Google Tag Manager is a free tool from Google that makes it easier for website owners and marketers to add and update website tracking using tags and tag-firing triggers. It is a tag management system where the tags and triggers you set up enable you to track what visitors are doing on your website.

Depending on what tags and triggers you set up in Google Tag Manager, you can track what visitors to your website are doing, in more detail than simply using Google Analytics. Saying that Google Tag Manager doesn’t replace Google Analytics; it works with it. Google Analytics is still the reporting interface.

Instead of adding lots of code for various tracking requirements on to your website code, Google Tag Manager uses one piece of code on your website and then you can add whatever tags you want to your Google Tag Manager account, instead of onto your website directly.

Using Tag Manager you’re able to track more interactions on your website than simply using Google Analytics including things like clicks on a button, purchasing using third party application like WooCommerce and much more.

And what is most impressive is that it works with all sorts of tags or pixels you might usually want to add to your website including Facebook pixels, Twitter pixels and more.

Implementation of Google Tag Manager takes some planning. As a starting point you want to check what you are already tracking and move them to Tag Manager. After this initial set up, you can then look at more tracking options. Google Tag Manager has been around since October 2012. It is now on version 2, which trust me, is much simpler and provides a friendlier interface.

So why would you really spend the time moving to Google Tag Manager? What are the real benefits?

  1. Quicker implementation of new tracking

Before Google Tag Manager if you wanted to track something new, you’d have to go to your web developer with details and instructions on what you would like to implement and then wait while the developer did the work, you’d test it and hopefully it would be working. With Google Tag Manager, you can set up new tracking – tags and triggers – yourself in the Google Tag Manager interface. And once you know what you are doing, it literally takes minutes to implement and check using Tag Assistant and Real Time Google Analytics.

  1. Dependable data

As you can easily test whether a tag and trigger are working, you can be more certain that the data you are collecting is the right data and is accurate.

  1. Easy testing

Google Tag Manager allows you to check tags and triggers are working properly before you send them live on your site (publish them). There’s a Preview and Debug option where you can check if the tag you’ve set up is firing correctly. There’s also a Chrome extension called Google Tag Assistant that gives you guidance on any issues that need resolving.

  1. Plays nicely with others so all your ‘pixels’ and tracking can be in one place

When you spend money with Adwords, combine it with Bing and Facebook and other platforms, you find that there are so many pixels to add to your website to track each and every channel that it can easily become cluttered and messy. And then when, for example Facebook changes their pixel you have to get that pixel changed on your website. With Google Tag Manager, you simply set up the tags and triggers for all your advertising channels in Google Tag Manager.

  1. More options for tracking

You can literally track whatever you want. And to that extent you are better having a plan of what you want to track and track the most important things and the things that you can actually act on when you have the data.

Just some of the things you can track:

  • users and sessions
  • page views on your website
  • source of your website traffic
  • ‘on page’ interactions such as clicks on links, form submission, and more
  • events such as watching a video. downloading a PDF and email click tracking
  • tracking a page URL that matches a thank you page (URL-based tracking)
  • tracking purchases on ecommerce websites including revenue, average revenues, conversion rates
  • tracking bookings on websites that take bookings
  • source tracking, with referrer-based triggers so you can see if a user came from an affiliate page
  • tracking of visitors, their interactions with your site and the conversions generated from Bing, Facebook, YouTube and more
  • Google Adwords Conversion Tracking, Adwords Remarketing, Google Analytics, DoubleClick Floodlight and more. Below is a screenshot showing what is currently supported and if it isn’t supported you can set up your own custom tags and triggers using ‘custom macros’.
  1. Enables cross domain tracking

Cross-domain tracking gives you the ability to track two or more domains (websites) as a single entity so that you can view the data in the same Google Analytics property. This is particularly useful for ecommerce website and booking websites that may use a different provider for payments and bookings.

  1. Version control

A bonus when you make a change and then realise you don’t want. You can simply go back to a later version. Now that’s smart…

  1. Helps keep your website loading swiftly

No longer will your website code be cluttered and messy with various bits of code here and there. With Google Tag Manager you have a single, asynchronous loading tag so your tags can fire quicker and without getting in each other way. Asynchronous means the tags load when ready and in parallel with other page elements which can lead to faster website page load speeds… never a bad thing.

  1. Multi-platform working

Google Tag Manager works for Android and iOS apps too. The options are available as soon as you look to set up a Google Tag Manager account.

I’ve completed some Google Tag Manager implementations this month for a number of clients. I’ll be honest it takes a bit of time to get your head around it, but once you do, you’ll be future-proofing your tracking.

If you want to find out more about Google Tag Manager and how we can help you implement it, email me or call me on 0115 880 0211.

I’ll be writing some more blogs on Google Tag Manager so watch this space.

By Jackie Key
Follow me on Google+

With over 25 years’ experience in marketing Jackie Key, Managing Director at Key Principles, which was set up in 2005, helps small, medium and large businesses grow through marketing and online marketing.