The Complete Guide to Google Tag Manager (Abridged)
by Jenny Alvarez on 12/7/15
Building, managing and marketing a website is like building a Lego house.
Web developers build the foundation, and marketers add pieces of oode — or “tags” — to gain better insights and reach customers in new ways. If these tags are added incorrectly, everything can fall to pieces.
That’s why Google Tag Manager is such a valuable tool. It helps your website run smoothly and keeps you from driving your web developer crazy while still improving your digital marketing campaigns.
Why You Need Google Tag Manager
Every day, there’s another tool available for marketers to use for targeting and tracking. But with these sophisticated tools come problems for your website.
Because each requires adding a tag to your website, you can end up with a bunch of extra code, slowing down page load times. We know a slow load time lowers your quality score with Google, so this isn’t ideal.
Tags inserted on your site incorrectly can serve up distorted analytics, too, skewing your data and impacting your efforts to use the information to determine things like ROI and future marketing budgets.
Even worse, though, adding individual tags takes time. Every request you send to your IT department requires an investment in time that could be better spent on other projects.
If you’re an agency that works with outside web developers on behalf of your clients, this can be even trickier. Some web developers approach agencies with distrust and aren’t pleased to get several work orders to add new tags.
Google Tag Manager solves all these issues by providing one place to host all of those tags. IT departments and web developers only have to install one piece of code, and then your marketing team can make changes on their own without going through multiple channels.
This consolidated code reduces tag-drag on your website, and it still gives you the flexibility to add one or hundreds of tags. And the best part is the web interface, which is beyond user-friendly for us non-coders out there.
Interested? Keep reading to find out to set up an account and start managing tags on your website.
How to Get Google Tag Manager
The first step when you sign up for Google Tag Manager is to create a free account. Start here. For our team at 9 Clouds, we opened an account for each client we work with, but if you’re using the tag manager for your personal marketing purposes, you don’t need multiple accounts.
Each account has ‘containers,’ which are essentially the holding places for those pieces of code, or tags, we’re managing.
During setup, you can clarify if you are making an account for a website, an iOS app, or an Android app.
After you’ve set up the containers, you can give access to other users on your team and control their permissions at the account and container level.
Make Your Webmaster Happy
Now that your account is set up, you’re going to ask your IT department to install the very last piece of code you’ll ever request. If they’ve been annoyed by your tag requests in the past, this is a good time to thank them for their help and let them know the end is near!
After you’ve gotten Google Tag Manager fully set up, you can have your developer clear out the old tags that you replaced with containers. Then maybe send them some chocolate. Or even better, some beer.
Start Building Your Tag
With the code in place and your account administrators on board, it’s time to start building a list of tags.
There are more than 20 predefined tag types to choose from and the list is growing. Most marketers will be adding Google Analytics and Google AdWords, but if you don’t see the tag you want, you can create a custom tag from HTML.
We’ll walk through the Analytics tag because it’s the most common by far. First thing first, you’ll need your Google Analytics ID. This is housed under the admin tab in GA; you can find it by selecting the web property connected with your site.
Then you select a rule for when this code shows. You can have it show up on all pages, or if you use an e-commerce site, you can set up the tag to do transactional tracking and find out what visitors are buying on your site.
Finally, you’ll choose which pages you want the code to ‘fire on,’ meaning which results trigger your tag. You can choose from ‘all pages’ or narrow it down to form submissions, some pages or exclude certain sections of your site.
With conversion tracking, for example, you would likely only want the code to fire on a thank you page a visitor would land on after making a purchase or filling out a form.
Before anything goes live in Google Tag Manager, you can check your work in preview mode (which we highly recommend!). This helps you see if something is going to break your site before you put it into action.
How to Achieve Google Integration
Make it? At this point, you should have at least a tag working if you followed along. We think Google did a good job of making the web interface easy to use, even if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of websites.
Google Tag Manager allows marketers to help become builders, not just tinkerers, so we can keep our Lego castles from crashing down.
If you want more help with Google, we’re here for you. Check out our free eBook on Google Plus and its value to businesses. You’ll learn how to wrangle the social channel and make the most out of your Google integration.
Originally published at 9clouds.com on December 7, 2015.