Marketing campaigns live and die by data.
Without data, there’s no way to easily determine the health of a campaign.
As a marketer, the more data you have at your disposal, and the easier it is to manage data, the easier your job is.
Unfortunately, the more tracking and optimization tags you add to the site, the more you have to deal with code bloat.
Which tags have been added? Which tools are still installed on your site? How can you give people the access they need to update tags without giving them complete access to your site (which might invite disaster)?
That’s why I want to introduce you to Google Tag Manager (GTM).
With Google Tag Manager, much of the technical side of tag management has been reduced, making it easy to set up your own. You also have complete control on every change that gets made to your site. So nothing will catch you by surprise.
Just so you’re clear, GTM is not a replacement for Google Analytics, but instead works in conjunction with the tools you’re probably already using.
If you’re the only one working on your site, you’ve already gotten Google Analytics installed, and you don’t expect your site to grow into an entire team in the future, all of this is completely optional. Especially if you dread having to keep track of ONE more internet marketing tool, skip all this. Google Tag Manager will save you a ton of headaches if you have a team. But if you don’t need that and would rather have the simplicity of plugging in Google Analytics directly, skip all this.
Here’s where we’re headed in this article.
- First, I want to encourage you to use Google Tag Manager.
- Then I’ll show you how to set it up.
- Next, we’ll walk through the process of creating a tag, a trigger, and publishing it.
By the end of this article, you should have a solid understanding of tags and how to use them.
Let’s do this.
Why You Should Use Google Tag Manager
You might question the need for GTM if you’re already running Google Analytics and doing just fine with it.
There’s two reasons that someone would want to install Google Tag Manager.
Without a tag manager, you have to give access to your actual site files to anyone that you also want to be able to update tags. If it’s just you and an engineer that does a bit of contract work, not a big deal. But as soon as you scale into a team, this can create a lot of problems.
The bigger you get, the more likely someone will make a mistake.
- No one even knows which tags were installed and it takes several weeks hunting down all the tools still active on your site. Any cleanup or audit projects become a huge hassle.
- If you limit site access to just engineers, all the marketers constantly hassle the engineering team for small changes when the engineers need to stay focused on more important projects.
These sorts of things happen all the time. Which is why companies started building Tag Managers in the first place, large companies can control exactly who has access to the tags. At the same time, they can finally give access to folks that need it without needed to give them access to the entire site. Which prevents things from getting broken by accident.
2. Advanced Features
You can control which pages fire each tag, trigger tags on clicks and forms, and handle very complex tag implementations across a large site.
“This sounds like overkill for me, why should I use Google Tag Manager?”
For a lot of folks, it is overkill and not something to worry too much about.
But it is a good idea if you’d like to get the infrastructure set up on your site so that it can handle growth in the future. As soon as you have 5-10 people working on your business (or are already past that), it’s definitely a good idea to have a tag manager.
Since Google released a free Google Tag Manager that integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics, using theirs is your best option.
Let’s jump into setting up your GTM account.
Setting Up Google Tag Manager
The system is split into four primary functions that you want to pay attention to.
Think of containers as where everything for your site exits. In general, use one container per site.
This is version control, try not to worry too much about it. Workspaces are super helpful for larger teams that may have multiple people working on tags at the same time. It’s easy to keep track of who’s making which changes and ensure the changes don’t conflict.
For smaller teams and sites, think of a workspaces as a Tag Manager “draft.” And when you’re finished with that draft, you’ll need to remember to publish your changes to the live GTM on your site. In most cases, edit your default workspace and work from there. If you’d like to dive into tall the nitty gritty workspace features, this doc has more info.
Let’s register and set a name for a new account.
When you register your account on the GTM homepage, you’ll be prompted to setup your first container. You typically create a single container for each website that you want to start tracking.
After you create your first container, GTM will provide you with a snippet of code that you need to insert into your site (be sure it’s on every page of your site).
It’s similar to the code snippet you get with a Facebook pixel or Google Analytics.
You’ll copy this code and insert it after the opening <body> tag on your site. If you use a content management system like WordPress, your template may have a built in GTM field within the template options or you can download a GTM plugin.
Once you have the snippet installed on your site you can start creating tags in GTM.
Creating Your First Tag
Once you’re logged into GTM, you’ll want to create your first tag from the dashboard. Do this by clicking on the “tags” menu option on the left, then click on “new”.
You’ll be given the choice of creating a new tag or a new trigger. To start, let’s choose a tag and then we’ll set up a trigger once that’s completed.
Once you select the option to create a new tag, you’ll be asked what type of tag you want to create. It’s a long list of choices ranging from universal analytics to Adwords or Google Surveys. For this guide, we’re going to make a tag for the universal version of Google Analytics.
After selecting the product for your tag, it’s time to do a little configuration. The next step you’ll need to enter your Google Analytics tracking ID. (it looks like UA-12345678-9 and is retrieved from Google Analytics.)
To find your Google Analytics tracking ID:
- Log into Google Analytics
- Go to Admin
- Find the Google Analytics property that you want to sync with your Google Tag Manager
- Under the Property settings, choose Tracking Code
- Your Tracking ID should be at the top.
You also need to select the type of tracking.
We’ll choose “page views” for Google Analytics.
There are additional settings for customer metrics, content groups and advanced settings for priority and firing options for your tag.
We’ll skip those right now since we just want to get Google Analytics installed across the entire site.
Creating the Trigger for Your Tag
Now that you’ve completed setting up the tag, you need to define your trigger. Remember, the trigger defines when the tag you created will fire.
When you create a new trigger, you’ll first select a “Page view” tag and make sure “all pages” is selected.
Name your trigger and hit save.
Finalize and Publish Your New Tag
Once you’ve created your tag and your trigger, and save it, you’ll be bumped back to the GTM dashboard. You’ll notice a large red Publish button on the top right of your dashboard.
It’s super important to remember this step. Since you’re making changes to your workspace (your “draft”), you haven’t made any changes to the live Google Tag Manager quite yet.
In order for GTM to start pushing the data to your Google Analytics account, you need to click Publish.
Keep Your Data Clean
If you have an analytics tracking code on your site, then it’s already pulling data from visitors and pushing everything to you in your reports. You need to remove that tracking code before setting the GTM script up on your site.
Loading both scripts will duplicate data in your Google Analytics, resulting in skewed data that’s not accurate.
GTM is just one more tool in your data arsenal. It’s slick, useful, fast, and really simple. You can do this whole setup process in ten minutes. Once you’ve got this set up, it’ll give you a lot more control down the road and prevent all sorts of accidents from happening to your site.
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