reach out to them with a partnership proposal.

Tracking ecommerce metrics. All business reporting is important, and insight into where your sales are coming from online is no different. Reporting on and analyzing this data will allow you to create strategies to improve online sales.

How to use Google Tag Manager

While Google Tag Manager is a relatively simple tool to use, you will need some basic technical knowledge. If you have background technical knowledge on how to set up tags, trigger, and other variables, this section will show you how to set up and use a Google Tag Manager account.

Setting up your account

  1. Head to Google Tag Manager and click on the “Sign Up for Free” button. You will then need to input your company details, once finished, click “Create”
  2. You’ll then be provided with the exact codes and instructions of where to add it to your site. If you’re wondering where to put Google Tag Manager Code, you should include one at the top in the <head> of your page, and the other after your opening <body> tag. Once you’re done, hit “OK”

Google recommends putting code inside the head because the higher up on the page the code is, the faster the snippet is loaded. If the tag code was only placed in the body,  it would potentially miss users who left your page before the body tag had loaded.

Setting up a tag

  1. Once you’re on your Tag Manager dashboard, click the “Add a New Tag” button on the left side of the page
  2. Give your tag a title and click anywhere in the “Tag Configuration” box to choose a tag type
  3. There are numerous tags to choose from. For the purpose of this guide, we will talk you through “Classic Google Analytics”
  4. Select a “Tag Type”. If you want your tag to be tracked in Analytics, you will need to input your web property ID found on your account once the type has been chosen
  5. Next, you need to choose a trigger – this is what you want the tag to record. For example, you can choose “every time someone visits the page”, and you can also make this page specific by choosing what part of your site you want to include the trigger
  6. When you’re happy that the tag and trigger are correctly configured,, click on the “Save” button
  7. You can then preview your tag, and it will not be active until you click “Submit”
  8. You will then be taken to a “Submission Configuration” page, this will give you two options: “Publish and Create Version” or “Create Version”. If you’re happy with your tag and ready to push it onto your site, choose “Publish and Create Version”. Select the “Publish” in the top right
  9. The last step is you’ll be shown “Container Version Description”. Tag Manager is an easy way of monitoring multiple tags at once, but to keep them organized you should give a name and description you can understand. Google recommends using the following naming convention: tag type – name of app – details
  10. To check if you’ve created it successfully, ensure that your tag appears in your “Version Summary” report.

You can use Tag Manager without development experience, although it does require some technical knowledge. Inputting codes and triggers wrong can potentially damage yours or your client’s website so it’s important you understand how to check it has been done correctly.

A quick and easy way of checking if your tags are working is by adding Google Tag Assistant to chrome; this will help you to verify if you’ve installed the various tags on your page correctly. Once you’re on a page, Tag Assistant will tell you which tags are present, report on errors, and review and offer improvements that you could add to your site.

It’s important you utilize the ability to preview all of the codes and see if the trigger is working correctly, it would be a mistake to submit a tag before previewing it to make sure it works. Don’t worry if you do make a mistake though,this can easily be rectified.

Google Tag Manager is a useful asset to businesses looking to keep organized reports of how their website is performing and utilize the resulting benefits. Successfully deployed, Google Tag Manager can help you gain better, data-driven insights to improve your marketing efforts.

Tag Manager 360

Enterprises who have multiple tagging projects at any given time, need large-scale tag implementations, or want more control over their account, may benefit from upgrading to Tag Manager 360. You can find out more about the difference between the two Google products here, or by getting in touch.